What Stace had to say on Saturday, August 14th, 2010
Why I Post Reviews

About twenty minutes ago I found a link on Twitter to a review of the entire Downside series. This review, by Danielle at Alpha Reader.

Only the link didn’t go to Alpha Reader. It went to one of those content-collecting sites, a book focused one. That site has a Twitter account and when they “collect” a review, they tweet it, which is how I found it. Now that I’m thinkig of it I realize I’ve seen them post a duplicate of another review before, but as the review was for a site with many reviewers I thought the reviewer herself owned the “collecting” site (obviously I didn’t realize it was one of those sites) and was simply reposting her own review.

Of course I retweeted the link, thinking it was original. Immediately another reader informed me of the situation, which shocked me and made me feel ill. I deleted my tweet and reposted it with the correct link, giving credit to the actual writer of the post. By name, which the “collecting” site didn’t do; they had “Source: Alpha Reader” in the bottom left corner in a very pale gray font, which wasn’t easy to see.

That pissed me the hell off.

Here’s the thing. I’ve seen it mentioned a couple of times that writers should not acknowledge any reviews at all, be they positive or negative. And I think that’s bullshit. Why in the hell would I not give someone credit for their work? Why would I ignore it, when they’ve said wonderful things about my work, and took the time to write it all down and post it for anyone to see? When they are recommending my books to their friends? Why in the hell would I not at least give them a nod, let them know I did see it and appreciate it?

Not to mention, a lot of these reviews are incredibly well-written. These are reviewers with talent. Thoughtful, intelligent people who really pay attention to what they’re reading, who analyze it. Reviewers who really truly understand the books and what they’re trying to say, who really truly understand the characters. That’s a big deal. That’s a connection with people, a connection you cannot buy. It’s an amazing thing; it’s the best thing about being a writer, it’s the reason why most of us become writers. We want to share something, say something. When you discover that someone heard that and understood it and appreciated it, that something that means so much to you also means so much to them, that’s a big deal.

As far as I’m concerned, someone who reads my books, enjoys them, and takes time out of their day to write a review–especially a thoughtful, detailed one like Danielle’s or like any of the dozens of other fantastic reviews the Downside books have gotten–deserves credit for that. We all like web hits, right? So isn’t it a good thing to do to link to them, to encourage people to check out their blogs? Isn’t it a good thing for those who read my blog to maybe find a new reader blog they’ll enjoy? Maybe they’ll meet someone whose taste is like theirs; maybe they’ll make a new book-friend. Why the hell shouldn’t I do that? Why the hell should I ignore the hard work of someone who has acknowledged mine so kindly?

The “Terrible Fever” Goodreads group has over fifty members now (yes, I realize that hardly makes me a big name or anything, but I think it’s cool). How many of those readers knew each other before they joined up? I haven’t been reading the posts there because I don’t believe that’s my place–reviews are one thing, but discussions on forums among readers are another–but I’m willing to bet that not all of them did. That some of them met each other through that group. Isn’t that cool? Would that have happened if I hadn’t linked to the group here, or retweeted it? It’s very possible, sure, but it’s not definite.

I don’t read the Goodreads group; I don’t think it’s my place to do so. That’s a forum for readers, and they’re having their own discussions, and that’s not my business. I feel like if I popped in and started talking it might stultify the conversation, make them all self-conscious and uncomfortable. That’s the last thing I want to do. And frankly, yeah, I know there are few places that are reader-only anymore, and that it can be frustrating to have writers always popping in to comment. Yes, it’s disappointing and depressing; I am a reader, after all. I’ve been a reader all my life. But it feels sometimes like even if I’m trying to comment as a reader, I’m still not seen as one, and you know, that’s just the way it is, and it’s the price I pay for getting to do this job that I love more than anything.

Here’s the thing. I can’t email reviewers. I can’t contact them and tell them how glad I am that they caught this or understood that, or why the thing that disappointed them happened, or what the implications of the thing they’re curious about will be down the road. I can’t do that. I’ve learned that no matter how diplomatic you try to be, no matter how good your intentions are, no matter how happy you are or how interesting you think such a discussion is–no matter how much you think it would be fucking awesome to have a conversation like that with a writer whose work you read and had thoughts about–some people will always see it as an invasion, as writers butting in and trying to tell them what to do.

But what I can do is link to them. Acknowledge them from a distance. Say in my post that I loved this one or that one, that I found this line or that line particularly well-written and that I appreciated the effort that was put into it. Just as my novels are art to me, so those reviews may well be art to those reviewers, and they’ve put it out there hoping people will see it and understand it and connect with it.

Those reviews, those reviewers, those readers, are what make this whole thing worthwhile. They’re the ones who make all of the blood and sweat and tears, all of the emotional nakedness and pain, every bit of yourself that you put into your work, matter. I think they deserve to be acknowledged for that, and told that they matter. And I’m going to keep doing it.

13 comments to “Why I Post Reviews”

  1. Anilu Magloire
    · August 14th, 2010 at 3:22 pm · Link

    Whoa!! What a great, great post this was, Stacia.

    I can only imagine the position you’re in, and how hard it has to be.

    I met all those a-ma-zing people on the Terrible Fever group thanks to your books and the love we share for them.

    Know that we (and I hope I speak for them all) are all eternally grateful for whatever it was that brought these books out of you and into out hands (and my heart). Yes, that’s how much I loved them, and how deeply touched I was by their characters.

    Now that I’m all filled with Terrible fever I am off to create the absolute best I can to pay homage to you and your amazing art.

    Thank you.

    • Stace
      · August 15th, 2010 at 1:30 pm · Link

      Thanks, Anilu. I feel the same way about you guys. :)

  2. Michele Lee
    · August 14th, 2010 at 4:37 pm · Link

    I don’t get that on either side. I LOVE I know authors have seen my reviews. I want them to know that people are talking about and enjoying their books. I started reviewing because I was tired of having no book talk in my life, and tired of publishing stories that no one talked about. I fought like hell for the first antho I was in and only got three review of it (one of which was my review of all the other stories). So depressing.

    • Stace
      · August 15th, 2010 at 1:32 pm · Link

      Yeah, I don’t get it either. When I love a book I want to tell the author. I want to discuss it with them. I don’t see that an an invasion or anything, and it confuses me that someone would think it is. As if people don’t have the right to join in a discussion about their own books, or about something they said in a blog post or tweet or whatever.

      And yeah, having books out there with no reviews sucks.

  3. Danielle
    · August 14th, 2010 at 4:44 pm · Link

    Ummm… Hi! I’m Danielle (from ALPHA reader, i.e.: the *real* reviewer).

    Thanks for this post. One of my blogger friends contacted me about what happened and the thing that most pissed me off was missing out on your response to *my* review.

    At least now I know you did read it 😉
    And thanks for the moral outrage too!

    It’s times like these I wish I had a Terrible in my life to go bust some chops, dig? (lol, yes… I really, really love your books 😳 )

    • Stace
      · August 15th, 2010 at 1:51 pm · Link

      Hi Danielle! Thanks so much for commenting! I was so upset when I found out that was your review and not credited to you; it was an absolutely fantastic review, and like I said above, I’m really grateful for it. Reviews that detailed and thoughtful, where the reviewer so clearly really understood the book and paid so much attention and picked up on all the little things, are rare, and are important.

      Did you see my comments about the review on Twitter?

      Again, thanks so much. I did read it and I loved it!

  4. Jeannie Lin
    · August 14th, 2010 at 5:15 pm · Link

    I’ve been asking myself this question because, like you, I do feel like I’m intruding even when I pop into a twitter thread to say thanks for the mention. Yet I also feel weird not acknowledging. So I freeze up and stare at the post, deliberating what to do.

    Thank you for setting my mind at ease that an acknowledgment and link is a good way to go.
    I’m going to draw the line for me at responding to reviews, even for a little thank you (mainly because I’m a nervous basketcase who types extremely fast…I could have a page long reply and hit send before the better half of my brain catches up), but I know I’ll read every review. I do like how Joanna Bourne posts links to positive and negative reviews for her books on her site. Whether you loved it or it wasn’t for you, acknowledgment for taking the time to read and hey, giving the book some free publicity is in order.

    • Jackie U
      · August 14th, 2010 at 7:55 pm · Link

      That’s why I love you. Back before I was an actual reviewer and just piddled on my blog, you commented on my review of Personal Demons. It was the first time anyone had done that and it made me feel validated as a reader. Ever since, you’ve been nothing but professional in any and all venues (as far as I’ve seen at least, lol).

      You know how I feel about this because I’m slightly outspoken–screw those people. Seriously. Screw them for not being secure enough to have an adult conversation. I appreciate you and every author like you who comes out and says something, ANYTHING, about the reviews we write. It shows you actually care about your readers. It’s sad that my fellow reviewers can be asshats. I’ve seen it happen, and it makes me physically ill.

      So, again, I say thank you.

      Oh, and the posts on the Goodreads group are hilarious. They keep me entertained at work. : )

      • Jackie U
        · August 14th, 2010 at 7:59 pm · Link

        Let me amend this because I sound like kind of a bitch, lol. I know not all reviewers are asshats. Just a select few. (And this is why I shouldn’t be allowed to comment on anything after a road trip.)

      • Stace
        · August 15th, 2010 at 1:38 pm · Link

        Thanks Jackie! And lol, I knew what you meant.

        Yea, I don’t understand a lot of people myself. All I can do is what I think is right, you know? And just be myself, and be honest. But I do really appreciate all of those reviews, and I want to acknowledge them; people deserve credit for their work, period.

  5. Stace
    · August 15th, 2010 at 1:35 pm · Link

    Thanks Jeannie! Yeah, I don’t generally reply to any reviews, but if I see them posted on Twitter I’ll say thanks and retweet. Because I can @ reply the author directly, and I kind of feel like if I’m going to retweet it I should say something to them first.

    But it is my way of acknowledging it and saying thanks without actually entering the discussion. I mostly just worry that having me there is going to make readers feel like they can’t talk freely. But I want to do *something.*

  6. BernardL
    · August 17th, 2010 at 10:21 am · Link

    It’s not only ridiculous not to post good reviews it’s bad business. Only someone not acquainted with today’s publishing houses putting the yoke of marketing on their authors’ shoulders would come up with a suggestion not to mention good reviews. One of the reviews you linked sold me on trying the ‘Downside’ series. That was good business.

  7. Bernita
    · August 24th, 2010 at 10:51 am · Link

    I agree 100% with you, Stacia (as usual) about thanking and acknowledging reviewers.
    I am so grateful for their intelligent and thoughtful comments, the time and trouble they take that the least one can do is thank them and provide a link.


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