Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Writing Tip Wednesday--Reviews

Welcome to Writing Tip Wednesday! A writing career consists of much more than writing stories. Be prepared. Be educated. Make well-informed decisions. For writing craft topics, see the Labels list in the left sidebar as you scroll down the page or check out my handbook in e-book or print.

Reviews...the coveted, the uplifting, the ego-killers. They can help produce sales and make books eligible for certain types of paid promotion and advertising.

Every author wants readers to love her stories—it’s human nature. However, reading reviews can lead to writer’s block, fear of failure, and bad behavior for the unprepared. Here are some rules to live by:

Rule #1: Not everyone will like the book. Award winning, best written, bestseller—none of it matters. Each reader will have his/her own opinion, which may or may not be the same as the author’s or another reader’s.

Rule #2: Grow a thick skin. Agent and editor rejections are usually polite, if impersonal at times. Reviews can be scathing and blunt.

Rule #3: Avoid reading reviews. Yes, a great review can boost the ego, but a bad one can affect writing. Writers write. Reviewers review. Keep them separate.

Rule #4: Bad reviews might actually help sales. Curiosity can lead to readers wanting to know why a book was rated low.

Rule #5: Sometimes, authors review books for the sole purpose of giving low ratings. Retaliation is tempting. Following through lowers the author to the author-reviewer’s level. Rise above and maintain professionalism. Do not encourage readers to behave in the same manner as the author-reviewer, either.

Rule #6: Professional reviewers may or may not like authors thanking them for reviews. Tread carefully.

Rule #7: Screen reviewers before sending ARCs and books. Some reviewers pirate free review copies. Talk to other authors and choose wisely.

Rule #8: Ask readers to leave reviews and ratings on retail sites, Goodreads, etc. politely, without pressure, and occasionally rather than frequently. Begging is unbecoming.

Rule #9: Reviews can be personal attacks on the author and may contain inaccurate plot, character, and story references. They may also be poorly written, with bad grammar and horrendous spelling. Let the review speak for itself. Most readers will recognize an unhelpful review when they see one.

Rule #10: Do not respond to negative reviews. Repeat. Do NOT respond to negative reviews. Say it with me. DO NOT RESPOND TO NEGATIVE REVIEWS. Defending a book can quickly become a lose-lose situation. Close the browser window and step away from the keyboard. Do. Not. Respond.

Reviews are simply another part of a writing career and maintaining a professional demeanor is vital in the publishing world. With today’s instant social media network, an author’s single bout of bad behavior can spread to Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc. with a single click, resulting in lost readers and potential readers. Agents and editors will think twice about working with an author who makes a public misstep. Be the author those professional colleagues will respect.

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!


  1. I agree but sometimes our work is just off. It was our best at the time but it fell short. We are human.

    1. That can happen, especially with new authors, and constructive reviews can help. As we learn more about writing craft, our skills improve and our older work may make us cringe because of the simple mistakes. It's part of the process, though. I try not to think about my earlier work and the changes I'd make if I could get my hands on it again. Work for when I get rights back... :)

      Thanks for stopping by, E.A.!

  2. Just a quick question. Should we respond to negative reviews? :)

    Just kidding! Good info.

    1. LOL, Cathy! Didn't I get my point across??? :D

  3. I really needed this as a new writer. I was in a deep depression over a hateful review. The reviewer had an agenda to promote another author. I did not write after reading it. I just cried but for here on in, I am not reading reviews. I take my crits on my WIP very seriously but will no longer read reviews. I don't have thick skin so getting a thick skin won't work for me. And yes, I wanted to write back but I did not. Thanks.

    1. Not responding is tough sometimes, but you did the right thing, Brina! Hugs!