At Digital Book World, Elle Lothlorien lays the foundation for her argument that authors should respond to bad reviews as other businesses do, in an attempt to rectify a bad customer experience. This is a very interesting blog post for a number of reasons, and you may find the comment thread even more compelling. You may even find it disturbing. The post appeals to my affinity for the contrarian viewpoint, but it was the comment thread that had me thinking, “Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Slow down! Save this level of vitriol and nuclear response for really serious problems, like family reunions!”
This is just Part 1 of her argument and that’s where the disturbing subtext emerges in the comment thread. Some commenters rise up, prematurely, I think, to condemn Lothlorien’s advice before she’s given a chance to lay out her strategy. They attribute motivations and actions to the author and reviewers before she’s had a chance to show what steps she takes and recommends. Condemnation before full presentation sounds like a trait you don’t want in a book reviewer.
Since the reaction in some cases (in the comment thread) is very defensive so far, I’ll be very interested to see how Lothlorien defuses her critics, one of whom goes so far as to threaten her with a bad review now that the author has dared to express an opinion. Wow. It’s ironic that Lothlorien is accused of intimidating reviewers to bump up the stars in her reviews in the same thread. Are we so cynical we can’t imagine that a listening ear and being nice might actually change a reviewer’s perspective? Are all opinions set in granite? Some objectors to the article assume their initial reaction is the best and purest one. Maybe not.
I don’t respond to negative reviews because I have accepted dogma (yes, I’m saying I haven’t really thought about it past “Don’t do it!”) and I’ve seen where it goes awry. As soon as I read the headline, I thought of The Greek Seaman debacle, which Lothlorien even mentions as an example of how not to do what she’s recommending. I have to concede that Lothlorien makes some good points.
“Anecdotal evidence!” someone cried. Well, what other evidence might there be? No one is studying this problem wearing a lab coat and clicking on a calculator. That said, I’m not (yet?) convinced responding to bad reviews is ever a good idea. I am willing to hear her out and in the meantime, I’ll reserve judgment until the follow-up installments.
Even if by some miracle of business pschology she manages to convince me otherwise, I’m sure it’s something I’ll never want to do. No one wants to be on the wrong end of the 1-800 line dealing with complaints, though as Lothlorien would point out, that is what businesses do.
There’s a fundamental question about ourselves that bubbles up through the cracks in the subtext: Do we have to get so angry about this stuff? We can change, can’t we? Flexibility in mind doesn’t necessarily equate to flip flopping. Mental agility means intelligence. I’m scared Lothlorien might be right and I hope she’s not. If I end up thinking she’s right, though, I won’t be mad at her. Click the link below for the article and read on.
See on www.digitalbookworld.com
Today’s podcast, The Unintended Consequences Edition, covers this issue, as well, in case your prefer your commentary in audio.
- The Bad Review Post. (fusteratedreader.wordpress.com)
- Authors: Why you shouldn’t respond to bad book reviews (publicityhound.net)
- The Frog Prince by Elle Lothlorien – Kindle Chick Lit Deal (kindleebookdeals.com)
- Every Book Review Has a Target (magnificentnose.com)
- Why Reviews On Amazon Don’t Mean Anything. (aknifeandaquill.wordpress.com)
- More on Fake Reviews (susanreviews.com)