We all know what is the golden rule of an author: never reply to a bad review on Amazon, Goodreads or elsewhere. Actually you should never reply to any review. Period.
Reviews are from readers to readers. They express a personal opinion on a book, based on their tastes. They must be respected, even if you don’t like them. Only another reader can reply to a review, but the author should never do that.
Not everybody will like your book, this is fact, and even if you feel what a reviewer said isn’t correct, it’s not your duty to point it out.
If an author doesn’t like bad reviews, they can decide not to read them.
I know it’s quite difficult, because curiosity would push you to have a look, but sometimes you just have to look elsewhere, if you really can’t stand them.
After receiving over 880 reviews for “The Mentor” on Amazon.com I can consider myself recovered from the bad habit to read them. I just don’t have the time to read them, not even the good ones. And I even stopped looking to the reviews on my other books, both in English and in Italian. They stopped to be interesting to me.
I know that many of you authors didn’t have the luck to get so many reviews yet, so it’s harder to you to get used of bad reviews and stop reading them completely.
But the worst thing you can do is to reply, because you really don’t know how the other person may react, sometimes they may even damage you more (have you heard about trolls?). And sometimes you just risk showing a bad side of yourself.
I want to tell you something funny that happened to me a few days ago.
Beside being an author, I’m also a reader and a reviewer. You’ve probably read some of my reviews on this blog.
A couple of days ago I was mentioned on Twitter by an author replying to a review by me of one of his books (click here to read the review).
I was surprised because I read his book in Italian years ago, while the original version was in English, so I had supposed he was famous enough to have his book translated and published in my country. The last thing I expected was that he noticed my review and took the time to reply. It was a 3-star review, so not totally bad, but not good enough (see details about my personal rating as a reviewer in this post).
Here is his tweet.
CM, this web-review of yrs pops up non-stop. I KNOW u only liked half of it. I'll do better next time. But this is persecution @ladyanakina— Robert McL Wilson (@Parisbob2001) 15 January 2016
I was a bit baffled. It was supposed to be funny, but it sounded a bit rude, didn’t it? Moreover he put the mention at the end of the tweet so that his followers could read it. Was he trying to make a fool of me publicly? I wasn’t sure.
Sure he had broken the golden rule for an author ‘Never reply to a bad review’ in a very awkward way.
I could let it go, but the temptation to give a polite answer to check whether his intention was malicious was too strong and I did it.
You know, when people is rude to me, I become polite. They often don’t like it.
@Parisbob2001 Sorry for "persecuting" you. It wasn't my intention. I'm just posting my reviews on my Twitter account. :)— Carla Monticelli (@ladyanakina) 17 January 2016
Indeed he apparently didn’t like it, so here is his sarcastic reply.
@ladyanakina We're good, Carla. I was funny & charming about it. You did, after all, make me laugh for a year. That's something.— Robert McL Wilson (@Parisbob2001) 17 January 2016
A bit patronising, too, uh?
At this point I let it go. He had already given a bad impression of himself the first time. I wanted to give him the chance to sort it out, but he didn’t accept my offer and worsened his image before my eyes.
Maybe he doesn’t care of my opinion (so why did he reply to my review in the first place?), but I don’t think it’s nice for a public person, and an author is a public person, to appear like this before the consumers of their work (the readers).
This experience reminded me why I should never reply to a review, so I decided to write this post to share this experience as a reviewer to the fellow authors and my readers, to show them what should never happen.
This is a chance to me to say to my author friends never to reply to a bad review. If you happen to read a bad review to one of your books and think the reviewer didn’t get it right at all, use this, whenever it’s possible, as an inspiration for a blog post.
For instance, I used the reviews of some readers of “The Mentor”, complaining that it is written in American English even if it is set in London and that I haven’t described the London police as it really is, as an inspiration for this blog post.
This is also a chance to say to my readers (and the readers of this blog, even if they’ve never read any of my books) that they must feel free to write a bad review of the books they read and that they should never accept that an author is rude to them because of their opinions.
But whatever an author says to you, please, never stop to be polite.