When Authors Attack…

About two years ago… I wrote a review of a book that I had accepted from the author.  When I read the synopsis I thought I had a pretty good idea about what the book was going to be about.  I was wrong. The book was non fiction, and upon reading the book, while I found the author to be an incredible writer… the choices made in the book did not sit right with me… honestly… they were borderline bizarre.

My review, I thought was fair.  I pointed out the parts I really enjoyed, commending the author for beautiful descriptions.  In the end, I mentioned in a sentence or two that while I appreciated the writing, parts of the book dragged a bit and I did not agree with some of the actions/decisions that were taken in the book.  I even encouraged my readers to look at  reviews other than mine as some reviewers really enjoyed the book.

Unknowingly to me at the time… I had opened up the gates of Hell.

The author…. pounced.  She called the company who had sent me the book.  She not only came after me personally on her own website but she also commented on the comments I received on the post calling me judgmental, shallow, and narrow-minded.

I emailed the publishing company who had sent me the book because I felt terrible.  I was a fairly new blogger, I felt my review was kind, but I also wanted to be honest in my opinion and true to my readers.  The publishing lady that I had dealt with on many books (and still deal with)  told me not to worry about it, and said at least I did not say that if I ever met this author in person I would slap her across the face, as apparently one reviewer said on Amazon.  😯

When this author mentioned my review on her own site, she did not mention me by name… I believe she said something like “some people” are narrow-minded and the “some people” was a link back to my blog.  The beauty of that was, she linked to my blog.  Not the review.  So…. I buried it.  By that I mean I started reviewing like crazy.  If anyone linked to my blog to see my review, they had to look through pages of many good reviews to get to the one that was so-so.  My point in doing this was I was hoping that these readers could see that I was a good person, I read many books of all genres, and I write fair reviews. 

Why bring this up after all this time?

I really don’t know, other than the fact I was thinking about this book and author the other day and admit that I peaked on Amazon to see how the book was faring.  Recent reviewers were for the most part not impressed…. many of their opinions were much as mine were, only theirs were more verbal.  I had to dig deep into the reviews going way back to find a series of positive ones.

I guess what I am getting at here is that many of you that read my blog here are also book reviewers.  Like me, I am guessing that you probably try really hard to be careful what books you are offered for review that you say yes to.  As time goes on, I have become more and more selective.  Yet, even with the best of intentions, we are going to come across books that we just do not enjoy and yet, we have agreed to review.

So to book bloggers I offer this:

1.  Yes be selective in the books you agree to read and review

2,  Keep your reviews honest – dont sugar coat them, your readers want your true opinion

3.  It is just an opinion – yours. 

4.  Keep all your thoughts about the book – do not make them about the author.  (*I have tossed this one around for a long time in my head, and while my review comment in a way touched the author as it was a non fiction memoir type, I certainly never meant for it to personally offend.)

5.  Not every book is going to be a win. 

To authors who experience a poor review I offer this:

1.  I adore you for all your hard work and understand (and hopefully am someday there too) that your book can be like a child.

2.  Do not take negative reviews personally, not everyone is going to love your book.  (Just like parents, not everyone is going to love your child as you do. 😛 )

3.  I love it when you visit the review and I think my readers do too.  If you want to participate in the comments that is awesome, just keep it positive.

4.  Angry, defensive responses shine poorly on you.  By being bigger than that, you can still ensure a positive experience for the readers and possibly pick up a few readers as well.  (Again, a review is just an opinion).

5.  I am one person, even this post is just my thoughts.  I can speak only for me and my experiences. 🙂

Note:  In the two and a half years I have been blogging, I have only had the one negative author experience.  Most authors are amazing and generous people. 

There have been books that I have not enjoyed that my readers have gone on to read and loved.  The beauty of the melting pot of book lovers!  😀 

I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic, but please do not point out books or authors.

Have you ever had a hard book to review?  Again, please leave book titles and authors out, but I would like to hear how you handled the review. 

Have you ever had a poor review you had written, but a positive author experience with the same book?

111 thoughts on “When Authors Attack…

  1. Oh yes I know exactly how you feel, although I would love to comment further, I just do not have time to do so at the moment. Forgive me Shelia as I think this post will make for some interesting discussion.

  2. I have only had one bad author experience. This was before I was blogging and was on B&N book forums, a self-pub author asked if anyone wanted a copy of her book to review and I said sure. She completely misled what kind of book it was, it was not for adults but middle graders in my opinion, but I’m still not sure she realized it. She herself wrote 2 reviews of her own book!!! on Amazon. I was so annoyed, I did not hold back in my review and she emailed me and just went off. I felt bad and changed the review. I was green but so was she. She didn’t know how to market her book and I should have been more careful in my wording.
    I have written negative reviews on my blog and never had an author attack me, nor on Amazon either. So far anyway

    1. It can be a learning experience for us as well as authors. We can write fair reviews without making them personal towards the author…. and authors need to realize we are giving our thoughts on what we read…. its our opinion. Thats it.

  3. Years ago when I had a book review column for a newspaper, I was given a copy of a novel written by a local person. My editor had taken a peek and said it was my choice whether to review it. It was AWFUL! Any self-respecting 2nd grade student could have done better. I wasn’t about to devote a whole column to it, but started worrying that people might buy the book simply because the writer was sort of prominent in the area, though not as much as he believed. So, in a note at the end of a short review about a coffee table book, I devoted one paragraph to a suggestion not to buy the book because readers were certain to be disappointed in it. Period. I don’t know how sales went but I do know I never saw any kind of “Local Author” display in the stores that others got.

  4. I definitely had a bad experience with an author. I reviewed her book (a book about her, her family and their life) and on the whole, loved it. But…there was one statement she made that blew my mind. I could not believe she had made such an absurd comment. I won’t go into it, but it was about a child and, it was ridiculous. I said so in my review. The author emailed me, told me a thing or two about my review and said I had been to harsh and that in retrospect, she was sorry she had made the statement. I don’t feel I was to harsh, I could have said what I was really thinking, but instead had toned it down and just said that I couldn’t believe that anyone, much less a mother could say something like that about a child (the child was not hers). She didn’t see all the good things I’d said about the book, she just saw that one negative comment. I explained that those were my thoughts and told her she could not like my comment any less than I did her statement. I wish I could tell you what it was, but that might give the author/book away. Believe me, it was the most horrible thing I’ve ever heard anyone say about a child.

  5. I can imagine how you felt, being a new blogger and all. I think you handled it well. I haven’t had this happen to me yet, thank goodness. But I know it’s inevitable that it will happen, as it has happened to many bloggers. I was contacted by an author recently. I had given her book a somewhat positive review, with some negative comments about specific aspects of the book. She was very nice and just asked me to clarify a couple of things. I thought she handled it well. A private email between author and reviewer without blasting it out across the internet and making herself look bad. Because I think that is what actions like the author you dealt with provoke. People seeing him/her in a bad light. And that’s not a good thing for an author. 🙂

  6. Like you, my experience with authors has mostly been wonderful. And like you, I review honestly, and kindly, and if I don’t like a book I try to link to reviewers who did like it. I have had only one really horrible experience with an author whose book was a memoir. I really hated the book because it was very negative toward women and the author wrote some horrible, disparaging things against people in his life (who he identified by name). This was one of the first books I ever reviewed for a publicist and I struggled over how to word things to be honest and yet not be overly negative. I stuck to what worked and what didn’t work for me. Even still, I got a long, ranting email from the author who attacked me personally and questioned my skills as not only a reviewer but as a reader. He was incredibly nasty (which sort of paralleled his book and reinforced my feelings about his work). I did not respond to his email…in fact, I just deleted it and made a note to never read anything by this author again. You are right – authors who respond like this do themselves a big disservice. I am grateful that I have not had to deal with something like that again! LOL!

    To add to the discussion, I would like to mention that if an author is pitching a blogger for a review and the reviewer declines the book saying that she is probably not the best reviewer for the book because it falls outside of what she usually enjoys…the author should not go on Twitter and start dissing the reviewer and calling her unprofessional and then send her disparaging emails saying she should open her mind up. That is what happened to me once…and I was a little baffled as to why this author went ballistic. I could have just not responded to her query. Oh well.

    1. Wow Wendy! I have had many times I have responded to a review request email that is out on my genre zone with a thank you for the offer, but this is not my normal style of read…. never had Twitter backlash (that I know of). 😀

      I think you bring up a valuable point – when an email is harsh, delete it… dont put yourself through the re-read of something that is o rediculous.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

  7. Excellent post! I’ve been lucky that I’ve never had anyone attack me for my reviews, but have seen it happen to several others. Some books just aren’t to my taste, but others have enjoyed them so I try to point that out.

    I did email a self-published author once to let him know I didn’t care for the story and asked if he still wanted me to post a review. He was gracious and left the decision up to me. It’s never an easy decision, but I’d rather see a mix of reviews on a blog than nothing but raves, so that’s what I try to do…

    1. Absolutely, someone that raves about every book they read is not what I am looking for…. the reviewers I return to are the ones that put in their review what is real… I want that. I can decide for myself if I want to read a book but I do have trusted reviewers that I believe in too. 😀

  8. I don’t write too many reviews that I think are particularly negative, for several reasons. I absolutely love to read! I doesn’t matter what kind of genre it is or what the subject is, I rarely meet a book that I don’t like. I have taken some flack because I don’t write too many negative reviews. I seem to always find at least something I like about every book. I do mention it when a book isn’t my cup of tea and I let readers know when I think my review should be taken with a grain of salt and ask them to try the book for themselves, because there are so many different reading tastes out there.

    My experiences with authors for the most part has been pleasant. I am extremely selective in what I review on my blog now as opposed to when I first started, when I reviewed a lot of books just because a publisher or author wanted to send them to me. I review a very eclectic mix that ranges from Christian fiction all the way to erotic romance and yes I feel there is a place for both LOL! So, there is a lot of range for criticism. But I realize as a writer myself that authors have very strong opinions where their books are concerned and I can take the heat if they don’t like my review. I try to be honest and say what I like, what I don’t like, what might make the next one better and hope that the author takes it well. That’s all you can do as a blogger, be honest!

    1. Thats part of it Deb – being selective and knowing what you are reviewing. I am much better at that now. 😀

      For the most part I do enjoy the books I review – it may be a like, or a strong like – and you can always tell when I love a book as there is a lot of gushing going on 😀

  9. I’m honest and I think that’s what readers of blogs want. Our audience is not authors. They are not who we write for and they certainly aren’t paying us to promote their books.

    I always find it amusing when authors are (for lack of a better term) bigger babies than my students. I’m much more critical of my students. 🙂 Much meaner…well, harsher….

  10. I’ve been fortunate that the people I have worked with in regards to books have handle my reviews with class. I have had some books that weren’t as good as others but I haven’t gotten backlash about it. So I consider myself fortunate as I know others have had this backlash issue on books.

  11. I have not had this experience yet, but like Debbie mentioned, I very seldom truly hate a book. Even if the review is not a five star one, I try to say something positive about the book. And then I mention the parts that didn’t work for me (if that’s the case).

    I did have one Amazon Vine review book that I loathed…I think I gave it one star. It was truly horrible. I think the only positive thing I could say was that the author had brought out some interesting plot lines….

    I did have a negative response for one of my reviews on Amazon, from another reader…and as it turned out, she belonged to a group that believed in the innocence of Scott Peterson (on death row for murdering his wife Lacey and their unborn child); I had reviewed the book written by Lacey’s mother and commented on the horrible trauma she was experiencing. I guess my sympathy for the bereaved mother set off alarms in this reader.

    Like you said, it’s good to be very selective in the books we accept. Sometimes I get unsolicited books, and those I may choose not to read or review (unless they appeal to me).

    1. I had that happen once too on an Amazon review Laurel, I dont remember what book it was (not this same one) but the person said obviously I was at limited intelligence if I did not like the book and that it clearly went over my head…LOL

  12. Couldn’t agree with you more. I posted both positive and negative reviews, as well as Did Not Finish. But I explained why I didn’t like the book (but try to include some positives as well), or why I couldn’t finish. Usually I stressed it’s me, not the book, that’s the problem. I only had a handful of authors who commented and they were all very nice even if the rating was just average. If I were you, I wouldn’t have tried to bury your post – the others could read what the author wrote and make up their mind! Now I am curious what book it is lol.

    1. I was a newbie Christa and her negative response scared me a little. 😛 I didnt know what to do and then questioned myself by reading the review over and over again looking where I went wrong… I never changed it, because honestly, it wasnt a bad review…. she just didnt like that I didnt agree with her. 😀

  13. Sheila, wow. Sorry to hear that the author (whoever it was) was nasty. I was shocked to read that this had happened to you. I have a product review/parenting blog, and I occasionally read and review books. I had one author comment back on my review of her book, and it was nice.

    I enjoy reading your book reviews and and your other non-review posts! Keep on doing what you do!!!

  14. Yes, I have, and I took time to step back and judge the book on it’s merits, not my personal feelings. I explained my likes and dislikes and as usual stated that the book would probably appeal to others, but just not me. No issues, and the book got rave reviews everywhere.
    Oh well, but I was certainly nervous about my review because I didn’t want to be attacked.

    If someone attacked me now that I have been blogging for a few years, I wouldn’t be that upset. Suck it up buttercup, not everyone likes your book.
    At least you didn’t let this one bad experience deter you from reviewing. You learned and grew and from it 🙂

    1. I agree Jenny – now that I have a couple years behind me in reviews… I would not bury it but let it stand and see what others have to say. People certainly do not have to agree with my thoughts…. in fact there are times when peoples contributions to a book discussion help me to see things in a different light. 😀 I love book discussions!

  15. I don’t know…with something so personal to an author as a book/memoir…they are probably going to be so sensitive…I mean…they should be open to all points but I guess the reality is that some people will just get hurt and then get mad?

    I try to read and write about only books I love…life is too short to wasted time reading something that is not for me…

    Sorry you had that experience…it would crush most of us…but you got over it and here you are!!!

  16. Personally it sounds to me like that author was mentally unbalanced. And why not? Being mentally unbalanced isn’t the sole territory of only NON-authors. There’s probably a bell-shaped curve for sanity of authors as well as sanity of non-authors. Too bad you got hit with the end of the curve!

  17. I have only had one bad author experience…and I gave his book a good review! The author read my review, was excited it was positive, and asked me to put my review up on Amazon, which I did. I was a fairly new blogger at this point – maybe 6 months in?

    The author came back to me like a crazy person because I didn’t give his book 5 stars. I gave it 3. I tried to explain that I am selective with my 5 stars, and gave him several examples of other good books, popular books that were selling well, which I had given the same star rating. He didn’t back down, no matter how much I tried to explain myself. I did my best to maintain my professionalism, never resorting to an ugly, “Dude, your book was good, but not THAT good.” Instead, I held my ground, stayed respectful, and eventually stopped responding to his e-mails.

    Luckily, that was the only “When Authors Attack” experience. It didn’t stop me from being honest, nor did it scare me away from giving ratings on Amazon or Goodreads.

    (Funny, I just went back to the Amazon book page, and I was the ONLY reviewer to give 3 stars…mostly 4s, some 5s and a quite a few 1s. I bet that 3 doesn’t look too bad after all, huh? LOL)

    1. I know I should just leave this alone, but it’s bugging me…crazy how this stuff sticks with you, isn’t it? I can’t help but wonder how many of the 5s on that review list were bullied into being put up there…

    2. LOL – that is funny Alison because that is exactly what I did… now that I am distanced from the book and the author, I had to check out to see how it was doing on Amazon…. and my review (which I never posted on Amazon after the attack), was very descent and better than some on the more recent ones. 😀

      Question – you can not change a review rating once you put it up on Amazon can you?

      1. I think you CAN change your rating…I’ve never tried, though, so don’t quote me on that.

        The whole thing gave me such a bad taste in my mouth, I very rarely deal directly with authors prior to reading their books. Once I’ve read (and loved) a book, meeting the author is a pleasure.

        1. I agree Alison, because I do author chats many authors contact me to do a chat with them and I explain that is something I initiate after I have read them and if I decide I would like to know more about them and the book.

  18. I had a When Author’s Attack experience for a book I DNF’d. I don’t even review books I DNF, but I do label them on Goodreads. I became the subject of her passive aggressive blog post (thankfully she didn’t link or use my name), and the author left comments on my goodreads profile which I promptly deleted. I tried to remain professional in all my emails to her, but it did make me question for a few weeks if reviewing books was even worth all the hassle.

  19. looks like I’ve been lucky. Either that I have forgotten 😉

    I don’t say yes to books that I don’t find at least a little interesting and my reviews state pretty plainly that it is my opinion and yours may differ. Even if I don’t like the book, I explain why and almost always find something positive to say.

    I’m so glad you kept reviewing….I may have folded up and gone away.

    1. I think what saved me was communicating with the company who sent it to me… communicating with them they were very nice and supportive. They read my review and said that it was not a bad review at all.

  20. What a great post woman! You are just on fire today! 🙂 Loved the flash mob post as well! I’m so sorry this happened to you but it’s so nice of you to share it. I think it’s important for bloggers to be cautious as well.

    1. Thank you Reagan. 😀 That was my point in sharing…. I think many of us have gone through something similar and now this far into blogging I think we can offer each other tips on review etiquette when the review is not favorable, and what to do when an author does not agree with our opinions.

  21. I have had numerous occasions where I have written a review on a book that I did not care for, but my students have loved. There are several books that I can’t keep on the shelves. I always ask them what it is about the book that they enjoyed and get another point of view. You’re right – our reviews are our opinions and should not be taken as gospel. It could be the things we didn’t like about a book that may make some else decide to give it a try.

  22. i enjoy your blog for your spirit.I think your honest but never snarkey about a book &my experience with your reviewing is that you are very fair &upbeat.I enjoy your views on life in general.

  23. Sheila, I’ve had a couple of books I’ve not liked (one, I wasn’t the intended audience but thought I was from the synopsis; the second – was a travel memoir & the author was just offensive). In both cases, I’ve contacted the author or publicist & explained that my review would not be favorable – did they still want me to post it? Of course, they (in so many words) say ‘no’.

    Perhaps that’s not entirely honest, but I think it’s fair. After all, they did send me the book free, so it gives them some due; but I’m not misleading my readers by posting a good review when I feel otherwise.

    I’m fairly new at the free-books-in-exchange-for-a-review thing so I’d welcome input on how I handle this.

    1. If I truly could not stand a book or finish a book I would handle it the same way you did…. contact who sent it to me. If I can finish it (that means it had something that held me…) then I review. In the case I mentioned here, I didnt hate the book… on a scale of 1 – 5 it was probably a 2… I guess it was just too new and the author had set her hopes too high….

      Thanks for your great comment Debbie 😀

  24. Knock on wood, I haven’t had a bad experience with an author yet but I live in fear every time I write a somewhat negative review. Like you, I feel like it is my job to be honest. I always try to find something positive to say about every book I read but if I honestly didn’t like it, I am going to say why. I always feel bad but that’s part of the purpose of why I originally turned to book blogs in the first place, they provided unbiased reviews. If I didn’t offer those, I wouldn’t be the type of reviewer I admire. Great post!

    1. Exactly- when I read a review I want to know the truth. If I choose to read the book or not is my decision but I enjoy others thoughts on books and I have picked up many books I had never heard of due to reviewers. 🙂

  25. I have a done a few negative reviews or even DNFs (Did Not Finish). One DNF book, the author came back to me and said her sister didn’t even read as far as I did as she didn’t like it at all. She (the author) was fine about it. I did make clear why I didn’t like the book as I thought some of my blog readers would maybe like exactly the kinds of things I didn’t like about the book.

    This month I’ve been offered a self-published book of a friend of a friend (I haven’t met her). From the synopsis, I think I may not hate it, but will I like it? Not sure at all. I probably should be honest and say my review may be negative & is she sure she wants me to review it (she wants some publicity and I’m the only blogger she knows). Hmm.

    1. Those are hard Judith, when you have a connection to the author but from what I have seen, they want an honest review.

      Your first story about the author being ok with your negative thoughts on their book is cool. It sounds like she was very fair.

  26. Hi Sheila, fair comment – the whole reviewer-author relationship is a minefield. Personally, I try to ignore negative reviews, but it’s not always easy. I had one review for an audio version of Born Under… that tore my novel apart (apparently every name and town was incorrect, though I’m not sure how many variations of the spelling ‘Kabul’ this reviewer had in his repertoire). But what can you do? People ARE entitled to their own opinion. As an author you put a piece of work into a very public forum, you have to take the good with the bad. Of course, when I’m having to deal with the bad I tend to vent on Facebook, pouring my indignation and fury into a status update so that friends can rally round, stroke my ego, and make all well with the world again. But the upshot is, in this technological age, authors need internet reviewers. With publishers spending less and less on publicity, supermarkets crushing book stores into oblivion, and celebrity memoirs pushing fiction into the shadows, word of mouth has never been more important. Today that word of mouth is the blogging network. And like authors having to take a bad review on the chin, the same goes for reviewers defending themselves from author-attack because people, especially writers, are not always the most rational of beings! A xx

  27. The most memorable response to a negative review that I’ve had from an author made me feel really bad for posting my review — she made me feel guilty for not liking her book. I do think I was kind in my review, clearly separating the person from the book. I believe I even said that I was sad I didn’t like the book, because I figured the author and I could have been friends in real life. :p

  28. Very interesting and thoughtful post, Sheila.

    I ran into a similar sort of problem, though a bit different. When I started my blog, I decided to only review books that I like and that I would recommend. It was just a personal decision. I figured writing reviews for my blog was a non-paying job, and I wouldn’t waste my time writing reviews of books I didn’t enjoy. I wanted my blog to be a place where people could turn to for recommendations of good books.

    So, early on, I accepted a review book from one author, read it, and, well, I didn’t love it. I had trouble finishing it and didn’t enjoy it. The tough part came in breaking it to the author that I wouldn’t be reviewing it. You would think she might be relieved that I wasn’t going to write a negative review, but she took it very personally (which I suppose is understandable) and got pretty upset – kept sending me e-mails trying to convince me of why the book was good!

    Like you said, reading preferences are very, very personal.

    I do understand the author’s perspective. As a writer myself, I can tell you that the rejection is very hard to deal with and never gets easier!! I wrote a business book years ago that got mostly very good reviews, but it was hard to read even slightly negative sentences within a good review. You’re right – that book is like your child!

    Great topic and good advice, Sheila –


    1. Thanks Sue 🙂 I just cant imagine emailing a reviewer and telling them why they should have loved a book… although you are not the first person I have heard that has happened to. 😀

      I would much more appreciate the author thanking me for my thoughts and leaving me with good feelings about the author. Just because I do not like a particular doesn’t mean I would not recommend it to someone else who I think would.

  29. I had an experience like this on LibraryThing, before I was even a book blogger. I won a book from their ‘Member Giveaway’ scheme, but when it arrived it really wasn’t all that. Almost self-published, and in poor shape for it. Despite the horrendous lack of editing, wooden dialogue and overegged plot points, I gave it a generous 3 stars because when I got past those things it did its job – it was a fast-paced adventure story ideal for teenage boys.

    However, the author in question did NOT like what I wrote. I thought it was a very fair review, balancing positive and negative, but this author left me two comments on my personal profile in which he argued, sulked, and generally threw his toys out of the pram. In fact, the second comment – in response to a deceptively calm reply (I was actually a mixture of embarrassed and flabbergasted) in which I again pointed out the positive aspects of the novel – was basically a wordier equivalent of ‘Yeah, well, you still suck. I’m going to go cry into my dinner now.’ Very unprofessional.

  30. I had to write a really hard review recently, in fact I started reading the book once and had to stop but had committed to the review and saw some wonderful reviews about this book so thought if I got to the end I would love it as others had or at least like it as much as I did the author’s last book. I got to the end and the book actually made me mad. I then realized it was me and that’s how I wrote my review. I was at the wrong place in my life and have faced situations that made me almost hate the book. I took the blame. I wrote to the publicist that sent me the book and explained. She read my review and told me that is actually to “guts” to put my life out there in a review like that and that it is better to be honest than write something that we think may make the author happy. She has since sent me 2 more books for review.

  31. Read it with interest this story! I’m learning I think how to write reviews. Still in Dutch but I think about to write them in Dutch too. However I do not get sent by any one.
    As you said is personal opinion, I might like a book you might not like it. We might like the same book but for different reasons and maybe even like different parts of the book.
    But I try to write my reviews honestly. And reviews are always, always base on personal view of life.

  32. A non-fiction memoir? Well, that is going to be hard to separate from the author!!! Perhaps she was not actually ready to put her story out there in public like that. Still, every time I have heard of an author being vicious about a negative review, it just makes them look really really bad. Anyone with any sense should realize that a book review is just that : a review by one reader. I’ve not had any personal attacks like that but I fear them, which is why I do choose the books I accept for review carefully. The one time I did have to write a negative review for a book, the author was very very gracious and I breathed a huge sigh of relief.

  33. Wow! What a crazy experience! I am a new blogger so I have only had one author comment on a review, and she liked it…yay! I hope I don’t have to deal with anything that drama filled in the future! Sounds like you handled it very well and hey at least you got some free publicity for your blog!

  34. I won’t accept any memoirs any more for review because I have found it too uncomfortable after two experiences. Both memoirs were published – one by a small press and one by a large publisher – but in both cases I ended up with supporters and detractors of the books or rather the authors, squabbling in my comments section. Their arguments weren’t with my reviews as such but about the truthfulness of the memoir. Ugh, the first time I shrugged it off but after that decided it wasn’t worth my time so I won’t accept via request.

    Shelleyrae @ Book’d OUt

  35. It can be really difficult sometimes as I don’t like to upset or offend authors or the lovely publishers who send me books. If I can’t finish a book I usually just don’t review it. I do say if I didn’t like parts of a book though, and I point out what and why as I feel I need to be honest. I ALWAYS invite people to make up their own mind about a book too.

  36. Wow. I’ve never had this happen, in almost four years of blogging. The authors who have contacted me (by email) have been extremely gracious. The Queen of Gracious is Rosy Thornton, who responded to my lackluster review of one of her books by sending me a newer one!

    I do notice that the smart authors don’t read their own reviews. Lev Grossman, for example, told me that he’s not reading any reviews of his new novel the Magician King, even though I told him I love it. He is not alone in this; I think it helps authors get some perspective. Some of them read the reviews later, when the book doesn’t feel so much like a baby anymore.

  37. Wow, Sheila, I’m so sorry this happened to you! I’m also a little shocked. I can’t believe some authors think that absolutely everyone will love their books. I’ve had a few bloggers respectfully write things about my novels that they didn’t like, and I never take it personally. In fact, one wrote something to that effect on Goodreads, and I responded that I was sorry the book didn’t hit the mark for her, but maybe my next one would, if she would care to read it. What was interesting to me, however, was that Goodreads sent me an automated message warning me that I should’t respond angrily to negative reviews. It seems that if an author writes something below a low-star review, Goodreads automatically assumes that author is arguing or fighting with that blogger! It stuns me to think how often that must have happened for Goodreads to have that automatic warning in place. In this particular case, the blogger and I wrote back and forth a few times – all very friendly and positive emails. There isn’t any need for things to be any other way! I feel as if book bloggers always respectful in their reviews, whether the reviews are negative or positive (truly, I don’t think I’ve seen a vicious or unfair review ever by a book blogger). Some of these stories make me think a few authors can learn from them!

  38. HI Sarah!

    It was a while ago but every once in a while you see something like this pop up in a blog post or on Twitter and I thought I would share my experience, letting people know that yeah, it is scary and it hurts – but it happens, and there are ways that both bloggers and authors can respond to make things better over all. 😀

    I had no idea about Goodreads doing that! Interesting, but yes, you are right, it also makes you wonder how often it happens…

    Good to hear form you as always! 😀

  39. Hee hee hee… I have only one thing to say about this situation: Naked in Eden. Oh that was an interesting experience.

    I think your advice is spot on. But I’d also add to the bloggers, do remember to try not to attack back!

  40. Great post. I have written many a negative review, and while I always try to be kind and point out the positives, I always am completely honest. I’ve had a few…unpleasant…author experiences, but nothing like what you’re describing. More like meeting an author whose book you reviewed negatively, and they call you out on it. Oh boy. Awkward.

  41. I can sympathize with both you the reviewer and the author. One of my most telling experiences as a writer was many, many years ago asking a friend to review a story. She did a wonderful, balanced review but didn’t like it. My reply was not completely horrible but it was snarky. I’ve regretted it ever since.

    I can connect with the bruised feelings of the author but it is never a good idea to lash out a reviewer. There is good feedback in almost any review (one liner “It’s terrible” comments excepted). Even a nasty, unbalanced review should just be ignored. At the most, write your clever retort and then rip it up (i.e., don’t send it.) President Lincoln used to use that technique for similar purposes.


    1. Thank you for sharing here! Its good to hear the perspective of an author… I can imagine a rough review can be hard to take…. however – even my reviews that I mention about produced comments from my readers who thought it would be interesting and wanted to read it which I was glad…. my thoughts… just my opinion. 😀

  42. I reviewed a book on Amazon and in the comments section, another reviewer, named Dark Hero, got really angry with me for giving the book a 2 star review. Then he went to the Romance forum for Authors Behaving Badly (I’m also an author) and told everyone what a bad person I was and how unfairly he’d been treated by me. In retaliation, he posted a nasty, ranty review of my book, slamming me as a wanna be and wishing death on the characters of my book. It was pretty unhinged.
    Well, in the end, it turned out this Dark Hero is actually the author of the book I gave the neg review, surprised? I was. The author has multiple amazon accounts and was stalking me for days, downvoting my reviews and making up misbehavior. It was a shocking revelation and I’ve had a sick feeling about it ever since.
    I’ve wondered if there was something I could have done to prevent this, but am coming up blank. I guess the old saying is true, you can’t control other peoples behavior, only your own.

    1. Ugh….that is sad Jennifer…. all you can do is big the bigger person here.

      I felt sick about mine too…. I know some who have quit reviewing due to bad experiences such as these.

      I wonder if you can not contact Amazon about the negativity and this person stalking your reviews in a negative manner?

      1. Well, the author said it was her husband, not her doing the crazy stalking, not sure about that and it’s stopped now, so I guess it’s all sunshine and rainbows again.

        I’m not going to quit reviewing and I’d encourage anyone else to keep at it too.

  43. What an awesome article. Thank you for your thoughts, words, and ideas. I like this so much I put this on my blog it should be read and added your link. Sadly I reblogged the dang thing to an incorrect one of my many blogs instead of my book review one.

    Oh well I made a blog as I said on the correct one directing people here to read yours.

  44. I actually had ONE issue with a book review. I did not care for the book, but actually LOVED the IDEA of the book! I felt like the author had a great idea but didn’t properly execute it. Well that was a tough review to do and even more so because it was my FIRST review ever. I had just started my blog and got click happy on Netgalley…needless to say it wasn’t my best review ever and I did edit it a few months later just to make it sound a little less harsh. I credited the authors idea originally but made a few comments about the authors writing that I really shouldn’t have. I learned eventually that you really shouldn’t do those type of things in reviews. It was definitely a learning experience. Great topic!

    Xoxo. Alexis @ Lexi Swoons

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