Thursday, July 12, 2012

Responding to Negative Reviews: Do's and Don'ts

This little post is in response to a recent scandal involving a way-cray-cray website created by a spiteful writer in order to revenge herself anonymously upon snarky reviewers by stalking them, going so far as to post their addresses and personal information online. And all of it in the name of "stopping bullying" (except for *cough* the fact that all the legitimate anti-bullying organizations she linked to refused all association and demanded the removal of their banners from her page). But the fact remains - how should authors react to negative or snarky reviews?

Well, search no more, because AnimeJune has the answer.

So, let's imagine you're a crispity-cool magic-fantastic writer of published novels, and let's say you're innocently surfing the internet when...

EGADS!

 A negative review of your CRISPITY-COOL MAGIC-FANTASTIC NOVEL!

A lot of emotions might be going through your head right now. 

Your first instinct might be depression, because someone didn't like all the cool things you wrote, which means they don't think that you're cool, which makes you start to doubt if you were ever crispity-cool and magic-fantastic to begin with.

Your second instinct might be rage. After all, rage is more productive, right? This reviewer clearly didn't even read your novel, at least not the way it was meant to be read - and he or she is telling everyone how to read it THE WRONG WAY. They're threatening your career! They're spreading lies and misconceptions about how your book isn't crispity-cool and magic-fantastic - WHEN IT CLEARLY IS, BECAUSE YOU WROTE IT!

 Decisions, decisions. What would a truly crispity-cool magic-fantastic author do in this situation? It's not like there's a guide on the internet.

WELL, NOW THERE IS! THE ULTIMATE DO'S AND DON'TS FOR RESPONDING TO A NEGATIVE REVIEW:

DO eat your feelings.

So many magic-fantastic feelings...

DO drink wine. It's nature's Control-Z! And it helps you live longer, like the French do, because we read it somewhere in a magazine. We think.

DO call your mum. DO call your friends. They're your very first fans, after all! They'll understand and listen to what you're going through!

DO cry in the bath. You are an artiste! You are not a machine! Your passionate heart is wounded!

The bathtub of an artiste is a judgement-free zone.

An artiste's feelings are very exhausting. 

DON'T write nasty posts or e-mails to the reviewer. You are an artiste! Your work must be engorged with love, not with hate!

DON'T use the Internet to track down that reviewer's personal information, credit rating, or address.

DO use the Internet to find pictures of kittens!

DON'T go after your reviewer with a knife...

...unless it's to offer them chicken in a gesture of peace! Dark meat or white meat?

Mmmmmm, chicken. The anguished, hungry goddess of vengeance is appeased.

DO keep writing. Writing is YOUR passion, and YOUR dream - you don't do it for the reviewers, after all. You do it for yourself, because you are a crispity-cool magic-fantastic author.

The writing-space of an artiste is also a judgement-free zone. And Mama's gotta make her deadline.

 Lasty, DO remember that you are a crispity-cool magic-fantastic author. If people are reviewing your book, that means people are also reading your book. And the more people are reading and talking about your book, the more people will find out about and start reading your book. And that is awesome.

78 comments:

  1. In the bathtub with the bag of chips and the bottle of wine is my way to handle bad reviews.

    But you miss one key thing- must OD on much chocolate.

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    1. I *was* too lazy to go out and get chocolate for my review, I'm so sorry! LOL

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    2. That explains the weird chicken thing....;-)

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  2. This is the best thing I've seen all week. :D

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  3. Hilarious. The only the you left out is hugging (NOT kicking) the dog..who will always reaffirm that I am a crispity-cool magic-fantastic memoirist...as long as I give him a treat.

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    1. My building does not allow pets, but I do have a large stuffed dog that would do the trick!

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  4. I pretty much worship you.

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    1. Sacrifices of chickens may be performed at the backdoor.

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  5. Where were the unicorns? Dark meat or white?

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    1. Um, I'm guessing white?? LOL

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  6. You left out chocolate. And the nuclear option for negative emotion: Bailey's Irish Cream liqueur.

    Brilliant, AJ!

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    Replies
    1. Ooooh, I do have Kahlua. Best of both worlds!

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  7. This is one of the funniest things I've ever seen, and I hereby offer you a chicken.
    Ann

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  8. Aww, can't I just write one mean reply?? When it is crystally clear they don't understand how fab and funny I am?

    No?

    All right then. I'm going to mix another pitcher of mai tais.

    And thanks for reminding me NOT to take myself too seriously. Because even with the bad reviews among the good, I'd still rather be doing this than anything else.

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    1. Mai tais trump meanness, everyday. No one thinks less of an author who doesn't comment on a review. :)

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  9. This is beautiful, bright and shining. Although, as others pointed out, you missed combining the mondo bag o' chips with chocolate as well as wine. Chocolate is like the snake oil of the 20th and 21th Century, it heals all ailments.

    But you, yourself, are totally crispety-cool magic-fantastic.

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    1. Why thank you! Chips and chocolate together are definitely fab!

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  10. aw this post is so qt

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  11. Thanks for the inspiring blog! I'm laughing so hard that I'd fear peeing myself, but luckily I'm here in the bathtub clutching my bag of chips and a bottle of wine, so that any mess would be minimal clean-up. This made my evening :)

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    1. This is why bathtubs are awesome!I don't understand why people don't just LIVE in them, all the time!

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  12. I am so heading for the bathtub next time I get jabbed in the feelings. This is the best how-to guide ever!

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    1. Bathtubs are pretty swell for cleaning up bled feelings. :) And feelings grow back. If more authors just took step back from their computer and thought about things, most of them wouldn't make knee-jerk, inappropriate responses.

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  13. You are awesomesauce. That is all! :)

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  14. Replies
    1. Well it definitely made me feel better. I figured we needed a shot of crazy-silly to help mitigate the crazy-wrong.

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  15. Bwahahahahahaha! I think you made me cry on a Friday morning. Tears of laughter but still, evoking emotions is what crispity-cool magic-fantastic authors are all about right? Well done. This should be dispersed to every published writer.

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    1. Yeah, maybe I should print it as a pamphlet and release a bunch from a plane at RWA 2012!

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  16. Hahahah. Awesome!

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  17. Holy crap that is crispity cool, magic fantastic. I don't know how I haven't been on your blog before, but I WILL be back.

    This is now my new favorite response to the drama.

    Also, I want some wine. And chips.

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    1. So glad! Hope you enjoy my blog!

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  18. This is the best thing ever.

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  19. Love it! I definitely recommend this approach!

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  20. I am making labels now for bathtub and writing space: JUDGEMENT-FREE ZONE. :) Of course, my kids are all for this. lol

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    1. Excellent! Everyone needs their own judgement free zone. :)

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  21. Merciful Heavens! _Now_ I know what I've been doing wrong! I haven't been consuming nearly enough chocolate and wine!

    Thank you. This was great fun and destined to be a classic.

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    Replies
    1. Chocolate and wine cure all ills.

      Except migraines.

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  22. Meredith8:23 AM

    lol You are my hero! I can always count on your blog/reviews to make my day. I'm totally labeling my desk "Judgement Free Zone" when I get home tonight.

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    1. Whoo! More judgement-free zones.

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  23. Yourz baby, I want to haz it. This guide is Full of Awesome!

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  24. Loved this - laughed throughout.
    And more wine and judgment free zones for all! \o/

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  25. Well, I think we can cancel any further discussion on writer/reviewer bad behavior. What else is left to say?

    THANK YOU ANIMEJUNE!

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  26. This is fantastic. Excellent post. You have a new fan for sure! :)

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  27. AMAZING.

    Also...I am now very hungry.

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  28. I needed that so badly this morning. Thank you!

    Have some chicken. :-)

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  29. That rocked my world. I think you're crispity-cool to the max.

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  30. Way too funny.

    And not that anyone has ever asked me, but I'd advise writers to find their very, very favorite book of all time--one written by someone else, that is--on Amazon and read the reviews. It is inevitable someone, and sometimes a lot of someones, do not love your precious. Very likely there will be those who hate your precious and trash it left and right.

    The same happens to every book--except those with only sock puppet reviews. Every single book, no matter how wonderful you think the book is.

    This review-reading should be required vaccination against mad author disease.

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    1. Exactly! Even Jane Austen and Dickens got bad reviews! They need to chill and get perspective!

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  31. I think Sherry hit it on the head--to normalize the sense of being a crime victim (and sometimes, reviews really are mean, lazy, and destructive) it does help to see that EVERYBODY gets a turn in the barrel. This doesn't make it right, doesn't make it funny, doesn't make it less painful, but it does help you get back to writing.

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    1. I really dislike how the people on the bullies site go on about how they are constantly "assaulted," which completely dilutes and distorts the meaning of the word. You can't be "assaulted" by voluntarily reading words that hurt your feelings.

      But because they see themselves as victims of crimes (and not just people whose feelings have been hurt of their own accord, see Eleanor Roosevelt: "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent"), they see no problem with committing actual crimes (like stalking) as vengeance.

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  32. I think this might be even better than the time you documented your reading of Whitney, My Love.

    Perspective helps with bad reviews. I'm someone who often reacts with unconstructive rageful disgust to books, movies, and tv shows that disappoint me. So when a reader reacts that way to something I wrote, there's a little part of me thinking, "Aww, man, I know just how you feel!" And another little part thinking, "Yeah, cosmically I probably had this coming for all the disparaging stuff I said about that movie Titanic."

    Cheetos help too.

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  33. LOVED THIS. The pictures are fabulous.

    It's a great post and some great wisdom. Will tweet and repost on my site.

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  34. OMG - chips AND wine in the bathtub! Bathing, I've been doing it oh so wrong.

    Fantastic post!

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  35. LOL. Love this post!! Hilarious!! :D

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  36. I prefer beer and cheetos to wine and potato chips, but this was brilliant! *takes some chicken into the bathtub, ignoring the odd looks coming from the husband*

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  37. "The bathtub of an artiste is a judgement-free zone." I woke my whole family laughing at that. They did not find it as amusing as I.... (still giggling)

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  38. Ha! Hilarious. You are a crispity cool fabulosarina!

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  39. I would bet my car that I can name the very person you are talking about - in which case it should be noted that it wasn't even the bully's own book which was reviewed, but someone else's.

    Now that's all sorts of bat-shit crazy.

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  40. OMG, I love this post! Great advice! :-) Anything with with wine and chips is a winner for me! Lol

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  41. LOVE this!!! Brilliant - although I'd switch up the chips for some chocolate... :)

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  42. Haha - this post is amazing! I am now a GFC follower! Thanks for making me laugh today! :)

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  43. "DO drink wine. It's nature's Control-Z!"
    You are wonderful, this post is gold!

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  44. Oh, YOU! I love YOU! Instructions for LIFE! Thank you, I shall follow them! (esp, the wine bits). Happiest thing I've seen all week.

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  45. My book has no reviews at all so far, so I haven't felt the sting of a bad review yet. I hope I don't have to, but I guess it's bound to happen some time.

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  46. As someone very close to releasing a debut novel, I will make sure to reference this post as soon as the inevitable ('cause nothing is universally liked, natch) first bad review rolls in. It's a good thing I like me the wine! :)

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  47. I agree with the chicken. Yeah, bad reviews hurt but never, ever, ever respond to one. Not everyone will like everything you write or maybe nothing you write but hey, keep going. I have both not so great reviews and good ones. I take each with a grain of salt (and put it on the chicken instead)and keep writing. Too bad I'm allergic to wine and chocolate but not to chips. So there you go. Thanks for a funny post!

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