Monday, July 25, 2011

How not to respond to a review: Fandom version

Hi everyone! I've got two things to mention, one that's good & another that's not so good. First the good: I should be posting a new set of authors & books to check out along with a contest, so look back in a week or two!

The other thing isn't really so good.

/rant mode on

I was a little bored earlier tonight so I decided to flip through my little stock pile of books. While doing so, I re-discovered a book that I'd wanted to read but had put off for one specific reason. What was that reason?

The fan reaction. I'm not going to name the author. If you haven't discovered this author then I want you to find her without this hanging over you. If you've already read her stuff then I don't want to ruin the reading experience for you.

This author is relatively popular on amazon, but of course with any amount of positive reviews you're going to get some negative reviews. Hey- it comes with the territory. Nobody is going to agree 100% on anything. No matter how well you think something is written, there's always going to be someone who doesn't agree with you. This doesn't mean that they're stupid or that they're attacking your opinions. It also doesn't mean that they're jealous or that they're trying to sabotage the author. It just means that for whatever reason, this book just wasn't for them.

In this particular instance the negative reviews for this author were getting bombarded by people saying all sorts of things about the reviewers. One memorable commenter asked how many books the reviewer had written. (This same reviewer commented on quite a few of the negative reviews.) Others were lambasted for various reasons from not finishing the book to the bad grammar of the reviewer. It got sort of nasty.

The really awful thing about this? The author did actually comment in one of the reviews & was nothing but nice. Unfortunately her comment was lost in a sea full of well-meaning but overly rabid fans out to "get" anyone who said something they didn't agree with.

Seriously, if you find yourself doing this or tempted to do this... take a step away from the computer and take a deep breath. I know that you want to defend your author & that you feel if you only vent to the reviewer that they'll see the light, but STOP. It doesn't make you look good and most importantly, it doesn't make the author look good either. You might have good intentions but commenting back to a negative review rarely ends well. The same goes for down-voting because nine times out of ten you're down voting it because you don't agree with the opinion, not because the review is actually unhelpful.

I still have the book because I'm hoping that eventually I'll be able to forget the horrible behavior by the fandom. I just can't bring myself to read it because each time I remember the fan reaction & I get worried that if I were to read & dislike it, would I be attacked if I reviewed the book? Then I end up turning to another story because I just don't want to knowingly put myself through that.

So what to do when you're looking up your favorite author & see a negative review? The same thing you should do if you're an author & you see a negative review. Ignore it. If you're on amazon, don't even bother down-voting it. If you absolutely positively feel that you have to respond, remember that online comments don't usually give off the proper meaning and/or inflection that you want it to. That rather innocuous comment that you planned on posting might come across as a condescending fan rant.

The best thing to do would be to make sure that you've given that book a positive review once you've finished it. Don't mention the negative reviews or any of the comments. That comes across like you're only posting because of the negative reviews. Isn't that insulting the author, for his or her work to share second billing with a rant against negative reviewers?

(Although it should be said that if your negative review contains personal information about the author that has absolutely nothing to do with the book or you're commenting on a book that you haven't even picked up, then you should hold off on that review for right now. Just because you're angry that George R.R. Martin takes years to release a book or you hate that everyone's into the Twilight craze is no reason to post a review.)

So in any case, so ends my little rant. I know that everyone's been in this situation on both sides, both seeing the comments & getting put off of them as well as wanting to comment on a negative review (this is why I don't read reviews on Scott Sigler books). We just have to make sure that we don't turn into one of the fan ranters. It only hurts the author in the long run, which is the exact opposite of what we want to accomplish.

/rant mode off

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