Should Authors Respond to Reviews of their Books?

Posted January 21, 2019 by Zeee in Discussions18 Comments

Should Authors Respond to Reviews of their Books?

Let’s talk about anything bookish!


Happy Monday, Wormies! Welcome to another bookish discussion! Today is special because this topic is one that was requested by an author who comments a lot on my blog! Full disclosure, I do not know the author personally and have only interacted with her through my blog and I have also never read any of the books she has written.

She asked me to comment on authors responding to positive book reviews, but I decided to discuss both positive and negative reviews and book reviews as a whole.

Before we get started, I want to let everyone know that I personally have not been attacked by an author before. However, I also know of other bloggers who have been attacked and have had bad experiences with authors, their posse and their fans. So, I do count myself lucky. I also want to say that I don’t really post controversial reviews on my blog (to my knowledge). While I also write DNF to 2-star reviews on my blog, I have kept my reviews objective and centered on why I didn’t like the book. In fact, I have written negative reviews on books by my favorite authors, so I think I am fair in my review practices.


Should authors respond to reviews?

I’ve seen this over and over again, stressed out by a lot of authors and reviewers – book reviews are NOT for authors! And while I think that is true, I also think that reviews do help authors either to improve on their craft or even to use fan favorite characters in another book or series. And let’s face it, authors will never know who the fan favorites are without knowing what the fans are saying, right? Also, how can an author improve if they never hear any constructive criticism about their book?

But let’s face it, not all authors react well to criticisms at all. In this case, an author should NEVER ENGAGE with the reviewer giving a bad review of their book. This just brings a lot of problems for the author. The book blogging community is really small. Heck, Book Twitter is very quick to stand up in arms and defend the community. With Social Media and everyone gaining easy access to authors, it’s just a slippery slope that I think authors should not cross.

I’ve stopped reading an author because of the authors’ disdain for non-professional reviewers. In fact, this author has sent their massive following to harass and threaten those reviewers. Those old Amazon threads were just full of…. let’s just say I should not have gone down that hole.

On a positive note, I try not to involve myself in this sort of drama, so I really don’t know a lot of authors that have been responding this way. The ones I know have only been the highly publicized ones, or the ones receiving a lot of backlash.


Should authors respond to POSITIVE reviews?

As a book blogger, I love tagging authors when I give a 3.5-5 star review of their book. This is especially easy on Instagram. Have I had authors who respond to my glowing reviews? YES, I have! All of the responses have been really great for me as a blogger. It makes me feel like what I do does have an importance in the grand scheme of things – especially since I am not a well-known blogger. It also means that these authors have taken the time to either read my review, re-Tweet my post, or even respond with a “Thank you so much” or “Glad you loved it!”

Honestly, it gives validity to what I am doing, even though I am doing this for fun.

Most of the time, author responses have been on Twitter and Instagram. I don’t think I’ve had an author actually comment on a review of their book on my blog. I honestly can’t comment on that and I’m not sure what I would feel about it. I guess it depends on what they say.

Coincidentally, I discussed this with my husband earlier this week when I posted a short review of a book on my Instagram. In that review, I mentioned that my husband was not amused when I told him that the name of the dogs’ name in the book is Pierre (husband’s name is Pierre, by the way). The author actually made a funny comment about it and I thought that was great! I mean, I love that the author took the time to read the caption in my post!


Should authors respond to NEGATIVE reviews?

In this case, I guess it depends on the response. I have seen authors respond to negative reviews of their books in a positive way.

An example would be an author who responded in a funny way to a negative review of her book. Or a really well-known NYT Best Selling author who took a negative criticism and actually responded by saying she will change that part of her book (I cannot verify if this was changed since I got a copy of the book prior to the author responding to the review). Or how about that author who said that the best review she read was a 6-page negative review of one of her books?

But these responses are few and far between. I’ve seen authors respond really harshly to a 3-star review. Heck, we all know about that author who stalked a reviewer because of what she perceived as an attack on her. I’ve seen authors throw hissy fits and sicced their fandom on a reviewer who wrote a negative review of her book. I’ve seen reviewers and bloggers being bullied because of negative reviews. Yeah, it doesn’t look good on the author at all.

In fact, I have stopped reading authors who show disdain on negative reviews of their books in public.

I also do not tag authors when I write negative reviews of their books. I feel like that is just so tacky and inciting a response that you do not want. Even if the author has been known to be very nice, I just don’t tag them when I review their book. If they come across by review by accident? I do hope they do not engage.


But how should an author react?

I’m not an author so I’m not exactly the person to give out advice on how they should react. But I understand that authors are human, too. Of course, they feel protective of the work they have slaved away for YEARS before it got published. I understand that. But I also understand that not everyone will love all of the books.

I also understand that a negative review can make someone buy your book. Heck, I’m one of those readers who read both negative and positive reviews of a book to gauge if I will like the book or not.

DO NOT ENGAGE. A lot of authors have given this advice to other authors. It just does not end well for you, and really, it’s not a good business decision.

Heck, complain about the review to your friend, spouse, family, significant other, or whoever. Curse the blogger or reviewer. Cry. Be mad. But do so in private. And just DON’T ENGAGE.


What do you think about authors responding to either a negative or positive review of their books?

How do you think authors should react?

If you think authors SHOULD respond to negative reviews, let me know why you think so. 




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18 responses to “Should Authors Respond to Reviews of their Books?

  1. One of my ten blogging commandments is to never tag an author in a negative review (which really means a 3-star or under review even though I don’t think 3 stars is bad). With the news circulating about various authors, I don’t want to make an author read a particularly negative review of their literary baby.

    On the whole, I don’t think it is necessary for authors to read negative reviews. It doesn’t seem productive to focus on the negative, especially when reviews are subjective. Except in cases of poor representation or mishandling of serious issues, I don’t think that an author should have to change their novel based on a review.

    Overall, I will definitely tag authors in a positive review. Interacting on social media with authors has become commonplace. Plus, positive reviews promote their books and authors have the power to help out bloggers as well with a retweet or share.
    Tessa recently posted…Prioritizing Blogger Safety | Why Writing Under a Pen Name is Perfectly FineMy Profile

    • I’m also iffy about people pointing out poor representation or mishandling of serious issues in books, especially after the craziness in book twitter this week.

      I agree with tagging authors in positive reviews. I think even if they don’t read those reviews, I love it when they respond with thanks!

  2. I have had authors give a thanks on Instagram when I have posted a positive review. As for negative reviews, I try to temper them with my ‘whys’ and at the same time express what I loved about the book. No book is wholly negative. There are always things they did well. Thanks Zeee! Great discussion post! ❤️❤️
    Dani Eide recently posted…Fear is coming. The human embodiment of a powerful emotion. Overrun with Personality! Will it be too much for this girl?!My Profile

    • YES! I love it when they like my photos on IG! Even if I tag them and they don’t respond, I’m fine with that. They really aren’t obligated to respond. Especially if they respond negatively! 🙂

      Some authors report my photos and that is something that I LOVE!

  3. This is such an interesting discussion and a lot more nuanced than you would think. From a reviewer perspective, I don’t really tag authors at all on my reviews because I don’t want to force my opinion on them. The book has been written and even though my negative reviews are constructive and still worded like “it wasn’t for me but it may be for you if X”, the author can’t change anything. Reading is such a personal experience and no two people read the same book – and we have no idea how the book evolved during the editing process.

    At the end of the day I love it when authors comment on my reviews and feeling valid, but only when they seek it out themselves and are polite.
    Kaleena @ Reader Voracious recently posted…Gemina (Illuminae Files #2) by Amie Kaufman and Jay KristoffMy Profile

    • I agree! Everyone has a different opinion on a book. Heck, when I reread a book I feel differently the next time I read it!!

  4. This is a tougher question than I expected-in one sense, I want an author I positively reviewed to acknowledge me! I tag them on social media and hope they notice. On the other hand, I don’t want them to argue about my negative opinions. I never tag authors in negative reviews and I never negatively review without giving the reasons *I* didn’t like it. For authors, I feel like engaging with a blogger over a negative review never ends well for them. Not once have I ever heard of a story of an author who criticized a blogger and the blogger changed her/his mind…
    Samantha recently posted…Shattered Vows by Kaylea CrossMy Profile

    • Yes! I agree! It always looks bad for the author! Also, I am talking about negative reviews NOT attacking authors because that’s another discussion that needs to be had. When I write negative reviews, it’s always about why I did not like it or this character is just infuriating, etc. But I never attack the author! I also don’t tag them because that’s just rude. Now if they stumble upon my negative reviews, it’s on them and I do hope they don’t engage!

  5. I like an author acknowledging a review I have done of their book and I haven’t even tagged them, although sometimes I do. I don’t do really negative reviews – maybe lukewarm ones! And I can easily three star a book. I am not sure what I’d do if an author negatively reacted. I think Don’t Engage as you suggest. Feel hurt, sound of elsewhere but just leave it alone. I pretty much stay out of drama anyway!

    • Yes. A lot of people view 3 stars or less as a negative review. I think that my negative reviews are very fair – based on my feelings and assessment of the book.

      I always tag authors when they’re 3-5 stars, especially since I join blog tours and they request that we tag the author and publisher 🙂

  6. Hmm, I don’t really write my reviews with the authors in mind anymore. If I worry too much about what the author is going to think of me after reading my review, I won’t be honest in them or I won’t even review them so I can’t focus on them when writing my reviews. My reviews are for readers. Other readers like myself. I try not to engage in conversations with authors and if I do, I keep it to a minimum or try to. I tell them I liked their book or am really looking forward to their next release but for the most part, I steer clear.

    I’ve had plenty of indie authors come and trash my reviews because I didn’t like their books and that kind of soured my enthusiasm on trying to engage any author on reader stuff and to me, reviews are reader things. I won’t kick an author off my blog or anything like that but if they’re going to check out my stuff, I’d rather they know right off the bat that the reviews I write are for the readers that read my blog.

    • OMG! That is horrible!!! I would hate for authors to trash me because I fairly reviewed their book! This was one of the reasons I avoided Indie authors for a while. Most especially since the ones that I read were poorly edited. That has changed now and I know and have read a lot of indie authors that are amazing!

      I always write reviews with the readers in mind and also for myself. I actually include a lot of personal stuff in my reviews, too!

  7. Blogger and author relationships can be great but also awkward. I only tag authors in 4 star reviews and it still surprises me when they respond.

    I’m always terrified of an author responding to a negative review (even though I am fairly objective). I had an author respond to a 2-star review of her debut and she was super classy about it. I appreciated her response, but I also wish she hadn’t seen it.

    • I agree! I would not want to know when an author reads a negative review I wrote. My negative reviews are always about the book and why I didn’t like it and never attack the author herself.

      One of my favorite reviews last year was a DNF review I did!

  8. Thanks for tackling this question! It seems to break down to whether or not the author can engage in a positive way with the review. Which is great to hear, because when I get a kind review for one of my books it lights up my whole day and I want to give my thanks for it! So it’s good to know a thanks will generally be okay, although I’m sure that varies depending on the blogger. I guess the overall ground rule should always be; don’t be a creepy, mean human being online. LOL.
    SE White recently posted…Friday Favorites Goes Old SchoolMy Profile

    • I agree!! I always get shocked when a very popular author responds and says thank you to a review I wrote for one of their books. And I do appreciate it! I agree with the author not being stalkerish or a creeper, or just plain weird to the reviewer. It ultimately will affect the author negatively.

  9. One of my favorite things is when I get a sweet comment from an author I do a review for. It doesn’t happen too often, but some authors leave well thought out comments to a review I give and that gives me all the feels. I do agree that reviews aren’t for authors, but I think its good for them to read reviews for constructive helps in their writing. But I haven’t ever received a notification from an author when it was a negative review. But I do like authors being positively involved in their reader communities.

    • I guess it depends on how the author will react to the review. I know there are a few authors who can’t handle any form of criticism.