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Donna Brown
01-03-2012, 07:30 AM
So, I have no idea where to post this so I'm trying here. If it's wrong, someone please let me know. I HAD a supposed friend who discussed with me on my Facebook page her reluctance to post a critique of my book on Amazon because she didn't really like it. I assured her (in public) that it was not necessary for her to like the book and that, in fact, it was my understanding that less than stellar reviews often made a writer look more credible. I told her that she should only post an Amazon review if she felt comfortable doing so; otherwise, I was fine with nothing from her. So this evening I went to Amazon to check out my book's statistics and found the most horrible review ever from her. She commented on things that were not even in the book and said something to the effect that she looked forward to seeing a much better written, revised copy of my book. I waited several hours until I had calmed down, then emailed her to let her know that what she said was not a critique of the book but a personal attack (several other people I know contacted me to say the same thing). She subsequently deleted her original comment and left something just as snarky in its place. I wonder if anyone else would think a true friend would have refrained from such horrible behavior. I also wonder how the rest of you would have responded to this because I hate to think I was less than professional when I wrote to tell her that her comment was not a critique but a personal attack.

Donna Brown
01-03-2012, 07:32 AM
So sorry "thing" in the next to last sentence should have been think and I fixed it.

Nissie
01-03-2012, 07:35 AM
Did you know why she made a personal attack against you in the first place? Did an argument (maybe about the book, maybe not) happen before she told you she wanted to add a review? How close are you both? It's a little odd for her to suddenly launch a diatribe against you without reason. What were examples of personal attacks she made, if you don't mind my asking (only if you're comfortable enough to share, of course)?

Cyia
01-03-2012, 07:39 AM
The rule of thumb is "writers do not comment on reviews, no matter what".

Killgore
01-03-2012, 07:44 AM
Can you link to it and/or post the original review? I really cant judge without seeing it.

CrastersBabies
01-03-2012, 07:46 AM
She commented on her facebook, not the review. She emailed the friend.

I have to ask how old this person is. 12?

First off, if I read a book by a friend and it sucked, I wouldn't post a review. If it really did suck, someone else can post it w/o me compromising my friendship here. Chances are, I would have read it before publication and might have told them my honest opinion. No reason I need to go shout it from the rooftops too. My friends wear their big girl/big boy underpants. They make their decisions w/or w/out critique.

Second, doing the whole dance with you, "should I post, I didn't like it.. wahh wahh wahh." WTF is that?

Third, doesn't sound like she knows how to write reviews nor did she know what book she was reviewing?

Fourth, the removal of the original comment and addition of a snarky, asshole comment proves that this person is, in fact, a complete idiot (or, as stated above, in the pre-teen age bracket).

Sounds like a whole lot of drama to me.

suki
01-03-2012, 07:55 AM
Donna Brown - I'm not sure you are going to like my response.

First, "true friend would have refrained from such horrible behavior." Well, I think a true friend, having heard her reluctance to post, would not have encouraged her to do so. Or pushed her to. And, I feel, from reading your post, that she tried to tell you she didn't want to post and you pushed her into it. ;)

From your post, it seems to me like she was trying to gracefully back out and you pushed her. Now, without reading the review, I can't say whether it would be a personal attack, but I think this is a lesson for you. When someone shows reluctance to review your book, take it as a very good sign that the review will be negative and they are trying, as a friend, to not cause you hurt. And say, thank you for not posting then.

Having told her she should feel free to post, even if negative, I would then not have contacted her to criticize her post. You asked her to post, stated you understood it wouldn't be positive. I think you should have then lived with the post.

Now, if the review actually did stray into personal attack, you need to decide if this person is a friend, and if you want to salvage the relationship. Then, if you do, once you can do so calmly, discuss with her your feelings. But, to be honest, it feels like she was trying to spare you and you pushed her into posting. And so....it's hard, in the abstract, to know if this really was a personal attack.

But maybe, for the future, when someone is trying to refrain from posting - let them. ;)


~suki

Donna Brown
01-03-2012, 07:55 AM
I don't mind you asking at all. Her original comments were directed at "the writer's" style and inability to create a credible story. She complained that the book was a historical novel about Texas that did not mention Mexican Americans (and after she said that, she actually said "Ugh!") She also said that the book needed to be totally rewritten after the author learned the basics of writing because there were so many long sentences that were unnecessary AND the author offered too much description. She ended her post by saying that she hoped to see a total rewrite as a new edition of the book BUT she actually liked it . . . wait. What?



Did you know why she made a personal attack against you in the first place? Did an argument (maybe about the book, maybe not) happen before she told you she wanted to add a review? How close are you both? It's a little odd for her to suddenly launch a diatribe against you without reason. What were examples of personal attacks she made, if you don't mind my asking (only if you're comfortable enough to share, of course)?

Donna Brown
01-03-2012, 07:56 AM
No. I'm sorry I cannot do this because she deleted her original post.


Can you link to it and/or post the original review? I really cant judge without seeing it.

Donna Brown
01-03-2012, 07:58 AM
I did NOT comment on her review. However, since she was a "friend," I did contact her to let her know that I thought her review was very hurtful. I think it's fair for a "friend" to contact another friend privately to say what is on her mind.


The rule of thumb is "writers do not comment on reviews, no matter what".

suki
01-03-2012, 07:59 AM
I don't mind you asking at all. Her original comments were directed at "the writer's" style and inability to create a credible story. She complained that the book was a historical novel about Texas that did not mention Mexican Americans (and after she said that, she actually said "Ugh!") She also said that the book needed to be totally rewritten after the author learned the basics of writing because there were so many long sentences that were unnecessary AND the author offered too much description. She ended her post by saying that she hoped to see a total rewrite as a new edition of the book BUT she actually liked it . . . wait. What?


Ok...honestly? I don't see a personal attack in this. She criticized the writing, what she viewed as obvious omissions that hurt the credibility of the story, and she stated that she liked the story but hoped it would be re-written.

None of that honestly seems like a personal attack. A scathing review, sure. But she was critiquing the book. The writing and the credibility of the story. That feels like fair game, even if she was harsh.

~suki

BenPanced
01-03-2012, 08:03 AM
I don't mind you asking at all. Her original comments were directed at "the writer's" style and inability to create a credible story. She complained that the book was a historical novel about Texas that did not mention Mexican Americans (and after she said that, she actually said "Ugh!") She also said that the book needed to be totally rewritten after the author learned the basics of writing because there were so many long sentences that were unnecessary AND the author offered too much description. She ended her post by saying that she hoped to see a total rewrite as a new edition of the book BUT she actually liked it . . . wait. What?


Ok...honestly? I don't see a personal attack in this. She criticized the writing, what she viewed as obvious omissions that hurt the credibility of the story, and she stated that she liked the story but hoped it would be re-written.

None of that honestly seems like a personal attack. A scathing review, sure. But she was critiquing the book. The writing and the credibility of the story. That feels like fair game, even if she was harsh.

~suki
Agreed. "The book was a historical novel about Texas that did not mention Mexican Americans" is not a personal attack. "The author is an idiot for writing a historical novel about Texas that did not mention Mexican Americans" is a personal attack.

Donna Brown
01-03-2012, 08:03 AM
Please know that I like your response just fine. :) What I said to her was that if she did not want to review, then she should not. Period. I understood that she was not crazy about the book and was not sure that she wanted to offer a review. I told her that most authors were okay with negative reviews but none of us (yes, I know I was speaking out of turn because I do not know how other authors feel) wanted to be attacked. I said, "*****, if you do not want to offer a review, that's fine. If you do, thank you." However, I do not think commenting on my inability to write is a real review. AND she did this to me one other time when I had a short story published in an ezine. She made a point of letting other people know that she did not think I was a good writer, etc. . . . I truly do not think the problem is mine.


Donna Brown - I'm not sure you are going to like my response.

First, "true friend would have refrained from such horrible behavior." Well, I think a true friend, having heard her reluctance to post, would not have encouraged her to do so. Or pushed her to. And, I feel, from reading your post, that she tried to tell you she didn't want to post and you pushed her into it. ;)

From your post, it seems to me like she was trying to gracefully back out and you pushed her. Now, without reading the review, I can't say whether it would be a personal attack, but I think this is a lesson for you. When someone shows reluctance to review your book, take it as a very good sign that the review will be negative and they are trying, as a friend, to not cause you hurt. And say, thank you for not posting then.

Having told her she should feel free to post, even if negative, I would then not have contacted her to criticize her post. You asked her to post, stated you understood it wouldn't be positive. I think you should have then lived with the post.

Now, if the review actually did stray into personal attack, you need to decide if this person is a friend, and if you want to salvage the relationship. Then, if you do, once you can do so calmly, discuss with her your feelings. But, to be honest, it feels like she was trying to spare you and you pushed her into posting. And so....it's hard, in the abstract, to know if this really was a personal attack.

But maybe, for the future, when someone is trying to refrain from posting - let them. ;)


~suki

Donna Brown
01-03-2012, 08:08 AM
Thank you for your response. I wish she had not deleted her original response so I could share it with you all.

When I asked other friends to look at it, they responded in the same way I did . . . why?


Ok...honestly? I don't see a personal attack in this. She criticized the writing, what she viewed as obvious omissions that hurt the credibility of the story, and she stated that she liked the story but hoped it would be re-written.

None of that honestly seems like a personal attack. A scathing review, sure. But she was critiquing the book. The writing and the credibility of the story. That feels like fair game, even if she was harsh.

~suki

suki
01-03-2012, 08:08 AM
However, I do not think commenting on my inability to write is a real review.

Um, actually, this is exactly a real review - saying that the author is not a capable writer is, basically, at the heart of a review. And, if you told her to go ahead, and she actually thinks your writing skills are not up to publishable standards, then it's exactly what she should have written. maybe more tactfully, but it's not a personal attack. It's a review of her perception of your writing skills.


AND she did this to me one other time when I had a short story published in an ezine. She made a point of letting other people know that she did not think I was a good writer, etc. . . . I truly do not think the problem is mine.

Um...then why is she your friend and why did you ask her to review! I'm serious here - she's done this before, and you give her permission to do it again?

Maybe she's not really a friend - and you will have to figure that one out. BUT...you shouldn't have invited her to review. You should have asked her not to.

ETA: I completely understand you are hurt - but you invited her to review, told her you understood it would not be positive, and she posted. And nothing you've posted yet looks like a personal attack. I totally understand you are hurt - but I honestly think there are lessons to be learned here for you - and I hope you will. :) I'm not being sarcastic - she doesn't sound like a friend. But, in the future, do not invite reviews from people who seem hesitant. BUT, in my opinion, criticizing your writing skills and subject matter and execution are all fair game. learn from it and move on. :) And improve. :)

~suki

Donna Brown
01-03-2012, 08:10 AM
BenPanced, those were not her exact words (the author is an idiot . . . ), but it is exactly how I felt.

Thank you all so much for responding to me.

Cyia
01-03-2012, 08:13 AM
I have to agree with Suki here. This was a legit review that focused on the writing, not the author. Focusing on you would be a personal attack, but that's not what you've described.

And, FWIW, the reviewers points are valid. If you're writing about historical Texas, and omit one of the largest populations in the state during that era, something's wrong with the book.

As to this:



When I asked other friends to look at it, they responded in the same way I did . . . why?

Because they're your friends, you were upset, and they wanted to defend you. It's what friends do, and it's why many writers have to "ban" friends and family from commenting on their work or interacting with those who do.

Donna Brown
01-03-2012, 08:17 AM
Thank you so much for your response.

I didn't ask her to review. I did tell her that it was okay if she didn't like the book and that less than stellar reviews were acceptable (and I believe that). I also told her that no writer wants to be attacked and I think that is true.

As I said earlier, my concern would be much more credible had she not deleted her original post (and if that's how she felt, she should have left it on Amazon), but I cannot get it back so there's no way to prove my point that I felt attacked.

I think I am just frustrated that someone I have known for a long time feels that it's okay to do this. Maybe I'm asking why rather than asking you all to say it's wrong . . .


Um, actually, this is exactly a real review - saying that the author is not a capable writer is, basically, at the heart of a review. And, if you told her to go ahead, and she actually thinks your writing skills are not up to publishable standards, then it's exactly what she should have written. maybe more tactfully, but it's not a personal attack. It's a review of her perception of your writing skills.



Um...then why is she your friend and why did you ask her to review! I'm serious here - she's done this before, and you give her permission to do it again?

Maybe she's not really a friend - and you will have to figure that one out. BUT...you shouldn't have invited her to review. You should have asked her not to.

~suki

Jessianodel
01-03-2012, 08:18 AM
I'm going to have to agree with suki here. Those are really, really, really awful things to see as a writer, but I don't think they were a personal attack. She may not be your friend, but it was still just a review. Consider this; if a complete stranger posted the exact same thing, would you consider it a personal attack or just harsh?

At the same time it does sound odd that she was so mild before ("oh I didn't like it that much") and then her review is as scathing as that. But honestly it's up for you to decide if she's actually a sucky friend or you were just hurt by that one action.

mccardey
01-03-2012, 08:18 AM
Aw... :Hug2: Give yourself time: the sting will fade. And she did try to warn you what might be coming - she probably didn't mean to be hurtful. Sounds like she'd rather not have reviewed at all, and she wanted to avoid it in order to protect the friendship. That says something nice about both of you, doesn't it?

Donna Brown
01-03-2012, 08:21 AM
You make some valid points here, except that the book is set post Civil War and deals with African Americans rather than Mexican Americans who were not part of the historical moment. The Civil War dealt with relations between African Americans and whites and not with Mexican Americans. Trust me, I did my research and understood the historical moment based on the people involved; however, that's really not my point. But thank you so, so much for your response. I'm honestly seeing that maybe I overreacted even though her original comments were not so nice.




I have to agree with Suki here. This was a legit review that focused on the writing, not the author. Focusing on you would be a personal attack, but that's not what you've described.

And, FWIW, the reviewers points are valid. If you're writing about historical Texas, and omit one of the largest populations in the state during that era, something's wrong with the book.

As to this:



Because they're your friends, you were upset, and they wanted to defend you. It's what friends do, and it's why many writers have to "ban" friends and family from commenting on their work or interacting with those who do.

suki
01-03-2012, 08:22 AM
I think I am just frustrated that someone I have known for a long time feels that it's okay to do this. Maybe I'm asking why rather than asking you all to say it's wrong . . .

Ah...now that is a different question, and probably, frankly, the one you really need to be asking.

Because if I honestly, deep down, wanted to write something like this about a friend's book, I would either not write anything or I would share my concerns tactfully and privately. I would want to save my friend the public embarrassment. But not because the comments, from a stranger, would not be appropriate. But because I would not want to hurt or publicly shame my friend. But that is separate from the review itself.

So, whether this is actually a friend is a different question. One worth your pondering. One you will need to decide.

And why she did that is yet another question. Maybe one you want to discuss with her...if you decide this is a friendship, or a friendship worth keeping. But if it's not, then you might just need to lick your wounds, learn from the experience and move on.

~suki

LindaJeanne
01-03-2012, 08:23 AM
Maybe I'm asking why rather than asking you all to say it's wrong . . .
:Hug2:
That's not something anyone is going to be able to answer about someone they've never met. It's hard enough to know why people do things when we know them (and easy to guess wrong). Sometimes it's hard to know why we ourselves do things.

It sounds like the Amazon review isn't the core of the problem here. It sounds like you're having significant problems with this maybe-a-friend, and the Amazon review just sort of crystallized your doubts. Is that a fair assessment?

About the review itself, I'm going to jump on the agree-with-Suki bandwagon. But I'm suspicious the review is only a symptom of what's really bothering you about the friendship, and not the root cause of your doubts.

Edited to add -- And... looks like I cross-posted with Suki :)

backslashbaby
01-03-2012, 08:23 AM
Oh, it sounds so rude of her and hurtful to not try to be tactful at all!

Now, in truth, even great friends may think we are sucky writers :) It's like arguing about your favorite movie, and it's really no more personal than that. It just feels that way because it's our passion.

She shouldn't have been so rude about it, though. No doubt :) Hugs!

Donna Brown
01-03-2012, 08:26 AM
This is not my first book and I've had scathing reviews from total strangers in the past. AND I've had people at book signings tell me to my face that my book sucked big time. I truly have developed tough skin over the years. Yes, I considered what she wrote a personal attack and again, I wish she hadn't deleted it, but she did. I cannot direct you all to it to prove my point, but I know what it said and I don't think my other friends are unwilling to tell me the truth. People saw the review and responded to me (not on Amazon, thank goodness) accordingly.



I'm going to have to agree with suki here. Those are really, really, really awful things to see as a writer, but I don't think they were a personal attack. She may not be your friend, but it was still just a review. Consider this; if a complete stranger posted the exact same thing, would you consider it a personal attack or just harsh?

At the same time it does sound odd that she was so mild before ("oh I didn't like it that much") and then her review is as scathing as that. But honestly it's up for you to decide if she's actually a sucky friend or you were just hurt by that one action.

Donna Brown
01-03-2012, 08:27 AM
Thank you.


Aw... :Hug2: Give yourself time: the sting will fade. And she did try to warn you what might be coming - she probably didn't mean to be hurtful. Sounds like she'd rather not have reviewed at all, and she wanted to avoid it in order to protect the friendship. That says something nice about both of you, doesn't it?

Donna Brown
01-03-2012, 08:30 AM
Thanks, suki. I do indeed think I need to "lick my wounds" and move on. I truly think I just needed to vent.

Again, thank you all for your quick responses.


Ah...now that is a different question, and probably, frankly, the one you really need to be asking.

Because if I honestly, deep down, wanted to write something like this about a friend's book, I would either not write anything or I would share my concerns tactfully and privately. I would want to save my friend the public embarrassment. But not because the comments, from a stranger, would not be appropriate. But because I would not want to hurt or publicly shame my friend. But that is separate from the review itself.

So, whether this is actually a friend is a different question. One worth your pondering. One you will need to decide.

And why she did that is yet another question. Maybe one you want to discuss with her...if you decide this is a friendship, or a friendship worth keeping. But if it's not, then you might just need to lick your wounds, learn from the experience and move on.

~suki

Donna Brown
01-03-2012, 08:33 AM
Thank you, LindaJeanne.


:Hug2:
That's not something anyone is going to be able to answer about someone they've never met. It's hard enough to know why people do things when we know them (and easy to guess wrong). Sometimes it's hard to know why we ourselves do things.

It sounds like the Amazon review isn't the core of the problem here. It sounds like you're having significant problems with this maybe-a-friend, and the Amazon review just sort of crystallized your doubts. Is that a fair assessment?

About the review itself, I'm going to jump on the agree-with-Suki bandwagon. But I'm suspicious the review is only a symptom of what's really bothering you about the friendship, and not the root cause of your doubts.

Edited to add -- And... looks like I cross-posted with Suki :)

Donna Brown
01-03-2012, 08:34 AM
Thank you, backslashbaby. :)


Oh, it sounds so rude of her and hurtful to not try to be tactful at all!

Now, in truth, even great friends may think we are sucky writers :) It's like arguing about your favorite movie, and it's really no more personal than that. It just feels that way because it's our passion.

She shouldn't have been so rude about it, though. No doubt :) Hugs!

robjvargas
01-03-2012, 08:53 AM
Thank you for your response. I wish she had not deleted her original response so I could share it with you all.

When I asked other friends to look at it, they responded in the same way I did . . . why?

Donna, I'm sorry, because it's clear that this hurts, but when I saw the part I highlighted above, I see unprofessional behavior. Her editing her review takes on a different light. Or potentially so.

Think about this, honestly and bluntly: do you really think that your other friends could not find out for themselves who wrote that review? And then what likely happened after that?

I feel for how the review hurt. Really, I do. But once our work is on the commercial market, it's no longer a personal thing. It's business. If you can't take that step back, then you shouldn't exert ANY pressure, not even the friendly reminder you sent this friend, on those with whom you have personal relationships.

I took my son to a "take your kids to work" day once. He went on and on about how boring it was. You know, that stung a bit, because I enjoyed what I was doing at the time. But it's not personal. It's business. I thanked him for coming out, said I was proud of him for his honesty, and that I understood that what I was doing would not be for him.

So I'm sorry if it hurts you to be told that, but that is how I see what has been presented.

The Lonely One
01-03-2012, 09:53 AM
Yet you've had multiple publications and...book signings? Whatever, screw it. Who's really on top here? Controversy never hurt :)

This is a long shot but...you mentioned telling your friend that "bad reviews sometimes add to the credibility of the author." Is it possible this person took that idea waaaaay too far? Like I said I'm probably way off, but I was just curious if maybe, if they are a friend of yours, in some deluded way they thought they were helping or something.

Drachen Jager
01-03-2012, 10:19 AM
Sounds like you should have let her go with her instincts instead of pushing her into writing a review.

Live and learn, but honestly I'd say it's your mistake. Her current comment doesn't seem that bad, and what else do you expect her to say now that you've told her to write what she feels, then blown up at her for writing what she feels.

jjdebenedictis
01-03-2012, 10:49 AM
I think I am just frustrated that someone I have known for a long time feels that it's okay to do this.It is okay for her to do this. She has a right to her opinion, and she has a right to state it publicly. It's called freedom of speech.

If a stranger can leave a review like that on Amazon, then a friend can also. It's not kind, and it's not tactful, but it's absolutely their choice.

Besides, reviews exist for the benefit of readers, not the benefit of writers. She had zero obligation to you.

Terie
01-03-2012, 12:11 PM
Okay, you want to know what a personal attack actually looks like? Try this.


TALKING OF WHICH..... did you see Dragons' Den tonight?? Phil has been very coy on the mailing list (and I reckon deliberately cheeky) because it was impossible to watch that particular "entrepreneur" and not think TERIE! TERIE! TERIE! She was fat, middle-aged and American, loved her own stuff, had no sense of self-awareness whatsoever, went with a new unknown publisher, sold fuck-all copies, and then - AND THEN - claimed it was objectively brilliant because it had been book of the month on... on... oh, I can barely get the words out!... on three Yahoo fantasy groups. My jaw quite literally hit the floor. Well, not literally. But almost literally.

Yep. That's what someone said on the e-mail loop of the in-person crit group I used to belong to.

So while I understand your hurt and frustration, really, what you've said of the review so far is absolutely 100% NOT personal.

Bicyclefish
01-03-2012, 12:36 PM
I waited several hours until I had calmed down, then emailed her to let her know that what she said was not a critique of the book but a personal attack (several other people I know contacted me to say the same thing). She subsequently deleted her original comment and left something just as snarky in its place.
Was this the "just as snarky" comment?

I apologize if my critique was too honest; it was not vicious. It was fact. Probably not a good idea to review the book if you know the author. So, suffice it to say...I couldn't put it down.

gothicangel
01-03-2012, 01:20 PM
So while I understand your hurt and frustration, really, what you've said of the review so far is absolutely 100% NOT personal.

I agree with Terie and Suki, here.

shaldna
01-03-2012, 02:41 PM
So, I have no idea where to post this so I'm trying here. If it's wrong, someone please let me know. I HAD a supposed friend who discussed with me on my Facebook page her reluctance to post a critique of my book on Amazon because she didn't really like it.

Amazon is not the place for a critique. It's a place for reviews. If you had wanted a critique then get it before the book is published.

I know that it's hard when you get a negative review, but honestly, wait until you get one that really is a personal attack - I've had a couple of those and that can be really hard.

But, hard as it is, don't respond.

Donna Brown
01-03-2012, 03:57 PM
Thank each of you for responding to me. Yes, she has the right to review any work in any manner she sees fit. Yes, my feelings were hurt. Yes, I acted unprofessionally and I know better and I am a bit ashamed of myself. But I do not think I "forced" her to write a review. How could I even do that?

We all make mistakes and I obviously made some in this situation. Again, thank you all for responding and giving me some great feedback.

Momento Mori
01-03-2012, 04:04 PM
Donna Brown
But I do not think I "forced" her to write a review. How could I even do that?

When you told her that you were fine with less than stellar reviews and that if she felt comfortable putting up the review then you didn't mind getting a bad one.

You made your bed, now you're lying on it.

I understand that it isn't nice to get a bad review and that it may have been shocking to get fierce criticism from someone you regard as a friend. People have opinions all the time and this way you know what your friend (former friend) really felt about your book. If you can't handle that then that's your problem and not hers. Personally, I don't blame her in the slightest for leaving a snarky response when she took her review down. If you'd been a friend of mine labelling my review as a personal attack, I'd have told you where to shove it and left my review up.

MM

Stacia Kane
01-03-2012, 06:49 PM
When you told her that you were fine with less than stellar reviews and that if she felt comfortable putting up the review then you didn't mind getting a bad one.

You made your bed, now you're lying on it.

I understand that it isn't nice to get a bad review and that it may have been shocking to get fierce criticism from someone you regard as a friend. People have opinions all the time and this way you know what your friend (former friend) really felt about your book. If you can't handle that then that's your problem and not hers. Personally, I don't blame her in the slightest for leaving a snarky response when she took her review down. If you'd been a friend of mine labelling my review as a personal attack, I'd have told you where to shove it and left my review up.

MM

As usual, MM is exactly right. (As has Suki been throughout.)

In addition, what you did in pushing your friends to review your book is cheating, IMO, and unprofessional. You shouldn't be in this situation because you shouldn't have been begging your friends to leave you reviews.

Reviews are for readers, not authors. By getting your pals to leave you 5-star reviews--all of which, BTW, read exactly like reviews written by people doing you a favor, and provide no information about the story, characters, or writing at all--you are essentially asking them to lie to potential readers and trick them into buying your book on the assumption of a certain quality. It's wrong. And it's pointless, since most readers are smart enough to see right through it.

Your friend tried to warn you. You insisted she post the review anyway, which you shouldn't have done. Then you saw the review--which was not a personal attack based on what you quoted, but an honest review written by someone who seems to have taken her responsibilities seriously and understands that a review is supposed to be a guide for other readers rather than an ego-stroke for the author--and emailed your friend to yell at her for daring to say she thought the book was flawed and the writing needed work, which is exactly what you told her to do. You pressured her into deleting her review, and now that she's left one that says what you obviously want her to say--"I couldn't put it down"--you're bitching that that isn't good enough either.

As I said (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=6874989&postcount=41) in this thread where we're discussing the sleaziness of trying to manipulate Amazon's ranking and review system (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=233593), I despise "authors" who try to game their reviews. It's dishonest and it makes readers view writers with mistrust, thus making it harder for the rest of us.

I realize I sound very harsh here, but it's not all simply my irritation at your actions. Please keep in mind that if your career manages to grow, this sort of behavior *will* find its way to Goodreads or the reader blogs, and if you think that review was a personal attack just wait until they get hold of you. Readers get justifiably angry when told they can't express their opinions, when writers make it clear they see readers as royal subjects, minions, or morons, or when they feel deceived. I'm trying to prevent that from happening by pointing out just how very inappropriate your actions were from start to finish. I wouldn't do any of the things you've done in this situation again, ever, including asking your friends to review you.

Seriously. Consider yourself lucky that you only lost a friend here (and was it worth it?), and not your professional reputation.

scarletpeaches
01-03-2012, 06:56 PM
However, I do not think commenting on my inability to write is a real review.Are you kidding? This is exactly the sort of thing a review should mention.

Bartholomew
01-03-2012, 07:07 PM
Are you kidding? This is exactly the sort of thing a review should mention.

I don't agree, but only because I'd prefer the reviewer to be more specific than that. There are people who are capable of looking at prose and adequately criticizing it, and then there are people who just think every adverb is terrible. If someone is going to comment on the level of the writer's ability, I'd want to know which category they're in.

Bubastes
01-03-2012, 07:08 PM
What suki, Terie, MM, and Stacia said.

I will never understand why some writers mix friendship and reviews. I posted this on my blog a while back -- it's my spiel to any friend who expresses interest in reading my stuff. Note: I rarely mention my writing. If the topic comes up, I talk about it the way other people talk about their jobs. It IS my job, after all.

You are not obligated to buy my book. If you do buy my book, you're not obligated to tell me. You're also not obligated to read it, like it, tell me whether you read it or liked it, write a review, or provide feedback.

http://grace-wen.blogspot.com/2011/11/quick-note-to-my-friends-and-readers.html

Reviews are for readers, not authors. Let it go and consider it a lesson learned. Don't respond to reviews, ever. Heck, don't even read reviews if you think you might be drama-prone. Focus on what you can control: your work.

Tepelus
01-03-2012, 08:24 PM
What suki, Terie, MM, and Stacia said.

I will never understand why some writers mix friendship and reviews. I posted this on my blog a while back -- it's my spiel to any friend who expresses interest in reading my stuff. Note: I rarely mention my writing. If the topic comes up, I talk about it the way other people talk about their jobs. It IS my job, after all.

You are not obligated to buy my book. If you do buy my book, you're not obligated to tell me. You're also not obligated to read it, like it, tell me whether you read it or liked it, write a review, or provide feedback.

http://grace-wen.blogspot.com/2011/11/quick-note-to-my-friends-and-readers.html

Reviews are for readers, not authors. Let it go and consider it a lesson learned. Don't respond to reviews, ever. Heck, don't even read reviews if you think you might be drama-prone. Focus on what you can control: your work.

I agree. If I should ever be so lucky as to be published, I would have the same mindset. I don't need drama in my life, and certainly don't want to start any with family and friends.

Stacia Kane
01-03-2012, 08:47 PM
My family and friends are expressly forbidden from ever reviewing my work, responding to reviews of my work, or joining online discussions about it. Period. I don't even like to talk to most of them about it.

If I worked an office job and got a bad performance review, or had an issue with a coworker who didn't like my ideas, I certainly wouldn't have my Mommy tell them how wrong they are or ask my friends to call them up to argue like we were all in third grade again. And I wouldn't ask them to pretend they don't know me and write letters to my boss praising me, either. Same thing, IMO.

I will say, Donna, that I do understand how much more painful criticism can be coming from family and/or friends, and I'm sorry you were hurt--genuinely, honestly sorry. But really, I know it doesn't feel that way now but you got off easy.

Amadan
01-03-2012, 08:58 PM
Okay, you want to know what a personal attack actually looks like? Try this.


Yep. That's what someone said on the e-mail loop of the in-person crit group I used to belong to.

So while I understand your hurt and frustration, really, what you've said of the review so far is absolutely 100% NOT personal.


Holy crap, did you run over this person's dog and then back over her cat? :O


Donna, I agree with everyone else. Your friend tried to warn you. She tried to decline. You said, "No, really, go ahead, I can take it. Please, I really want you to."

From your description, it was a perfectly legitimate review. Maybe your friend should have known that no matter how much you insisted otherwise, it was going to hurt you when she posted it and therefore she should have just steadfastly refused, but... *shrug.* You did ask for it. I can't feel much sympathy for you.

Terie
01-03-2012, 09:05 PM
Holy crap, did you run over this person's dog and then back over her cat? :O

Hehehe. No. Actually, I'd even pitched his delightful children's book to a major London editor during my own conference with her (the editor) at a small writing retreat. Some payback, eh? Ah well.

Drachen Jager
01-03-2012, 09:26 PM
But I do not think I "forced" her to write a review. How could I even do that?

I looked at your five star reviewers. Only one of them has reviewed other books, one of them reviewed chocolate, all the others had never reviewed anything before your book. So, sorry to say, it looks to me like you basically browbeat a bunch of friends into saying nice things about your book. Which, IMO is almost as bad as that guy who wrote 150 five star reviews for himself.

gothicangel
01-03-2012, 09:54 PM
I looked at your five star reviewers. Only one of them has reviewed other books, one of them reviewed chocolate, all the others had never reviewed anything before your book. So, sorry to say, it looks to me like you basically browbeat a bunch of friends into saying nice things about your book. Which, IMO is almost as bad as that guy who wrote 150 five star reviews for himself.

And repeatedly solicited reviews on her Facebook page.

The Lonely One
01-03-2012, 10:03 PM
This is why I steadfastly refuse to publicly critique published work that I didn't enjoy. It's only harmful to the author, and really what the hell do I know. Someone else might love the book I hate.

I've had friends and family dislike my work for much vaguer and more insignificant reasons, having mostly to do with personal taste. I mean, what can you constructively do with "I don't like the character's name?" It's frustrating to have people you've respected say such subjectively negative things about your work, let alone mentioning those things which may or may not be objectively bad about them.

Yet whose critique do you think is more accurate, that of the editor that acquired you or your 'friend's?'

fireluxlou
01-03-2012, 10:12 PM
I looked at your five star reviewers. Only one of them has reviewed other books, one of them reviewed chocolate, all the others had never reviewed anything before your book. So, sorry to say, it looks to me like you basically browbeat a bunch of friends into saying nice things about your book. Which, IMO is almost as bad as that guy who wrote 150 five star reviews for himself.

Uhmm who was that? I am astounded a fellow writer has enough time in the world to write 150, 150 reviews for himself...

I agree with everyone else. This is what every author should learn. Never comment on reviews (http://www.goodreads.com/review/show.html?id=248683171), and never ask friends, family and relations to review. or you could just lose yourself readers.

Amadan
01-03-2012, 10:24 PM
This is why I steadfastly refuse to publicly critique published work that I didn't enjoy. It's only harmful to the author,

So what?


and really what the hell do I know. Someone else might love the book I hate.

Good reviews describe why you love or hate something. I often read very negative reviews describing things the reviewer hated which I enjoy, telling me I might like the book, and vice versa.

A review that says "I hated the MC's name" isn't very helpful, but how many readers do you think really decide not to read a book because someone else said they hated the MC's name?

Marian Perera
01-03-2012, 10:28 PM
Uhmm who was that?

Robert Stanek, maybe? (http://conjugalfelicity.com/robert-stanek/)

I have to admit, after my novel was released in paperback I gave a copy to a very close friend and when she thanked me and offered to pay, I said no, she could just review it instead.

She said she'd never reviewed a book in her life and didn't know how to start with mine. She didn't even finish the book, and that taught me a lesson I should have learned much earlier (not to make someone feel obligated to review as some sort of payment for a book). Plus, I am better off without a brief, generic five-star spiel from someone who clearly doesn't enjoy reviewing and who would only have the one review to her name.

Toothpaste
01-03-2012, 10:28 PM
I agree that it is best not to comment on reviews. Like that one I once get where the person dissed my book then said kids would like it. Uh . . . it's a kids' book.

I digress.

I also agree that the review which none of us have been able to read and can only speculate on based on the OP's description is not a personal attack. Further I agree that the friend told the OP about the situation and the OP happily convinced the friend to post the review.

I also think it was silly to get mad at the friend after all this.

But I think also emotions are annoying things and we often do things we regret because of them.

Donna, I don't know how close you are with this person, if it is a relationship worth saving. But I would recommend you two meet up for coffee, or if you can't meet in person maybe Skype, and have a conversation about what happened. Apologise for your emotional response, explain why what she wrote upset you. And listen to what she has to say. Likely if you both stay calm and really listen to each other, this will end with both of you apologising and vowing not to repeat your behaviour in future: she won't publicly review your work, you won't take her criticisms personally.

I hate the idea that you two might end a friendship over what kind of is a misunderstanding. You thought she was attacking you personally, she thought she had your permission to post whatever she wanted to at Amazon.

Try to resolve it.

And if you don't want to, then you have to forget about it. Venting to your friends, keeping it present, that only keeps the emotions alive and it's unkind to continually talk about someone behind their back . . . it's either over and forgotten about, or you and your friend solve the problem.

I hope things work out with this for you!

Bicyclefish
01-03-2012, 10:29 PM
Holy crap, did you run over this person's dog and then back over her cat? :O
Rumor is Terie wouldn't leggo people's Eggos. The cad!

Phaeal
01-03-2012, 11:07 PM
This is why I steadfastly refuse to publicly critique published work that I didn't enjoy. It's only harmful to the author, and really what the hell do I know. Someone else might love the book I hate.

I agree, except for the "what the hell do I know" part. I do know. I know it all. However, why should I dispense that precious knowledge gratis?

:D

But srsly. I know me. If I were to write a scathing review, I would be gratifying myself, not trying to save the reading public, who are going to read whatever junk (or treasure) they want to read, regardless of my opinion. As well they should.

I think the main thing scathing reviews do is serve up heaping bowls of Schadenfreude for us snarky types. Man, I'm getting a little flabby -- gotta lay off that stuff. Next week, I promise. ;)

Devil Ledbetter
01-03-2012, 11:31 PM
There's funny thing about criticism of our writing: it hurts the most when there is some truth in it. If there is no truth in it, we simply dismiss the critic as just not getting it.

It just might tell you something that her review was so painful for you, even though you knew she was about to post a less-than-glowing review.

It's hard not to respond defensively when we feel our writing skills have been attacked, but give it a little time, reread the original review when your wounds have started to scab over, then honestly ask yourself if maybe, just maybe, she had a point or two.

ETA: You may even reach a point where you'll feel grateful she had the courage to point out problems she saw with book. As my father-in-law is fond of saying, only someone who really loves you will point it out when you have gunk hanging off your nose.

The Lonely One
01-04-2012, 12:23 AM
So what? so what is that I personally don't feel comfortable injuring another writer's career based on my own tastes. If it's bad people will figure it out on their own.




Good reviews describe why you love or hate something. I often read very negative reviews describing things the reviewer hated which I enjoy, telling me I might like the book, and vice versa.
Yeah, that's very plausible. I just don't have it in me to write those things. I'd rather just not mess with other peoples' reading experiences. I hate reading a review that influences the way I read a book, and it has happened to me before. It's hard to take the author out of the picture and enjoy the story, you know? I just never, ever read reviews of books. I don't find them useful in the least.

Also, re: bad reviews from readers--sucks on them. At least you got their money ;)

mccardey
01-04-2012, 12:31 AM
There's funny thing about criticism of our writing: it hurts the most when there is some truth in it. .

There's a funny thing about criticism of anything... ;)

I think the take home lesson here is: Friends are the ones you go running to when you get a bad review. You don't get them to write a review, because - hey - they can't do everything!


ETA: Do you know the other thing that bears repeating - it helps to stay clear on what a review is meant to be. It's never meant to be a selling document for the writer - it's supposed to be a discussion for the reader. Perhaps that's where the biggest upsets are coming from - people misreading the role of reviewer.

Drachen Jager
01-04-2012, 12:37 AM
In general as an author I wouldn't write reviews on Amazon. First, I am far more critical than your average reader, but I also don't want to get a bunch of authors angry at me who might turn around and give my books bad reviews.

I think anything other than an honestly given review from someone who is not under any duress is just poor policy. It may sell you a few hundred more copies, but anyone who spends time on Amazon knows how to spot fake reviews, and a load of fake reviews will only tarnish your name and cause you problems in the future.

If I read a five-star review of a book that can find little other than the font and spacing choices to compliment I seriously wonder about the book. That's far more likely to turn me off than a few bad reviews, because it shows that at least some of the reviews are dishonest.

Aside from which, using double spacing AND a large font in a 'novel' that's only 334 pages makes it seem like you're in high-school English class, trying to stretch your essay out to the required length. I personally would be very annoyed indeed if I paid full price for a 'novel' only to find that it's 1/3 of the advertised length, and should have been only 100 pages. If I were to review it those formatting decisions would result in the removal of stars, and a more negative review, not the opposite.

NicoleJLeBoeuf
01-04-2012, 12:52 AM
There's funny thing about criticism of our writing: it hurts the most when there is some truth in it. If there is no truth in it, we simply dismiss the critic as just not getting it.

Who is this "our" and "we" you keep referring to here? The way it is for you is not the way it is for everyone.

Probably the most hurtful experience I've had from critiquing is when the critique included a lot of vicious sarcasm -- and the critiquer dropped "joking" references to my story into random conversation for weeks.

Was there any truth to the criticism behind the sarcasm? I don't know. The sarcasm itself hurt too much for me to find it rewarding to investigate the experience further. And the joking afterwards felt like a betrayal of trust. The most useful thing I got out of the whole experience was don't let this person critique my stories anymore.

Weird, isn't it, how negative sentiment need not have anything to do with truth at all to hurt?

("If I've got you that riled, there must be some truth in what I'm saying!" Well, actually, no. Other things that get a person riled besides harsh truths: vicious lies, bullying, scam artists, trusted friends stabbing you in the back... the list just goes on, doesn't it?)

I mean, I agree with most of the folks on this thread that as far as the review the OP described went, it was indeed a legitimate critique of her writing. On the other hand, I know that when I'm in pain, being told that it wouldn't hurt so much if there wasn't truth in it is a big empathy-less wad of Doesn't Help At All.

Amadan
01-04-2012, 01:00 AM
I mean, I agree with most of the folks on this thread that as far as the review the OP described went, it was indeed a legitimate critique of her writing. On the other hand, I know that when I'm in pain, being told that it wouldn't hurt so much if there wasn't truth in it is a big empathy-less wad of Doesn't Help At All.


But you (and the OP) are also confusing a critique with a review. The two are entirely different things. One is for the writer, the other is for readers.

NicoleJLeBoeuf
01-04-2012, 01:06 AM
Mm. Well, I'm responding to a story about a review with a story about a critique, but I think for the purposes of my point, the two are fungible. My point is, the statement "If it hurt you, it must be true" is neither kind, true, nor helpful.

At best it's a distraction from the main point of "yes, negative reviews and other forms of criticism can hurt, but you have to be grown up about it."

One important distinction between reviews and critiques, though -- if you know that negative reviews hurt you to read (whether there's truth in them or not), at least you can decide just not to read them. And indeed, that would probably have been the best course for the OP.

Ken
01-04-2012, 01:14 AM
... it's refreshing to encounter people with integrity.
Think I'll buy one of your books, SKane.

mccardey
01-04-2012, 01:21 AM
But you (and the OP) are also confusing a critique with a review. The two are entirely different things. One is for the writer, the other is for readers.

This: and I also wonder, Nic, if you're conflating the sarcasm with the criticism. It's one of the reasons I hate snarkiness in critiquing - I think it undermines the entire point of critique, because what one takes away will always be the sarcasm and hurt.

I'm a huge believer in crits as part of the writing process (not too many, and one at a time in my case, and always from the same place) but I don't know that reviews, which come after the fact, are much use to the writer. I know I'm going to write the book I want and not everyone will like it. I need to like it. My publisher needs to like it. The readers I write for will hopefully like it. But I can't please everyone and some of the everyone-crowd will be book reviewers.

I love book reviewers: I read them all the time, but I don't read reviews of my own books unless the publicist sends them to me. (And she only does that if they're stonkingly good or by Very Important Reviewers). Because reviewers aren't friends - and besides, even my best friends know I don't like to talk about my books. It's not that I'm precious, it's just that it can go so wrong...


At best it's a distraction from the main point of "yes, negative reviews and other forms of criticism can hurt, but you have to be grown up about it."


ETA: Detaching "reviews" from "other forms of criticism" is a very good idea. Because reviews are for readers, and there's really not much you can do about them. You can, however, be choosey about whom you ask to give you a crit.

Devil Ledbetter
01-04-2012, 02:03 AM
Who is this "our" and "we" you keep referring to here? The way it is for you is not the way it is for everyone.

Probably the most hurtful experience I've had from critiquing is when the critique included a lot of vicious sarcasm -- and the critiquer dropped "joking" references to my story into random conversation for weeks.

Was there any truth to the criticism behind the sarcasm? I don't know. The sarcasm itself hurt too much for me to find it rewarding to investigate the experience further. And the joking afterwards felt like a betrayal of trust. The most useful thing I got out of the whole experience was don't let this person critique my stories anymore.

Weird, isn't it, how negative sentiment need not have anything to do with truth at all to hurt?

("If I've got you that riled, there must be some truth in what I'm saying!" Well, actually, no. Other things that get a person riled besides harsh truths: vicious lies, bullying, scam artists, trusted friends stabbing you in the back... the list just goes on, doesn't it?)

I mean, I agree with most of the folks on this thread that as far as the review the OP described went, it was indeed a legitimate critique of her writing. On the other hand, I know that when I'm in pain, being told that it wouldn't hurt so much if there wasn't truth in it is a big empathy-less wad of Doesn't Help At All.Nicole, the reason I worded it with "our" and "we" was to be gentle to the OP, who already is smarting from an unfavorable review.

The reason I thought there might have been some truth in the review was more than just the OP's negative reaction (although that did factor in). I went to Amazon and read the first few pages of the novel in question. DJ has not asked me for a critique so I shan't offer one, but I did see reasons why a reviewer might say something less than positive about the writing. I was subtly trying to drop a hint that she might want to at least listen to her reviewer before dismissing the opinion as mere cruelty.

No need to make it all about yourself and your negative critique experience. Sorry my couching it in broad terms put you on the defensive. Yes, if a critiquer is simply a sarcastic jerk, that says nothing about the writer receiving the crit. Only DJ really knows the reviewer in question and can guess whether she meant to be cruel or merely honest.


But you (and the OP) are also confusing a critique with a review. The two are entirely different things. One is for the writer, the other is for readers.This is a really important point. We shouldn't conflate the two.

Donna Brown
01-04-2012, 02:26 AM
As I said earlier, I acted unprofessionally when I complained about the review and I apologize for that. I appreciate all of you taking the time to respond to me. It was very thoughtful of you and I have learned a lot.

scarletpeaches
01-04-2012, 03:39 AM
As I said earlier, I acted unprofessionally when I complained about the review and I apologize for that. I appreciate all of you taking the time to respond to me. It was very thoughtful of you and I have learned a lot.A classy attitude, I think. :)

I once had a review of one of my books that got the relationship between the two main characters wrong (said they were married and they weren't) and went on to bitch about things the male MC didn't even say. It was a headscratcher all right.

I was itching to reply and say, "You didn't even read the same book I wrote, you dick!" But I didn't. Bit my tongue clean through, but I didn't.

Marian Perera
01-04-2012, 04:10 AM
Think I'll buy one of your books, SKane.

Total digression, but I got one of Stacia's books as a Christmas present and I was thrilled.

It was Be a Sex-Writing Strumpet. Rowr.

Al Stevens
01-04-2012, 04:14 AM
At the same time it does sound odd that she was so mild before ("oh I didn't like it that much") and then her review is as scathing as that.I completely understand that. The mild comment was friend-to-friend, sparing feelings. But a review is not friend-to-friend. It's reviewer-to-readers. No friendship is involved and shouldn't be. She owed the readers of her review an honest expression of her opinion.

To the OP: When a review actually does contain personal attacks, it is almost always obvious to all readers of the review. There is no reason to respond personally or publicly. But, like others here, I see nothing in the comments you paraphrased that seem to be on a personal level.

I suggest you apologize to your friend for your overreaction and thank her for her candor. Next time, use her as a beta reader. She is your friend. Only a true friend will tell you when there's a booger hanging off your nose.

ETA: Oops. The Devil made me say that. I need to read everything before posting.

Al Stevens
01-04-2012, 04:43 AM
Total digression, but I got one of Stacia's books as a Christmas present and I was thrilled.

It was Be a Sex-Writing Strumpet. Rowr.
Likewise. Highly recommended.

Silver-Midnight
01-04-2012, 05:43 AM
Well, I try not to let real life friends and family review my work, in case they don't like it. This way I won't have to decide if it's a personal attack or a real review/critique. If it's a stranger, or at least I think it's one, I can take what they say and grow from it. I can learn and fix what I did wrong in my story, and hopefully, correct it the rest of what I write.