• Meanwhile over at the Goodread's place ...

    Earlier today, while browsing some of the wonderful feedback that reader's had posted about my book Greyhound, from one star to five star, I was confronted by the Notice about 'Commenting on Negative Reviews', which, to me at least, is a new thing. I periodically read the posted reviews and cogitate on them much as is evinced from just perusing the activity feed on Goodreads.

    I guess I need to ask the obvious question, and forgive me for being direct, flip or just irascible about it, but who in the hell is commenting on negative reviews or engaging the readers in that manner? Seriously? Aren't emerging authors, or even well-established authors counseled about their behaviour regarding customers reviews from places like Amazon, Goodreads, Librarything, Blogs, etc., and a litany of other places? I would think it would be difficult to escape the media of a long-line of well-documented cases where writers have tried to engage the readers in this negative manner and have failed epically with the public everytime. From  Anne Rice all the way to every other less-than-stellar egomaniac in the writing world. I will give some room for understanding to some of these authors regarding the content of the reviews, but engaging people for flowers & bombast is just a bad practice over all.

    If you're a reader, who has posted a negative review on my book, please just let me say thank you for buying it or borrowing it, reading it, spending the time to think about it after the fact, either one way or another, and then posting a review. I wholly appreciate it. I may have my own feelings about it, but I also know that you have the right to have yours. So, don't feel bad if you don't like it. Not all things are suitable for all people. You may get caught up in certain aspects of the story like voice, believability, structure, mechanics or what-have-you, but that's your thing. Again, I may not agree with you in the context of the big picture or life in general, but to each their own.

    I'm forever perplexed about human behaviour and how people's opinions differ about 'how to behave on the internet.' It seems to range from  "it just doesn't matter because it's online and who's reading that anyway?" all the way up to "I don't think it's wise to post anything online past a star rating." Being an Amazon Vine Member, I've both heard and seen it all when it comes to reviews, authors behaving badly, internet bullying and anonymous profiles used to smear people who are not anonymous.

    If Goodreads has seen fit to now have this red-box banner as a reminder for authors, obviously enough people were being abusive and reacting inappropriately.


    1. Do they mean an author is commenting back on a negative review of the author's work?

      In Academia that's called debate. If the negative reviewer (and let's assume that the negativity was politely expressed) has the right to post, I believe the author (target of the comment) certainly also has the right to respond.

      Whether or not the author should respond is another matter. If the negative review was a personal attack or so far crossing the line of civility, the author should ignore it, perhaps report it. Yet if the negative review is well-thought or is questioning, then the author should be allowed to respond to clarify or answer questions.

      I've received a few negative reviews (low star counts) on Amazon's CreateSpace previews, but there system is not set up for authors to respond. I wish I could because I think that, based on what was written, I could explain or clarify the issues they took exception to.

      Either way, civility is to be expected in public venues (though the preteen boys roaming the YouTube sites, etc. seem to gain some entertainment value from pissing on everyone).

    2. Well put. Thanks.