How NOT to respond to reviews.

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How NOT to respond to reviews.

Postby CharleeVale » 28 Mar 2011, 21:48

I saw this posted on twitter, read it and was appalled. The author goes on the site of the reviewer, bashes him, and posts other good reviews in the comment section. Then when he defends himself, she acts like a five year old!

http://booksandpals.blogspot.com/2011/0 ... l#comments

Comment #8 (the 5 year old one) is what really set me off.

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Re: How NOT to respond to reviews.

Postby Leila » 29 Mar 2011, 05:24

Wow, that's, um, staggering. To say the least.

I've never seen anything quite that dramatic before. And of course it's gone viral. Naturally.

Just out of curiosity, how have, or how would people handle receiving challenging reviews? Is there an etiquette out there in this regard? I ran through a few possibilities (literally a minute's worth) of what one might do if facing the same situation:

a) just take it with a grain of salt because you chose to go public with your book and not everyone can love your work - but remain silent.
b) look for any constructive criticism that one could take forward into one's future writing experiences - but remain silent.
c) respond by thanking the reviewer for their review and leave it at that.
d) not get hung up on every review out there because readers (therefore reviewers) tastes are wildly varied and what can you do, the book's out there now!

I'd be fascinated to hear others thoughts on this one.
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Re: How NOT to respond to reviews.

Postby Sommer Leigh » 29 Mar 2011, 05:26

I was reading about this last night. Horrifying! I'm going to post about this later this week if I can steal some time to write about it.

What gets me is this- this author who is behaving like a potty mouthed teenager? She's probably a perfectly reasonable, normal person. She's probably not normally verbally abusive or childish. I'm willing to bet she's regretting every last word of what she did and has probably had herself a good panic-induced cry about it. I know I would.

It's that, it is so ridiculously easy to become emotionally stupid on the internet. Every time I get into an argument about how authors should be grateful that people are reading their book and shouldn't expect to make money off of readers I get this intense panic-induced twist in my gut and it takes all my effort not to start ranting like yelling and pouring my swear-word filled heart out all over a public forum. I've been tooling around the internet for many years with lots of blogs under my belt so I've learned to lock tight my emotional impulse against irrational, trouble stirring trolls, but I was not always so careful or considerate and I'm sure out there, somewhere, in the internet dungeons are some pretty embarressing public displays of emotional response with my name stamped all over them. So I know exactly what impulsive, irrational, emotion-soaked feelings this poor woman was having when she made this incredible mistake. And once she started, she couldn't stop herself and that hole she was digging just got deeper and deeper. I was so relieved to realize when she'd finally stopped responding. That was probably right around the moment she had an OMG WTF DID I JUST DO epiphany.

I know she was self-published from the post, but I wonder if one big thing self-publishing lacks is the support system an author gets with an agent and editors and networking access to other authors publishing with their same company or at the same time. I wonder if this author doesn't have that kind of experienced support system that can prep and prime a new author for dealing with their first reviews and online behavior. I don't know, I'm totally guessing about this, she could have lots of support. I think of debut YA authors who join together in group blogs and share stories and help each other through their first year and then publication and I wonder if self-publishing is currently missing this and if she'd had someone in her corner this could have been avoided.

I also feel bad for the blogger who also dropped off the comments section pretty early on. I know I'd feel very bad if this happened on my blog. I hope he's doing ok and that this doesn't make him want to leave book blogging.
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Re: How NOT to respond to reviews.

Postby Sommer Leigh » 29 Mar 2011, 05:31

Leila wrote:Wow, that's, um, staggering. To say the least.

I've never seen anything quite that dramatic before. And of course it's gone viral. Naturally.

Just out of curiosity, how have, or how would people handle receiving challenging reviews? Is there an etiquette out there in this regard? I ran through a few possibilities (literally a minute's worth) of what one might do if facing the same situation:

a) just take it with a grain of salt because you chose to go public with your book and not everyone can love your work - but remain silent.
b) look for any constructive criticism that one could take forward into one's future writing experiences - but remain silent.
c) respond by thanking the reviewer for their review and leave it at that.
d) not get hung up on every review out there because readers (therefore reviewers) tastes are wildly varied and what can you do, the book's out there now!

I'd be fascinated to hear others thoughts on this one.



This is the advice I've been given and what I personally feel is appropriate and that's this: If it's a good review or a bad review, don't comment. Read if you want (though it's not a good idea because EVERYONE'S opinion is going to be different and subjective and if you might take any of it personally, just don't read them). If you feel compelled to respond in anyway, a good review or a bad one, email the reviewer privately and keep your response simple no matter what direction the review took. "Thank you for taking the time to read and review my book, it means a lot to me. I'm glad you loved it/I'm sorry you didn't enjoy it. I appreciate the time you took to give such an honest review." Or something along those lines. Don't do it publically.
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Re: How NOT to respond to reviews.

Postby Leila » 29 Mar 2011, 05:44

Sommer Leigh wrote:

This is the advice I've been given and what I personally feel is appropriate and that's this: If it's a good review or a bad review, don't comment. Read if you want (though it's not a good idea because EVERYONE'S opinion is going to be different and subjective and if you might take any of it personally, just don't read them). If you feel compelled to respond in anyway, a good review or a bad one, email the reviewer privately and keep your response simple no matter what direction the review took. "Thank you for taking the time to read and review my book, it means a lot to me. I'm glad you loved it/I'm sorry you didn't enjoy it. I appreciate the time you took to give such an honest review." Or something along those lines. Don't do it publically.


Sounds entirely sensible, and practical. I can imagine it would be hard to receive challenging/negative reviews of your work, especially work available in the public arena, (the frailties of human nature) but I guess it's a matter of managing one's ego and looking for something constructive in the criticism or just accepting that not everyone reading it will experience it the same way.
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Re: How NOT to respond to reviews.

Postby siebendach » 29 Mar 2011, 07:04

Sommer Leigh wrote: I know she was self-published from the post, but I wonder if one big thing self-publishing lacks is the support system an author gets with an agent and editors and networking access to other authors publishing with their same company or at the same time. I wonder if this author doesn't have that kind of experienced support system that can prep and prime a new author for dealing with their first reviews and online behavior.


Self-publishing does lack a lot of things. But a lot of the things it lacks, are things that most publishers either never did, or just stopped doing.

In the case of an author responding that badly to a reviewer, I expect that most publishers and agents would abandon that author instantly --- or if that wasn't feasible, would at least distance themselves from her as much as possible.

I also expect that exceptions would be made for the biggest sellers.

They're so pressed for time I doubt they're able to be much of a "support system". I also doubt that they have much interest it either.

And truth to tell, I wouldn't really expect it.
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Re: How NOT to respond to reviews.

Postby polymath » 29 Mar 2011, 07:37

The incitement by the reviewer is a mild one by comparison to the calumny of ones I've seen more artfully worded. Though the review is bland and lifeless, it is at least grammatically appropriate. The author's reaction, though, is far out of proportion to the review's vituperation.

However, first faux pas goes to the reviewer. Disapprovingly criticizing grammar is a no-no, one, because no one is entirely innocent in that regard, two, because grammar is like religion, it comes in an infinite variety of expressions, three, because if it's so bad that it needs mention, then there's no point to make any remarks at all. If it's passably understandable then stet unremarked and leave grammar commentary to critics who have at least a cautious appreciation for the tender sentiments of authors. And four, though not entirely taboo, criticizing grammar is as sure to incite an argument as discussing politics, religion, sex, and the weather in mixed, strongly-held opinion company.

Then as the author dug in deeper and deeper, she summoned all the malefactors who would flay a wounded horse. Vanity's hypocisy, pure and simple. It was a public stoning of a sinner by sinners.

A Hippocratic Oath for Practitioners of the Prosaic Arts;
By way of guidance in decorum for writing activities.
------
Paraphrased from a modern-day physicians' Hippocratic Oath, original by Dr. Louis Lasagna, Academic Dean of the School of Medicine at Tufts University, 1964,
retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/doctors/oath_modern.html checked 08/05/09
------
I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant:

I will respect the hard-won knowledge of those who came before and in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow, as well as with fellow creators.

I will apply, for the benefit of the individual and the whole of society, all measures that are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and indifference.

I will remember that there is science and passion in expressing creation as well as art and divine inspiration, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh a critical remark or a deflecting platitude.

I will not be ashamed to say I know not, nor will I fail to call on other resources when the skills of another are needed for insight or adjustment.

I will respect the sanctity of others' emerging creations I am exposed to, for those creations are not disclosed to me so that I may impose my own volition, nor so that the public may prematurely know those creations from my capricious impulse. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of acknowledgement, recognition, commerce, liability, and propriety. If it is given me to experience a creation, all thanks. But it may also be within my power to impact a life; this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty. Above all, I must not play at irreproachable authority nor cause harm.

I will remember that I do not address an unfeeling object, but a creation born of insuperable struggles whose progression may affect its creator's well-being. My obligation includes concern for those related attachments, if I am to respectfully approach a creation.

I will practice the highest standards of courtesy for courtesy's sake, to set a worthy example for others to emulate in good conscience, and also will discourage malfeasance and brutality to the fullest of my capacity whenever and wherever they may occur. And I will remember that giving insult or injury tarnish reputation most, harm an offender as well as an offended individual and society as a whole.

I will take no pleasure from the misfortunes of others, nor beg sympathy for my own, nor sing my own praises aloud. It is my duty to endure brilliant successes without haughtiness and conceit, and to accept sorrowful defeats without losing courage. *

I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those of small or large accomplishment as well as emerging creators.

If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy life and art, respected while I live and remembered with affection thereafter. May I always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of contributing to creation in enlightenment and entertainment's glory.

* Sentence recast from Gustav Freytag original, Technique of the Drama.
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Re: How NOT to respond to reviews.

Postby Margo » 29 Mar 2011, 08:50

Sommer Leigh wrote:I think of debut YA authors who join together in group blogs and share stories and help each other through their first year and then publication and I wonder if self-publishing is currently missing this and if she'd had someone in her corner this could have been avoided.


Being traditionally published with the agent and editors, etc, didn't keep Laurell K. Hamilton or Anne Rice from having online tantrums over things readers were saying about their books. And Anne's fans were even saying nice things.

I think the meltdowns are partially about being inexperienced and partially about the individual personality. Plus, mental...um...volatility is common in creative people, even the ones who choose not to cultivate the tempramental artist mystique.

Of course, I noticed comments from several book bloggers who refuse to do self-pub book reviews because of this kind of behavior, and it makes me want to beat the author about the head and face with her own curses. Way to screw over her fellow writers.
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Re: How NOT to respond to reviews.

Postby siebendach » 29 Mar 2011, 09:00

Well, self-pubbers hardly have a monopoly on bad behavior. Big publishers have been known to stop submitting ARCs to those newspapers whose reviewers offered anything less than slobbering admiration. Back in my newspaper days, my boss permanently barred me from any more review assignments after I submitted one that lacked sufficient deference.

Reviewing is a voluntary process between the reviewer and the reviewed, that relies on the honor system. No matter how you slice it, a certain percentage of people will behave poorly. I have faith that most people reading those reviews, experts or no, are mature enough to take that into account.
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Re: How NOT to respond to reviews.

Postby Beethovenfan » 29 Mar 2011, 10:29

CharleeVale wrote:I saw this posted on twitter, read it and was appalled. The author goes on the site of the reviewer, bashes him, and posts other good reviews in the comment section. Then when he defends himself, she acts like a five year old!

http://booksandpals.blogspot.com/2011/0 ... l#comments

Comment #8 (the 5 year old one) is what really set me off.

CV


I just read through the thread of that blog and now I have a question for you all. What is the defference between self publishing and what everyone was calling "indie?" My ignorance is showing, I know, but I guess you have to start somewhere, right? Thanks.

Oh, and now we all know what NOT to do with reviews. Poor thing. She sounds like she might have a personality disorder, which would explain a LOT.
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Re: How NOT to respond to reviews.

Postby Sommer Leigh » 29 Mar 2011, 11:00

Beethovenfan wrote:
CharleeVale wrote:I saw this posted on twitter, read it and was appalled. The author goes on the site of the reviewer, bashes him, and posts other good reviews in the comment section. Then when he defends himself, she acts like a five year old!

http://booksandpals.blogspot.com/2011/0 ... l#comments

Comment #8 (the 5 year old one) is what really set me off.

CV


I just read through the thread of that blog and now I have a question for you all. What is the defference between self publishing and what everyone was calling "indie?" My ignorance is showing, I know, but I guess you have to start somewhere, right? Thanks.

Oh, and now we all know what NOT to do with reviews. Poor thing. She sounds like she might have a personality disorder, which would explain a LOT.



Someone correct me, but I think self-publishing refers to someone who handles all their own publishing, including their own editing, writing, marketing, cover etc (or they hire someone to do it, either way, they are in control of everything including "publishing" it to a book download service)

Indie refers to independant publishing houses. So you can be agented and have your book sold to an indie publisher who handles your editing, and marketing and cover and what not. My knowledge of how indie publishers run is totally limited to the vague idea that they tend not to have the money and resources as the big publishing houses.

The writer in question on that post was self-published, not indie, I believe.
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Re: How NOT to respond to reviews.

Postby Leila » 29 Mar 2011, 11:45

polymath wrote:
A Hippocratic Oath for Practitioners of the Prosaic Arts;
By way of guidance in decorum for writing activities.
------
Paraphrased from a modern-day physicians' Hippocratic Oath, original by Dr. Louis Lasagna, Academic Dean of the School of Medicine at Tufts University, 1964,
retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/doctors/oath_modern.html checked 08/05/09
------
I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant:

I will respect the hard-won knowledge of those who came before and in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow, as well as with fellow creators.

I will apply, for the benefit of the individual and the whole of society, all measures that are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and indifference.

I will remember that there is science and passion in expressing creation as well as art and divine inspiration, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh a critical remark or a deflecting platitude.

I will not be ashamed to say I know not, nor will I fail to call on other resources when the skills of another are needed for insight or adjustment.

I will respect the sanctity of others' emerging creations I am exposed to, for those creations are not disclosed to me so that I may impose my own volition, nor so that the public may prematurely know those creations from my capricious impulse. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of acknowledgement, recognition, commerce, liability, and propriety. If it is given me to experience a creation, all thanks. But it may also be within my power to impact a life; this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty. Above all, I must not play at irreproachable authority nor cause harm.

I will remember that I do not address an unfeeling object, but a creation born of insuperable struggles whose progression may affect its creator's well-being. My obligation includes concern for those related attachments, if I am to respectfully approach a creation.

I will practice the highest standards of courtesy for courtesy's sake, to set a worthy example for others to emulate in good conscience, and also will discourage malfeasance and brutality to the fullest of my capacity whenever and wherever they may occur. And I will remember that giving insult or injury tarnish reputation most, harm an offender as well as an offended individual and society as a whole.

I will take no pleasure from the misfortunes of others, nor beg sympathy for my own, nor sing my own praises aloud. It is my duty to endure brilliant successes without haughtiness and conceit, and to accept sorrowful defeats without losing courage. *

I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those of small or large accomplishment as well as emerging creators.

If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy life and art, respected while I live and remembered with affection thereafter. May I always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of contributing to creation in enlightenment and entertainment's glory.

* Sentence recast from Gustav Freytag original, Technique of the Drama.



Polymath that is just masterful. Wonderful. How do you find this stuff? I'm a firm believer that any approach based on the foundations of ethics, integrity, respect and courtesy will succeed in all ways human that matter. Thanks for that.
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Re: How NOT to respond to reviews.

Postby polymath » 29 Mar 2011, 11:55

An indie is an independent publisher standing alone without a corporate master. Of the one hundred thousand or so publishers with one or more active ISBN blocks, maybe a thousand are beholden to the institutional machine. Many indies are also self-publishers publishing their own work as well as the work of others.

Publishing is a culture that runs the gamut from small, localized self-publishing as intimate as a few primitive copies circulated among acquaintances to the indifferent six transnational giants serving mass culture appetites. A simple enough definition of self-publishing is self-supported: in other words, paid for by the author with all the inherent risks and rewards on the author's dime.
Last edited by polymath on 30 Mar 2011, 10:43, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How NOT to respond to reviews.

Postby polymath » 29 Mar 2011, 12:11

Leila wrote:Polymath that is just masterful. Wonderful. How do you find this stuff? I'm a firm believer that any approach based on the foundations of ethics, integrity, respect and courtesy will succeed in all ways human that matter. Thanks for that.

Thank you, Leila, and you're welcome.

I find this kind of stuff by due dilligence. The paraphrasing is mine inspired by my education, training, and experience. The Hippocratic Oath for physicians originated long ago, has been updated a few times since. I just recast it to fit the culture of literature's primary and secondary discourses. Freytag's Technique of the Drama, 1863, concludes with advices and cautions for dramatic artists who would give due consideration to their professional and artistic and personal reputations.
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Re: How NOT to respond to reviews.

Postby Margo » 29 Mar 2011, 14:42

Sommer Leigh wrote:The writer in question on that post was self-published, not indie, I believe.


To confuse matters, quite a few self-published authors call themselves indie (as in indie author rather than indie press author). There have been rants about this, which (while accurate at least to some degree) come off as trying to put space between small press authors and self-published authors. It gets a bit more confusing when one takes into account the number of books published under a company name, suggesting small press, when the company is pretty much the author publishing his/her own books (as polymath went into in his post).

Frankly, I don't care if self-published authors call themselves 'indies', as it still kind of fits. Maintaining that indie is small press only is mostly an industry thing, not a reader distinction. In fact, I think it's catchy. Can't blame someone for wanting to use it, comparing themselves to indie musicians. It also rather fits the self-pub culture of refusing to let 'the industry' define them.
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