Should an author thank someone who has reviewed their book?

I was inspired to write on this subject by a post on the Carina Press blog and by a post on a reviewers blog. That latter one unfortunately turned into kind of a train wreck and I think has been taken down now.

Should an author thank someone who has reviewed their book?

One of the first things new authors get told is “Don’t reply to negative reviews! It will never end well.” We’ve all seen enough cases where it hasn’t ended well to know this is true. But what about positive reviews? What about long, thoughtful and well written reviews on book blogs? The protocol is, you don’t respond to them either. Don’t respond to any reviews!

This can feel very difficult. If someone tells you that you look nice today, you say thank you. If they say “good job” about something you did at work, you say thank you. If someone compliments your backhand, or putting, or cooking, or whatever, you say thank you. It’s only polite. And yet we see someone saying how great they thought our book was and we have to sit on our hands and say nothing.

Coming from a fandom background it’s even more frustrating. It’s the norm to reply to readers and reviewers there. They often expect a response and the writer and reader can end up having great interaction, discussing the story. I made a whole load of great online friends that way! So it’s a shock to the system to no longer be able to get into those discussions or engage at all.

I can understand why though. Somewhere like Goodreads is a reader’s space. Writers can forget that and swan around there gracing readers with their presence as if they should be grateful for it. But readers may instead feel it’s an intrusion into a place that’s for them. Reviews are for the readers, not the writer – another fact we writers can forget! In fact it’s rather arrogant to make the assumption that the reviewer wants a thank you from the writer. They may not seek the authorial stamp of approval of their review. They may even dislike it. May think it damages their credibility as a reviewer. If the “thanks” is in public, other readers may think it means the reviewer and the author are friends, and take the review less seriously.

Some writers may think, “as long as I don’t reply at all to the negative reviews, then it’s surely okay to say thanks for the good ones!” But is it? Isn’t that showing favouritism? A negative review might be as equally thoughtful and well-written as a positive review. But that person doesn’t deserve a thanks for the time they took? Only the reviewer who’s nice to you deserves the pat on the head?

I have said thanks to reviewer in the past, but I think now I’d say the only time I’d say thanks for a review is if I’ve personally requested it. And then it would only be by email, not publically on the site, and I wouldn’t mention anything about the content of the review. Of course, it may be that it’s a negative review. In which case I’d just have to grit my teeth when typing the emailed thanks. But is that so hard? Is it any harder than politely thanking someone for a disappointing birthday gift. I’m a grown up, I can manage that!

Otherwise, silence is golden.

Though let me give a blanket thanks to anyone who’s reviewed my books, or will review them in the future. Thanks! Thanks wiv knobs on!

Thank you!

10 thoughts on “Should an author thank someone who has reviewed their book?

  1. Hear hear. I have sometimes emailed a reviewer privately (and generally only people that I’ve come into contact with from other places, people whose emails I have on file) but I would advise against saying thank you in public. It just looks hugely unprofessional to me, after all you don’t see Big Authors doing it, do you? And it does look like we are scouring the review blogs looking for treats. I’m sure that reviewers don’t expect it–I know as a reviewer I certainly don’t expect it from anyone, even people I know in real life. I write the reviews for the readers.

    I had to sit on my hands the other day when someone reviewed a book of mine and said a couple of things I really wanted to correct, because I felt she’d got the wrong end of the stick, but I desisted because that’s her opinion and me jumping in and saying “actually…..” would make me look as stupid as I did on my first day of school when I corrected the first mis-pronunciation of my name… which took me 7 years to live down….

    • Ooh, yes, when someone is saying something that they’ve got the wrong end of the stick about in the story the temptation is enormous to jump in! But correcting people is one of the quickest ways to annoy them. :D

      • Also, and I’m saying this from a reader pov, and by no means wanting to get into an argument, but what you write can be misinterpreted if it’s not clear enough. I always say if you have to explain something to the reader after it’s written, then you probably didn’t write it as well as you should. (sorry).

  2. Every writing forum I’ve looked at says don’t respond – and a lot of veteran writers on those forums say don’t even read them.

      • oh, I agree. When and if, I’d want to read my reviews. You might learn something from them too. Maybe it’s our fanfic ways, and it being polite to respond lol!

  3. Well, every review I leave on Goodreads, then goes onto my blog, thanks to their nice little widget.

    Good point that they reviews are for the readers. I do write my reviews for the readers on Goodreads lol! But I am sometimes careful in what I write for the author too. (I just can’t be very mean unless you’re Stephanie Meyer and then I like reviews that tell it as it is and I don’t have to :D – actually on the Twilight front I hate it when I read Meyer was a crap writer. She isn’t actually! I was taken away with her books. The first two especially had good pacing. I just didn’t like her characters (Grrr! Bella!) and her plot in Breaking Dawn – it wasn’t for me.)

    However, going back to the orignal thing. I’ve had authors thank me for my review on my blog. And I really like that. As you say, Goodreads is for the readers. I don’t think the author has broken rules by thanking me on my blog. I’m not offended, I’m quite happy with that. If I don’t get a thanks, I’m not offended either. I know most writers are probably busy writing and just can’t thank every review they get – good or bad.

    I agree with not responding to the bad reviews… probably just best left unsaid. You’re not going to please them all. As I’ve learnt as a reader, something I’ve loved someone else has hated, and vice versa (Twilight comes to mind again! lol!)

    • I suppose the venue can make a difference. Yours is a personal blog where you sometimes do reviews of books. You’re not a dedicated review blog or anything. You’re reviewing as a reader, you’re not presenting yourself on the internet as a reviewer. Interesting.

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