Wednesday, July 1, 2009
How should writers respond to reviews?
Alice Hoffman’s recent, uh, response to a review made me think about writers and negative reviews, and there’s a question I’d like to ask anyone reading this.
We all know that the best response to a review is “Thank you”. Reacting to a negative review by becoming angry or defensive – or worse, trying to enlist fans or fellow authors against the reviewer – won’t change the fact that the reviewer didn’t like the book. It won’t produce good reviews to counteract the negative one. It’ll just establish the author as someone who behaves in a less than professional manner, someone who can’t take the heat.
But what’s the best response if a reviewer misunderstood something factual in the book, or made an error? As a very crude example, let’s say that your character does a firewalk, pacing barefoot over a layer of hot coals. A review says that this couldn’t happen without your character’s feet being burned.
In reality, though, people can do this and escape serious injury because the coals are covered by a thin layer of ash that doesn’t conduct heat. As long as the people are walking briskly, it doesn’t hurt them.
So, would you respond and mention this, or include a link to the information?
On a concluding note, yesterday I reviewed a novel printed by the infamous PublishAmerica, and my review was pretty blunt about the problems that an actual publisher should have corrected. The author responded to thank me and let me know he found the review helpful. That’s a classy, professional response, and I hope his next book does very well.