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As writers, this is what we’re told. If someone goes out of their way to leave your book a one-star review at Amazon, let them. Just ignore it. Walk away like nothing happened.

Really? You mean I’ve spent the past however many years of my life learning how to stand up for myself, learning how to articulate my feelings so that I can draw a clear line as to what kind of treatment I’ll tolerate, for nothing?

I’ve yet to receive a one-star review (I’m new here, I haven’t received many reviews at all) but I can see myself struggling with this advice in the future. Now, if the review is in the form of constructive criticism, I can take that. I have taken that from fellow writers I greatly admire, many of whom I consider friends. But an abusive reviewer, one whose sole purpose is to take me down a notch? I don’t know about that.

We’re all protagonists in our own stories but I tell you what, I don’t mind playing the bad guy every once in a while. If that means briefly joining the slugs and slime of society in the ditch, hold my glasses. I don’t see why standing up for someone (including yourself) when a troll is slinging mud at them is a bad thing.

I don’t think you should let people bully you, even if you are a writer. Especially if you’re a writer. You spend your time developing a particular set of skills that make you a nightmare for people like this. Why would you let anyone bully you?

0 Comments for "You Should Totally Let People Bully You"

  • M. J. Kelley

    First of all, great headline! Love it. I also admire your conviction on standing up for yourself. That is so awesome and important.

    My feeling on it is there are definitely times when it would be appropriate to respond to a bad review, especially if it was some error that could be corrected. But trolls are a special case. It is the troll’s nature to draw people into responding to them. They love it. It’s their goal to create more drama and more disrespect and waste more of your time. So I think the strategy of ignoring is effective in that it takes that power away.

    Also, I would consider that ‘troll 1-star reviews’ are totally useless when deciding on whether to buy a book or not. I don’t even finish reading them most of the time. And I think 1-star reviews are helpful for providing the impression that a book has been read by more than just friends, family, colleagues. What do you think?

    Reply
    • Jess West

      It’s not just trolls who leave one-star reviews, or helpful critics. I saw a review written by someone who didn’t like a certain type of book, but the book was clearly advertised as that type of book. Why would they buy it in the first place? When I come across things like that I just want to reply to these reviews with, “Really? You couldn’t tell that from the description?” Different kinds of one-star reviews are getting on my nerves lately. It’s probably just a phase I’m going through, but when I’m looking for a book to read, I do look at the reviews. I usually ignore the one-stars, though, and this is one of the reasons why. Most (not all) are there for malevolent purposes only. Is there ever a valid one-star review? What do you think?

      Reply
      • M. J. Kelley

        “Is there ever a valid one-star review?” is a really good question. They would seem really hard to come by if you have a fantastic blurb, excerpt, minimal typos, even less editing errors, and no formatting problems. I’m not sure I’ve ever given one myself. I usually never finish one star books and don’t feel right reviewing a book I didn’t finish. I give five-stars only to the greatest books I’ve read in my life. Which brings up another question: when you’re supporting colleagues and authors you admire, should you be the critic and give a true star rating, or be an author-friend and give a five-star rating? Either way, personally, I would give a true written review… but is more important? Your reputation as a critic or a supportive colleague? Many old-school authors refused to give reviews… obviously the times have changed, though.

        Reply
      • Jess West

        If I enjoy a book and can’t find anything to complain about, I generally give a five-star. If I like a book but I can list a few negatives, (errors or personal preferences) I give a four-star. I’ve never written a review for a three-star book; those that were well written and had all the elements a good book requires but just didn’t rock my world. I wouldn’t bother writing a one or two star review. I just don’t see the point.

        As to supportive colleague? Well, being my friend doesn’t get my review. I might agree to read your book, but that doesn’t automatically get you a review, 5-star or otherwise. Which can make for some awkward conversations, but it is what it is.

        Reply
  • eclecticalli

    I think it also depends on how you would deal with other types of naysayers. In most cases stooping to their level does nothing other than perhaps make you feel better (and if it does, by all means, go ahead), and in worst cases make you look like one of the, encourage them and discredit you. Personally, I think I would be turned of from reading a book if I saw an author engaging in mud slinging with reviewers. I guess, from my own view, I don’t see what purpose it would serve, other than spending your time.

    Reply
    • Jess West

      I like to see people stand up for themselves, including writers. So I’d not be put off by an author defending themselves or fighting back. I guess it depends on how well written their response is and how far they take it. I wouldn’t spend much of my time flinging mud, but there are definitely times when I wouldn’t mind getting my hands a little dirty.

      Reply
  • walt walker

    I see both one-star and five-star reviews the same way. They are often equally meaningless. The best reviews come from people you have some experience with or context for, whether by knowing them personally or knowing them through previous reviews. The kinds of “review fragments” you get online by strangers whose tastes are unknown seem kind of pointless to me. That said, my wife swears by them. But she always approaches them as a package that is trending one way or the other, and she will sometimes disregard the ones at either extreme.

    Sometimes a single review can be revealing. You can tell whether it’s worth considering by the way it’s written and the thought that’s put in to it, especially when there are references to other works for comparison. Is it just me, though, or are these a little hard to come by?

    Reply
    • Jess West

      I’m beginning to see the same. Worse than the one-star reviews, by far, are the meaningless five-stars. I’d rather have one honest (positive or negative) three star review than a thousand “straight from the factory” five-star reviews. To find that’s how many of them come about is incredibly disappointing when it’s your own work being reviewed. I think too much weight is placed on reviews. I do get where more reviews (especially 3, 4 & 5 star reviews) is a good thing, but that shouldn’t be a main selling point. I hope one day I get good enough to hook a reader with the blurb, and maybe an excerpt, nothing more. Isn’t that how it should be? Regardless of what the reviews say, if the magic is there for someone reading the bit you share with them, then it’s just there. Is that enough?

      Reply

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