Monday, August 19, 2013

When Authors Don't Like Your Review

Lately I've been doing a lot of reviews.  This is in part because I've finally started winning Goodreads Giveaways again, but also because I really want to let authors know what I think of their work.  If it's an older book I might not bother, but if it's relatively new I want to put it out there.

One thing I really try to stay away from in my negative reviews is cattiness - "This book was terrible!  Never read this book!" - and instead offer real constructive criticism - "I didn't like this part and this is why."  We all mess up sometimes, though, and I can get a little mean (perhaps my review of Scapemaker could have been taken as one giant F YOU to the author even if I meant to help...).  Part of that is because I just wasted a ton of time reading a book that I thought really wasn't good, and part of it is my own sort of literary ego, where I want everything I read to be amazing and if an author can't put something amazing out then they shouldn't bother writing in the first place.

Obviously, this is the wrong type of attitude when reviewing, but it happens to the best of us, and I am not without my faults.

One thing that I've noticed, however, is that authors who do not have a huge publishing house behind them tend to take the negative reviews a bit too personally.  Recently (within the last six months or so), I've had a couple authors reach out to me in what felt like a spiteful way because I had left them bad reviews.

Generally when that happens, I feel a little hurt, I take it personally, and I overreact.  The last time I asked if I was being crazy reading way too far into a comment, but at least others saw it too.  I try not to comment back right away because I want to cool down and take the time to read their comment and find out why they are so mad at my honesty.  Is it because I said they weren't interesting?  Is it because I said the book was poorly written?  Is it because I said it needed some editing before it hit print?  Whatever the reason, it obviously struck a nerve.

The best way for me to handle these situations is to address the comment calmly, if at all.  Sometimes I just ignore them, sometimes I only respond to one aspect that I feel I can defend without going all psycho-nasty on them because I just know if I respond to anything else you'll see one heck of a cat-fight going on.  And that's far from how I'd like to see any author represent him/herself.  Also, I don't want my future bosses to see me being nasty on the internet.  You know they look, admit it.

Anyway, I know how poorly I take criticism of any kind, so I try to look at the author and project myself onto him or her.  How would my review have made him feel?  How did my words hurt her ego?  And if I'm wrong, I'm wrong.  But if I can stand by it, then it stays up.

I'm honestly interested: Have you had an author react negatively to your bad review?  Have you ever left a bad review?  Has an author ever thanked you for a bad review? (I've had that one happen, which was interesting.)

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