This came up in a conversation with a friend of mine who is starting up a review blog. Over the weekend, she posted a review and had the author reply to it. She was ecstatic to get a response from the author, especially as she was just starting up.

However, I was shocked that the author said anything to her. I was always brought up with the mindset that authors shouldn’t say anything to reviewers, given it a good or bad book. I’m sure most of us remember the mocking of Anne Rice once upon a time when she popped up on Amazon to respond to her reviews. Other authors come to mind as well, and there’s usually a lot of other people pointing and laughing that they stopped to counter a negative review.

It led my friend and I to a discussion about the difference between Canadian and American authors that, in her words, Canadian authors are a more tight-knit community and it’s more of a norm that the authors reach out to bloggers to either respond or chat with them.

So this brings me to my question: what do you do in terms of responding to reviews? Do you read them and either do a dance of joy when someone loved it or silently weep if they didn’t like it? Do you take the time to reply to a review or do you let them just sit there as shining jewels you look at when you need a smile?

Personally, I’m on the side of not saying anything. You run the risk of starting a bad precedent that “oh, she responded to that review, but not mine!” or you get a bad name for being the crazy-person who is always defending her work. But perhaps that’s just me.

So please, thoughts on the issue anyone?

3 Responses to “Reviews: To Respond or Not, That is the Question…”

  1. Budgie says:

    As a general rule, I don’t think that an author should respond.

    However, there are exceptions – if the reviewer is factually wrong about something, or the reviewer has taken a personal potshot at the author, for example – where a response is not unwarranted.

    But as a rule of thumb, never ever respond.

  2. I’d err on the side of caution – defining caution as avoiding the potential crazy — and say don’t respond. I have a book review site and while I think it’s great to hear from authors, responding to the reviews themselves feels like trouble, in many ways. Potentially, you could be seen as either a self-important dick who only responds to good reviews — Hey thanks for the kind words, man ::wink:: You rock! — or you’re a self-important dick spoiling for a fight over a bad review — How DARE you deny my VISION OF AWESOMENESS, you just don’t understand!

    I don’t want to be either of those guys, frankly.

    If you do chose to respond, well, I hope you have a thick skin. In fact, I hope you can grow an exoskeleton. These things tend to degenerate, even if they start with the best of intentions.

  3. Stephanie says:

    Well, speaking as a reviewer, I’ve gotten a handful of “thanks for your review!”-type comments and a couple of factual corrections, from both USian and UKian authors (no Canadians yet, to my knowledge). It’s always seemed like pretty bad form to me to say anything more than that.

    Also, if you are closely associated with an author, such as their editor, agent, or the person who runs the author’s website, please do not respond to my reviews with “well, you’re totally wrong about everything!” (or the like) either. It reflects badly on both of you.

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