How to respond to Reviews (positive or negative)

Brass Legionnaire gets a Five-Star Review, and how to deal with Reviews as an Author.

I’ve heard it been said before that self-published authors are a picky lot.

Who, us?

Actually, I agree. One of the downsides of being a writer/publisher is that you become so connected with your book that is is like a child. You are the one who put in love and effort and pushed it to grow and mature. You also scrapped up the funds to get it edited, revised, and probably some nice cover art or formatting along the way.

And heaven forbid someone dis your child. It’s like that annoying parent at the soccer game who is yelling at your kid because they just aren’t quite as fast as theirs, as good as theirs, or as big as theirs. Or perhaps, they’re making snide comments because your child is better, and they are jealous.

Either way – child or book – we get insulted. If you have to hop through a million hoops with a publisher – editor, cover art, everything else more outside of your direct control – You might not feel as protective about your novel.

Today, I’m exceptionally excited because Brass Legionnaire got a five star review from a reader. Now what should I do as the writer? I could go several routes. Since it is a positive review, I’m probably more likely to respond in a positive way. The review also included some constructive feedback – something the reader would like to see more of in Copper Centurion (ie book two).

I’m not going to respond on the posting because that’s not my place to respond. Could I? Yes, but I won’t (not because I don’t want to) but because I feel as though I don’t need to be such a micromanager.

But I’ll tell you what I will do. I’ll listen to the constructive criticism. The reviewer thought I should have more camaraderie between the troops. And you know what? I should!

Any author should be able to look at reviews with an objective eye. The key thing is to take a deep breathe and back off. Not everyone will find your novel their piece of cake. That’s a fact of life. There will always be someone out there who will be spiteful or angry or mad over small things. You can’t control that. What you can do is avoid petty fights and maintain your reputation as an author. If you become known as an author who takes feedback and criticism (with a grain of salt) with grace and a willingness to at least THINK about it, then you become someone who people want to work with or talk with or learn from.

So long story short, keep the reviewer’s wishes in mind, but the story is yours in the end. If they point our typos or errors or problems with formatting or editing, get it fixed! If its a story content thing, make sure you have beta readers.

No one likes a prickly porcupine, so don’t be one!

Author: Daniel Ottalini

Author of the Award-Winning Steam Empire Chronicles Series

4 thoughts on “How to respond to Reviews (positive or negative)”

  1. Definitely good advice! (Though I suppose you could confuse people and respond to good reviews in a negative way, haha!) I for one, don’t mind getting negative reviews as long as they have constructive criticism in them and not just snarky comments. The worst review I ever got was for my book “Freedom Come All ye” when I had entered it into the ABNA competition and the Publisher’s Weekly people reviewed it. They are not very good reviewers because they didn’t give me any good pointers, they were just mean. (And yes, I’m still angry about that) 😛 However, I back you up 100% on having good beta readers, people you can trust to tell you the truth but in a helpful way. The kind of friends who will say “This story stinks, but here’s how we can fix it” I always tell everyone that writer’s should not write alone.

    1. I got a comment before the book even came out about what a stupid idea the novel was. Some person online had found it through kickstarter. I was tempted to respond, but I decided not to in the end because it just leads to a flame war.

      1. That’s just mean. I might think that about stuff, but I’d never tell the author that. It is really about being the better man and not getting into fights with people like that even if you want to tell them off. They probably can’t write a book anyway 😛

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