Be Respectful in Book Reviews – Both Ways

Too many people are not using book reviews in a respectful way. I’m not just talking about the reviewers. Many authors are being disrespectful when responding to reviews. That’s not good book review etiquette. You have to be respectful in book reviews and in responses to those reviews.

Disrespect from Reviewers

I have been shocked at the number of nasty reviewers out there who seem bent on attacking authors and destroying their hope. Now I’m not just talking about negative reviews. Negative reviews can be done in a very respectful way. I’m talking mean reviews. They have become personal and vindictive. That is not what a review should do.

Name calling is becoming too common in book reviews. One reviewer called the author an idiot and told her to go back to grade school and learn to write. What? There is no cause for that. You can express your dissatisfaction without resorting to bullying.

To be honest, I think it is also shameful to call a book a piece of trash or anything similar to that. Even if you think so, the wording can be better constructed and still get the message across. Write an honest review that you’d like to receive if you had written the book.

Disrespect from Authors

Sadly, disrespect has come from the authors as well. Many are nasty at the reviewers simply because they didn’t like their book. That just won’t do. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

When a reviewer is nasty, authors shouldn’t respond in kind. Yes, it can be hard, but they have to rise above and be the better person. Don’t respond in a nasty manner. It is better not to respond at all then if you can’t be anything but nasty.

When a reviewer is not nasty but says things that you take personal or disagree with, you need to make sure your response is still polite if you make a response at all. Remember that the review is an opinion. They don’t have to give one you like. If you can’t respond kindly, don’t respond.

You can ask the reviewer for more details, but don’t challenge them. Thank them no matter how they review it and go on. Be respectful. If you’re not, you could find yourself struggling to get reviews in the future.

How to be Respectful as a Reviewer

When you review a book, always put yourself in the shoes of the author. Think of how they would react when reading your review. Yes, they would love to have all five stars, but wouldn’t you rather have a respectful, honest review? That means telling them what you thought respectfully.

How do you like to be talked to? Do you like people to say nasty things about you or your work? Do you like hateful tones and harsh words? Then don’t write anything like that. Don’t call the book or the author names. Don’t belittle either one. Remember that the author might not have written a book you consider a bestseller or award winning, but they did something most people never do…they took a chance and wrote a book. They put themselves in a piece of work and put it out for the world to see. You have to give them respect for that alone.

Also, keep in mind that you don’t want to discourage a writer from continuing to write and improving their writing. Never squash a flame of creativity.

How to be Respectful as an Author

Respect goes both ways. Reviewers should be respectful, but author’s need to be also. Authors need to be respectful to both the reviewers that are positive and negative in their reviews. Yes, that can be hard, but the readers deserve to voice their opinion.

The best way to be respectful is to thank the reviewer and go on. If they enjoyed your book, comment on what they enjoyed. If they didn’t, just show your appreciation. It is better not to respond if your words can’t be thankful to them no matter what they say as a reviewer.

Never get into a debate. Never attack the reviewer. Be respectful.

The Benefits for All

Both sides benefit when they are respectful to each other. Reviewers get more attention from authors and other readers. Authors get more reviews from reviewers. And everyone else can see how both sides respects books and promotes the love of them.

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2 comments

The Stages Of ME profile image

The Stages Of ME 7 months ago

Rebecca,

Thank you for this article it was a breath of fresh air!

Book reviews can be a bit scary, even the thought of a bad review can be intimidating especially if the author wants to share a story does not possess skill as a "trained" writer.

I have been blessed by kindness in the area of reviews on sites such as B&N or Amazon. Yet, I recall a review of a short story, I once was working on, and it slammed me. Sadly, I stopped writing it. I shouldn't have done that, I should've kept trying.

Your article reminds the author not to become margined by the beating opinion of one person. I believe in balance in all things and reviews can be very helpful when done with kindness and honesty together. Thank you for addressing this issue.


RGraf profile image

RGraf 7 months ago from Wisconsin Author

Glad you enjoyed it. Yes, too many get nasty. You can be honest in a review without being mean.

Good luck and keep writing. Improvement is with every key stroke. :)

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