… and then every so often you get to see how NOT to do something. A stellar example of how NOT to do something.
Like respond to a bad review of a book / article you have written.
And this one was a doozy. I woke up to it today in the feed of one of my writing groups. It goes on for four pages out there on Goodreads. I have included the text of the first page below here.
Read it. You will learn hopefully how not to act when someone isn’t crazy about your work. There are rules, you know?
Rule #1: Don’t respond.
Rule #2: If you MUST respond, don’t respond badly
Rule #3: Reread Rules #1 and #2
Let’s face it. Not everyone is going to like everything you write. It’s OK. The world does not end, no matter what it feels like.
If we all liked the same thing there would only be one genre. Well. Maybe a few.
There is no way to know if the reviewer has a valid concern or if their partner just dumped them that morning and they are taking it out on you. Maybe the work stinks or maybe you touched on some unresolved childhood issue of theirs.
Read the review and see if there is anything constructive that can be gleaned from it.
My Dad was my biggest supporter. He seemed genuinely surprised when he first read some of my blog entries here. Pleasantly surprised. And despite the fact that I was pushing 60 at the time, my inner four-year-old was thrilled.
But on the other hand there was the time recently that I was chatting with the gentleman who drove me to write. Not that I write much about it here, but he broke my heart a few years back. The good news? I started writing like a fiend.
So after him ranting and raving angrily on the phone about what I was and was not doing that displeased him GREATLY I had a moment of “can’t we be civil adults here?”
(and hey, didn’t he give up the right to tell me / suggest to me what to do and not do when he dumped me like last weeks garbage? Just sayin’. But I digress.)
At any rate, looking for the sane man I fell in love with, or at least the rational adult man I thought he had become in life, I asked “since you read my blog, what do you think of my writing?”
I know. I thought that since I was not all wrapped up in vitriolic angst that he would somehow snap out of his to be rational and impartial.
His response? Well, I don’t recall his exact words, but they were something on the order of “Your writing is horrible. It is awful. You can’t write.” and so on. You get the gist of it.
Oddly enough it didn’t faze me in the slightest. Actually I think I laughed. It was incredibly obvious that his words were because he was angry at me for not doing what he wanted.
If I had said “so isn’t this a cute kitten?” or “how about I wire you a million dollars?” I am sure he would have responded with equal meanness.
The point being? Ignore the occasional one star reviews. All things are not for all people. And just because they didn’t like IT bears no reflection on whether they “like you” or on whether you are a good person.
Unless they are all one star reviews. Then consider some writing classes.
And without further ado … the back and forth that inspired today’s blog entry. A splendid example of how NOT to handle one star reviews.
This is from the archive. He has deleted himself it seems. Pages 2, 3 AND 4 will take you to the comments from the other folks but not from him.
I’m not here to “police”Goodreads.Leaving a 1 star review on a book says much more about what kind of person does such a thing, and then attacks it for being “pretentious,” which is an erroneous statement that is defamation at best.By all means, if you feel like this is what’s going to make you a righteous person, leave the up. I’m happy I could be your Ego’s stepping stone. Your opinion, as you acknowledge, is a minority. I’m just always amazed that someone would go out of their way to slander someone’s work like this. Unfortunately, Authors don’t get to choose if their books go up on Goodreads. It’s like Yelp, where essentially the only people that use it for negative reviews are those that have nothing better going on in their lives. You’re within your rights to say whatever you want. Doesn’t make a right or moral action. And considering that you can read 10% of the book for free, why would you still buy it after reading the beginning, and furthermore, if you paid for it, why wouldn’t you just get it refunded? (It’s only 100 pgs and it’s exclusive to Amazon; you have 7 days to refund it). I would’ve rather you got your money back than curse my book with your toxic opinion of it because it’s “in your rights to do so.”Do you have empathy? Do you know what it’s like to make something for a living? Are you human? Or do you just look at other people like they’re automatons that you can slander as though your actions don’t manifest consequences? Trust this. Me confronting someone that defaces my work says nothing about me other than the fact that I address it when someone goes out of his/her way to do so. But you left a 1 Star review on someone’s life’s work, someone who is trying to warn people what’s going on in this world so that they can protect themselves and help others, and think that is a moral action. 400,000 children go missing each year in the US alone. Do you know where they’re going? Do you know who’s behind it? Do you know why the media is silent about it? Do you know how much a person risks to confront the evil that’s running amok in this world? YOU don’t know right from wrong. And that’s what a review like this says about the person that wrote it.
The only thing I’m concerned about is how people that don’t my book even find it. It’s not being advertised other than social media. For all the people that observe this exchange, when you leave a negative review on someone’s work, you are potentially driving away a person that could have had their life changed for the better by that work. For someone to leave such a toxic review on a book that contains so much gnosis, that people had to die in order to learn in the past, is an utter disgrace to the human condition. This quote sums it up perfectly:
“If you have a golfball-sized consciousness, when you read a book, you’ll have a golfball-sized understanding; when you look out a window, a golfball-sized awareness, when you wake up in the morning, a golfball-sized wakefulness; and as you go about your day, a golfball-sized inner happiness. But if you can expand that consciousness, make it grow, then when you read about that book, you’ll have more understanding; when you look out, more awareness; when you wake up, more wakefulness; as you go about your day, more inner happiness.” -David Lynch
So again, by all means, leave the review up if you feel like it’s the moral thing to do, if you must have it on your Goodreads profile so people can see how relevant your low opinion of “The Tale of Onora” is. The review mocks the reviewer, not the book. It’s made a few sales during the time it took me to write this. Karma’s not a bitch. She’s a conspirator. You’ll gain that experiential knowledge soon.
You do realize that every author in the entire world has had their work negatively reviewed, right? Like literally all of them. The best writers in the entire world have had their books torn apart on a much more public platform than Goodreads.Why do you think you are above that? Why is your work above criticism when others aren’t?To be honest, I would have happily reworded this review for you and put my opinion a little more gently. However now that you’ve basically threatened and harassed me for no reason, I will be sure to post this everywhere I can to everyone I can to ensure that people know to avoid you and your work.Congratulations on having the exact opposite effect your monologue was meant to have. You cannot intimidate me in the slightest. But if I have half the power you seem to think I do, I damn sure plan on using it now.
Defamation is untrue statements, and from your comments here, they ring really true. Just your comments are “wordy and pretentious”.She didn’t attack you or your book, she simply didn’t like it. She didn’t rant about it or rip it into teeny pieces and stomp them under her shoe into the mud. She was polite and offered to expand on her reasoning for why, you could have done the gracious thing and accepted it instead of hounding her about where she found out about it or why she doesn’t just take down her review or get her money back.Your comments to a reviewer…ANY reviewer…as the above have said…have shown me (and basically the internet) all I need to know about you and your book.It has over a 4 star rating. Breathe. Not everyone likes every thing.
Dylan wrote: “I’m not here to “police” Goodreads.Leaving a 1 star review on a book says much more about what kind of person does such a thing, and then attacks it for being “pretentious,” which is an erroneous…”Okay. I don’t have a horse in this race. I am another author, though, and I’ve seen this particular scenario before.Dylan. Please. STOP. All you’re going to do here is make yourself look bad and alienate your future readers. You can see it happening even now.
The one thing that is the hardest for any author to learn and to live by is a simple, three word mantra: DO NOT ENGAGE. No matter how much you want to, don’t reply to the reviews. Just don’t. Bad reviews happen. They happen to all of us (my work has been called torture porn — and then won a major award. Go figure!)
You cannot please everyone, no matter how hard you try. It’s hard. I KNOW. But it happens.
I’d like to weigh in on this commentary – as I feel both Dylan’s pain ANDCait’s self-righteousness. There is no need for a verbal war – as much as an author would want to wage it. I agree with Elizabeth – you can’t please everyone, and I remember the saying “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” (although I’m definitely not saying that Dylan’s book is trash OR treasure – as I haven’t read it.But I will now!I have been horrified by truly bad books before – and was so offended by the lack of skill etc – that I really wanted to leave a scathing review. In those rare cases, I either didn’t leave a review or took a deep breath and gathered my thoughts – so I could leave a thoughtful review that used constructive criticism. (Most of the time!)I don’t think it’s a good idea for Cait to go and spread it everywhere – that’s just mean and reactionary. I also don’t think that Dylan should respond to negative reviews or go on a tirade. It’s always a good idea to be gracious – even in the face of a negative review.
I had an awful review once – of some erotica I wrote on an obsolete writing site. I was incensed that it was from a man and that he trashed everything I wrote by using childish and aggressive insults, intending to intimidate me. I so wanted to rip him a new one – if you know what I mean!
I started writing a long tirade – thinking to myself that I would “show him” and “put him in his place”. It felt good to vent, but once it was done, I re-read it and felt just as silly as he had been. I decided to delete it – other than a short note to tell him off for being so nasty about it, even though I appreciated the fact that at least he took the time to read it.
I did take away a valuable lesson though. The essence of what he was saying rang true – I was far too heavy-handed in my stories and quite cliched. He could have been constructive – but he chose to be a dick. Oh well – it was a lesson learned and I realized that you have to have a thick skin to be an author.
Yes – it’s hard work, and yes – it’s easy to feel that people who leave these kinds of reviews don’t take that into consideration. Do as the Buddhists say – let it pass like a bug flying by. It’s only one bug – and even if you get a few more bad reviews – I’m sure you will get many more positive ones.
Good luck Dylan – and Cait – forget about it. Let the dust settle and everyone will continue on as before.
Cait wrote: “I did read the sample for free first. However, the first 10% of a book is never a really good indication of what the whole thing is like, in my opinion. A lot of the time things get better or there…”NO. I don’t want you to do anything because you’re immoral. Leave this up so that every person henceforth can see ALL OF YOU for what YOU ARE. DESTRUCTIVE to consciousness and humanity. What you’ve done to me, you do to YOURSELF, because if you KNEW anything about anything, you’d know we were all connected to each other, and instead of destroying each other’s work, you’d be supporting each other, which is why I will NEVER behave like ANY of you immoral people, and I won’t go seeing what you’ve written or done in the world so I can destroy that. No, I will only defend my work against EVIL.And today, all of you see why EVIL IS KICKING HUMANITY’S ASS, and why the human condition is SLAVERY.THAT’S what The Tale of Onora is about, and if you can’t grasp that, then BE GONE!
He’s the one being a bully, so…I don’t think you should change a thing.1 star “did not like it”. It. The book. If you want everyone to love something you write you should only show it to your mother. My mom still puts articles Iwrite up on the fridge or pictures of my brother with authors he’s planned events for. Of course, I also appreciate the times when she’s been honest with me.I wouldn’t edit at all unless it was to add the transcript of all the abuse he’s hurled at you and others. Even Elizabeth who was trying to be helpful to him as a fellow author. (Kudos to Elizabeth, btw, clearly you’re a nice person. I’m sorry he did not recognize good advice when he read it.) Or perhaps a more in depth review with specificity towards the things that you did not like in particular.Or I could get my editor pen out and probably go to town on it if his comments are any indication of his writing.
SotheTom wrote: “I think I know what Dylan plays in World of Warcraft.It be a troll mon.”Thanks for joining in on the assault of me, Tom, and leaving my books (that you’ve never read) 1 star reviews as well. I’m glad all of you are having such a great time.Great company you people keep. Absolutely the worst that humanity has to offer, the type of people that look the other way when evil runs amok. And as for my luck, I obviously don’t have any, which is why you stumbled upon my work in the first place. That’s self-evident.
[ həˈrasm(ə)nt, ˈharəsm(ə)nt ]
aggressive pressure or intimidation:
synonyms: persecution · intimidation · pressure · force · coercion · hassleWhich is exactly what the author is doing here. Intimidating, harassing, pressuring, hassling, etc, to get her to delete her review.We, the worst of humanity, have defended someone being harassed. Shame on us.
Dylan wrote: “SotheTom wrote: “I think I know what Dylan plays in World of Warcraft.It be a troll mon.”Thanks for joining in on the assault of me, Tom, and leaving my books (that you’ve never read) 1 star re…”You are very welcome. Honestly, this has made an otherwise dull day a bit more lively. If your books are 1/2 as good as your attitude and arrogance they are still not worth 1 star If you had not instigated all of this my reviews would never have been left. You got everything that is coming to you, I felt it only right to warn others about the worst the writing community has to offer.
I bid you good day “Author”
Actually, Tom, you are the psychopath (by definition), as I want to be left alone, and you won’t leave me alone. You are the one that does not understand the principle of non-aggression, and have assaulted my work based on a conversation that did not include you.And here is the VERY FIRST PAGE OF MY BOOK, the one that was so entirely loathed byCait S.:”To you, that you may awaken to understand that the whole universe is a dance of energy, and that energy is God, and that energy is you. You are something that the whole universe is doing, that God is doing, just as a wave is something that the whole ocean is doing. The real you, the energy, the soul, is not a puppet that life pushes around. The real you is the whole universe. The real you is God, destined to follow no one, destined to ignite the ether and experience life from an individual perspective and take part in the creation. So this is for you, my fellow creators, my fellow gods, and my fellow selves, that coincidence may never disguise itself with the mask of fate and torment you, that every moment be meaningful, and that no experience be lost.”What I stand for, what The Tale of Onora stands for, and what the people that read it on every continent represent is SELF-EVIDENT and needs NO defense. What you stand for is all that is IMMORAL, HARMFUL, and WRONG.
Actually, Tom, you are the psychopath (by definition), as I want to be left alone, and you won’t leave me alone. You are the one that does not understand the principle of non-aggression, and have assaulted my work based on a conversation that did not include you.”Wants to be left alone and yet you keep responding leaving yourself so open.”What I stand for, what The Tale of Onora stands for, and what the people that read it on every continent represent is SELF-EVIDENT and needs NO defense.”Needs no defense and yet a 1 Star rating will utterly destroy it and you need to…..Defend it?
Ha! That is an entertaining exchange. You really have to be tough when you write because along with fans comes some nasty critics. We have to get over ourselves, let it go. Taylor Swift actually wrote a song to her critics, “all you’ll ever be is mean,” so even the rich and famous have a peanut gallery of complainers following them around.
Also, good words to remember, “hatred just is the flip side of love.” The opposite of love is actually indifference, not hate. It’s somewhat funny, but for a person to invest their time and energy into leaving a one star review either means they’re out there randomly venting frustration that has nothing to do with you, or else you triggered them. Even a one star review is an emotional investment. 😉
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the author said: