What Stace had to say on Monday, May 21st, 2012
“Customer Service”

Before I get into the rant, a few things to share…

1. SACRIFICIAL MAGIC has been released in the UK! (I am told there was/is a shipping delay in the Australia-bound books, for which I am very sorry.)

2. SACRIFICIAL MAGIC has been released in audiobook! (And I believe CHASING MAGIC’s audio release will be very close to if not the same as the actual ppb/ebook US release.) I’ve heard already from a few readers who are enjoying the hell out of the audiobook(s); while I personally find listening to them to be just too bizarre an experience, I’m thrilled that they exist and that you guys like them!

3. Some of you may have already heard this, but I have to share with you the monumentally humiliating thing I did on Saturday.

I was at the grocery store, and outside were a couple of gentlemen collecting funds for Lifeboat Rescue. Since I have kind of a thing about the Navy/sailors/boats/the sea, I of course plucked some coins out of my pocket and tossed them in the bucket. As the guy was peeling off a sticker for me (stickers are a big thing here when you donate money), I started to say, “I love the Navy!”

But it occurred to me, maybe they weren’t actually the Navy. I mean, is Lifeboat Rescue the Navy? Or is it the Coast Guard? Or are they a separate, private group? It wouldn’t do to say “I love the Navy” if/when they’re not actually Navy, would it. So I changed my intent mid-sentence, casting frantically about for the correct term.

And what I ended up saying, in a bright, cheery voice, with a big smile on my face, was “I LOVE SEAMEN!”

I could still hear both of them laughing as I got into my car.

I swear I am not making that up.

4. I am coming down with a cold. Echinacea tastes icky.

Okay, with all of that out of the way… (This is a rant. An angry one. It’s possible that later I may feel more kindly about this, but I doubt it. I want to make clear that while I am using a particular person here as an example, and while her opinion infuriates me, this is not meant to be a personal attack, and it is not my intent to be personally hurtful to her [although I believe many of her comments were and are personally hurtful to me and other writers who care about readers and what we do].)

A day or so ago I got a pingback on one of my posts about how authors should not respond to reader reviews, because reviews are not written for us. I of course followed the link, which clearly from its title disagreed with me. (ETA: And more pingbacks, months later! Because apparently some of us are so butthurt that people disagree with them that they’re still thinking about it months later after the rest of us have long forgotten the whole thing. Whatever.) (For the record, the “f-bomb” or variations thereof, is used exactly six times in this 3075-word post. I know, it’s horrible, isn’t it? It’s as if I don’t know any other words. I mean, how gross is it for a girl to use the f-word? Shouldn’t I be sitting quietly in a corner, deferring to other people, refusing to have or express opinions on anything, and giggling with my hand over my mouth–as a woman apparently should? Next thing you know I’ll be wanting to vote or drive a car by myself; give me an inch, you know, and I’ll use adult language like almost every other adult on the planet. The horrors!)

I am not linking back to the post myself, because frankly, I don’t wanna send traffic this person’s way. But don’t worry. I’ll explain it well enough.

This particular self-published author (and I point out that she’s self-published simply because not only does it make her outlook a bit different, perhaps, but because of the impossibility of a commercially published author following one of her more offensive “rules”) believes that not only is it not bad for authors to respond to negative reviews, but it’s actually–wait for it–“Good Customer Service” to do so.

Let’s start with the first problem, which is actually the smallest part of my many issues with this particular opinion/advice–because it is presented as advice, as a “You’re a dumbass if you don’t do this” sort of thing.

The first problem, of course, is that reviews are for readers, not authors. The problem is that authors need to stay the fuck out of it and leave readers the hell alone.

This woman, again, insists that responding to reviews is just “good customer service.” She tries briefly to couch this in the idea that she feels bad when people spend money on her work and it fails to entertain them. Fine, I get that. But then she offers as proof that her method “works” the fact that most of the readers she’s done this to ended up changing their review to give the book a higher rating.

So in her mind, a victory for customer service is bullying and manipulating readers into giving her what she wants, regardless of how they feel about it or the fact that they may have simply done so because it wasn’t worth arguing with her anymore. In her mind, a victory for customer service is manipulating potential readers into thinking her book is better than it is. You guys, this makes me so angry I can hardly type. You all know what I think of authors who attempt to game Amazon reviews/ratings, remember? (Hint: They are scumbags.) In her mind, it’s a total win when a reader finally gives in to her pushiness and demands and does what she wants. Sure, that sounds like great customer service–except that it doesn’t remotely. Puh-leez.

She promises us all that she’s never had a negative experience using this unique “customer service” method…and then promises to share some of the “heated exchanges” she’s gotten into with readers. Surely I’m not the only one who senses a disconnect there?

There’s an even bigger disconnect when you consider that her pure and sincere desire to Make Her Customer Happy does not extend to those who review her work on Goodreads. Hmm. Now, I have wracked my brain to come up with a possible reason for why the opinions–and of course the Customer Satisfaction–of those who rate and review on Amazon should be so much more important than that of those who rate and review on Goodreads. Now why could that possibly be?

I can only assume it’s because Goodreads (with good reason, and they’re 100% right to do so) frowns pretty strongly on such entitled, assmunchy behavior from self-important authors? And such authors have had their accounts suspended or banned (if memory serves)? Obviously our friend the customer service expert must think Goodreads is crazy for having such a policy, because why in the world would any reader NOT want to hear a detailed explanation/defense of their work from an author they think sucks? I mean, isn’t that the reason readers exist–to gratify the egos of authors and do their bidding? Why in the world would a reader-run site be so shortsighted and unfair as to tell authors they can’t argue with readers? Sigh. Philistines.

That must be it. It must be because of Goodreads policy. Because we all know that given this author’s intense devotion to servicing her customers, it can’t have anything at all to do with the fact that Goodreads is not a retail site whereas Amazon is. It can’t have anything to do with the fact that readers on Amazon who look at a book’s listing can just click a button and put that book in their cart right then and there, and so Amazon reviews certainly appear to have a big influence on buying decisions? Why, it can’t possibly be a case where only those readers whose negative reviews may actively, immediately discourage another reader from making a purchase matter? And it’s not about pleasing her “customers” at all, but about–once again–making her book appear better than it is and conning more suckers readers into buying a product they may not be happy with?

Surely not. Not our new friend.

But you know, authors bullying readers for the horrible crime of not loving their work, authors attempting to game Amazon, authors just generally treating readers like nothing more than open wallets, is really nothing new, sadly. It’s been done before, and I’ve discussed it before. In fact, the only reason I’m even bringing this up is because this particular lady has managed to add a twist to it, a twist I find so…so offensive, that it’s difficult to even explain.

See, part two of our lady’s “Customer Service” strategy is this: She changes the work according to the reviews she gets. She believes this is the right thing to do and, in fact, that authors who do not do this are somehow charlatans.

Let me try to express my objections to this in a calm and orderly fashion:

1. She seems to be mistakenly confusing the role of a reader, who has paid their own hard-earned money for a book, with that of a beta reader (for those of you who don’t know, a beta reader is someone to whom an author gives an unfinished, or finished but not submitted/published, book to, in order to hear an unvarnished opinion of what the reader thinks works or doesn’t work, and how the book in general made them feel. I have a few beta readers; I think most of us do). In other words, she’s treating readers–those paying customers to whose service she is oh so devoted–as beta readers who pay her for the privilege of being guinea pigs for her unfinished work. I frankly cannot fathom this.

2. What about the readers who bought the “original” version? Are they now expected to re-buy the new one? What if they like the old one? What if they buy a copy for a friend and discover it now has a totally different ending? How many times are they expected to re-buy this book? How much are you counting on re-purchases to line your pockets?

Which leads to:

3. How fucking disrespectful are you of readers, their time, and their money, to toss out a subpar or unfinished book and expect them to pay for it? How fucking disrespectful are you to then expect them to pay again for an “updated” version, or to just tell them to their faces that the version they bought was kinda crappy? Oh, it was good enough for the likes of them, but…

4. How much goddamn work do you expect readers to do, to keep up with your ever-changing novel? How much importance do you think they actually attach to you and your work?

5. It’s all well and good to change your work according to reader opinions (it’s not, really, but I’ll get there) when you have less than a hundred readers, or maybe even less than five hundred (this is where the self-published thing comes in). It’s another thing entirely when you have a readership in the thousands, or like some of my friends, in the tens and hundreds of thousands. You cannot possibly be serious–or less shortsighted–when you say it’s silly of authors not to change their work according to reader opinions. (And what happens to the readers who liked it before–how are they being “served,” exactly, when you pull the rug out from under them?) The very idea only demonstrates how tiny this woman’s experience is, how narrow her outlook. She might as well paint “Nobody reads my books” across her forehead.

That one–and these–are the big ones. The really really infuriating ones.

6. Just because YOU threw some book out there without proper editing, or a proper ending, or when you didn’t think it was done, or before you’d actually done enough editing and given it enough time to make sure it was as good as you could possibly make it, does not mean the rest of us are also careless, cynical, lazy hucksters. You think it’s “good customer service” to change your book according to the whims of Lisa in Omaha? Great. I think it’s “good customer service” to pay Lisa in Omaha the respect of giving her a good, finished book to begin with.

7. Not only do I think Lisa in Omaha deserves a book that’s as good as I can possibly make it right from the get-go, I happen to think Lisa in Omaha deserves the truth. The emotional truth. The intellectual truth. I think Lisa in Omaha deserves art for her seven bucks. I think Lisa in Omaha deserves to read a book that actually fucking means something. To me. Hopefully to her.

Lisa deserves to read fiction that stands for something and that says something, written by an author who stands for something and has something to say. I don’t care what genre you write in or what genre you read; at its core, in the most basic and honest and real fashion, fiction is about telling the truth. It is about connecting with people; with people who read the book, with the person who wrote it.

Fiction may be about lying–on the surface, anyway–but fiction is about hiding the truth behind those lies. It’s about using those lies to say something true and real. It’s about showing the reader something. It’s about making them feel.

And how we do that as authors is to put ourselves into our work, and make it mean something to us, so that it will mean something to the reader. That’s what we should do. That’s our job.

So when we just slap a book together, when we just slap an ending on there that we think is the most properly calculated to make people happy? Or when we just toss an ending in there assuming that those who paid us for the guinea-pig privilege will tell us how to fix it, because that’s what we think readers are there for? We’re not telling the truth. We’re playing a con game. We’re trying to manipulate readers. We’re telling them that we have nothing of importance to say, but we expect them to pay to hear it anyway. We’re telling them that we don’t care enough about them to expose ourselves, to share something with them, to give them something.

We’re telling them that this story and these characters don’t actually mean anything to us, and that we see them only as a means to a money-in-our-pocket-screaming-fans end. We’re telling them that our egos mean more to us than anything else, anything we could possibly say. We’re telling them they don’t deserve to actually get anything from our books.

We’re telling them that they ultimately exist to serve us.

The contempt of this viewpoint takes my breath away. The shameless calculation of this viewpoint takes my breath away. (Speaking of contempt, she makes some comment about how the popular opinion that it’s wrong to respond to reviews equates to treating readers like delicate flowers, for whom the idea that writers are actual human beings will make them reach for the smelling salts and clam up because they’re so intimidated. Um, no. That’s simply respecting readers and their spaces, and not making the discussion all about the fucking author. That’s basic human nature, and really, if that’s so incomprehensible to her, then it doesn’t surprise me that her work means nothing and says nothing. What could it possibly say? Claiming that the right and proper thing to do is barge into every discussion about your work, because those silly readers need everything explained to them? Using them as beta readers who paid you? Bullying them into deleting their opinions? Deliberately stifling discussion? That’s contempt. Leaving readers alone is respect. Understanding that when you become an author you become–to some extent–The Other is respect. Understanding that not every discussion needs your oh so valuable and important input is respect.)

I’m not saying that we don’t all look back on our published works and wish we’d changed that line, or made them a bit tighter, or whatever. Of course we do. It’s our nature to never be entirely satisfied. We could edit our books for years if given the room, I think, at least a lot of us could. But there’s a difference between thinking “I don’t think that scene makes the point as strongly as I would like” and thinking “I have no point to make, and I don’t really care about these characters or their story, so whatever, I’ll just change it to make more money.”

I do not write Choose-Your-Own-Adventures. I do not write books that don’t mean anything to me, or characters who don’t mean anything to me and are carefully calculated to be as bland as possible (believe me, if I did I wouldn’t write what I write. And the single most offensive thing anyone has ever said about me/my work was that Chess’s addiction was clearly “a gimmick” done in order to “seem edgy.” This came from someone who had not read the book[s], who doesn’t know me and certainly doesn’t know whatever history I may have with drugs/addiction. That was a direct attack on my personal and artistic integrity, which are valuable to me and important to me, and it’s still upsetting to me). I do not write books that I think are intellectually and emotionally unchallenging so as to not make readers do any of that pesky thinking that may upset them (because I do not believe readers are stupid). I do not write books because hey, I hear you can make some bank that way, and it’s so easy! Just throw some words on the page.

Writing my books? Not easy. I don’t believe any of my friends find writing their books easy, either–in fact I know they don’t. Because we’re all actually trying to say something. We’re all putting ourselves into our work. Our work is self-expression and it is art. It is the truth. It is not just a Product. It is not a test.

And if you think it is…I’m not interested in ever spending a penny on anything you write, and I don’t give a fuck what you might say about it.

55 comments to ““Customer Service””

  1. Laura
    Comment
    1
    · May 21st, 2012 at 7:15 am · Link

    You are amazing. I didn’t get all this until I started reviewing books, and one of the first I did I got a nasty email from the author. Because of your previous posts on the subject, I was able to handle it well, and it didn’t discourage me because I know not all authors are d-bags.

    And I am listening to SM on audio now … love it! :-)



  2. Linda
    Comment
    2
    · May 21st, 2012 at 7:18 am · Link

    I think it’s really weird that this author is thinking what she did was good. She is actually only showing the reader/reviewer bloggers that she hasn’t gotten the memo at all. This is exactly what a lot of readers are so upset about – and the fact that some reviewers even changed their reviews show that they were not comfortable at all.
    I would probably not change my review on that book at all, however, if I had other books by the same author, I might change those reviews down.
    Great blog-post! It’s good to know that some authors understand readers fully.



    • Stace
      Comment
      2.1
      · May 23rd, 2012 at 3:33 am · Link

      I just don’t think readers should feel used, and I think when you claim such responses are the right thing to do what you’re actually saying is that readers are their solely for your use. And yeah, changing the review is a “win” for no one but the author. (And quite frankly, what does she expect to do, badger every single reader in the world? If your book requires that much extra explanation and discussion to make readers like it…well.)

      The thing is, if I’m telling my friends about, say, a shirt I didn’t like, I don’t expect that shirt’s designer to start explaining to me why I just didn’t get it. I wasn’t talking to them, and I don’t appreciate their butting in. If I wanted their input I would go to them.



      • Linda
        Comment
        2.1.1
        · May 24th, 2012 at 12:38 am · Link

        I love being able to interact with people, but interacting with authors is best on their blog (like I’m doing right here 😉 ) or via twitter or facebook.

        I don’t think I would be comfortable if an author commented on my reviews, even if it was a good review with four or five stars, because then, I’d be a little more self-conscious the next time I wrote a review about one of that author’s books.

        And it is true what you said, readers all have different tastes, and sometimes, even in the midst of a series I love, something can happen that makes me so upset that I will give a lower star review on one single book, and I will explain why.

        If an author came to argue with me about a very low review, I would forward the link to everybody I know, to let them know an author was trying to get me to change my mind.



      • Michele Lee
        Comment
        2.1.2
        · May 24th, 2012 at 3:26 pm · Link

        Word. Totally. The bad reviews I’ve written have ALWAYS come because I’ve felt outright insulted by an author who seemed to think they deserved to be paid for a poor quality product, massive typos, or weak stories (often times that are attempts at gross outs or cashing in on a trend). The public deserves the best story/product I can tell/make. No one should have to pay for the “right” to be a beta/editor. I hate those who game the system. It is TAKING ADVANTAGE of reader.



  3. Shiloh Walker
    Comment
    3
    · May 21st, 2012 at 7:28 am · Link

    I’m pretty sure I know what you’re talking about. And I agree, completely… she’s whitewashing her reviews, and manipulating people to get them alter their opinions.

    Now. Um. I’m still stuck on.. Stacia… you love what? 😈



  4. Pepper
    Comment
    4
    · May 21st, 2012 at 7:29 am · Link

    Well said!
    I’m currently working on my first novel and I’ve looked at a lot of debates about this issue, as well as other controversial things, like self-publishing vs. traditional publishing.

    As a voracious reader, (and I really mean that as my average read per year is around 340 books, I’m not kidding), I find it an invasion, a violation of the author/reader ‘contract’ as it were, for any author to expect us to modify our honest opinions to suit their massive ego.

    Did he/she write the book? Yes.

    Did I like it? It hit me like an orgasm, a cup of tea, or it fucking sucked.

    Whatever I think, I don’t want to be targeted by the author for ‘correction’. Years ago I wrote a review, my first and only, and the author contacted me to rant about it. And I gave him a good review! I just said that his style was a bit too fast-paced for my taste initially but that the story was so good I was swept away. Sigh, his supercilious response put me off reviewing forever.

    But I’m considering reviewing, since Amazon keeps sending me requests to review things. Maybe I’ll only write reviews if I can give the book a good one. But I’d like to be able to give an honest opinion to my fellow readers, even if that includes comments about characterization and style… or the fact that Highland Cows don’t only live in Scotland, like I read the other day in an otherwise great read. That’s my contract with them. Fuck the author! (No offense).

    I read most of the reviews before I buy something and I make a point to read all the 2 stars and lower. A lot of people don’t care for something stylistically, or whatever, but it doesn’t mean it’ll be the same for me. The negative reviews that I pay attention to are about editing. I hate reading things riddled with repetitions, spelling mistakes and missing punctuation. Just a pet hate.

    If I manage to publish my book I’ll be mortified if someone gives me a bad review because of poor language, editing issues etc. Otherwise, they’re entitled to their opinion. I may not like it, because I want people to have the same feeling I have when I’ve read a cracking tale but sure as hell wouldn’t go and change anything to suit either. Screw that! I wrote what I wrote with conviction and pride in my story…and that’s how I want to know about the author whose short story, novella or novel I’m reading.

    If an author puts a book out there, she’d better bloody well make sure it’s the best it can be because I’ll never, ever pick up anything by her again. And if I find out it’s been changed to suit reviews, I’ll post a rant about it to every reader’s circle I belong to, and I’m in quite a few, from fantasy/sci-fi, erotica, romance to children’s and historical fiction.

    Having said all that, I’m a huge fan of yours. I’ve read all your books (from the December Quinn stuff, passing by your demon series and since you first brought out Chess). I hear you on the ‘gimmicky’ comment. I bet if the reviewer knew you were writing that from the heart, he (she?) would’ve changed his perspective.

    But that’s the problem with giving reviews, and partly why I decided not to do it. I could find something ‘gimmicky’, not that’s I’d express it in those terms(but I might, hey, I’m human) not knowing anything about the author and inadvertantly cause some pain.

    BTW, the heroine in my romance starts out as an alcoholic teenager, and I’d HATE it if someone said that was a gimmick, especially since I have experience with alcoholism.

    I can’t wait ‘



    • Stace
      Comment
      4.1
      · May 23rd, 2012 at 3:38 am · Link

      Lol, no, Pepper, “fuck the author” is exactly right. It’s not about us. It’s about readers having a dialogue with readers, period.

      Your project sounds interesting! There’s some on-the-verge alcohol use in the Chess “origin” novella that’ll be out in a couple of weeks. :)



  5. Pepper
    Comment
    5
    · May 21st, 2012 at 7:32 am · Link

    Oops! Dunno what happened there but I think I said it all. Wordy, as usual.
    Great Blog Stacia!



  6. Carrie Clevenger
    Comment
    6
    · May 21st, 2012 at 10:30 am · Link

    Have to agree with you here on all points. Not only was it a good rant, it was a well-written rant. Let’s hope that the right people see it and change a few policies. 😀



    • Stace
      Comment
      6.1
      · May 23rd, 2012 at 3:39 am · Link

      Thanks, Carrie! Sadly, they won’t. They’ll just think–as they already do–that I’m a snob, an egotist, and an idiot, in addition to being a “reader kiss-ass.”



      • Miss Bliss
        Comment
        6.1.1
        · May 24th, 2012 at 10:39 am · Link

        Wait…people think you’re a “reader kiss-ass”? LOL…not exactly sure how that works out when in truth you have ALWAYS said that you write what you write because those are your stories to tell. You say it in this awesomesauce rant…you are not here to please us anymore than we are here to please you. You tell your story. Some people will like it. Some people won’t. This makes me think of television. That industry suffers mostly from too many, generally fearful, people having a “vote” on the end product. As a result the end product is OFTEN total crap. It might have started out as wonderful but by the time it’s been adjusted for every single idiots comment or “review” it is sludge. Anyway…good rant, good thoughts and I expect now we will all be accused of being a “writer kiss-ass” because we agree with you.



  7. CdnMrs
    Comment
    7
    · May 21st, 2012 at 10:33 am · Link

    Great post! Thank you for standing up for readers.



  8. Francesca @ Under the Covers
    Comment
    8
    · May 21st, 2012 at 10:37 am · Link

    I just wanted to say that I’ve enjoyed the audiobooks for the series and they are awesome! I am happy to know that CHASING MAGIC will be released close to or on ppb release date!

    Hope you feel better!



  9. Rina
    Comment
    9
    · May 21st, 2012 at 10:44 am · Link

    Great blog post, I was a bit confused at first, I’ve just recently gotten into the review scene and couldn’t understand why it would be a bad thing for a writer to comment on a review but you explained it very well.

    That is really mind boggling that she would think any of that is an acceptable way to interact with reviewers. I’d feel really awkward if an author changed something about a book just because I didn’t like it.



  10. Midnyte Reader
    Comment
    10
    · May 21st, 2012 at 10:46 am · Link

    This is the most amazing blog post/rant EVER!!!! Thank you *so* much.



  11. Devon Ellington
    Comment
    11
    · May 21st, 2012 at 10:57 am · Link

    Great post, Stacia. Totally agree.

    Not everyone will love everything we write, and we can’t stand over each individual shoulder and explain it. That’s okay.

    If someone doesn’t like something I’ve done, that’s valid. If they can articulate it well, it’s going to help me in future books. I won’t write the book to their specifications, but I can learn if I’ve tripped up somewhere (if I agree) and maybe try to communicate a little more clearly the next time.

    Explaining or berating them for their opinion just doesn’t make sense to me.



  12. BernardL
    Comment
    12
    · May 21st, 2012 at 11:25 am · Link

    That is really exceptional news about the UK and audio book release! Audio books are really gaining in popularity.

    With the Amazon explosion in publishing ease, the reviewer/author/marketing malaise is going to get progressively worse. I think they’re getting a handle on the sock puppet army problems they had a lot of trouble with, but it seems like the moment they solve one, another pops up. One thing the review scene doesn’t need is authors commenting on reviews. That would be the proverbial snowball becoming an avalanche.



    • Stace
      Comment
      12.1
      · May 23rd, 2012 at 3:41 am · Link

      Yeah, Bernard, I really don’t get the idea that the purpose of a review is to open some kind of dialogue with the author, or that it should be seen that way. A review is written for other readers. It strikes me as the height of egotism to step in and make them all about me or act as if they exist solely to gratify or inform me.



  13. Gemd
    Comment
    13
    · May 21st, 2012 at 1:43 pm · Link

    Great blog- I am literally crying with laughter at your faux pas! Told the hubby & he’s chuckling too! Won’t be able to see Lifeboat rescue without thinking of you now!! Thanks!!



  14. Sandra
    Comment
    14
    · May 21st, 2012 at 5:34 pm · Link

    YOU ROCK! Excellent post is excellent! ❗

    That is all. :)

    Actually, I am still snickering about your faux-pas with the SEAMEN. 😳 That was epic. 😆



  15. Patti (Caught in a FAB Romance)
    Comment
    15
    · May 21st, 2012 at 5:34 pm · Link

    Sounds like she’s doing “choose your own adventure” wrong. Seriously though, you’re right – how can you change around a book people already purchased?

    Lol’d at your seamen story. I was checking out at the grocery recently and noticed hubs bought honey Greek yogurt. I said “Oh I want to taste your honey” Cashier snorted.



  16. Angela
    Comment
    16
    · May 21st, 2012 at 6:00 pm · Link

    What a beautifully stated post! I can’t add anything more to it that you haven’t already said.

    Thank you!



  17. Jessie
    Comment
    17
    · May 21st, 2012 at 6:21 pm · Link

    This is brilliant. I have so much respect for you for this post and the numerous others I’ve seen in the same vein on Amazon.

    I’ve bought your book today and intend to read it soon – you are an author worth supporting.



    • Stace
      Comment
      17.1
      · May 23rd, 2012 at 3:42 am · Link

      Thanks, Jessie, I do hope you like it.



  18. Lyndi
    Comment
    18
    · May 21st, 2012 at 6:22 pm · Link

    I’d totally have your babies if I could, Miz Kane. Toootally. xoxo



  19. jyanx
    Comment
    19
    · May 21st, 2012 at 7:06 pm · Link

    Thank you for this. Having seen some terrible author behavior along these very same lines, it’s nice to see an author take such a strong stand against it.

    Just because I, as a reader, don’t give you, the author, a five star rating and a gushy review for every book doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy them. I’m more likely to read a book with truly balanced and well thought out three and four star reviews than one that has a lot of sugary sweet five star reviews without any substance. I’m not saying five start reviews are bad, but it seems for some they have become so watered down they have become practically meaningless while I try to save them for the books that once I have finished I could pick up and read again.



  20. Brian Kittrell
    Comment
    20
    · May 21st, 2012 at 11:25 pm · Link

    Agreed that it’s not a part of good customer service. Good customer service is replying to things that are sent directly to you–Facebook, Twitter, emails, snail mail, etc.–not reader reviews.

    I once believed along the same lines as the other author when I was brand new and just starting out, but not quite to that extreme. (I liked connecting with readers, asking questions, and so on.) But with my later works, I decided that if people wanted to relay info to me, they would do it by personal correspondence. I put all the links into the book to make it easy for folks to reach me if they wanted to, and they have done so. Replying to reviews is something I don’t do anymore because it tends to be viewed like the above even when done innocuously.

    In short, good customer service = providing such when you are asked, not any old time because you can. The downsides greatly outweigh the benefits (the few there may be).



    • Stace
      Comment
      20.1
      · May 23rd, 2012 at 3:43 am · Link

      Exactly, Brian. Even responding with the best, friendliest intentions can get the author into trouble, and it’s not worth it.



  21. Matt Kelland
    Comment
    21
    · May 22nd, 2012 at 8:30 am · Link

    In other media, it’s perfectly okay to release an alternate version: director’s cuts of movies, remixes of albums, etc. Even the Old Masters painted several versions of pictures until they worked, and the great classical composers rewrote their masterpieces to take out or add in extra bits.

    Why, then, should it be seen as so wrong to produce a second edition of a book? I have two editions of The Stand by Stephen King, which are quite different. Shakespeare wrote several different versions of his plays, in response to what his audiences liked.

    Speaking as a reader, I quite like it when an author takes the time to respond to me, particularly when I haven’t been complimentary about his or her work, as long as they’re not being rude, but genuinely want to understand why I didn’t like the book. In fact, I’ve spent much of this month corresponding with an author after I said in a review that I loathed his protagonist. It’s led to a very interesting discussion of how you can portray an anti-hero successfully, and the upshot is that I probably will now read the next book in the series.

    As a writer and publisher, I’ve often found it very useful to engage with readers to try and get a little more information from them as to exactly why they didn’t like my work. Okay, if they’re just saying “it sucked,” there’s no real discussion to be had and no point responding. However, if they’re making a valid criticism you don’t understand, it’s okay to ask them for a little more clarification – not to reject their criticism or argue with them, or to tell them that you deserve a better review – but to learn from them.

    It has to be handled well – there’s no excuses for responses like “Why did you knock off a star? Everyone else gave me five stars. You obviously just don’t get it.” (A genuine response to a four-star review from an author which evoked my ire and hilarity in equal measure.) However, I actually like to receive responses like, “I’m sorry this one wasn’t for you, Matt, but you may prefer this one which is .” I always follow up on those – at least as far as checking the book out. After I compared one mystery book to an Agatha Christie murder at the mansion house type plot, the author recommended me another of her stories with a different structure and set of characters, which I actually enjoyed.

    Or “I’m sorry you couldn’t get through it. If you don’t mind me asking, at what point did you give up, and why? Feel free to reply to me privately if you prefer.” That one actually led to a great discussion with the author: there was a key moment part-way through the book which switches everything around, and she wanted to know if I’d given up before the big switcheroo, after the big switcheroo, or, more importantly, because of it. Her loyal beta readers had all read the whole book, but I was the first person who’d actually felt they had the freedom not to persevere, and who didn’t know what to expect, and had told her totally honestly that it wasn’t working for me. I’d found the book far too formulaic and given up; maybe if I’d known there was a twist coming, I’d have stuck with it. That left her trying to decide whether to change the blurb (NOT the book) to make that more obvious, and also gave her reasons to think about how to structure her next book. (And the book is back on my reading pile.)

    Whatever medium you work in, taking time to engage with people who have taken the time to engage with your work is a good thing – provided you approach it with the right attitude.



    • Stace
      Comment
      21.1
      · May 22nd, 2012 at 2:28 pm · Link

      In other media, it’s perfectly okay to release an alternate version: director’s cuts of movies, remixes of albums, etc. Even the Old Masters painted several versions of pictures until they worked, and the great classical composers rewrote their masterpieces to take out or add in extra bits.

      Yes, but I don’t think that’s a direct comparison at all. A director usually releases a Director’s Cut because the film released wasn’t what he wanted; the studio forced him to change it. In album remixes it’s usually similar, at least it always has been with the ones I’m aware of. And the Old Masters produced paintings (or drawings), lone works of art. They produced more than one so that more than one person could have it. (Yes, there are things like variants in art today, but again, different thing.)

      I don’t have an issue with variants or alternates; I post deleted scenes from my books right here on the site, because I think they’re fun. I don’t have an issue with releasing an expanded version of a book later on for those who want it (although I prefer the reader be informed right off the bat that another version is coming, just as when it comes to DVDs I’d rather be able to choose to wait a few months and get the superduper extended version, rather than buying what’s there and then discovering another version is coming out and now I have to buy the movie twice. My budget is limited. I can’t afford to buy four versions of the same thing.

      But again, none of those are the same as putting out a book you don’t really care about or which means nothing to you. None of those are the same as just sticking on an ending and then deciding to change it because hey, it’s only an ending and it doesn’t matter, right? It’s a product, right?

      I don’t consider my work to be just a “product” and my words mean something to me–they mean a lot to me. My books end the way I think the story has to end, because it’s what I feel is right. I know there are readers out there who wish I’d done or would do this or that differently. And it’s not that I don’t care; of course I do. I care very much, I want them to be happy.

      But I also care about the truth, and about being true to myself and my vision and my characters and my work. And I also know that as soon as you start altering your work to make this or that person happy, you start making yourself crazy and stop being true to yourself and your art.

      Frankly, I am very, very tired of the author-as-entrepreneur thing, and the constant pressure to look at myself as a product and my books as merely an adjunct to that. I’m tired of the books themselves becoming secondary to the Author. And honestly, I feel like the more we allow this viewpoint to take hold the less control and respect artists are given.

      Hell, look at Hollywood. Look at how every year now fewer and fewer films-as-art are being made (by the major studios). Why is that? Because less and less people have respect for film as an art form, that’s why. Because we’re dumbing things down again and again, and we’re encouraging people to reduce art to the most base profit incentive, and it makes me sick. I don’t want to be a part of it, and I will not contribute to it by endorsing the idea that a book is not a work of art but is instead something to be focus-grouped and test-audienced into submission.


      Why, then, should it be seen as so wrong to produce a second edition of a book? I have two editions of The Stand by Stephen King, which are quite different. Shakespeare wrote several different versions of his plays, in response to what his audiences liked.

      And again, we’re discussing basically different things, and I never said there was something wrong with releasing an alternate version should audience demand it. My issue is with releasing an unfinished book in the assumption that readers will pay to beta-read it for you and give you both their money and their suggestions on how to make it worthwhile. My issue is that aside from anything else, that actually makes the situation entirely about the AUTHOR and the AUTHOR’S gratification, rather than the reader’s. I have an issue with that.


      Speaking as a reader, I quite like it when an author takes the time to respond to me, particularly when I haven’t been complimentary about his or her work, as long as they’re not being rude, but genuinely want to understand why I didn’t like the book.

      Then you are highly, highly unusual.

      As a writer and publisher, I’ve often found it very useful to engage with readers to try and get a little more information from them as to exactly why they didn’t like my work. Okay, if they’re just saying “it sucked,” there’s no real discussion to be had and no point responding. However, if they’re making a valid criticism you don’t understand, it’s okay to ask them for a little more clarification – not to reject their criticism or argue with them, or to tell them that you deserve a better review – but to learn from them.

      I have never found that useful, because my work is exactly what it is when released. I don’t know any other authors who have ever found that useful, either. I don’t get “constructive criticism” from my reviews, because a review is only one person’s opinion, and my own opinion matters far more. And I can’t say I’ve ever seen a criticism of any of my work that I didn’t understand. I’ve seen criticism I disagreed with, absolutely, but I’ve never seen any that somehow confused me (beyond wondering exactly how, for example, they managed to miss the entire scene that explained their question, or whatever).

      And again, that’s a review of a finished, published book. What am I supposed to do, ask my publishers to recall every copy because Judy in Charlotte didn’t like the part where Character A says “B?” It’s not like I’m going to write that same story again for my next book and thus “fix” her problem. And frankly, to paraphrase Gaiman, I am not Judy’s bitch.


      It has to be handled well – there’s no excuses for responses like “Why did you knock off a star? Everyone else gave me five stars. You obviously just don’t get it.” (A genuine response to a four-star review from an author which evoked my ire and hilarity in equal measure.) However, I actually like to receive responses like, “I’m sorry this one wasn’t for you, Matt, but you may prefer this one which is .” I always follow up on those – at least as far as checking the book out. After I compared one mystery book to an Agatha Christie murder at the mansion house type plot, the author recommended me another of her stories with a different structure and set of characters, which I actually enjoyed.

      And again, I hope you know how very unusual that is, and I would submit the possibility that since you also write and publish your viewpoint on it is slightly different than that of the average reader.


      Or “I’m sorry you couldn’t get through it. If you don’t mind me asking, at what point did you give up, and why? Feel free to reply to me privately if you prefer.” That one actually led to a great discussion with the author: there was a key moment part-way through the book which switches everything around, and she wanted to know if I’d given up before the big switcheroo, after the big switcheroo, or, more importantly, because of it. Her loyal beta readers had all read the whole book, but I was the first person who’d actually felt they had the freedom not to persevere, and who didn’t know what to expect, and had told her totally honestly that it wasn’t working for me. I’d found the book far too formulaic and given up; maybe if I’d known there was a twist coming, I’d have stuck with it. That left her trying to decide whether to change the blurb (NOT the book) to make that more obvious, and also gave her reasons to think about how to structure her next book. (And the book is back on my reading pile.)

      Did you pay for that book? Are you honestly happy having paid for an unfinished and not-very-good book? Are you honestly happy being used as that writer’s guinea pig? Do you honestly not think that making her book readable right from the get-go is her responsibility, and that if her book was not readable it shouldn’t have been published?

      In your situation I would have been highly annoyed. I have neither money nor time to waste.

      And really, never mind integrity and the fact that I shouldn’t cheat readers and I should have something to say, the clarity and strength with which to say it, and the courage to stand behind it. I also think that once again, a review = one person’s opinion. I have thousands of readers. They all have opinions, too. Imagine if I tried to change my work to satisfy each of them. There comes a point as a writer where you have to take off the training wheels.


      Whatever medium you work in, taking time to engage with people who have taken the time to engage with your work is a good thing – provided you approach it with the right attitude.

      Sure. I engage on Twitter. I engage here. I do various Q&As. What I do not do is go butting my nose into discussions about me to poke at readers for having opinions.

      Thanks for the comment. (I may repost some of this reply on the blog.)



      • Matt Kelland
        Comment
        21.1.1
        · May 22nd, 2012 at 3:29 pm · Link

        Thanks for the lengthy reply, Stacia.

        I certainly agree with you that putting out unfinished books is an issue – though it’s something that happens a lot on the comics world, where stories do get changed in response to how readers are enjoying the earlier part of the story. However, I don’t regard any of those books I mentioned as unfinished. They’re finished books, and while I don’t expect any author to change the book as a result of a review, it can inform them for future work.

        In the example of the book with the switch, her beta readers clearly knew that there was a switch coming, and were looking forward to it from the get-go. I didn’t, so I assumed it was just a formulaic genre novel and gave up. She had to think very hard on how to market that book to avoid spoilers in the blurb; there was nothing wrong with the book, just the way it was sold. We also ended up having a long discussion on whether the book would have worked better if the twist had come earlier, or if there had been hints in the early part of the book that all was not as it seemed. She found it useful to hear in detail from someone approaching the book with no foreknowledge, unlike her beta readers.

        One example of where I learned something useful was a reader complaining about the low picture quality (this was a non-fiction book about film), which surprised me. After responding to them, I discovered that the US edition of the book did indeed have small, grainy pictures instead of the large colour ones in the UK edition. Nothing needed rewriting, but it did lead to my UK publisher demanding that the book be reprinted in the US. In another example of a story I published, I’d simply assumed that people would know who “Maggie” was – and none of my British readers had had a problem with that. Of course, outside the UK, not everyone knows that the author meant Margaret Thatcher, and may not even know who she was, so some readers were confused. We didn’t change anything, but if I were publishing a similar work for a global audience, I’d take more care to ensure that I’d explained that sort of thing.



      • Stace
        Comment
        21.1.2
        · May 22nd, 2012 at 5:24 pm · Link

        Well, Matt, there’s absolutely a difference between fixing a technical issue or correcting a typo or two (or clarifying a single fact, even) and rewriting an entire section of the book. I don’t think anyone can say that it’s wrong to fix technical issues; those actually are a “customer service” issue, and should be fixed if possible.

        I think the thing is, the idea that authors can or should change their work according to reviews or get tips from reviews or whatever else implies, to me, a fundamental disagreement about why reviews exist. A review is not a reader telling an author what they think. A review is a reader telling other readers what they think. When you post a film review, are you writing to the director or producer? Or are you writing to other filmgoers?

        This is why reviews are not for authors. Assuming they are, assuming we should be getting “tips” from them or whatever else, implies that reader opinions only exist to serve authors, and that the author is the important one in this equation. The author is not. And reviews are not there to serve us or teach us. They are there exclusively for the benefit of other readers.

        Personally, I wouldn’t presume to eavesdrop on readers any more than I would presume to write to Martin Scorsese and imply that I knew better than he how to direct a film and what purpose he was trying to serve with an individual moment or scene in it. Certainly I probably know his purpose, because he’s a great director; just like hopefully readers know our purpose because it’s been communicated clearly enough. But I am not a director so would not give him advice, and readers do not write their reviews with the purpose of giving us advice. They do not write them thinking of us, and they shouldn’t, because they do not need to. They owe us nothing. They write their reviews to advise other readers, and that is the way it should be–because when it’s not viewed that way, you get silliness like writers telling reviewers they aren’t allowed to have an opinion until they’ve written and published a book. That happens. A lot. It’s a very slippery slope, and I prefer not to make a step down it, and I prefer not to behave as if I think readers exist not to be entertained but solely to give me feedback.

        I wrote a book. When they pay for it (or borrow it from the library or a friend), they fulfill their single obligation to me regarding it. What they do beyond that point is none of my business, and to treat them like they owe me feedback or like what they have to say to other readers is really all about saying something to me is an attitude and outlook I find distasteful.



      • Matt Kelland
        Comment
        21.1.3
        · May 22nd, 2012 at 6:09 pm · Link

        And reviews are not there to serve us or teach us. They are there exclusively for the benefit of other readers.

        Wow. So you have nothing to learn from listening to the people who buy your books?



      • Stace
        Comment
        21.1.4
        · May 23rd, 2012 at 1:25 am · Link

        Did you read my post or what?



  22. Matt Kelland
    Comment
    22
    · May 22nd, 2012 at 8:55 am · Link

    Incidentally, I have never changed a review as a result of engaging with an author, and I would be offended if an author expected me to do so.

    I have, however, changed my opinion of an author after getting to know them in person.



    • Jeaniene Frost
      Comment
      22.1
      · May 23rd, 2012 at 10:26 am · Link

      Hi! I’m not Stacia (as you can see from my name :)) but I hope you’ll forgive me if I weigh in on your comment above of “Wow. So you have nothing to learn from listening to the people who buy your books?”

      I’ve heard this same sentiment on occasion from other people and it frankly confuses me, which is why I wanted to respond. When I started writing, I did so because I had a story to tell (several, as it turned out). I wanted an editor to help me make those stories the best they could be, and I wanted readers so I’d be able to share my stories with others. I never wanted readers so they could tell me how/what to write, probably because, as a life-long reader myself, that was something I never felt was my responsibility. If I liked a book, I liked it. If I didn’t like a book, I didn’t. Sometimes I had specific reasons why I didn’t like a book, sometimes the book just didn’t click with me. I’d explain these reasons to other readers when giving – or not giving – a recommendation, but it would’ve seemed farfetched to assume the author wanted me to tell him/her how to change their story to suit my particular tastes and specifications. Even if an author did want this, multiply this by thousands of readers with their own particular tastes and specifications, and any author who would attempt to write a book by committee would probably end up the most schizophrenic story ever.

      As an author, here’s what I’ve learned from the people who buy my books: I can’t make all of them happy because tastes vary. I can only take a story that I love and write the best book I can out of it, then hope more readers like it than not. I’ve also leaned to show respect to the people who buy my books by not arguing with them or asking them to explain why they didn’t like something. They don’t owe me an explanation, just as Rob Zombie doesn’t owe me an explanation for why he changed Michael Meyers from the Bogeyman into a stereotypical serial killer in his Halloween remake (but that’s another story and my comment is too long already ;)).

      Jeaniene



  23. Danielle Blanchard
    Comment
    23
    · May 22nd, 2012 at 10:40 am · Link

    I rarely respond to reviews and if I do, it’s to clarify something the reader had an issue with in the story. That has happened once and I might have responded to two other reviews on Amazon just to thank them for their time (they were book blogger reviewers and I know it is a tricky subject regarding the “dreaded” 3 star review so I wanted to let them know I was grateful they read my book at all).

    Speaking of the time I did respond to a reviewer, she didn’t understand why “muppet” was considered derogatory because she loved the muppets. I know Ms. Kane is married to a Brit and as I have an ex-fiance and an ex-husband, both British, and lived in the UK, I explained to her it was a British saying and the character who made the comment being British, it was considered an insult to him when he said it to the particular person. I hoped she didn’t think I was being rude…and after I commented, I thought to myself, “I’m too old for this sh*t…I think I will leave comments as they are”.

    I don’t expect every reader to like my stuff and everyone has an opinion. Let em air it and get it out there. They shouldn’t think the author is going to stalk them afterwards…lol… Thanks for this post! 😉 :mrgreen:



  24. Jess
    Comment
    24
    · May 22nd, 2012 at 8:44 pm · Link

    Hear hear!

    While I, personally, DO enjoy authors responding to my reviews, I would be horrified to think that my commentary on one of their books would ever, EVER result in their actually changing the content. 😯

    Nor would I ever DREAM of changing my rating because of a dialog with the author.

    I may have a fangirl moment (or three) when an author actually bothers to read my reviews, but ultimately, you’re absolutely right, they’re for other readers, not the author.



    • Stace
      Comment
      24.1
      · May 23rd, 2012 at 3:28 am · Link

      Just as an FYI, Jess, it’s very likely that we’ve read your reviews and simply not commented. Many of us are uncomfortable even saying “Thanks!” because we don’t want to intrude. Time and time again in discussions readers have said it makes them uncomfortable to see authors commenting on reviews in even the most benign fashion, so many of us avoid it.

      I’ll often retwet my reviews, to drive traffic to the reviewer. I’ll quote them here for the same reason. But I don’t comment in general (I have on occasion; the last time was because it was a brand-new review blog started by a reader I’d communicated with previously and I wanted to be encouraging and supportive of her new blog. But in general I’ve learned that even the friendliest, mildest comment can be taken the wrong way, so I stay away from comments).



      • Jess
        Comment
        24.1.1
        · May 23rd, 2012 at 7:52 pm · Link

        I can definitely understand that — some people get really weird about author comments, regardless of their content, which is really a shame. I’ve had some of the most entertaining and informative conversations with authors based on my reviews of both their work and books by other authors.

        I still squee a bit when authors bother talking to me though 😳



  25. Sarah
    Comment
    25
    · May 22nd, 2012 at 9:59 pm · Link

    I love your stand on this Stacia, it gives me the warm fuzzies! Yet another reason you have such a fervently loyal fanbase, INTEGRITY!



  26. Shoshana
    Comment
    26
    · May 23rd, 2012 at 1:37 pm · Link

    I <3 this post so much I have no words.

    I have never bought one of your books. I was linked to the post your arguing against, and then this as the rebuttal, and yes… this!

    I will be buying at least one of your books in the near future, just because this post is so amazing.



  27. MrsJoseph
    Comment
    27
    · May 23rd, 2012 at 2:32 pm · Link

    I think I’ve fallen in love. THIS is something that I wish every author would read. And – just as a side note – the way you engage your readers work perfectly. I just purchased the 1st books in both of your series!



  28. Donna Montgomery
    Comment
    28
    · May 23rd, 2012 at 3:17 pm · Link

    Pressuring someone to change a review is totally ridiculous.

    As a reader, mixed or even negative reviews don’t kill my interest. I know that any given reviewer isn’t likely to have tastes that line up perfectly with mine, and their complaints are sometimes about things that wouldn’t bother me. I like to look at some positive reviews and some negative ones and then make up my own mind.

    What is going to keep me away from a book is finding out that its author badgers readers or manipulates reviews.



  29. Shawn R
    Comment
    29
    · May 24th, 2012 at 9:56 am · Link

    I have to say I agree with you about changing the book in response to reader reviews.

    I don’t like Heart of Darkness. If I posted a review that said, “This book is ugly and dark and way too serious,” does that mean Joseph Conrad (assuming he were still alive) should go back and give his story the Mel Brooks treatment to make it appealing to me? Of course not. If he’d wanted to please me, he would have to write a whole ‘nother book, because in order to make Heart of Darkness enjoyable for me, he would have to change the story, the characters, the interactions of said characters, the themes, the motifs – the entire book.

    That being said, Joseph Conrad would never please me. I’ve read lots of his books. I’M NOT HIS AUDIENCE. He didn’t write fun, snarky books with happy endings. That isn’t the way his mind worked. That wasn’t what he wanted to say. That wasn’t his voice.

    And you, if I’m saying “This book is ugly and dark and way too serious,” while somebody else at the very same time is saying, “This book is AWESOME. It spoke to me, it reverberated in my soul, it changed my life, I will love you forever,” whose opinion gets priority?

    The thing is, writers have specific audiences. Some audiences are broader than others, but as a writer, you simply can’t write a book that everybody, universally, will love. There are 7 billion people on this planet, each an individual with different preferences and likes.

    If you write a new version of the book, you may lose the original readers who loved your original voice. If you keep changing things, you’ll keep losing the previous crop of readers. Oh sure, you might pick up a host of new readers for a while, but eventually, you are going to lose the trust of most of the readers who picked up your book. Because they won’t KNOW your true voice. They won’t trust you, and they won’t come back.

    This is TERRIBLE customer service.

    Writers should write what fires their passion. They should write the best book they can — both the best story and the best craft possible. Then they should be content to find their natural audience. If their reviewers come up with issues that resonate with the writer, then the writer can address those issues in future books. But going back to tweak previous books? Just … no.



  30. Readsalot81
    Comment
    30
    · May 24th, 2012 at 11:46 am · Link

    This was an excellent post. But then, you put it very eloquently.. rather than myself, who’d be umm..well you see etc, etc.

    The idea of authors responding to reviews leaves me with an uncomfortable taste in my mouth. When the author’s actions make you hesitant or unwilling to leave honest words about their book, IMHO, you’ve crossed a very big line. And to be frank, if I noticed an author responding to my review (for better or worse) I would be discomfited. And I understand that my view isn’t something that everyone holds to be true, but reviews really are for other people that read the books.

    Anyways, I’ve clicked and read your blog posts before and have always been impressed with how you articulate your position and the reasons for doing so. I’m a big fan, Ms. Kane 😀



  31. Tori
    Comment
    31
    · May 24th, 2012 at 1:04 pm · Link

    Thank you for an excellent post. As a reader, I couldn’t agree more. I read the article that you were referring to, and personally, I think that author has a permanent residence in Crazytown. Bullying is not the way to build a loyal following of readers.



  32. Wendy Darling
    Comment
    32
    · May 24th, 2012 at 3:51 pm · Link

    Stacia, just a very quick note to thank you for (once again) clearly articulating why it’s such a bad idea for authors to engage in this sort of behavior, as well as for taking a stance on the absolutely wrongness of intimidating reader-reviewers in this way.

    As someone who spent a lot of time in PR and who had the unfortunate experience of being the target of a very public author/agent attack earlier this year, I can tell you that being on the receiving end of it is extremely unpleasant, even though I’m lucky enough to have a supportive circle of friends and I’m not at all the type to succumb to this type of bullying. What makes me furious is that this happens all the time to readers who are much less equipped to defend themselves, such as the poor woman who was the target of EL’s Amazon review who was guilted into changing her rating from 1 star to 3 stars. Gossiping or antagonistic on someone else’s review space or blog is NEVER good etiquette, and when it comes from someone who is perceived to be in a position of power such as an author, publisher, etc., the balance of power is too great to be seen as anything other than in a negative light.

    Since you’re such a well-established author, it means so much that you would publicly and repeatedly take a stance in this way. Thank you.



  33. Jenny Lyn
    Comment
    33
    · May 24th, 2012 at 6:27 pm · Link

    Great post, Stacia! Little late to the party but I wanted to also thank you for saying the things you did.

    I have on occasion thanked a reviewer for a review but it was ONLY because I had reached out to them myself and asked if they would like to review my work. The thank you was more for taking time out of their busy life to offer their opinion, and it was sent to the same email address that I sent the review request. But again, that’s the ONLY time I have done so. I never, ever tried to justify/clarify/argue any point they might’ve made in their review. As a newbie author I thought that was something I *should* do, however, in light of all the recent dust-ups, in the future I probably won’t.

    I have to wonder about what exactly this author hopes to gain from dong this in the long run, other than more sales. Because it’s painfully obvious from reading her post, that was her line of thinking – that favorable reviews push more books.

    Actually, her whole post reeked of entitlement and egotism and pretentiousness. She came off sounding like a spoiled brat. Throw a tantrum and get what you want.

    Then I have to ask, has she been living in a cave? Has she not seen all of the skepticism surrounding nothing but glowing reviews on Amazon? Does she not realize there are “authors” out there buying favorable reviews from a certain website? The value of 5-star reviews has taken a serious hit. Is she so far up her own ass that she can’t see that people are more apt to try a book that has gotten “average” reviews?

    And lastly, rewriting a book to please disgruntled readers—my head just exploded! Seriously, did you hear it?
    Your thoughts on that mirror mine so, well said!! I liken that to going to see a movie. If I walk out of the theater not happy with what I just saw, do you think if I wrote a negative review on Fandango Michael Bay will redo that shitty movie just to make me happy? Yeah, I don’t think so.

    She needs to get over herself, because if she doesn’t, readers will do it for her.



  34. Julia
    Comment
    34
    · May 25th, 2012 at 1:47 pm · Link

    Huzzah!



  35. Allie Burke
    Comment
    35
    · May 25th, 2012 at 2:15 pm · Link

    Thank you. Just… thank you. I’m an indie author (not even to mention indie… just… author, ah-hem, I’m a WRITER).

    I read the other blog and was like “no, no, NO”, and I just can’t express how much I love you right now for standing up for writers and our ART, as you call it. Art, as I think of it.

    … Thank you.



  36. Debra Dunbar
    Comment
    36
    · May 26th, 2012 at 7:19 am · Link

    I love Seamen too!

    I will occasionally let an author know I’ve reviewed their book if I loved it and gave it a high rating on my blog. I like to review a lot of debut and self-pub authors, and I’m hoping to give them some snippets they can use and some motivation to struggle on. A few have e-mailed me a short “thanks” back, and a few have commented on my blog.

    My novel isn’t out yet, but I plan to not respond at all to any review. If a reviewer e-mails me and points me to the review, I’ll e-mail (or DM) them back a “thanks”, but that’s it. I’ve got super thick skin as a reviewer (career in Human Resources does that), but other’s don’t, and a reviewer should feel comfortable expressing their views without fear that the author is standing over their shoulder.

    On revisions: I’ve spent a huge amount of time with 3 beta readers, a copy editor, and a paid crit editor to make sure my self-pub novel is the best it can be before it goes out. Once it’s out, it’s done unless there’s a missed typo or an html formatting error not caught in review.



  37. Genesis
    Comment
    37
    · June 17th, 2012 at 1:53 pm · Link

    I recently left a review that was favorable of a book, but pointed out a couple of loose ends that were never tied up. The author responded within MINUTES of my posting (on Goodreads), trying to explain herself. We had a perfectly nice exchange, but it was a bit embarrassing and made me feel like I couldn’t review her books honestly in the future. Also, it did come across as rather desperate and needy, “please like my book!!!” and once my books are published, I fully intend to keep my fingers away from the keyboard when reading reviews. It’s just not worth it to lose the respect of a reader.

    However, I do enjoy authors who interact with their readers on Facebook, blogs, and other mediums. I think that is a good way to go, instead of commenting on individual reviews.



  38. meryt
    Comment
    38
    · June 23rd, 2012 at 2:14 am · Link

    So, a little late to the party. Generally I hate the idea of authors commenting on their reviews. I mean, if you know the author’s stopped by, how honest are commenters on the review going to be?
    However, I will readily admit that I bought most of a self-published author’s booklist simply because of the way she responded to a (3-star) amazon review on her blog. Having linked to it, she brought up her main issue, that her big reveal in the novel is not so much a big reveal, because the blurb, the title and pretty much everything else tells you what the big secret is. However she then went on to question the issue of reality in novels, namely the idea that you don’t really walk around thinking ‘ohmigod, he’s a VAMPIRE’.
    The thing that sold me on her was that she took this review that was not entirely complimentary that many authors would throw a small tantrum over, publicised it and did not say one semi-nasty word about it. In fact, it seemed like she loved the honesty of the review.



Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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  3. Bliss: Writers and the Internet Fan Experience | Sweet Banana Ink
  4. Reviews are not for authors » Readers Have Rights

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