Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Responding to reader comments

Author reviews

After publishing my first book it wasn't long until I received my first review on Amazon.com.

That was a really exciting day for me as it meant that not only had someone bothered to buy and read the book, they were sufficiently engaged with it to add a comment to the site - fantastic.

Before deciding to publish my book I made a conscious decision to respond to all review comments both good and bad.

I wasn't sure whether to engage with a dialogue with the reviewers though. What if I disagreed with something I put in the book? What if they had taken a different interpretation of the book? What if it was just a harsh review that I took exception to? Would the best response be to argue with their points or just say a polite thank you?

Danger of not responding to reviews well

I was keen to see what other approach other authors had come up with and quickly found an amazing example where a reviewer and author ended up publicly arguing resulting in a huge amount of negative publicity for her book.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Greek_Seaman
http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/booksblog/2011/mar/30/jacqueline-howett-bad-review

With so much choice on Amazon.com I knew that reviews were hugely helpful to possible future readers of the book so in the end I ended up with what I hope is a balanced approach.

I would answer any queries posted in a review but never criticise or publicly disagree with the reviewer. (Of course, coming up with this theory is a lot easier than sticking to it).

My standard response template

So, in the end I came up with the following short and sweet reply text.

Hi [Insert Person's Name], many thanks for taking the time to download, read, and review my book - really appreciated. I'm working on an early draft of my next book which I hope you'll have the chance to read and enjoy too.
Best regards, [Your Name]

Conclusion

Reviews are an excellent way to connect with readers. However they are a direct evaluation of your work by someone you've often never met and therefore they provoke a very strong reaction whether the review is good or bad.

Like all authors, good reviews are a huge boost, and negative ones take some additional processing time. The mantra that keeps me going is to focus on these facts:

  • someone read your book
  • someone cared enough about it to give feedback
  • you have a chance to either take that feedback on board or file it away and move on

Goodreads Author Profile
http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7058283.Iain_Clements