For the rest of us normal mortals: DO NOT DO THIS! It’s the fastest way to make yourself look like a terrible person, no matter what a review says about your book.
Think of your writing as a gift.
You wrap it up, taking forever to make the corners crease perfectly, using those little lines to measure everything to within 1/4 centimeter, thinking hard about how to give the perfect gift. You spend an ungodly amount of time selecting gorgeous wrapping paper, the shiniest bow, the perfect accessories to make it a Pinterest worthy present. Then, you put that gift out there. You give it to your readers.
Once it is in their hands, the gift is given.
It is not yours, anymore. Yes, you put all the effort into making it but that part is over now. You made the gift. What they do with it is up to them. And you have no part in someone else’s opinion. If they chose to take it and dislike it? Well, that’s how it works and there is literally not one thing you can do about it.
One of the golden rules (besides Death To All Adverbs and Never Write In Passive Voice) is: Never Engage With A Bad Review. Just don’t. Do not defend yourself. The Internet and other reviewers will rip you to shreds and then wear those shreds like a fancy scarf.
Logic has no place in opinions.
They don’t care how hard you worked or what your justification is for the parts they don’t like.
In the whole sorry history of books and their bad reviews, an author has defended their work successfully once (that I know of). This lady is the only example I’ve seen engage with a bad review, and she had special circumstances that you and I cannot hope to duplicate. Read and laugh, but don’t do this yourself.
Background: Author Carla Cassidy wrote a Harlequin Presents book called, and I’m not joking, Pregnesia. The wonderful women over at Smart Bitches Trashy Books reviewed her book with a hilarious list about how it was so awful it had actually rounded the curve to awesome.
The list review is pretty funny, and worth a read, you can find it here. Basic plot: a pregnant woman has amnesia (Pregnesia, get it??) and is being guarded from the people who want to kill her by a special forces type dude. Love ensues.
The author got wind of her tongue-in-cheek review and checked it out. She replied thus:
Why does this work? Number 1: the review was written with humor. There’s a good chance if someone writes with humor they will appreciate humor in return, although it’s not always a sure bet. In this case, it worked.
Number 2: Carla Cassidy does not try to tell the reviewer all the ways they were wrong/unfair/didn’t get it. She just accepts the fact that her book is kinda silly and moves on. She doesn’t try to take their opinion away from them.
Number 3: any publicity is better than no publicity. This made me snort-laugh, because it’s so brutally true.
Number 4: She takes the funny stuff from the review and runs with it, making it both appropriate and self-deprecating at the same time.
Number 5: it’s a book called Pregnesia and made for the sole purpose of funny reviews. It’s all done in good humor, and Carla doesn’t put forth the useless energy to change anyone’s opinion.
She gave her gift and it turned out to be one of those novelty Christmas sweaters that are so ugly they’re perfect. Everyone had a good laugh, Carla might have sold a few more books because of it, and she has entered the halls of Internet legend as the only author to reply to a bad review and get away with it. Well done, Mrs. Cassidy, well done.
Have you ever seen someone reply to a bad review? How did it go? Any other Internet legend I should know about who has done this?