Authors and Reviewers: a love story

The rela­tion­ship between an author and a reviewer is one of the most sym­bi­otic ones in the arts today. This is becom­ing more preva­lent with the rise of the book blog­ging career path and the increase in the publisher’s use of social media. With­out one another, they sim­ply can­not exist. Review­ers rely on pub­lish­ers and authors to sup­ply them with “work” — books to read and review. Authors and pub­lish­ers need book review­ers to spread the word and gain publicity.

Some­times, though, things get out of whack and the whole sys­tem is turned on its head. This usu­ally comes from some­thing I call “a case of the meanies.”

I was talk­ing with an author recently. Like many authors, she writes book reviews, as well as her own nov­els. After leav­ing a less than favor­able review for one book, she was sud­denly expe­ri­enc­ing “rat­ings retal­i­a­tion”. The author whose book she cri­tiqued attacked her book in return, get­ting her friends to leave one-star reviews on GoodReads.

In another, more high pro­file case, a well-known debut author with a major pub­lisher, slan­dered (quite nas­tily, I might add) a cer­tain reviewer who had left a crit­i­cal, neg­a­tive review.  I mean, really? Over a bad review? Then, of course, there is that nutjob author who went crazy because of a bad review, attract­ing hun­dreds to the com­ment sec­tion. It went viral in a mat­ter of hours, doing a lot of dam­age to self-publishers every­where (we aren’t all like that, we swear!) and to herself.

This isn’t to say that all review­ers are blame­less. I do think you CAN go too far with a scathing review, par­tic­u­larly if it turns slan­der­ous and starts attack­ing the author, rather than the work. I think review­ers who pride them­selves on being catty, should prob­a­bly take a few sec­onds and think about the dam­age they are poten­tially inflict­ing and to whom. Does Cas­san­dra Clare care if you call her writ­ing shitty? Prob­a­bly not. But would a self-published, or debut small press indie writer? They might. You want to pro­vide crit­i­cism for them. You don’t want to take away their will to live.

And authors…I think a lot of authors need tougher skin. My nov­els aren’t always well-received — I accept that because it’s the nature of art. It’s sub­jec­tive. And I rec­og­nize that my char­ac­ters are DEFINITELY not for every­one. But you take the neg­a­tive reviews with a grain of salt. Maybe lis­ten if they have some­thing con­struc­tive to say, oth­er­wise, brush it off and con­cen­trate on the good reviews. It can sting but it’s not hard to do. The worst thing you could ever do as a writer is to A) get mad at the reviewer or B) retal­i­ate against them. Don’t com­ment (other than to say “Sorry you didn’t like it, thanks for giv­ing it a try!”), don’t argue, don’t take your issue pub­licly… and for heaven’s sake, don’t try and exact some kind of revenge on the reviewer. Just let it go, let the bal­ance between reviewer and author go back to nor­mal and enjoy the work­ing order of things. We aren’t ene­mies, we are here to help each other and share our love of the writ­ten word.

And here’s some­thing totally unre­lated and creepy now… the offi­cial trailer for the Exper­i­ment in Ter­ror Book #3, DEAD SKY MORNING (to read more about how I made the trailer and to enter a fan­tas­tic give­away, visit The Book­ish Babes).