Chai break

Chai Break: How positively have authors responded to your negative reviews?

Chai break is a periodic feature on This is Lit to discuss concerns that every book blogger has. This is meant to be a lighthearted discussion that you’d have over tea and the only reason for it not being called Discussion Post is that the site’s author thinks that would be too mainstream. Pfft.

In the book blogging community, we always hear stories about a blogger being harassed by an author for a negative review they wrote. I’ve always been on the blogger’s side for every issue so far. While some Goodreads and Amazon reviewers do toe the bullying line with their trolling and personal attacks on the author, a large percentage of book bloggers actually just write honest reviews. Isn’t that our mantra? “I received this book in exchange for an honest review” is what we start every ARC review with.

And yet, when you see something like the image below floating around the internet, it can be disheartening.

Authors rise up

This wouldn’t have pissed me off if the demand said reviewers shouldn’t make personal attacks. It says star reviews without text should not be allowed on Goodreads.

2001

What even?

There’s been a lot of outrage over reviewers receiving backlash for their negative reviews. This has been talked about a lot in most blogs. But you know what is not talked about? The great way some authors actually do respond to your negative review. And that’s what today’s discussion is about.

What are some of the nice ways authors have responded to your negative review?

I’ve said this multiple times on my blog and I’m going to say it one more time. I can be brutally honest. My review will not beat around the bush, I will describe in perfect detail exactly what I hated about the book. But thankfully, all the authors I’ve worked with are stellar human beings who reacted nicely and took it up as constructive criticism. Here are the sweet responses of authors of books I wrote entirely honest reviews for.

1. I found the writing in a book offensive towards South Indians and this is how the author responded.

“Ouch Shruti. So sorry if you found it offensive…I’d make sure to be not curt in it [the sequel] and hope to charm you this time around.”

2. In response to a 2.5 star review…

“I apologise for contacting you directly, but I wanted to thank you sincerely for taking the time to read my book and for your candid review. I appreciate all constructive reviews, positive or negative, as I like to try to learn from them.”

This author went on to ask if I’d review their next book too because it’s rare to get such honest reviews.

3. In a three-star-review, I had written that the book just gave away the whole story in the back cover. The author explained that for debut authors, it’s publishers who choose the blurb. My mail might have sounded a little apologetic, because the author replied with this.

“Don’t worry Shruti. It’s your job :-)”

The author still reads some of my blog posts and shares them on social media.

4. I wasn’t brutal in any way while reviewing this book, but I honestly wrote about every little thing I didn’t like this about this book (and everything I liked).

“Thank you so much for the review! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it. You’re wonderful! Its the first feedback I’ve received from an objective reader with an unbiased opinion (aka someone other than my dad). Thank you. And the constructive criticism was perfect.”

 

This right here? This is why we blog. We’re not paid to review books; we’re using our free time to read not-so-famous books. And when your criticism is received well? That’s the best feeling in the world!

Let’s discuss!

How do you write negative reviews? How have authors reacted to your reviews? The book blogging community can do with some positivity right now. Write away in the comments about that nice author taking up your constructive criticism!

~ Shruti

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55 thoughts on “Chai Break: How positively have authors responded to your negative reviews?

  1. I think I’ve only written about 2-3 bad reviews in my blogging life, and both authors have responded respectively. I don’t understand why some authors feel the need to feel defensive or threaten to sue a reviewer who does it for FREE. Just don’t respond or read it!! If they want to live in a fantasy where every review is positive, then that’s on them. But I don’t do that lol. Anyway, I feel for authors who respond to negatives in a self-deprecating way, like “so sorry I disappointed you.” Like it’s personally their fault their work is bad in their eyes. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I really don’t get it when authors threaten to sue reviewers who give them a negative review. Like, don’t read reviews if you can’t stand a negative one. We spend so much time and effort reading their books and when we say something honest, they immediately pounce on us. Umm, even Harry Potter has negative reviews. You just can’t please everyone. *sighs*

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  2. I once gave a book 3.5 stars and saying that I have a hard time reading it and eventually got me in reading slump. But the author thanked me for the review anyway and said that she’s open to any comments and thoughts. 😃 Authors like these that makes me feel like I ‘did’ help them in some way with their book instead of feeling like I’m annihilating it. And I don’t want that. 😬

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I haven’t had an unpleasant interaction yet with an author I think because I mostly post positive reviews because when I don;t like a book I just don’t finish it and when I don’t finish I don;t review it. But I love those responses you have gotten Shruti! Kudos to these authors, Taking criticism is NOT easy at all! I have no idea how I would take it! Hopefully this gracefully 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Daniela! I’ve always wanted to not post reviews of books I didn’t like, but when you’ve received it for free from the author or publisher, you’re obligated to write the review. But it constantly amazes me when authors take criticism this well. It shows how great they are as individuals. 😊

      Like

  4. I haven’t had much experience with reviewing books that I haven’t personally bought (save that one book I won at a giveaway🙂). I’ve joined NetGallery, and let’s see how that works (again, I doubt any author or publisher would willingly want a 13 year old reviewing their book).
    I took advice from one of your book blogging tip posts, and I’ve set up a review policy😀
    But yeah, I’ve heard some authors aren’t very diplomatic with the way they respond to HONEST CONSTRUCTIVE criticism! They should be glad that someone is giving an honest review of their book so that they could rectify those mistakes in the future!
    Great post!😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Teen bloggers are constantly appreciated in the book community! I’m sure authors and publishers would love having their books reviewed by you!

      I’ve never had authors reach out to me after I reviewed their books that I got through NetGalley, unless it was a positive review. But the ones who directly contact you are definitely watching out for your reviews too. I’m just glad that all the authors I’ve worked with took criticism in a very positive way. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve dealt with the good, the bad and the very ugly in my years of reviewing. I’ll post reviews for 3* upwards on my blog for authors who have requested a review. If it will fall below a 3* we offer feedback.
    Luckily I’ve worked with plenty of authors who appreciate constructive feedback as they are eager to improve their writing skills.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve seen bloggers do this! It’s actually a good idea. Is this what you were talking about the other day, on the review policies post?

      As long as this is mentioned in the review policy, this is a great idea. I’m sure debut authors wouldn’t want poor reviews up on the Internet and you get to give them feedback too. 😊

      Like

  6. I’ve still not come across this unpleasant reaction from authors but I’ve been seeing this going around on twitter.
    Negative reviews are as important as positive reviews. I like to call negative reviews constructive criticism.
    Also it’s wonderful how some authors take negative reviews respectfully. If I were in their place I would have totally got offended.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, negative reviews/constructive criticism is very important! That’s how writers know how they can make their content/books/blogs better.

      If I were an author who received a negative review, I’d react the same way. Be all nice. But I’ll be crying throughout. Haha. You cry and then you realise maybe the blogger had a point. 😁

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, same! The more you see bloggers pointing out these negative instances, the more you worry.

      I very recently ripped apart a book in its review for the blatant misogyny in it and thought I’d experience my first negative reaction too. The publisher sent me the copy and they’re yet to respond.

      This is such an unhealthy state to be in—worrying about which review will lead to your first negative response from an author.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I’ve only been contacted by a few authors and it was a quick “thank you for your review” or “glad you enjoyed it”. But I’ve never been contacted regarding a negative review. I’m terrified of that happening. So sorry that you have had some negative communications. But I love that one author responded telling you that they were taking your criticism in a constructive way!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think we’re all terrified of being contacted about a negative review we wrote. Isn’t that such an unhealthy state to be in?

      I’m so thankful for all the authors I’ve worked with so far. They’re all extremely sweet and take criticism so well! 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Great post Shruti. The replies from the authors that you have included actually put a big smile on my face. That should be the actual spirit of the authors. If you are trying to sell something, then you must be open to both good and bad feedbacks. And it is not that anyone is doing this on purpose. No one likes to read a bad book or review it. Loved this!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My point exactly! No one goes around waiting to read a bad book just so they can write a bad review. As reviewers—I’m sure you’d be familiar with this feeling, Sim—we feel very bad when we’re listing out the negatives in the book. When the author takes this up as constructive criticism, it’s the best feeling! You didn’t offend them AND they’ll be working on it in their next book. We’re kinda (in a roundabout way) creating history here, aren’t we? xD

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes definitely! I don’t ever hesitate in writing bad about a book. I clearly state what I liked and what I didn’t. And it is always a great feeling when authors take it positively.

        I write a such review a few days ago. Though I enjoyed the book and gave it 3.5 stars mentioning all the things that I didn’t like.. and guess what that publisher auto-approved me on NetGalley 😂
        So yeah, authors/publishers have to understand that this work in both ways 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Just yesterday I contacted an author I know telling her I could not finish her ARC because it was too extreme for my taste I asked her is she wanted me to write that I DNF and give some explanation or write nothing at all She told me to do what I felt and that she loved hearing my thought because I gave them uncensored She wanted to progress.
    Some weeks ago another author reacted to my review telling me she appreciated my honesty. When I told her it was really telling about who she was as a person she told me she asked some reader who gave her a very negative review to be her beta reader years ago.
    Of course all authors don’t react that way
    But I think if you write your review “smartly” that’s to say explaining why it did not work for you, what you expected and who the book could please you should not have any problem.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Take it from the lady with experience, folks! xD

      You’re so right, Sophie! Being extremely honest and objectively listing out exactly what you didn’t like is the best way to go. But when you read the reviews of bloggers who received backlash for it, they did this too! I think it lies on an author’s shoulder to respond properly and take criticism well.

      And that author who made one reviewer their beta reader? BRILLIANT! That’s an excellent example of a person just trying to improve.

      Thanks for stopping by, Soph! 😊

      Like

  10. This is a GREAT discussion, Shruti:). As a book blogger AND a recently self-published writer, I’ve a foot in both camps and have winced at the way some authors react. Of course, it’s a punch in the gut when those words you slaved over didn’t leave a reader wanting more – but what EVERYONE needs to accept is that once you let your work loose on the world, it is no longer yours. It is there to be read and judged, for good or ill. And if you cannot cope with the fact there are BOUND to be folks who dislike it, then frankly, you’ve no business writing for general consumption. Go back to writing for friends and family.
    But I’m delighted you’ve chosen to highlight the authors who have responded with grace and humility to your less-than-delighted reviews and taken your honest criticism with the spirit in which it is given. Brilliant!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sarah, I was waiting for your comment! I had a feeling you’d have the most insightful comment of all because you’ve done both—writing and reviewing. 😊

      You’re right about the whole “once you let your work loose on the world, it’s no longer yours”. I’m gonna get that framed! xD

      Yes, you slaved over the words. Yes, you struggled over the story for god knows how long. BUT, if some readers didn’t like it, there’s nothing you can really do about it except try to better yourself a little. Even J.K. Rowling gets negative reviews! Learn from it and move on. xD

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    1. Hahaha, it’s okay! I’ll get it checked! 😁

      Also, something I forgot to mention in the previous comment: I only recently discovered that you reviewed books too, as you might have noticed from my sudden interest in your posts. 😁 All this while, I’d been checking just your author site (dot com) and not the blog (dot WordPress dot com). Silly me! I’ll be lurking on your content a lot from now on! 😂

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    1. Yeah? That’s so sweet of you! And in my reviews of all these books, I mentioned that it could be just me. So, yeah. You might like them.

      Now, all 4 of these books had parts that I really liked too. So you’re not going to be bored or anything. xD Here we go:

      One of these books is The Giants Look Down by Sonja Price. Several bloggers loved it and the cover is SO PRETTY, but it just didn’t work for me.

      And then there’s Dancing with the Shadows by Adrian Churchward, The Past is Rising by Kathryn Bywaters, and Colourful Notions by Mohit Goyal.

      Happy reading! 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I’ve actually mentioned this on Twitter before, times when I’ve had positive interaction, because I feel like all you ever see people talking about is the negative. But the majority of authors out there do appreciate us! It’s just the few badly behaved ones that give a bad rap to them all :-/

    I’ve had authors like my negative reviews. I’ve had a few send me messages to thank me. I even ended up having a whole pleasant conversation with one of them about reviews in general since she reviews books too in addition to writing them and knows what it’s like. Another author emailed to ask me for more thoughts/criticism since I had only posted like a sentence or something at the time, and he thought it might help with the future books in the series. So the few times I have had interaction after neg reviews, they have all been pos interactions. I’m so glad you’ve had pos interactions too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s why I did this post! Everyone’s talking about all the bad interactions, but what about the authors who are extremely sweet and try to learn from the criticism you’ve given? Thank you for sharing all the pos interactions you’ve had! Let’s spread some positivity in the book blogging community! 😊

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  12. I’ve had this one time when a famous musician (who wrote kind of a really crap book) responded to a tweet of my star review saying “I’m sorry you hated it!”, and then I tweeted, “I’m sorry I hated it too, I hope you don’t mind, nothing personal, really wanted to like it”, and he said “That’s k, I’m really proud of it myself”. That was a really cool exchange and I think that’s a really cool guy now 🙂 even if I hated the book xD

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Wonderful post!! I’ve only run into a couple of bad situations with book reviews.

    Once I had an author tell me I was “wrong” when I posted my blog tour review highlighting a quote directly from the book… He was REALLY nasty about it. That put me off blog tours for a while.

    I had another author demand I give his book another try when I politely emailed to say I would be DNFing. I should not have given it another try, but I did. And when I updated him he was incredibly rude and demanded that I try a third time since she had given me a free ebook. This situation made me create my DNF policies and make sure I updated my Honest Review Policy as well.

    I’ve also had a few authors be incredibly rude when I turn down their book for an Honest Review. This one bothers me the most. I have a whole Honest Review page on my blog where it clearly states at the top that I am not currently accepting reviews because I’m booked through 2018. I also have very clear guidelines. So when someone hasn’t read them, it’s very clear.

    Erica | Erica Robyn Reads

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, that’s just sad. I’m sorry you had to go through these experiences. It’s authors such as these that give the others a bad rap.

      Isn’t it extremely off putting when people just skip your review policy and request reviews? Mine says I’m booked through March and yet, people send me request emails. *sighs*

      I’m just glad the authors I’ve worked with so far are extremely sweet and good humans. I don’t know how I’d react if authors made demands like they did with you. I’d probably cry. Definitely. xD

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, it’s very frustrating! Luckily I have also worked with a number of absolutely wonderful people that make up for the bad eggs! 🙂 The good ones make it all worth it! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  14. I had an author contact me after I DNF their book and reviewed it because on the first 3 pages it contained non-consenual sexual acts and he was supposed to be the character we were swooning over, the author let me know after reading my review how they’d not picked up on that before and was actually pleased someone had noticed how it could’ve been read that way.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I’ve never had a negative interaction with an author. I’ve had some authors thank me for lukewarm reviews but have no responses from negative reviews. Like most bloggers, I try to find something good about the book even if the negatives outweigh the positives. I think, in most cases, you can say what needs to be said in such a way that gets your point across without being unnecessarily cruel.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re right. I try to say something good about the book too, but if it’s too bad, I just list the negatives without being too cruel about it. Negative reviews are an icky business for everyone involved. Not being too cruel both helps readers and authors. 😊

      Like

  16. People get a lot of different reactions when it comes to negative reviews. On all of my reviews except one it has been fine. But in ONE of my reviews the author (it was clearly the author) commented anonymously and it was basically a hate message. Although some random people hopped on the bandwagon and were talking trash (maybe friends of the author? They’d never commented before) a lot of my regular followers defended me and my right to have an opinion. I basically stopped replying to comments on that post otherwise I knew I’d get too upset. But that was my only bad experience.

    My recent post: http://oliviascatastrophe.com/2018/01/life-lately-december-january/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Whoa, so a published author was so annoyed by ONE reviewer’s comment that they anonymously commented a hate message about it? Gee, some people really care about others’ opinions, don’t they?

      It’s great that your followers defended you. And it’s sad that there are authors who do this. But I’m also happy that all your other negative reviews were received well. It’s those authors who need to be celebrated now! 😊

      Liked by 1 person

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