On Reviews and Responses

Yet another broohaha in Romancelandia over reviews and the author’s response to said reviews has prompted me to examine my own responses to the reviews I’ve gotten on my book. I would prefer not to be stupid as I pick my way through the minefield which is publishing.

Sometimes it’s hard to know the right thing to do. You’ve written this thing, you’ve poured your heart into it, given it your time. Then you release it into the wild and not everyone sees it the same way you do.

If you get a bad or lukewarm review, it might be that your first response is to take offense. Maybe all you want to do is defend the book. But you have to resist the impulse, and that’s really hard.

When I read some of the less-than-kind reviews I’ve gotten, I wanted to defend myself. That would have been a mistake. The reviewer is entitled to his or her opinion. And they usually made some good points that let me see my work from a different perspective.

Obviously I want everyone to love my book, and I’ve been fortunate that most people seem to like it. But a few (hopefully very few) bad or lukewarm reviews or ratings are only to be expected. They’re part of the price of admission.

So when I see kerfluffles where authors attack reviewers for their opinions, I shake my head. I mean, we want reviewers to post about our books, right? How does attacking them help anything?

I admit, it’s easier for me to shake my head because I’m new. I don’t have the community (yet) to generate a lot of attention. It’s probably easier for me to take a deep breath and move on.

When I read my own reviews, I try to remember that, whether it be a good review or bad, the reviewer is not writing for me. The reviewer’s job is not to prop up the ego of the author. That’s my mother’s job and my sister’s job and the job my friends are supposed to do. The reviewer is writing for his or her own community of readers. The only thing the reviewer owes me is an honest opinion and the respect we all owe to other human beings.

As I continue to write and publish, I’m sure it will be harder to take the high road when faced with a bad review. The longer you’re out there, the more varied opinions you attract. I just hope that I will handle whatever comes halfway decently. And I hope I won’t be stupid.


  1. Like the clip art…..and the post.

  2. It is hard to read what someone thinks of your writing especially when they don’t agree or like what you have to say. I love how you try to use what you receive in a positive way. In one of my writing classes we have to do a rhetorical analysis. It was one of the hardest things I have done in writing. All I could think about how was how I would feel if someone did that to me. Luckily I felt her style and wording worked well for the topic 🙂

    You always inspire me!

    Keep at it!

    • Betsy Horvath says

      @Doris Jennings: Thanks, Doris! But I should tell you that these posts make me sound much more peaceful than I really am – sometimes I’m not quite so sanguine about the whole thing 😀 It can be difficult to read that someone didn’t like what you wrote, but I’ve gotten to a place where I’m pretty much okay with it….for the most part. If they give reasons why they felt the way they did, you can learn an awful lot about your writing – sometimes more than in the favorable reviews. But if all they say is “Don’t waste your time – don’t buy this book”, that isn’t helpful at all and you just have to shrug and walk away. Then you eat ice cream. LOL

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