Reputation is everything

This weekend I received an interesting direct message on Twitter from a writer whose book I had previously reviewed.

“My book’s changed to the extent that UR review’s no longer accurate [link to review]. Consider yourself lucky I haven’t reviewed U back.”

We won’t go into what I think about releasing an ebook before it’s truly ready and then releasing “updates” to it later. The point of this post is the fact that there is no way I will ever read anything by this person again. I will not re-review his book. I may go in and edit my review to note that what I reviewed was the first version of his ebook, if I have time this week. I will delete his book off my ereader. And I will probably never think of him again, let alone read anything else he writes. His reputation isn’t just tarnished, in my eyes. It’s downright bad.

Now, my opinion would be vastly different had this writer said something to the effect of, “Hey, I’ve made these changes that address the concerns you originally brought up with my book. Would you please update your copy of my book and re-review?” If he had said that, I would probably have reread it, because there was definite potential in the story originally (as I noted in my original review). I would have updated my review. I would have thought much better of him as a writer and as a person.

I am more disappointed with this person than anything, to be really honest. It’s called burning bridges, and it’s pretty much not a good thing if you are or are trying to be an author. In any business, you want to keep as many doors and windows open to you as possible, so that you have more options down the road. You burn a bridge, you can never go back to that option, as this writer can never come back to me for a review. That isn’t smart business sense, for anyone in any job.

Rudeness like this (which I think is almost malicious in its nature) isn’t going to get you anywhere in the world, let alone get you anywhere as an author. He actually threatened to review my book badly, which is just wrong in its nature. Every review I give is honest, and I write it after I have read the book and given it some thought. I try to go into every book with an open mind, as every reviewer should do. If I have criticism, I try to offer it constructively, so that they can improve.

Every writer gets not-so-good reviews. I have. It’s part of the job, unfortunately. We have to put our work out there in order to get it read, and everyone who reads it will have differing opinions. It’s scary, but it’s necessary. We just hope for a majority of good reviews. I try to take something constructive out of every review, since I know no one is perfect. The Saturday Writers have a good blog post on this, noting that conventional wisdom says the best response to a negative review is no response at all. (They also posted one author response to a negative review that is simply amazing, in my opinion. Read it for yourself and let me know what you think.)

So, in short, as the old saying goes: “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.” Don’t be rude. You don’t know who you’ll really be offending and how that will effect you in the long run. If nothing else, this writer has earned himself one less future reader.

Have you ever received a note like this? Or a downright rude review that offered no criticism whatsoever? How did you handle that?

I'm a lover of writing and books. I graduated from South Dakota State with a master's degree in communications in 2011, the same year I was first published. I'm a wife and mom, and I work in content and digital marketing in South Dakota.

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