Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Message to reviewers...

This past weekend I came across a blog at a review site that got me thinking (again) about the issue of authors commenting on reviews. Mary at Mary’s Naughty Whispers (ETA:  Mary has removed her original post and the comments but you can still read some of her thoughts there) presented a different perspective on the issue. In her opinion, it is courteous for authors to thank the reviewer for reading and reviewing their book. She said: “My main problem is when some author contact me, ask me to review their story and once my review is published on my blog, never feel bond to even acknowledge the time I spent to give a review.”

Some authors responded in the comments at Mary’s blog, trying to explain their point of view. There was reference to a recent post at Dear Author “Is there room on the internet for authorial interaction?”. That post and the ensuing comments talked about different kinds of interaction—more than just saying “thank you” they also talked about authors who try to explain points of their story to the reviewer, or defend their story, or even authors who defend each other. The general consensus was that authors should not do that by commenting on a review, but should use a different platform such as their own blog to explain their perspective. The post included a comment from Meljean Brook: “I think there’s room for author interaction in the comments of a review, but it’s very limited room. In general — unless the reviewer has notified the author directly about the presence of a review and invites a reply — I think that it’s best not to comment at all. We all know that many authors are online, seeking reviews of their work and looking in on discussions; there’s no need to tap the readers on the shoulder and say, “Hey, I’m here,” because it’s likely to have a chilling effect…and for good or bad, the best thing for an author is for readers to talk about her book. Why shut that down?”

Comments on the post came from readers, authors and other reviewers. Las said “But I don’t want to seem the responding to reviews in the comments, even to post something as simple as “Glad you liked it,” or “Sorry it didn’t work for you.””

Donna said: “The minute I see an author’s comment appear below a review, no matter how gracious or insightful, it has a chilling effect. It changes the nature of the discussion. I suddenly feel called upon to put politeness before honesty, and I either refrain from commenting, or refrain from commenting honestly.”

Mandi, who is a reviewer, said: I’m not necessarily against author interaction in certain circumstances, but overall I don’t think their comments on reviews helps the discussion. When I get into discussions about books on Twitter, I realize that the author of the book I’m talking about can read my discussion, but I don’t really like it if they pop-up into it. … There are so many factors that play into online interaction, I don’t have a conclusive answer, but I do lean towards less involvement from authors.”
Jane from Dear Author, who is of course a reviewer, commented on her own post to someone else: “Thank yous have always made me feel uncomfortable because I didn’t write a positive review for the author, but because I loved the book. Thanking me implies I did the author some kind of favor.”

Commenters at Mary’s Naughty Whispers pointed out that thanking a reviewer for a positive review can be seen as sucking up to the reviewer, which is the point Jane makes above.

Although I’ve been a published author for a few years, I feel like I’m still learning my way in this business. When I first got reviews, I was careful to thank every reviewer who reviewed my books. I said, “Thank you for taking the time to read and review my book.” I was not thanking them for a good review; in fact there were times where I wasn’t all that thrilled with the review and still sent that message. If the review was really positive, I would sometimes add “I’m glad you enjoyed it.” In a couple of cases where the review wasn’t so great, I added, “I’m sorry the story didn’t work for you.” 

Looking back at that, I cringe a little that I did that, but in one case it turned out to be a positive thing. The reviewer appreciated my comment and because of it chose to read another of my books which she very much enjoyed.

After reading the Dear Author post and comments noted above, I had to rethink whether it was appropriate to thank reviewers for taking the time to read and review my books. I still think it is. But I have stopped doing it on the actual blog post and rather usually email the reviewer privately.
Mary likes to see thank you comments from authors on her blog whereas others do not. Mary says: “I am very humble when an author decide to leave a comment when the review was not requested by her. I find it very (VERY) nice and it is appreciated as it should be without double meaning.”

Mary also says: “I must be in the rare portion of reviewer thinking that without an author, I would not fulfill my reading passion.” She thinks there is a mutual gain to be had when a reviewer posts a review and an author comments on it or quotes it on their blog, website or newsletter, or re-Tweets it. And I agree—there is benefit for both of us. While Jane at Dear Author doesn’t like the implication that she has done an author some kind of favor by reviewing their book, the truth is…she has (positive or negative review). 

Here’s my message to reviewers:
Even if I don’t comment on your blog or email you to thank you for the review, please know that I do appreciate you taking the time to read my books and the time it takes to write and post a review. Every review of my book brings attention to it in a way I can’t do myself. There are so many books out there, when a reviewer reads one of mine, I am very grateful. Authors need reviewers to help spread the word about our books. Of course we always hope it’s going to be positive, but we know it’s not always going to be. Even so, it is appreciated. 

It’s a fine line to walk for authors. Do you comment and risk making the reviewer uncomfortable because they feel like you’re sucking up to them? Do you not comment and risk offending the reviewer for not appreciating the time they spent reading and writing the review? Will posting even a simple thank you prevent other readers from commenting about the book because they know the author is present there? What do you think?


Taryn Elliott said...

I don't know what's the right or wrong thing to do, but my mom taught me to be polite, so I definitely post back a thank you.
Hell, even Nora does it over on DA. Even when they don't like her book, she's always gracious and comes on to say thank you for reading.

As long as you don't engage in the comments, I think that's a safe bet. I'm still a newbie too--so that may change in the future. But right now, anyone taking the time to read my work...I'd like to say thanks.

Drmgrl99 - Dawn said...

As a reviewer I'm always nervious what an authors thinks of my review and love to hear from them if they do see it and like it, but I do not think it is necessary or feel cheated in anyway if they do not comment. I know that I don't comment on every post or review I read so I don't expect others to.
If I have a friendly relationship with the author or if i was given the book to review I usually will send a copy of the review to the author so that they know my thoughts on it. If they respond great if not I know they are busy and go onto the next review.

Kelly Jamieson said...

Taryn thanks for weighing in. That was my thinking too! (Thanks Mom!)

Dawn it's good to hear the thought of another reviewer.

PG Forte said...

First of all--fabulous post! Second--I love your "message". Can I steal that? ;) Third--I think there's no absolute right or wrong answer to this question. No matter what you do, there's always going to be someone who wishes you'd done it another way.

Kelly Jamieson said...

Thanks PG! And you may absolutely "steal" my message, LOL!

The Smutty Kitty said...

Personally I think you should post a comment on every review I write whether it is yours or not. lmao I am SOOOOOO kidding!!! :) I think it is stilly to expect the author to thank you for reviewing their book. How about you thank them for the chance to review the book? I am thrilled anytime someone lets me review a book for them. And I plan on giving my honest opinion no matter how I felt about the book. I've taken the stance to not post negative reviews on my blogs so I will email the person who sent me the book directly to let them know my thoughts. I wonder if the author should hire someone full time to check daily for new reviews so they can run and comment. I LOVE when an author takes the time to come and comment on my blog but I totally understand if they don't.


Kelly Jamieson said...

Thanks for giving us your perspective as another reviewer Kelly!

Mary's Naughty Whispers said...

Hi Kelly.

A lot of water passed since march and I just found out that you posted your opinion.

My initial post was mostly a venting blog and never meant to be a general argument. I am a lonely reviewer and quite a newbie if you consider that I am reviewing for only a year. I have no idea what is going on in authors/reviewers/publishers world. The feud and pettiness that I read here and there confirm me that not matter were we are it is a sharks world.

My initial vent was about 2 authors: one who asked me specifically to post my full review on her site (which I agreed) and the other one was a misunderstanding.

I NEVER EVER asked authors to acknowledge a thank you on my blog. If they do/did I am very grateful they take/took the time to drop few lines but I never asked for it. I blog for the love of expressing my opinion and in my own way to promote a sub-genre I love: menage romances.

But IN PRIVATE, per email, I think if an author find me and ask me directly per email to review a book... I believe this is the right thing to do... IN PRIVATE. I careless about public thank you. again private. If the author decides to make it public it is a bonus but never a must do for me.

And I removed my blog because it seems that I raised an already existing argument between authors and reviewers when my blog was just a venting bad day and nothing else. People started to be pretty mean and I definitely took a step back from this and concluded that I am very happy to be a lonely little erotic menage romance reviewer :)

Kelly. I do appreciate not only your writing but the way you express your opinion. Thank you :)


Mary's Naughty Whispers said...

grrr no edit button :(

just to make sure... I do not ask, never did, never will... a thank you each time I post a review from an author who never asked me a review!!!

When I review a 5 stars, I may send a note to the author because I know that a good review is always good for the author, so I may once in a blue moon send a link, never asking anything in return.

just to be clear here... :)