Dear Authors, Let’s Have a Conversation

Greetings everyone!

Today, I’m going to tilt my crown slightly because I want to have a talk with some the authors out there. If you are not doing this (stuff that I have listed below), then I’m not talking to you. Better yet, you can join Kermit the Frog.

Yet for those of you who have (either intentionally or unintentionally), take a break from writing and outlining and give this a read.

Lots of people do not dispute the importance of reviews as it relates to author feedback. Unfortunately the amount of care a writer gives to his work does not always trickle down to the request for reviews process.

Here are things that authors really need to stop doing, not just based on observations but from my own experiences.

(1) Take the time to do the research on a reviewer or the organization. If it’s just an individual check out the number and type of reviews that person has done in the past. If it is an organization, same protocol.

(2) If an organization has taken the time to put up frequently asked questions and guidelines, READ THEM. Make sure you do so PRIOR to submitting a request. If you do a blind submit, you will either get redirected to read the guidelines, no reply, or worse–you get rejected because you can’t read simple instructions. How do you expect a reviewer to treasure your words when you don’t take the time to treasure the rules they put down to make your process and theirs easier?

(3) It is best that you not mass review a request. Most people like the personal touch, and usually when you mass mail something the following can occur: (1) It is seen as spamming and you are reported. (2) You misidentify the person/people and have them wondering if it was meant for them which leads to (3) Your work not getting reviewed at all.

(4) Be respectful of the fact that some people who do reviews are doing it in their spare time. They are human and they have lives. Just like you exercise patience and take the steps to get your publication out, exercise patience with the people you requested review it.

(5) Do not accuse someone who has taken time out of their schedule of “lying” or “being wrong” on his opinion of a work or demand someone take down a review and change it, simply because you don’t agree.

(**Note: I do not mean people who are being malicious or really haven’t read your work. That is a different topic for a different day.**)

When you write, you run the risk of your work not going over with everyone. Once you hit publish, you don’t get to dictate the narrative of how your want the honesty delivered. It defeats the concept of individual thought and decreases the reader’s right to be opinionated.

Going back and forth with a reviewer and threatening to ruin one’s reputation puts YOU on the chopping block. No reviewer wants to deal with an author that acts like a rabid dog each time a review is not conveyed to one’s specifications. It’s paramount to Reviewer Bullying and NO ONE likes a bully. If you are that rude to an actual reviewer, imagine if you are like that to your other readers! Does it make sense to spar with a reader on Amazon in the comments if the person gives you 4 stars when you feel it should have received a 5, or is thorough in what they thought was wrong with the work in their 2 star review?

(6) Quit sending condescending “Thank Yous” to reviewers. Don’t tell a person you are appreciative and then berate them with everything you thought was wrong with the review. If your response isn’t authentic, don’t send it. It’s better to stay silent than be phony.

(7) Be honest with yourself. Don’t say that you want “honest” reviews when you only want people that will constantly give you high reviews. Don’t say that you can take criticism to the world but the moment it comes in a professional, respectful manner, you have a meltdown and on the most extreme measures, accuse the reviewer of bullying. If you want your work to be perfect (and with some authors all of their works are perfect in their minds), then perhaps you should not even deal with getting reviews at all–just have the work sit out there, sprinkle fairy dust, and the magic will make them come to your book.

It is upsetting the way some authors react to the very audience they want to support and help them. People do not have to leave reviews at all. There are review organizations that are set up for the author to utilize as well as people who review for the love of books.

Yet more and more, I have seen people who have decided to stop leaving reviews or stop reading all together because some are experiencing too much backlash from combative authors who feel the review has to be their way or the highway. Other places have closed. One person I recently talked with said, “In this author culture, too many act like they are entitled. They think their work is pristine and therefore don’t need reviewers anymore.”

I don’t want to believe that is true but the more authors I have come across, particularly as a reviewer, the more I’m really starting to wonder if that person’s statement is the new reality.

Authors need to stop doing these things because everyone loses.

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Poet, short story writer, and aspiring novelist. This blog details my writing journey and everything in between: supporting other writers, doing a feature column and serving as editor-in-chief for All Authors Magazine Online.

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