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Saturday, 10 September 2011

The benefits and pitfalls of replying to reviews:

I was checking up on my stories in Amazon recently, and felt compelled to write a reply thanking a reader for reviewing one of my Novelettes.
I wanted to reply to this as I appreciated the work and effort they had obviously put into their review, and genuinely wanted to thank them.
It wasn’t a glowing review by any means, but it was fair and their personal likes and dislikes were reasonable. A reply from another reader, who had stopped reading because they had become confused, even said they would now finish the story based on the review.
Now, I did leave a comment and almost immediately had second thoughts. After reading my comments back it could be interpreted as a blatant plug for the other books in this series, and that really wasn’t my intention. Not that thers much unusual about an author blatantly plugging their work. After all, you haven’t much option until you can get someone who is much better at it than yourself to plug for you!

I think it really is that I’m just pumped up about this series. It’s turning into one of those things that just wan’t to tell itself. I’ve already got way more notes and ideas than I was ever intending to use. So I wasn’t really trying to sell, or gods forbid actually explain myself or argue with a review!
I do hope they take my reply in the spirit it was intended. But I think I’m going to have to keep an eye on this review thread now. I don’t want it to get out of hand, as I’ve seen some other, especially beginner, authors get themselves into a right old mess with directly replying to reviews.

So this all made me think. Is it really a good thing to get directly involved with your reviewers on sites like Amazon? Or is it best to stick to forums and sites like Goodreads (I’ve had a couple of really good reviews from there).

I know much of this writing lark is about putting yourself out-there and taking the criticism on the chin and all… not that I think this review was unduly critical. They said what they likes, and what they didn’t and why. Then gave me three stars, so I’m honestly not complaining. On reflection I just hope my reply didn’t sound like I was. And that, of course, is where the problem with the Internet is. It’s difficult to judge someone’s tone and mood, hence their meaning, from text alone.

The review can be seen HERE.


  1. I don't know. I'd still steer away from replying to reviews unless it's just a "thank you". Like you said, you can never know how people might misinterpret.

  2. Replying to reviews in retail outlets seems like a bad idea to me. For one thing, to be blunt, I always find it almost smells of desperation (i.e., the author is cruising around the internet carefully looking for every mention of them).

    It also can easily turn bad if it becomes a remotely disagreeable dialog. If you respond to things that look 'nice', then some trolls might say, "Oh, I see he's watching,let's see if I can get a reaction" (and yes, they do have 'review trolls' on places like Amazon).

    Given the interface between author and reader isn't usually one where readers expect to have a one-on-one dialog with the author about their opinions over the work, I'm not really sure it adds much value, in responding. There's certainly no expectation that an author go around personally thanking everyone on the internet who gave them a thoughtful review, so it's not like it will be parsed as "rude" if you don't, but if you get in the habit of responding then it suddenly could.

  3. I went to change this comment down to a simple 'thank you' but I seem to have lose the whole thing!

    I know what you mean. I want to be nice to people for taking the time, even when they aren’t complimentary. My first thought is that I’ve not written ti well enough for them to understand, and that is obviously my flaw not theirs.

    But unfortunately there are trolls out there. And I have had one or two reviews tat are obviously trolling :(