Disgruntled Authors: It’s Much Easier to Deny than Accept Readers’ Opinions

Guest Post by Irene Watson

Yes, I got another doozie I want to share with you. It’s been quiet in the “your reviewers suck” department until I received a dispute notification from PayPal.  The author told them the reason for the dispute was “Not as described.”  His complaint was that we “reek of scam or rip off.”   His complaint continued to say we were “engaged in unscrupulous business practices, preying on independent authors…”  Ouch!!

He gave PayPal this link:

http://forums.kindledirectpublishing.com/kdpforums/thread.jspa?threadID=14032&start=0&tstart=0

so that they could see “my concerns  [on] Amazons forum and am getting feedback that supports my suspicions.”  You really do need to read the posts; all I’m going to say is that they are interesting.

Our review in question is posted on:  http://readerviews.com/ReviewLarrisonSlipstream.html

Negative review? Sure, it could be.  Reviewer’s honest opinion?  Yes, it sure was and I stand behind Marty on this.  Our website says:

The reviewers are encouraged to give their honest and fair personal opinion. They are never told what to write. Please consider the reviewers as your reading audience.

We also say:

…we have the option to post the review on our site and Amazon.com whether you agree with it or not. Asking for a review in itself gives us the permission to post the review. We ask our reviewers to give their honest opinion and we are obligated to value their opinion and pass it on to other readers.

We are very up front with what we will do…basically, if you don’t want to take a chance then don’t ask for a review. It can’t be more clear than that.  There is no way I will tell any of my reviewers her or his opinion isn’t valued.  

Although the author read the above quotes, referenced to them, and twisted around in his comments, he also made mention to taking some of the reviewer’s suggestions and implemented them in his book.  Okay…so how does that go again?  I’m going to complain and call you a scam but I’m going to use your suggestions?  Huh? Sounds to me like that “unscrupulous” word would fit here.

Furthermore, as he alludes in the posts he reported us to Editors and Preditors .  He was on a mission to destroy!

Many encouraged me to post a rebuttal and to back up our case.  I decided not to do that.  Marty, the reviewer, did post and I supported him in doing so. (He asked permission first.)  It was important for him to post his rebuttal.  For me it felt like wasted energy that would just add fuel to the author’s fire.  He gathered up a few supporters and he was on the run trying to mend his bruised ego.  I also felt it would be unprofessional of me to get into any argument with the author on the forum. You see, the only email I got from him he said:

I have a couple of concerns regarding my recent review. First of all, it looks like I submitted my work for the wrong evaluation. What I wanted was an evaluation of the work instead of a review. It would be nice if you would give a ballpark range for your editing services on your website so that I could get a feel for your services.

What? He wanted an evaluation instead of a review? So, why didn’t he ask for one? 

At this point I’d rather spend my time and energy with authors that do appreciate comments from the reviewers on how to improve their books, either by correcting editing issues or revisiting their plot.  And, I’d rather spend time with authors that have written a great book and are willing to do what it takes to find their readership. 

I’m wondering…did James Patterson slam-blast-dunk 13 reviewers that gave him 1-star, 5 reviewers that gave him 2-stars, and 8 reviewers that gave 3-stars for his recent book “10th Anniversary” on Amazon? Did he contact them personally, or start a forum post, and degrade them?  Highly unlikely.  If Patterson would have the same dysfunctional reactions as the author I’m writing about he would have never been a New York Times bestseller more times than any other author, and, furthermore he certainly would not have sold more than 205 million copies in total. He accepts the good and the bad, and he moves on to write more books.

 I think there is a lesson in this somewhere.

So, how did this end for us?

PayPal emailed me with:

We have concluded our investigation and have decided in your favor. Any funds that may have been temporarily held have been returned to your account.

Editors and Preditors emailed me with:

Judging by his referenced remarks elsewhere, it appears to be a case of disliking the review so there’s not much I intend to do about it.

Ya just gotta love the truth. Comments? 

Irene Watson is the Managing Editor of Reader Views, where avid readers can find reviews  of recently published books as well as read interviews with authors. Her team also provides author publicity  and a variety of other services specific to writing and publishing books.

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Posted on May 22, 2011, in Publicity & Writing, Writing & Publishing. Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. Mark Whiteway

    In the dark, all cats are grey. If everything gets five stars, then how are the best writers going to stand out? If a review isn't honest, then what's the point?I use both paid and unpaid reviewers, but if I am honest, I have found that unpaid reviewers seem to be more committed and offer more meaningful and positive comments, on average. I would not presume to judge why that is. Some paid reviewers even seem to use identical phrases time and again in different reviews (I know, because I've checked). Do they just cut and paste and whack on five stars, I wonder? In the dark, all cats are grey… I will continue to use both, but I'm just reporitng my own personal experience. 🙂

  2. Gary Fridberg

    Marty's review is not the least bit malicious. It is scholarly, helpful, and even complimentary in places. However all authors have vast time, tears, and wealth invested in their work, and enough "torpedo" reviews come in on their own. In a solicited review some compromise needs to be reached. Also the author can be be as angry as S/He wants but should not act out. (Unless a totally crushing victory is obviously in hand by a Just default.)

  3. As an author and a book reviewer for a major magazine/website, I’ve said many times that once you put your words down in writing and ask for opinions, you WILL get them – both positive and negative. It may not always be what you want to hear. If any book review site consistently slammed books just to get more business to edit those books, it would not be in business very long. If any paid book review site published only glowing reviews that site would have no respect either. For a first-time self-published author just starting out, Readerviews is an honest, excellent place to start out. It gives the author exposure and can lead to more reviews. If that disgruntled author has not yet printed mega copies of his book, he is fortunate because he can now have it professionally edited (something he should have done before it was reviewed) before he invests a lot of money in it.

  4. As Irene said: When an author submits a piece for review, that author has to be prepared for anything. Prepared to accept the bad as well as the good. Yes, a bad review hurts, but we know going in that the reviewer just might not like the book and that the resulting review just might hurt. If you can't tolerate a negative review, don't ask for reviews at all.

  5. Probably the hardest lesson an author can learn is to wait a few days before "responding" to bad press or reviews. Impetuous bursts of defensive activity only serve to spotlight the negative. The author in question has received a generous review, in my estimation. The energy spent on trashing the review services could be put to better use in re-constructing the book, which hopefully is a print-on-demand issue. I have a dear friend whose POD book has been revised many times because he has discovered from reviews that certain improvements would make the book more readable. Negative reviews hurt only temporarily, if the author can roll with it and put some energy into revision, editorial review, and my own scary trick: read excerpts of the book out loud to any size audience before publishing.

  6. I took the 'whole package' with ReaderViews when promoting my middle grade children's book. It was excellent value. This included a review from a reviewer in exactly the age group I was targeting. His comments were pertinent and I appreciated them. Thank heavens he also loved the book! My point is: if a writer is going to be upset by a review, then he or she should perhaps not be in the business of writing commercially. Not every person is going to like every book they read. Reviewers are necessary if writers want to sell books. A good reviewer will give an impartial, balanced review. A wise writer will scoop up every particle of good, helpful criticism and make sure their work reflects what they have learned from an outside opinion.

  7. John Mitchell

    I received my review from your company on my yet to be released book, SAD. I was very pleased with the professionalism of your reviewer and you. Taking the time to give me some very important pointers and a mini-editing of some needed changes {at no extra costs} was very much appreciated. I changed my manuscript to include all of your suggestions and it made it much more professional. When asking for a review we, as author's are asking for opinions of our product and must be understanding and open if the review is unfavorable. How can anyone blame a wrong doing for being honest?Keep up the good workJohn Mitchell 5/23/2011

  8. Things are nasty out there and it is easy to attack someone to support a personal agenda. To respond or not is a difficult question. I recently won the 2011 International Book Award for Children's Fiction and within a business week someone angrily attacked my book, my editing and my writing on Amazon in a short rant that probably took them all of ten seconds to write- so much for basking in the joy of a victory.

  9. Wonderful, wonderful that Preditors and Editors along with PayPal went on your side. It's not funny what a person can do with their words and reports about a company that has worked years to help writers and authors. Not only would it have been a false statement, his remark would have stopped other authors from turning to a service that would help them claim up the ladder. Honesty pays off!

  10. Reader Views has reviewed both my novels, Too Near the Edge, and Too Far Under. One review was free and I paid for the other (because I wanted it quickly. Today I went to my Amazon pages to compare the reviews of the two books to see if the paid one differed from the free one in the way it was written. But when I got there I found that BOTH MY READER VIEWS REVIEWS HAVE BEEN REMOVED FROM MY AMAZON PAGES! Has this disgruntled author managed to get Reader Views deleted from Amazon?I find this very frustrating. It takes an author a long time to build up reviews on Amazon. Losing them is definitely going in the wrong direction. How can I get them back?

  11. Thanks everyone for posting. Lynn, it's very possible this author was instrumental in removing the reviews. I got an email from Amazon saying that we violated their guidelines and the reviews were removed. When I questioned what guidelines we violated they wouldn't tell us. I took the matter to upper management and was promised a phone call last Wednesday. It didn't happen. I've been trying to contact them to see why I haven't received my phone call and they aren't responding. I will be taking the matter higher. I have a lawyer on standby if needed.

  12. Irene, I'm 100% behind you. And this might be the person who got Amazon to remove Marty's review of my book? I'll be sorry if you have to pay a lawyer to rectify this matter. Somebody on the Kindle forum correctly stated what a writer should do with a review he or she doesn't find helpful: thank the reviewer for reading the book and move on.

  13. Thanks, Irene. I'm so glad to hear you're on top of this. If Amazon believes that Reader Views has violated their guidelines, they will need to take a similar stance regarding many other review sites that charge fees. Actually the disgruntled author is an example of why your review service is on the up-and-up. If disgruntled had paid for a guaranteed "good" review, rather than a real review, we wouldn't have heard from him. How is getting a real review–with both positives and negatives–evidence that the service is a scam?

  14. Dear IreneReader Views has always impressed me as an extremely honest and straightforward source of information and support to writers. I'm shocked by Amazon's willingness to remove your reviews. I just checked and your review of The Bridge Club is gone from Amazon but still on Barnes & Noble. I will send a message to Amazon, adding to what I'm sure will be a very long list from other authors affected. Good for you for standing your ground and let me know if there is anything your supporters can do to help.

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