Friday, 20 April 2012

Should Authors Comment on Reviews?

Hosted by Reading Romances, in the Authors on Reviews: To Comment or Not to Comment? event bloggers discuss whether or not they think authors should comment on their reviews. You can read more about this event on their site, where you can also find other bloggers participating in this hop.

As most of you know, there have been quite some kerfuffles the last few months where authors left aggressive comments on reviews of their book - sometimes even their agents joined the discussion. In some extreme cases authors even called upon their author friends on Twitter, mobilizing them to systematically upvote only good reviews on Goodreads, making sure the lesser-star reviews disappear from the front pages.

Because of all this, the question arises what the proper etiquette reviewer/author is - should an author comment on a review or not?

First things first: never ever should an author make a negative comment on a review. Not in public. Not online. They can complain about it to their friends, their family. But never on the internet, where a tiny rumour spreads like wildfire. Don't even try to talk in code or try not mentioning names, most people know what you're talking about regardless.

If you want to clarify something, do so in a personal email. For example, if the reviewer is confused by some part of your book, you can explain why you wrote it that way. I've got a few of those messages, and I very much appreciated them. They won't change my review, but it helps understanding the author's choices. There are a few things you'll have to pay attention to when sending such an email:
  • It must be an email. Don't send a message on Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter or another social networking site. Most bloggers have their contact info on their blogs; take a moment to find it there
  • Always, always be polite in your commentary
  • The blogger took the time to read your book. A little bit of appreciation goes a very long way
If you just want to send a little thank you towards a reviewer, feel free to shoot them a comment or Tweet. If you just want to thank me for my time, you don't have to write a full letter to me. You can, if you want to, but you don't have to. I've also gotten comments from writers on three or even two-star reviews, saying that they could use the criticism in their further works. I absolutely love it when I get these comments - doesn't matter if they're on my blog, through a personal Goodreads message or anywhere else.

All of the bookish drama lately has put author commenting in a very bad light, but the thing is that we bloggers still like to get a little compliment. Who doesn't. Therefore I think authors should be careful, but if you stay polite there should be no problem if you comment on a blog. Try to stay away from bloggers that have caused drama before. Otherwise, go for it (:


I'd love to hear your opinion on this! If you're an author, do you comment on reviews? If so, where and how? And if you're a blogger, do you like to get a comment from an author on one of your reviews?


Gigi Ann said...

Personally, I like comments from other bloggers as well as an author, but I also understand why they can't comment on a lot of blogs. It is just to time consuming...But it is always a thrill when one does take the time to comment on one of my reviews.

The Muggle said...

I think a positive comment is always welcome from an author. But there is nothing that ruins the reputation of one as quickly as a negative comment. We have seen it countless times and it is best if the author just says nothing online when it comes to a review they didn't like.

ReadingRomances said...

I completely agree with you! never ever should an author make a negative comment on a review. Not in public. Not online. They can complain about it to their friends, their family."

Authors need to be aware that these type of actions can create big repercussions and it's never good to associate their name with that. 

Thank you for being part of this event!

Vanessa The Jeep Diva said...

Bookish drama. LOVE IT. Great post, thoughts & opinions, thanks for sharing them.

Celine said...

Thanks Vanessa!

Celine said...

Thanks for hosting this event! I very much enjoyed writing my post, and if I can find some time later today I'll stop by all the other blogs (:

I don't think authors always fully realise the power of the internet. If they make a fool of themselves they will feel that in their sales too.

Celine said...

Yeah exactly. You would think they'd learn after all the drama we've seen so far, but we still hear about these things happening. Thanks for stopping by Lu (:

Celine said...

Totally! I love it when they leave a comment, because that means they took the time to read my review and appreciated it. It makes you feel like a super-star, hehe. Thanks for leaving a comment Gigi!

J.L. Campbell said...

I'm always amazed when I hear how people manipulate Amazon's system. It makes me wonder who has that kind of time to waste (but people obviously do!). A writer's time would be better spent improving their craft.

That said, I think it's fine for an author to say thanks to a blogger who spent time reviewing his/her book.

Celine said...

Thanks for stopping by J.L.! I completely agree with you. (:

Lianne Lavoie said...

The idea of authors "watching over" me kind of makes me nervous, because I feel like it could affect how I write reviews. I really need to consciously make sure I'm honest when reviewing books where the author has contacted me, because I almost feel like we're friends now, and I don't want to hurt their feelings! But at the same time, I think honesty is important in reviews.

That being said, if I've written a positive (or at least mostly positive) review, and the author comments on it in a positive way, that would probably make me dance with joy. I react towards authors in a way similar to how most people are around movie stars. "OMG it's Neil Gaiman! *swoon* OMG he talked to me!!" lol

Karen said...

I know some bloggers don't want any comments from authors - even positive - but I don't mind a "thank you for taking time to review my book" comment. Keep it simple.
I've had a few comment on negative reviews by saying I'm sorry you didn't enjoy it but thank you and that always stays with me & I give that author another chance. 

Linny @ Linnys Literature said...

I feel the same way as Lianne. It makes me feel bad writing bad reviews to authors who have said something to me and have been nice, though I remain honest anyway. And if it was a more positive review and the author responds in thanks, then it makes my day! I saw someone's review for a book that I really liked that the author commented on and I started freaking out even though it wasn't even my post. It's very cool to know that authors do read what we have to say and sometimes even take the time to say thank you.

I definitely agree with what you said about being nice though. I've seen some of the drama you mentioned with authors ganging up on a reviewer and starting petty name calling fights. Even if the review wasn't fair for some reason, they should never be rude like that. It automatically makes other readers not want to read their book, even if the book itself originally appealed to us. They can just send a polite email explaining their thoughts like you suggested. And the ones reading the reviews aren't stupid. They can see if a reviewer is being unfair and we will respect an author more that handles themselves properly.

Celine said...

When I first started reviewing I felt the "they're watching over my shoulder" thing too. It took a little bit of trial and error and a big dose of courage to write a quite critical review on a book of a "befriended" author. She was super happy with my review though, saying she could learn from it, and I keep that in my mind every time I write a review now.

For me movie stars and authors are the same too (: I get super jittery and awkward every time I see one! And when they comment on my blog I still do a happy dance every time

Celine said...

Yeah I love it when authors thank you for your time even when you wrote a negative review! Thanks for stopping by & leaving a comment Karen (:

Celine said...

Haha, yeah it's encouraging I think, that authors actually read our reviews and sometimes can even learn a thing or two from them (: Like I said to Lianne, I've been quite lucky to have gotten some comments and messages from writers I've reviewed books for, but it's still something super awesome that totally makes my day. Then again, I also got in a fight with an author or two. But let's not get into that too much ^^

I completely agree with you on your last comment; our readers aren't stupid. They see when a reviewer is being petty or rude, the author doesn't have to point that out.

Thanks for sharing your opinion Linny! ^^

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