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Old 07-21-2012, 01:54 PM   #1
Lloyd Tackitt
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Should You Respond To Reviews?

I struggled with this question for a long time. Is it better to not respond to reviews or to respond to them?

From searching forums on this topic, and looking at reviews of other books for the author commenting back, it appears that the majority opinion is for the author to not respond.

I finally settled on this: No response to positive reviews unless the reviewer asks a question - such as "when is the next book coming out?". No response to negative reviews if the reviewer simply doesn't like the writing style or story line, everyone is entitled to their aesthetic opinions after all.

But, when a reviewer leaves either a hateful/spiteful/vile comment that is aimed at me personally as the writer (and the subject and material in my book does tend to attract some of those); or if the reviewer leaves a comment that is factually incorrect (my book has some technical aspects to it) then I respond to correct the erroneous information they have left behind for all of eternity. I respond in the same tone of voice as the reviewer. If it is caustic or sarcastic so is my response. If the tone is courteous, so is my response.

One reason, other than correcting factual errors, is that controversy tends to get people's attention. It is for now a part of my overall marketing strategy to be controversial in response to the hater's reviews. I have noticed, but can't document yet, that I seem to get a small sales spike after receiving a hater review and I comment back in kind. I don't see the spike after positive or neutral reviews, only the vilely negative ones.

What's your take on this?
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Old 07-21-2012, 04:01 PM   #2
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I disagree; I think there is something to be said in this day and age for taking the high ground. By responding as you are, you may be winning the battle (i.e. seeing a small short-term spike) but losing the war. Think of it this way: people will slow down to look at a car wreck on the side of the road. But would they want to be IN the car wreck?

There is an author who posts on this forum who comes across as very aggressive and confrontational, and I have to admit, it has biased me against reading his books. If he comes across as so vile and unpleasant in just a 200-word message board post, why would I want to spend 300 pages with the guy?

It is up to you to do what you want, but you asked for opinions, and as a paying reader, I wholeheartedly disagree with your approach. I might stop and look at your page, the same way people stop to gawk at a traffic accident, but I would never actually buy a book from someone who does what you do. It smacks of the mark of the amateur to me, and with so many other books in my to-read pile, I'll stick with people who can conduct themselves like grown-ups
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Old 07-21-2012, 04:29 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by ficbot View Post
I disagree; I think there is something to be said in this day and age for taking the high ground. By responding as you are, you may be winning the battle (i.e. seeing a small short-term spike) but losing the war. Think of it this way: people will slow down to look at a car wreck on the side of the road. But would they want to be IN the car wreck?

There is an author who posts on this forum who comes across as very aggressive and confrontational, and I have to admit, it has biased me against reading his books. If he comes across as so vile and unpleasant in just a 200-word message board post, why would I want to spend 300 pages with the guy?

It is up to you to do what you want, but you asked for opinions, and as a paying reader, I wholeheartedly disagree with your approach. I might stop and look at your page, the same way people stop to gawk at a traffic accident, but I would never actually buy a book from someone who does what you do. It smacks of the mark of the amateur to me, and with so many other books in my to-read pile, I'll stick with people who can conduct themselves like grown-ups
That's the kind of commen I respond to: "I'll stick with people who can conduct themselves like grown-ups" You were doing just fine until then, replying with courtesy and with your opinion, to which you are certainly entitled. But, you apparently couldn't help getting in one last caustic little snide comment eh? Pehaps it is because you hide behind a shield of anonymity. I have noticed that those who hide behind a fake name seem to let their inner sniveling out the most.
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Old 07-21-2012, 04:35 PM   #4
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The spike after the vilely negative ones may not be from your responding in kind, but from sympathy after you get a vilely negative review, which will be eroded away after you respond in kind.

I freely admit I gauge visible author behaviour using a milli-HarlanEllison scale of "you must be at least this talented to get away with certain stuff" and while I may occasionally be willing to read works by authors behaving badly, I am considerably less willing to pay actual money out of my own pocket to do so, and considerably less likely to recommend them as a worthwhile read to others (unless the talent really has sufficient milli-HarlanEllisons to justify).

In fact, I consider creator w*nk to be a prime source of free entertainment which is probably going to provide me with more lulz than the actual story/book/whatever. But I digress.

Anyway, if you are determined to respond, should you ever find any of your responses being essentially a paraphrase from the Bad Review Bingo Card, then you may want to step back and rethink your response before posting.

Or not, and provide some bonus free entertainment.
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Old 07-21-2012, 04:40 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by ATDrake View Post
The spike after the vilely negative ones may not be from your responding in kind, but from sympathy after you get a vilely negative review, which will be eroded away after you respond in kind.

I freely admit I gauge visible author behaviour using a milli-HarlanEllison scale of "you must be at least this talented to get away with certain stuff" and while I may occasionally be willing to read works by authors behaving badly, I am considerably less willing to pay actual money out of my own pocket to do so, and considerably less likely to recommend them as a worthwhile read to others (unless the talent really has sufficient milli-HarlanEllisons to justify).

In fact, I consider creator w*nk to be a prime source of free entertainment which is probably going to provide me with more lulz than the actual story/book/whatever. But I digress.

Anyway, if you are determined to respond, should you ever find any of your responses being essentially a paraphrase from the Bad Review Bingo Card, then you may want to step back and rethink your response before posting.


Or not, and provide some bonus free entertainment.
You may be correct, over time I hope to find out one way or another. I am keeping statistics so I can analyze this, but it is too soon I think to be able to do a decent analysis. Now I am off to read up on the milli-HarlanEllison scale - haven't heard of it before.
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Old 07-21-2012, 04:45 PM   #6
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That's the kind of commen I respond to: "I'll stick with people who can conduct themselves like grown-ups" You were doing just fine until then, replying with courtesy and with your opinion, to which you are certainly entitled. But, you apparently couldn't help getting in one last caustic little snide comment eh? Pehaps it is because you hide behind a shield of anonymity. I have noticed that those who hide behind a fake name seem to let their inner sniveling out the most.
Look, you asked I have never read your books nor your reviews or comments, so I was not speaking to your personal behaviour; I was speaking to the general topic of authors behaving with the kind of behaviour you describe. I do think it makes them sound amateurish and juvenile, and I don't think it is discourteous to say so.

As for the anonymity thing, I have a very unusual last name which I never, ever use on-line because it is traceable. I won't apologize for that, and I don't think it makes my opinion less valid or reasonable.
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Old 07-21-2012, 04:50 PM   #7
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You may be correct, over time I hope to find out one way or another. I am keeping statistics so I can analyze this, but it is too soon I think to be able to do a decent analysis. Now I am off to read up on the milli-HarlanEllison scale - haven't heard of it before.
Well for the purposes of your information gathering, I can tell you straight up that your disproportionately rude and personally denigrating response to ficbot, who was trying to provide helpful advice which may perhaps not have been phrased sufficiently to your liking, is a turn-off from my point of view and you'd have to have serious talent to compensate.

Anyway, Harlan Ellison is a highly influential and multiple award winning author, who is also fairly notorious for picking fights with just about everybody. But he really is that much a innovative genius wordsmith (at least at his peak) that people are willing to overlook his lifelong jerkishness.

With other considerably less capable authors who don't even possess a fraction of his sheer brilliance, that doesn't happen as much.
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Old 07-21-2012, 04:51 PM   #8
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Look, you asked I have never read your books nor your reviews or comments, so I was not speaking to your personal behaviour; I was speaking to the general topic of authors behaving with the kind of behaviour you describe. I do think it makes them sound amateurish and juvenile, and I don't think it is discourteous to say so.

As for the anonymity thing, I have a very unusual last name which I never, ever use on-line because it is traceable. I won't apologize for that, and I don't think it makes my opinion less valid or reasonable.
Since you weren't aiming that last comment at me personally, then as they used to say on SNL "Never Mind".

You do broach another topic for another thread though - whether to be anonymous or not. As can be easily seen I choose not to. So far so good...but who knows, someday I may regret it.
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Old 07-21-2012, 04:55 PM   #9
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Well for the purposes of your information gathering, I can tell you straight up that your disproportionately rude and personally denigrating response to ficbot, who was trying to provide helpful advice which may perhaps not have been phrased sufficiently to your liking, is a turn-off from my point of view and you'd have to have serious talent to compensate.

Anyway, Harlan Ellison is a highly influential and multiple award winning author, who is also fairly notorious for picking fights with just about everybody. But he really is that much a innovative genius wordsmith (at least at his peak) that people are willing to overlook his lifelong jerkishness.

With other considerably less capable authors who don't even possess a fraction of his sheer brilliance, that doesn't happen as much.
I googled Ellison - no I don't have his talent, not a fraction of it unfortunately. So perhaps I'm playing with fire. Won't be the first time. Won't be the last time. Risk taking is an essential part of life, avoiding risk is just as dangerous and not nearly as much fun.
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Old 07-21-2012, 07:08 PM   #10
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If a reviewer were to leave a "a hateful/spiteful/vile comment," you're better off just leaving it where it lies. There are some people that like to troll around and one thing they do is leave some bait for the unwary. Which is kind of the vibe I got from the way you responded to ficbot.

If you want to be treated as a serious professional, you are better off not resulting to childish behavior, especially on the Internet where everything you say can and will be used against you FOREVER. Yes, I used all capitals to show the seriousness and vastness of the length of time at which you will be suffering the ire of the Interwebs.

Feel free to respond to any bad reviews and allow yourself to sink to the lowest levels possible, but do not plead ignorance or beg for leniency when the Internet comes calling.

Links that may be helpful for your research:
http://vacuousminx.wordpress.com/201...uess-the-year/
http://howpublishingreallyworks.com/?p=4104
http://www.pocketfulofbooks.com/p/au...ing-badly.html
http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...behaving-badly
You end up on this shelf at GR http://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/...behaving-badly

It's called "the ABM" for a reason. That stands for "the Author's Big Mistake." And it very rarely turns out well.
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Old 07-21-2012, 07:24 PM   #11
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If a reviewer were to leave a "a hateful/spiteful/vile comment," you're better off just leaving it where it lies. There are some people that like to troll around and one thing they do is leave some bait for the unwary. Which is kind of the vibe I got from the way you responded to ficbot.

If you want to be treated as a serious professional, you are better off not resulting to childish behavior, especially on the Internet where everything you say can and will be used against you FOREVER. Yes, I used all capitals to show the seriousness and vastness of the length of time at which you will be suffering the ire of the Interwebs.

Feel free to respond to any bad reviews and allow yourself to sink to the lowest levels possible, but do not plead ignorance or beg for leniency when the Internet comes calling.

Links that may be helpful for your research:
http://vacuousminx.wordpress.com/201...uess-the-year/
http://howpublishingreallyworks.com/?p=4104
http://www.pocketfulofbooks.com/p/au...ing-badly.html
http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...behaving-badly
You end up on this shelf at GR http://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/...behaving-badly

It's called "the ABM" for a reason. That stands for "the Author's Big Mistake." And it very rarely turns out well.
Good point - it is forever and that's a fact. Thank you for the links, I'll be checking them out.
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Old 07-21-2012, 07:41 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Lloyd Tackitt View Post
I struggled with this question for a long time. Is it better to not respond to reviews or to respond to them?

From searching forums on this topic, and looking at reviews of other books for the author commenting back, it appears that the majority opinion is for the author to not respond.

I finally settled on this: No response to positive reviews unless the reviewer asks a question - such as "when is the next book coming out?". No response to negative reviews if the reviewer simply doesn't like the writing style or story line, everyone is entitled to their aesthetic opinions after all.

But, when a reviewer leaves either a hateful/spiteful/vile comment that is aimed at me personally as the writer
Like your response to ficbot and those who post anonymously? Most people who have a little online experience use a pseudonym. I have since well before Tim Berners-Lee spoiled things. No one can tell whether you use your real name or a pseudonym either - there is no "Verified" system here.

I have not read your book, so I have no idea whether the critiques were valid or not. What I have seen is an attitude that has not impressed me. It is one thing to respond to a post that you don't like, but quite another to start labeling people because they don't fit into whatever niche you have allocated them. I would be very cautious with regard to how you respond, if you decide to respond. Alienating people will not sell more copies of your book.
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Old 07-21-2012, 08:04 PM   #13
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Comparisons with Ellison are pointless: He is one writer, an @$$ besides, and not one anybody should be using as a character guide.

My opinion is that a writer has no need to respond to a review, good or bad. However, there's one way that is usually considered acceptable: Make a light-hearted comment, one that labels the writer as a "good sport," and which does not seriously address any negative points. If you, the writer, cannot do this... don't respond at all.
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Old 07-21-2012, 08:20 PM   #14
Lloyd Tackitt
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Like your response to ficbot and those who post anonymously? Most people who have a little online experience use a pseudonym. I have since well before Tim Berners-Lee spoiled things. No one can tell whether you use your real name or a pseudonym either - there is no "Verified" system here.

I have not read your book, so I have no idea whether the critiques were valid or not. What I have seen is an attitude that has not impressed me. It is one thing to respond to a post that you don't like, but quite another to start labeling people because they don't fit into whatever niche you have allocated them. I would be very cautious with regard to how you respond, if you decide to respond. Alienating people will not sell more copies of your book.
I am easy enough to find, on the internet and in real life too. One of those risks I decided to take. Yes, it's me, my real name. My real open and frank opinions. I'm not in hiding slinging slurs from behind a mask.

Whether the critiques are valid or not - of course they are, to the reviewer. Everyone else has to make up their own minds, and will regardless of anything I say or do. I have no problem with anyone that doesn't like my writing style, I often don't like it myself so I try to improve. In fact I learn more from negative critiques than I do from positive ones. For instance, this thread is educational. Would it have been if I had rolled over and been all nice after getting the first response that had - what I took to be - an unnecessary negative personal attack on me for asking a valid question? Maybe, maybe not.

As for alienating people reducing sales, I'm not so sure that's the case. Controversy sells, it draws attention, it gets some people to reading the comments just for the enjoyment of the argument that's going back and forth. I've seen at least one instance of that on this site, and I am brand new to it. What is it they say about any publicity is good publicity?
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Old 07-21-2012, 08:23 PM   #15
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Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: North Central Territory in the Republic of Texas
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steven Lyle Jordan View Post
Comparisons with Ellison are pointless: He is one writer, an @$$ besides, and not one anybody should be using as a character guide.

My opinion is that a writer has no need to respond to a review, good or bad. However, there's one way that is usually considered acceptable: Make a light-hearted comment, one that labels the writer as a "good sport," and which does not seriously address any negative points. If you, the writer, cannot do this... don't respond at all.
Well said.
Lloyd Tackitt is offline   Reply With Quote
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