I had actually wanted to title this blog post “Authors, how not to be an arsehat over bad reviews” but, as I’m trying to be a professional here, I didn’t feel it was the best start. Though it does explain this blog post a little better.
To be more polite about it, this blog post has come about from a recent incident that happened to a new friend and Reviewer I know. They deemed a book they’d been asked to review not that good and so said as much. The response to their bad review was shocking. The author (note the lower case ‘a’ as I don’t feel they deserve the capital) cyberbullied them and tried to crash the Reviewer’s Twitter account by having literally thousands of fake accounts follow them.
Real mature there author person.
Sadly this isn’t the first time a Reviewer friend has been attacked in such a way, so this is my blog about it all. My blog, my opinion. 😉
Now, bad reviews happen to all of us who dare do, say, act, wear or write something in the public eye. It’s a part of being in the public eye. Not everyone is going to like you, what you do, say, wear, write and so on. It’s human nature, live with it.
Heck, bad reviews have happened to me. As the Author and creator of a literary child, we hope for the best when we let them loose in public. But there are going to be some who just won’t get what our story was saying. They’re not wrong in their opinion, it’s their opinion. Yes we’re allowed to have a bit of a tantrum and vent to our friends about how this person is such a so and so and call their review all sorts of things… but we don’t do that in public. We’re not small children having a tantrum in the middle of the supermarket as we’re not allowed some sweeties. Though, when you do respond badly to a review in public… that’s exactly what you look like.
I will freely admit to replying to reviews, both good and bad. But I try to always start by thanking the Reviewer for taking the time and effort to read and then publically review my work. Even if they’ve just bagged it and hated this and griped about that and put it at the top of their DNF (Did Not Finish) pile… that’s fine. Their reviews are constructive criticisms that help me become a better writer. Yes I will sigh and mutter darkly about their review, but I won’t go on the attack in public, spam them, cyberbully them and, well, be an arsehat.
When replying to Reviewers, I will freely point out bits I think they missed or got wrong… if I feel the need. One Reviewer of my last book actually liked the story but then poked holes in it for things they said weren’t explained… so I pointed out where in the book they were actually explained as I got the feeling they were a skim reader and simply missed them. I was polite, I kept thanking them for their opinion and told them how much I appreciated what they had done. This is how you should approach a review, bad or good.
Other bad reviews, or at least negative comments in an otherwise good review, were that there was too much swearing in my story. I looked closely at this, saw their point and not only toned it down in the final version, but have continued to keep it toned down in the following books of the same series. Constructive criticism makes our work better. It points out flaws we may not have seen. We don’t have to agree with every negative comment, but still try and learn something from them. Me, I’ve been trying a new thing out in life. For every negative situation I find myself in, I try and find the positive (no matter how small) for those situations. It works. For life as well as bad reviews. 🙂
Let’s just take the time to think about what it is a book Reviewer does for a moment. Yes they get sent all these free books and then get to sit around reading them and then write about them online. That’s the nice generalised candy floss look at what they do. Reviewers are people, like everyone else, who generally have lives and jobs and many commitments they must attend to. On top of this they agree to read and review your story, usually for free. Just because they have offered to do this, that doesn’t mean they are or have to like it. They are simply there to give an opinion on the story.
A good Reviewer simply tells it how it is for them. A good Reviewer doesn’t bag the writer as a person, or spam them or try and crash their social media accounts. A good Reviewer can often give a bad review as they just didn’t like the book. A bad Reviewer is someone who just says “I liked it” or “It sucked” without explaining why.
I even tried to be reviewer once. I joined up, got my free books… and did not like what I read. I had a lot of other stressful stuff happening in my life at that time and the thought of giving a bad review on top of it all was just too much. So I gutlessly slipped through the cracks and ran away. Being a Reviewer is a tough job. How would you like to be responsible for approving or condemning someone’s work in public? Could you cope with the haters this creates? I couldn’t. Reviewers have to be a lot braver and thick skinned than I could be. Respect Reviewers!
On the flip side, a good Author writes and publishes (or has published) a story they are willing to share with the world, fully accepting that not everyone is going to like it. A good Author will thank all reviewers for the good and bad reviews politely, take what they can from these reviews and write a better story next time.
A bad Author is someone who won’t take constructive criticism in any shape or form. They think their work is perfect and how dare anyone say otherwise. A bad Author is someone who personally attacks the Reviewer and calls them all sorts of names for giving a review the author doesn’t agree with. A bad Author is someone who cyberbullies a Reviewer and attempts to crash their social media accounts by spamming them, or having thousands of fake followers start to follow them so the administers see it as a breach of policy and suspend their accounts.
Don’t be a bad author, be a good Author… note the ‘A’. 😉
Okay, so I’m pretty sure I’m sounding like a bit of a broken record right now as I keep going over and over the same thing. But I was really shocked at the treatment my friend, and probably other Reviewers, get dealt by simply doing what they’ve been asked to do – give an honest review. If you can’t cope with an honest review, either stop writing, stop publishing or pay someone to lie and love it. Better yet, try reading these reviews to see where you’re going wrong and write a better story because of it.
Take special note of this next bit Authors and Writers hoping to be Authors:
A bad review is like a rejection letter. Yes it’s going to upset you, yes it’s going to make you doubt your worth and reach for the chocolate. But when you look at it, it’s just someone pointing out where they feel you’ve been going wrong and, with a good Reviewer, helping you learn from that to try again and write it better next time. Their review is their opinion, respect it.
As I’m often known to say – simply put on your big girl panties, toughen up and keep going.
Not everyone is going to like your writing… but not everyone is going to hate it either. Be a grown up, take it in your stride and… my favourite mantra of all: Accept and move on. This doesn’t mean accept defeat, it simple means you’re accepting the situation for what it is and you’re keeping on going despite it all.
To all Reviewers out there, even those who haven’t liked my work and who have given me bad review:
Thank you! All your time, dedicated commitment to reading and reviewing is greatly appreciated. Not all Authors are arsehats and I would like to apologise for the behaviour of others… But as it was their behaviour and not mine, it’s not my place to take their crap either. All the same, you’re doing a great job and I’m sorry not everyone sees it that way. Keep on keeping on. 😉
To everyone else:
Take this as a life lesson. Look at the situation from more than just the side you’re on. Bad things happen. It’s how you, as a person, react to them that makes you who you are. Are you a Person with a capital P to show you’re important? Or a lower case person for not being the most mature person in a situation?
Okay, that’s me done for now. Please think of others (and how you look to others) the next time you need to have a tantrum over something negative. Should it really become a very public cyberbullying event? Or should you just slam the door a few times, stomp about the house and then get on with life? Think about it.
Until next time,