Arguing with the Reviewer (Bad Idea)

Saturday September 10, 2011 | By Hieronymus Hawkes | Blogging

     A friend of mine stopped me the other day to tell me that he had posted his very first book review and to their surprise the author wrote them back almost immediately.  His review was a 2 star review and although he was polite he pointed out some things he didn’t like about the book.  It was in a genre he is very well read in and felt like the book didn’t live up to expectations.  He did write a few nice things too.  

     The author made persuasive arguments as to why he did certain things, persuasive enough that my friend changed his review to make it 3 stars and took out a few negative comments.  But the fact that the writer went through this trouble kinda shocked me.  Not to the core or anything but I was surprised.  My friend was surprised too, but also intrigued and I think he liked the interaction actually.

     Right after I made up my mind to write about this Joe Konrath beat me to the punch of course with this post about ignoring the praise and criticism of people you don’t know.  Obviously this author ignored that advise.

     He received a lot of negative feedback because of the title he gave the post.  Not Caring.  I think a lot of his readers missed the entire point but that doesn’t surprise me really, but that is a post for another day perhaps.

     I know Ann Rice just got a lot of negative publicity for arguing with her detractors on Amazon, but they say any publicity sells books.  Book Slut covers that story here.  It’s hard to believe that was 7 years ago.

     Abraham Lincoln once said, “He has a right to criticize, who has a heart to help.”  Contrarywise, if you don’t really want to help, you should shut the hell up.

     As I get closer to finishing the novel revisions I am thinking more about what happens next.  Getting constructive criticism from someone you ask is a lot different than any kind of criticism from someone you don’t know who may or may not “get” what you were trying to do.  But going out there and arguing with reviewers doesn’t appeal to me.

     Max Barry just posted this bit about Schlepping the Book and how it feels to get good and bad reviews.  I love Max Barry!  He is funny, articulate and has a great imagination.  Three things I would love to be able to claim. 

     Putting my book out there on its own will be a surreal experience for me.  That is the point of publishing, you know, getting it out there.  I’m not sure how I will take the criticism, both good and bad.  Hopefully I can take it in stride and not let it effect me.  The point that Konrath’s detractors were trying to make was that you should care what people say, in order to fix what’s wrong.  But wrong by whose standard?  That’s a fickle master I wouldn’t want to have to answer to.  You will never please everyone.  Is it arrogance to say the book is exactly the way you meant it to be?  We can all keep revising our books endlessly, and with eBooks we actually can keep revising them after they are published even.  That’s another can of worms.  

     I think I like what Heinlein said in his business rules, that Dean Wesley Smith recently posted, “Refrain from rewriting except to editorial order.”  Meaning his editor’s comments.  The rest of his rules are just as good. Finish what you start and get it out there!

     Time will definitely tell.  I have the goal of not letting it effect me.  That’s not saying I don’t care.

Clear Ether!

2 Responses

  1. That is an excellent point Sidney! I picked the photo because I thought it was funny, but perhaps I should have considered the ramifications. =)Thanks for coming by and leaving a remark!

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