Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The difficulty being a book reviewer

Should authors comment on their reviews?  Should authors have conversations with the reviewers?  Can an author and a reviewer be friends?

On one of the book sites that I frequent, these were some very pertinent questions being asked by one of my friends.  The conversation really got me thinking.

If I knew then what I know now about some of the authors that I've done r2rs for, I would have never read their books, mainly because their attitudes turned out to be absolutely crappy and I don't think they have the right to treat us poorly when, in all reality, we've done them a favor.  

On the other hand, I've met some really great authors who not only have good books, but also have good personalities - and some I have become friends with.

1. I think ALL authors should read their reviews.  Even the bad ones.  You should read them with an open-mind because you can truly learn something from the reviewers of your book.  (Don't believe me?  See my review on Santa Claus vs the Aliens.

2. I think ALL authors should thank their reviewers.  Even if you gave the reviewer the book for free.  Even if they gave you 1 star.  You should always thank them.  That's called being professional because they did not have to do this for you.

3. I think that ALL authors should NEVER comment on a review, especially if you're not happy about what the person said - but I do think it's ok for authors to "like" the review.

I have two different stories about authors contacting reviewers - one in a group, one on a review.  The first one contacted a reviewer in a group they were both a part of and asked her if it was ok if he asked her a few questions about her thoughts.  On one side, I think he was professional, but on the other side, some of his comments seemed like they were a little snide or passive-aggressive.  He ended up alienating a lot of people.  My opinion?  He never should have done so.  The other author "defended" himself on the comments on a review, saying that he had in fact used an editor and apologized for the fact that there were errors in his book.  He probably shouldn't have done that either, but I liked the way he did it and contacted him, read his book, found no errors and loved the book.

4. I think that NO author should complain to a reviewer about other reviews or other reviewers.  Even if you are friends.  Maybe even ESPECIALLY if you are friends.  Telling someone who has helped you out that no one does anything for you or making comments in general about crappy reviewers not only hurts your friendship, but makes sure that this particular reviewer never helps you again.

5. I think that ALL authors should make sure not to alienate a reviewer.  Especially one that has helped you.  If you're having a bad day, keep your cruel words to yourself.  You hurt the person ... and you hurt yourself.  Treat them the way you would want to be treated. 

Well, those are my opinions on the whole thing.  Authors are complaining about reviewer behavior (saying things about the author in the blog, etc), but from where I sit, there are some authors who have much worse behavior than the reviewers do.  The book review SHOULD only be about the book, but when the author has been awful to the reviewer, I think that other reviewers - and other readers - have the right to know.

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