Can I (An Author) Respond to Reviews?

Should Authors Respond to Reviews, EVER???

As I was scrolling through a certain social media site this morning, I ran across a posted article by BookRiot and entitled “Dear Authors: Don’t Respond to Goodreads Reviews.” Written by Brenna Clark Gray and originally published on July 10, 2015, this article discussed a certain author ‘going off’ on a reviewer. Using this as a basis for her opinion, Ms. Grey proceeded to conclude that authors should not respond to any reviews, good or bad, because even to say thank you is to intrude on the reviewers “reviewing space” which, apparently, could be compromised and their ability to write a completely honest review would fly out the window (I’m rephrasing here but I believe that was the basic gist of the paragraph.)

If you would like to read the article, click – here– to do so. I would also like to suggest that you go on to the Book Riot Facebook page – here – and find this post to read the comments. While a few seem horribly venomous and slightly under-educated about the idea, the comments really serve as a good cross-section of research for readers’ feelings on the subject.

The comments on that post were honestly what made me think more on this topic. The idea that an interaction with an author, no matter how respectful it is, could make someone uncomfortable is something I really had never thought of. As both an author and an avid reader, I’ve always nerded out at the littlest minute possibility that my writing heroes noticed my existence! But then again, I don’t believe that I ever told them they were stupid and uneducated, which some of the reviewers do on occasion.

So what answer have I come up with after pondering this question for a few hours? What has my reading and writing brain concluded? Well, in my semi-expert (in my own mind anyway) opinion: Go for it! Answer those reviews respectfully. But DO NOT ANSWER THEM IMMEDIATELY!

What I mean by this is not that you should look at an absolutely horrid 1-star review that gives no reasons for their loathing of your life’s work other than the idea that you were born without a brain and a chicken quite possibly transcribed your story, stew on it for a few hours, and then write a well worded, scathing, and absolutely equally horrid response insinuating that the reviewer is, in fact, living with the half brain donated by their family’s beloved pet donkey. No. That is, in fact, a very poor plan. Because however else I feel about Ms. Grey’s article, I 100% agree with the statement that no matter what the outcome, an author who responds in such a manner will be hurt by it.

Do NOT tell them how stupid they are. Someone who can’t spell basic words once reviewed a book of mine a trashed it. They claimed the book was rife with spelling and grammar mistakes and that it took away from the story. However, they rated it a 3 star and proceeded to state that they had bought the other two books and were currently reading the second (at the time). I wailed and went off about that for days. However, I did not respond (ok…I may have responded and then immediately deleted my response). That kind of back and forth will probably never do any good and even hollering about my degree in education, heavy on English and Music would only serve to make me look worse.

So what, then, do I mean? If we can’t respond to the uglies, what can we do? We can cry, scream, cuddle those stuffed animals saved from our childhood that we swear are only there to inspire our next great children’s book…and then we can move on to other reviews. The reviews that include reasons for the low rating, questions about areas in the book that confused them, or even glowing recommendations. These are something that might provide for a GOOD interaction with our readers. For these, I would suggest reading them multiple times, letting the questions or comments simmer, and then writing out a respectful response that asks for more detail about where/what their complaint pertains to in the story or answering their questions. If you cannot do this in a respectful, kind manner then DO NOT RESPOND AT ALL! However, if you can respond appropriately, this can lead them to connect with you on other sites, possibly even garnering recommendations or new readers.

Additionally, if they have specifically commented on something they enjoyed about your story responding with a little information about that segment, a little behind-the-scenes backstory, can create a bit of a bond between reader and author. It gives them a peek into your process and allows for a respectful and friendly back and forth. This can also lead to them recommending you to their friends, following you on social media, and possibly even becoming a new reader buddy.

You must use your best judgement though! Please, please don’t force yourself to respond to people if you don’t feel like it. Some people say that authors should put their work out into the world and never look back, letting their ‘baby’ fly on alone. I don’t believe that those people have ever spent what feels like an eternity writing, re-writing, editing, revising, sending out, reading rejection letters, formatting, and printing pieces of their souls. I could be wrong about that though. It is all a matter of personal opinion. This post, as pretty much everything else I write, is my own opinion.

stopme

Please use self-control and self-policing here. Our goal is not to scare readers or make a bad name for ourselves, it is to help ourselves grow as authors. If you do not feel comfortable responding to reviewers or feel as though you would be nasty to them, then please don’t force yourself to respond on my account! Remember, you can usually also send a private message to the reviewer if you would like to quietly and without fanfare ask for specifics from their reviews. That can sometimes be the best option. IF you do ask for their specifics in order to look it back over, please consider also sending them a note that you’ve revised that section or asking them read the possible revisions so that you know if it works better in the new format or wording. You may have just located a new Beta reader with fresh eyes for your work.

Have any thoughts on this topic?? Can’t wait to hear from you!! Until then, may you be blessed with great reviews and fabulous bursts of inspiration.

 

Author Interview with M.J. Moores

Welcome! It’s Friday, Canadian author M.J. Moores stopped by, and I have questions…that must mean that it’s time for another rousing edition of Author Interview Friday! Let’s get started, I don’t know about you but I’m excited to see her answers!

Melissa6 portrait

  • What name do you write under? Is this a pseudonym? Do you use more than one name when you write?

I made the careful decision to write under the name M.J. Moores. I say “careful” because as awful as it sounds, many readers are still biased toward female authors in my genre. M.J. is my initials and as I did go by that name all during high school it doesn’t feel like a complete ‘cop-out’ to me 😉

 

  • Tell us about the first time you realized that you were an author or were going to be an author.

The ‘big’ moment for me was getting my first set of comments back from my editor. I had paid an arm and a leg for legal counseling before signing on with a small publisher but that just hit the pocket book, not the heart strings 😉 The edit showed me that I had work to do in order to make my publishing date!

 

  • What genre(s) do you write in, and why?

I prefer Speculative Fiction. My first series of books is Sci-Fi/Fantasy with a hint of horror and my next series (for which I’ve already begun book 1) is an Urban/Supernatural Fantasy. I gravitate toward tales of the fantastic because I view reading as an important escape from reality. There’s a reason I don’t watch the news and that same reason applies to the kinds of books I read and write.

 Time's Tempest - Official Book Cover

Now, don’t get me wrong, knowing and understanding current events and the impact they have on daily life is extremely important – but it’s also very depressing. As human beings we thrive on hope. I don’t get that from the news or general fiction; I get that from allowing myself time to explore “what if” in another context and allowing myself to believe that not everything is doom and gloom – or at least it doesn’t have to be.

 

  • What genres are your favorites to read? Why?

 

I love YA and Fantasy (and if the two are combined then I’m in ecstasy). I also have a soft-spot for a well-written memoir. Again, these fall into the same reasoning as above – I don’t want to be depressed when I read, I want adventure, excitement, and more than a little bit of wonder. In my opinion, a good memoir is one that shows you how exciting someone else’s life really was/is, even if they only faced every-day challenges. It’s all about perspective and an author who knows how to tell a good story.

 

  • Tell us about your two all-time favorite characters: 1 that you wrote and 1 that someone else wrote.

Oooo… that’s a tough one! I guess I’d have to say Yelena from the Poison Study series written by Maria V. Snider. I gobble up almost anything Snider writes and became completely addicted to this series. Yelena is the epitome of a strong female character – she’s vulnerable and kick-ass. I know that may sound like a contradiction but her inner fire and resilience in the face of adversity, as well as the fact that she never loses her humanity, speaks volumes to me.

 

As for a favourite character that I’ve written… hmm… I might have gone with the main character, Taya, in my SFF series had you asked me last year, but I’ve discovered a new character – Dray. She’s the lead in my Urban Fantasy series. In some ways she’s like Taya and Yelena but I haven’t figured her out yet. There’s a mystery to her and a real sense of confusion that plays more prominently in Dray’s life than it does in the lives of those other characters (not that there isn’t a lot of confuse there too). She’s got me curious. The “what if’s” surrounding her are at the same time much closer to home and yet much farther away – boy, I do love a contradiction!

 

  • There is a lot of controversy about allowing books to be made into movies (especially when they cut or change large portions of the plot). Would you be willing for your books/stories to become a movie? Why or why not?

Oh, great question! I spent time studying film in university and it has brought me such an appreciation for this medium. Honestly, if any book lover is able to see past the blind love of their favourite book to the reality of what it takes to bring a story to the big screen, they will begin to realize that it’s not about re-creating the book but allowing the essence of it to blossom in a new light.

 

It’s impossible to sell 7 hr long movies on a regular basis and most books, to be done ‘true’, would take at least that long if not longer. I would totally support a major filming company buying the rights to my book(s) – so long as I got final say on the adaptation 😉

 

  • How do you handle writer’s block?

It is not an affliction that has ever plagued me. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not bragging here. I do get stumped sometimes, but that just means that I don’t yet know enough about what I’m writing to be able to write it. So, I either do more research or go for a walk/do some mundane house chores to let my mind wander and explore the possibilities. Then, when I feel like I’m going to burst for holding so much information in my mind, I write. It’s making use of my analytic and creative side – always asking myself “what if?”

 

TheChroniclesofXannia3_1400

  • What inspires you?

Curiosity. The need to know and the need to be realistic – LOL! I know! I write SFF 😉 While I’m not what you’d call a “hard” SF writer, I do feel an intrinsic need to make things believable… even plausible based on the general construct of the world around us. That means a lot of research on my end. For my Urban Fantasy series I’ve done a ton of research on myth, fairy tale and creatures of the fantastic. There’s a clear knowledge base of the unknown and absurd that I cannot ignore. It’s not factual per-se but it brings a core understanding to what has come before. Now, I’m not trying to simply re-hash what someone else has done before me – no… I see how I can add a twist that won’t cause die-hard fantasy fans a heart attack but instead, make them cock their head like a dog with curiosity.

 

  • What was the most difficult scene you ever wrote? What made it so hard to write?

Wow. You know, I’d love to tell you it was a death or near-death sequence or the moment when Taya broke down at the fact that even her own mother didn’t recognize her, but the honest truth is that I live for those high-emotion scenes. No, for me I found with book one in The Chronicles of Xanna, the transition from “home” to “other” was a challenge to write. It was the manifestation of the “call to action” for Taya, my female heroine. You see, the important stuff was all in my head – the “implied” information that feels so natural to us as the writer. I had to find a way to bring the proper meaning and weight to this moment without being pedantic or leading. I was having trouble finding that balance between what I knew was right and what my editor was telling me should be happening. But I stuck with it, because I agreed with her – it wasn’t there yet. Luckily, by the final draft and with the addition of a new chapter I nailed it 😉

 

  • How do you respond when people ask what you do, then make that face if you say “I’m an author”?

Generally I don’t get “the face” until they ask me who my publisher is and I tell them I’m self-published… Even when I was with my small publisher (for a short stint) that happened. I don’t think the general public has quite embraced the idea that there are many Indie Authors who produce high-quality books; and so for me, “the face” equates to “so you’re not a serious writer then.” It really depends on the person asking as to which response I give back. If it’s a friend or colleague from another field then I’ll take the time to explain. If it’s someone I’ve only met recently then I won’t waste my time – clearly they’ve already made up their mind.

 

  • At what point would you consider yourself “a successful” author?

 

This is a tough one for me to answer but I think, ultimately, it’s when enough readers have discovered me, and buy my books, where I’m make a small profit from my labour (and when I say small, I mean small but better than breaking even). Then, in doing more than simply surviving as an author but actually living and breathing a workable reality.

 

  • Finally, tell us where to go to find you:

I would love to connect with you and your readers on any of the following platforms:

Author Website/Blog – http://mjmoores.com

Facebook – http://facebook.com/AuthorMJMoores

Twitter – https://twitter.com/AuthorMJMoores

Amazon – http://goo.gl/oUS3B9

Smashwords – https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/559531

1391906607374

Thank you so much for inviting me to chat with you today!

Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by! Your answers are thought provoking and fun!

Now for a bit of housekeeping. Next Friday is the 25th and apparently there is some sort of huge holiday going on then?? 😀 As such, I’m not going to posting an Author Interview until the following week. Which means….This segment will return to you in 2016!!

Remember, if you would like to be featured in your own Author Interview then you should give me a shout! I can’t wait to hear from you.

Have a wonderful Holiday everyone!

The Next Generation

Displaying CAM03656.jpg

My Monkey setting up for another day of arduous creating. Apparently this story was about Tinkerbell and the dog who sniffed flowers with butter.

My almost 2 year old daughter loves to draw and scribble in her Tinkerbell notebook. If you ask her about it she will go on and on about her work, usually yelling Bell Bell or talking about George and Minions in the few words you can understand. And at some point she will say ‘Like Momma’.

Like Momma, she carries a notebook just about everywhere she goes.(In fact, since her Happy Meals started handing out notebooks she may have MORE than I do). Like Momma, she sometimes only needs to scribble for a moment and sometimes she’s bent over the book for hours. Like Momma, she babbles somewhat incoherently at people if they interrupt her flow or she seems ‘stuck’ in her story.

A BIG part of me is proud that my daughter looks up to me, even though I’m sure that its mostly because she sees me all day everyday. I am proud of her creativity and interest in reading and writing. She isn’t quite 2 (we’re 3 months out from her birthday) but she is already fairly advanced (the hazards of her parent and grandparents all being teachers I suppose). I hope and pray that she keeps this curiosity and zeal as she grows up. That she retains the ‘weird’ and ‘quirk’ that makes up her joy right now and doesn’t let anyone tell her otherwise.

But do I want her to be a writer?

That is a tough question. I love writing. I adore putting my colored inks on blank paper and making the designs that pull a story from the air and my brain (same thing, right) and coalescing it in a form many will read. Most of the time I even enjoy the late night inability to sleep because I’m writing, or the jerking from a dead sleep at 3am because my subconscious finally figured out a piece of the story. I also make no money, have a tendency to block out people for days or weeks at a time while I write, get super mean if I can’t just sit and write when the mood hits me (not as much any more…toddlers tend to line out your schedule for you), and am usually tired from working on pieces when I should be asleep.

It has been said that writing is a lonely profession, except for the characters you make for yourself. Do I want my daughter to be lonely and listening to voices in her own head? Do I want her to wake up from a writing stupor and realize that she may have gotten fifteen thousand words written in a day and half, but she hasn’t eaten and hasn’t seen her friends in days? In the mind of a mother, do the pros outweigh the cons? I honestly don’t know at the moment.

The pros are worth more than any amount of cons in my life. If I don’t write I become irrational, erratic, and difficult to live with. Depression, anxiety, dark moods…they set in pretty quickly if I don’t have projects to think on and scribble out. My books and notebooks are some of my greatest joys, right up there with my kid and my flute. The lack of feedback and reviews on both my blog and my Amazon pages frustrates me to no end, but I wouldn’t stop writing for anything; I couldn’t. Do I want that kind of drive for my daughter….YES, YES I DO.

Do I want her to wind up a writer…probably not. But I suppose that’s going to be up to her to decide. Isn’t it?