Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Don't Diss Reviewers!

Sometimes somebody will say something out on the interwebs that gets me thinking and I have to react to it. And very often that results in my best and most popular posts. Nothing wrong with being passionate and opinionated.

But there is one group of people you should never ever ever respond to: reviewers. Just... don't.

Today on a forum I frequent, someone posted a link to a blog where a writer responded to a review she felt was unprofessional. I also happened to have access to the link to the review, so like a good do-bee, I read the review first. It was a highly opinionated review by someone who disliked the book enough that she didn't finish it.

And just as most people reading such a review normally would, I thought "Hmmm, I wonder if this book is anything like what the reviewer says? I don't normally read this genre, but this sounds like it could be interesting...."

Then I read the writer's response, and frankly, my response was "What was I thinking? I'm just not interested in this."

It wasn't that the writer actually talked about her book. If she had, it might have kept my interest, actually. But instead, she just went on and on about how writers should watch out for such "unprofessional reviewers" and my respect -- and my interest -- quickly dwindled to nothing. The writer was the one who came off extremely unprofessional. The reviewer, not so much.

The thing to remember is that a book review is a conversation among readers. It does not involve the writer. The point of a review is to be biased, and honest. A reviewer is not a judge who hands down a final decree on the value of a work. Nobody expects to agree with everything a reviewer says. A review is not gospel.

If a review does not rise to the level of legal slander/libel then it's none of a writer's business. It's nothing to beware of. It just a thing that exists out there in the world, like stinky cheese. If you don't like it, then leave it alone.

Furthermore, when reviewers are very opinionated, they tend to pique the interest of their readers. Very often a horrible review from a sharp-tongued reviewer will spark some sales. (As almost happened with me and this writer's book.)

Unless you are the kind of obnoxious jerk who is famous for his or her entertaining rants about the world, you will never help yourself by responding to a review. And even the most entertainingly mean curmudgeon in the world loses something when they go off on a self-serving rant. So your best bet is to just resist.

Remember that a reviewer, or reader, or critiquer, is always right about his or her opinion. You're always in the wrong when you argue with a reader about he or she felt.

1 comment:

Danyl said...

Good advice. Although, as a writer I think I'd avoid reading reviews altogether.

That author made a nasty marketing mistake this time.