So you guys know I don’t actually read reviews, right? I just can’t. Whether they’re good or bad (and they’re 99% good, thank God), it oogies me out. My husband Eric summarizes them for me. When I need to copy them, I literally disassociate my eyes from the text and copy/paste.

Yes, that’s a little extreme, I know.

Another thing I don’t do is respond to reviews. Ever. When a book blogger reviews one of my books, I thank them for reading and featuring my book, but I don’t comment on (or read) the review. When a reader posts a review online, the most I ever do is paste it to social media or this blog (eyes averted).

The reason I don’t respond to reviews is three-fold:

1. It sets a precedent that I might not always choose to continue. That tends to result in disappointed people.

2. I don’t want reviewers to feel overly visible, and hearing back from the author can freak people out. I’ve seen it happen. I think that it’s hard for some people to leave reviews, and I want it to be a safe way for them to leave honest feedback, whether positive or negative.

3. And if it is negative, the worst thing I could do would be to respond. If I said thanks, like I would normally, I’d sound sarcastic. If I said anything else, I’d sound argumentative. I think it is seriously bad juju to respond to a negative review in any way. But if I’m responding to all the positive ones, why would I single out a negative one to ignore? See #1, precedent.

Recently, a reader posted this lovely review, and chose to include her real name (as many people do), which you can click to read full size on Amazon:

anne stasny

Eric told me she was reading the book for her book club’s March pick. He posted it to Facebook:

eric re anne stasny

He’s right. I would. If they weren’t in my backyard, I would Skype with them. I love doing that. It’s one of those special joys that every author should grab with both hands if given the opportunity. But I don’t know Anne Stasny.

“You should just respond to her review on Amazon and tell her you’d do it,” Eric said.  Quickly he added, “But I know, I know, you don’t respond to reviews.”

Because I don’t.

So, there you have it. Now you know why I don’t respond to reviews.

But should I?


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4 Responses to In search of Anne M. Stasny

  1. Eric Hutchins says:

    As you know I am really torn about this. There have been so many good opportunities for you to thank people, or to offer meeting with their book clubs, but….. you are absolutely right regarding the points you make NOT to do it. I think on Amazon, B&N for SURE it is not a good idea. I think I Goodreads there might be an opportunity to do it as that place is more about the reader author connection.

    • Pamela says:

      As weird as it seems Goodreads is the worst place. It’s about reader-reader connection, and the authors are viewed as invaders of the sanctity of reader space, potentially there to shill or influence people away from their right to honestly opine. There have been some cases where people have really ganged up on authors, even bullied them. Wild, isn’t it? I tiptoe on Goodreads.

  2. Carol Cram says:

    I admire Pamela’s self-control!! I guess I’m still at the honeymoon stage of review reading. I read them avariciously, inhale them, bow down before them, read them aloud to my husband, my mom, my daughter, and anyone else who will listen, feel so blessed to have them! But as I said, I’m just starting out. Maybe after a few hundred reviews, I’ll be more sanguine and better able to resist reading them (kind of doubt it!).

    As to replying – two schools of thought as you say. At the moment, I’m thanking people if I know them and not if I don’t. Good point about not wanting to creep people out. So far, fingers crossed, I haven’t had a negative review (terrified) but when I do (sigh), I will take the high road and ignore. So yes, I have a double standard – I thank people I know for a good review if I think they won’t mind and I don’t thank people I don’t know or people who (shudder) say something not nice. I never pretended consistency.

    But as I said, I totally admire Pamela’s self control. It boggles my mind actually. I was a workshop presenter and teacher for years, and I kept myself alive on student feedback (well, maybe not quite – but I sure read them!).

    Thanks for posting.

    • Pamela says:

      Loved your comment Carol.

      It’s less self control and more fear, I think. I’m very weird about this. I’ve had hundreds of 5-star reviews. I should wrap myself up in the comfort of warm fuzzy majority opinion and let my blankie ward off the potential chill of a bad review. I know I’m irrational, that I shouldn’t be so put off at the thought of a stinger, but I am. It’s crazy.

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