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.


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: Charles Yallowitz

Hello everyone and WELCOME to the first in a series of Author Interviews. I will posting a new interview with an author, illustrator, or photographer every Friday, as long as I have people willing to be interviewed (and eventually I hope to agents and or publishers to the list). If you would like to be interviewed for this segment, please feel free to leave a comment and I’ll get you set up.

Without Further Ado, let’s get this party started with the one, the only, Charles Yallowitz. Author of the Legends of Windemere series and blog, as well as many other interesting things (don’t want to give anything away too soon here), Mr. Yallowitz has provided us with a great set of answers today.

Author Interview Questions: Charles Yallowitz


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

I write under the name Charles E. Yallowitz, which is my real and only one. I considered a pen name before I published, but I couldn’t think of anything.  Also, I’d been told that it’s a lot harder to keep your real identity secret on the Internet.  Figured it wasn’t worth the trouble.

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

It was in 10th grade and I had just finished reading The Books of Lost Swords by Fred Saberhagen. The story and characters really grabbed my attention.  One day I was reading a few of my favorite parts and the idea that I could write a story clicked in my head.  I’d always enjoyed telling and listening to stories, so I set out to put pen to page.  The whole thing has been a bumpy ride since then, but worth it.

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

I primarily write in Sword & Sorcery fantasy, which is also called Epic Fantasy and High Fantasy.  I really enjoy the freedom of imagination within the genre because the world is pulled out of nothing.  There’s no Earth or existing planet to work off of, so my world comes from the ground up.  Just the evolution of Windemere has been exciting.  I do occasionally get the urge to dabble in other genres.  So far, I’ve tried poetry, fairy tales/journal, gory horror, paranormal thriller (not published), and I’m fiddling with the outline of a post-apocalyptic comedy action thing.

Sleeper of the Wildwood Fugue

  • What genres are your favorites to read? Why?

Fantasy for the same reason as above.  I love escapism and drifting outside of our world.  The specific type is the adventure and character-focused stories like Ranger’s Apprentice and Lord of the Rings.  I’ve found that I don’t have much interest in the darker fantasy tales as I get older.  This is probably why I throw a lot of humor and upbeat moments into my stories.  At least when they fit because sometimes you have to go dramatic in a series to help a character grow.

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

These are both tough questions. A favorite character of mine that someone else wrote could be Spider-Man, Ender Wiggin from Ender’s Game, and Horace from Ranger’s Apprentice.  Right now Horace is in the lead because I’m still reading through the series.  I like him because he’s got a different kind of smarts than the quick-witted, creative ones.  He’s definitely a warrior, but has these charming moments of genius that really stand out.

Hard to choose a character of mine as a favorite.  Each one has a special place in my heart and I try to give them all equal time in a book.  At least a big scene for each one.  My attention does tend to drift back to Nyx a lot.  She’s a powerful caster who starts with a temper and mellows out.  Somewhere along the line, she became the character that all the others take their confidence from.  If she says it can be done then they believe it.  There are some days where I think she’s taken the main character role even though it’s an ensemble cast.

  • 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?

I’ve pondered this question a lot along with the one about casting that shows up from time to time.  I think I’m at the point where I’d play it by ear if it ever happens.  My concern right now are the books, which sounds rather lame.  Just like with any deal that involves my stories, it would have to depend on the specifics.  I’m really just dancing around an elaborate ‘I have no idea’ here.

  • How do you handle writer’s block?

With a jackhammer, which usually means a shot of Jack Daniels and pizza.  I’m sure there’s a hammer somewhere in the house when this happens.  Honestly, I don’t really hit writer’s block in the traditional sense.  I get confused with a project and move to another while I let my subconscious handle the issue.  Then I come back a few days later to see what I’ve got.  Since I started writing, I’ve done a combination of focusing on details and drifting with whimsical ideas.  Much of this happens when I do detailed outlines, so I have a clear path when I get to the actual book.  I feel strange saying this, but I haven’t had a problem writing creatively since my middle school days.  I did have a scare when I was so stressed and exhausted that I thought my imagination disappeared.  Fixed that with a few poems of the goofy and dark varieties.

  • What inspires you?

This, that, and everything in-between.  I never know what will set off an idea.  Sometimes letting my mind wander while in bed will work and other times a show, movie, or book will trigger something.  I try to observe a lot around me to file away for world and character creation, so I try to never close off the possibility of a random thing inspiring me.  This does have a habit of getting me into trouble in public.  Apparently staring blankly is a problem if somebody is in your line of sight.  Doesn’t matter if you were daydreaming about what would happen if a dragon mated with a scorpion.

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

Most times I’ll move on to talk about my son because I know the person is uninterested.  I leave it at the statement and only return if the person has a question.  No sense pushing against a brick wall.  The thing that causes me to stumble is the ‘Great that you’re an author, but I don’t read fantasy’.  This one stuns me only because I don’t know if I should keep explaining my books or fake a stomach cramp.  You have a combination of interest in what you do, but not in what you write.  Sometimes this leads to talking about the marketing and business side of things, which can be fun.  Though most times it turns into awkward silence for a bit.

Only thing worse is being told ‘I bought your book even though I don’t like fantasy and probably won’t read it’.  Uh, thanks and I’m just going to proudly limp over to the opened bottle of chardonnay.

  • Finally, tell us where to go to find you (Twitter, Facebook, Blog, Online Bookstores, Physical Stores, Etc. List them all for us please!)

Legends of Windemere Blog
Author Website
Amazon Author Page

FullRes- 300dpi Image

**all pictures provided by Charles Yallowitz**

Free Fell Short

I have a very serious and earnest question to ask you today:

Are Short Stories completely out of vogue now??

I ask because of the horribly discouraging give away I hosted this past weekend. All 3 of my currently available short story books were free in their e-book format, Over the course of 3 days, with 3 books waiting to be snatched up, I gave away 6 books and all of them were in the US. They were most likely even given to people I know personally.

So why the drop off? Not even the very first give away I hosted had such a poor turnout.

Do any of you have hints, tips, tricks, or nicely worded admonitions for me? i would appreciate anything that can help me understand this issue! (For the record, Dr. Tyree has been having this issue recently as well!)


Choices, Changes, and Clothes

As some of you have probably noticed, I very rarely include fashion in blog posts. Not that I have any thing against such a thing, mind you, but more that I believe in writing about what I know… And that ain’t it! However, today’s post is about choices so we’ll start with this one.

Mom's Take

Mom’s Take

Dad's Snap

Dad’s Snap

That’s me, today, wearing a piece of clothing I love but normally would never buy.I wear shorts maybe twice a year, and I’m from Oklahoma by way of Central Texas! I always feel self conscious of my legs…

 So what changed?

The honest answer is: absolutely nothing. I’m still a “big” girl, my calves still look like I do marching band every day, and I haven’t completely recognized myself in the mirror for awhile now. So why is today the day to wear this outfit and be okay? Simply because I got tired of seeing it sitting there, waiting; begging for me to slide it on and get dolled up for absolutely no reason at all. I finally CHOSE to let myself wear the outfit and that choice boosted my confidence.

I’ve made a lot of choices in life. Like everyone else. Some were good, some not so great, and some horrendous. One good decision was this outfit, another was starting this blog and self publishing my books. I researched, worked hard, and chose self publishing as a way to retain control of my “life’s work”, my babies. I haven’t sold very many, probably because I chose not to pay for advertising or a book trailer, but I always get good feedback and have given several hundred away with the kindle app.

Now my choice is changing some. As I look to find an agent for other works, i  am also keeping a keen eye out for someone who might eventually be willing to take on the Stone Dragon Saga and all of its extras. I may never find them. But in the mean time, I am also choosing to revamp them a little, throw a few tweaks here and there, and maybe even pay an editor and some advertising. Anyone know how to make an eye catching book trailer?

You see, I chose for years to be lazy. I told myself that I was content with there mere fact that I had put myself ‘out there’ by allowing my books to sit hidden among thousands more on Amazon and Kindle. I felt guilty for contemplating paying for advertising when my daughter wanted a new toy. She has more than enough in her play room (and every other room!) and my choice to use that excuse just doesn’t make sense. See, those pesky choices keep coming back around!

Well now my characters need me to choose… They’re asking for a real chance at the adventure and excitement of being sought after, eagerly awaited, and excitedly devoured by their new readers. I choose to honor that request and that is why I am seeking to change the way I’m publishing. Whether these stay firmly “self published” and I merely put in that extra little bit of effort to polish and market, or they slide into the “traditional” line, the Stone Dragon Saga deserved the chance to really shine and snag readers… And in order for that to happen I must choose change.

We hate change… Why, hello shorts.

Fierce Jungle Pose...MEOW

Fierce Jungle Pose…MEOW

That Bright Sunlight Messing Up My Selfies (but look at those CHEEKBONES!)

That Bright Sunlight Messing Up My Selfies (but look at those CHEEKBONES!)


Whether it be the choice of clothing, the choice of activity, or the choice to really pursue those dreams…don’t let ‘being content’ with what you’re doing stop you from achieving what you want! Reach for the stars, write your heart out, and let yourself achieve!


Ok, I have a HUGE question for my published author friends/followers/random readers…I am currently searching for an agent and I have picture books, leveled readers (science/reading early literacy…k-2) picture books, middle grade fantasy, YA fantasy books, a couple of early adult (high school/college age aimed basically), and some short stories/poems…a few them self published. I know that you should only query one project at a time…

So, here is my question: Should I just be concentrating on finding an agent for 1 previously unpublished work (most likely a picture book/leveled reader), or should I try to find someone who looks for children’s/fantasy/YA/Middle/etc.

And when I do write that query letter, should I include the information that I self published through Createspace (though I would like to rework those projects and try to traditionally publish them…Middle Grade readers want to take AR tests after all) or should I just leave that part alone until a future date?

I haven’t had much luck with traditional route before and have been self-publishing with my Dad for a few years now, but am wanting to find a way to get some of my work into schools and school libraries.

Any advice or notes are appreciated!

New Books and New Jobs

Tyree Tomes has had a busy week. Dr. Tyree finished his new book, which will be available on Kindle within the next few days and deals with the act of Prayer. I reached my Camp NaNoWriMo goal of 30,000 words in the month, perfected my happy dance, and interviewed with 3 elementary school principals all at the same time (I was surrounded and a little frightened…but I guess it was a viable form of interrogation interview).

I also gave away 37 copies of Dragon on My Neck’s e-book version and have begun looking at collecting my first four months of short stories into a book which will include the prompt or idea that sparked the story and then the actual story. (If any of you picked up Dragon on My Neck at any point, I would LOVE to know how you felt about the story and characters! If you don’t want to rate/review on it, just drop me a line or comment. Whether or not you liked it, I want to know about YOUR feelings. It can help my writing maturity…or so I’m told 😀 )


Oh, and I got offered a teaching job for next school year!

With all of this going on, I feel confident in our group’s growth, expansion, and most importantly, quality of content. I am quite certain that whatever classroom I am given, will provide me with all sorts of fodder for blogs and short stories to pass on to you! Thank you for your support and good will everyone! Have a blessed day!