Responding to Reviews

This past weekend, I was at LepreCon in Phoenix, Arizona. On Saturday, I was on a panel called “Responding to Reviews.” The authors and artists gave some great advice and I thought it was worth sharing some highlights. The panel is below. In the photo below you see Educator KellyAnn Bonnell, yours truly, writer and game designer Shanna Germain, Jennie Breeden, writer and artist of The Devil’s Panties, and game designer Ben Woerner.

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Of course, as an author or artist, when you get a review, positive or negative, it can be problematic to respond with much more than a very polite, “thanks for sharing your opinion.” This is pretty common advice and the panel generally agreed with it.

The panel moved on to discuss what constitutes the most helpful reviews. The panelists cited reviews that give clear examples of what worked for them and didn’t work for them in a book. Also helpful is when the reviewer can cite why something worked or didn’t work. I noted an example of a reviewer mentioning an element of my novel Children of the Old Stars that didn’t work for her. That inspired me to create an important plot point in Heirs of the New Earth that addressed the issue.

The panelists also noted a frustrating tendency of some reviewers to review the artist rather than reviewing the art. As an example, a person might see a statement by a character in a story and assume that reflects the author’s politics or personal preferences, then attack the author’s perceived philosophy. Unfortunately, these reviews are never helpful because they’re never about the work. They’re just a case of the reviewer having their buttons pushed and then venting.

Related to this, KellyAnn discussed the issue of evaluating reviews. She noted that she generally ignores the top 1% of positive reviews and the bottom 1% of negative reviews as outliers. It’s the stuff in the middle that often has the best constructive criticism you can use to help you evaluate your own writing.

Another aspect of the panel was simply coping with poor reviews. Ben noted that there’s an actual physiological response that causes us to look at bad things and remember them vividly. It makes sense as a survival instinct. Don’t go back to the place that hurts. It’s one of the reasons bad reviews tend to sting so badly and stay with us. Shanna noted that she keeps one of her favorite positive reviews handy and reads it over any time a bad review comes in. It helps her to remember the good work she’s done and move on. Jennie noted that sometimes a bad review comes in and if you sit back and think about it, it’s clear the reviewer is having a problem in their own life.

I finished up this part of the discussion by noting that I like to look at the reviews of my favorite authors and remind myself that very successful authors get bad, good, and neutral reviews too.

Are you a writer or an artist? If so, I’d love to hear what you think is helpful in a review. Likewise, I’d love to hear how you cope with the bad reviews. Are you a reader? What do you look for in reviews when you buy books? Do you look at the reviews?

Vampire Titles 25% Off Today – #AReBlast

All my vampire titles at OmniLit and All Romance eBooks are 25% off today to celebrate the first day of summer!

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This post will give you links to those books they have available. I hope you’ll add one or more of my books to your summer reading list.

Dragon’s Fall: Rise of the Scarlet Order

Dragon's Fall Three vampires—a warrior, a thief, and an assassin—adapt to their life of darkness by forming a team of mercenaries that fight for the crowned heads of Europe. Get the book at: https://www.omnilit.com/product-dragonsfallriseofthescarletorder-970117-235.html

Vampires of the Scarlet Order

Vampires of the Scarlet Order Governments tamper with powers they don’t understand to create a new breed of super soldiers. Only the Scarlet Order vampire mercenaries stand in their way. Get it at: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-vampiresofthescarletorder-184717-348.html


If you’re on a budget and just want to sample my vampire stories, this is still a great opportunity! The original Dragon’s Fall novellas are only 74 cents each today!

Dragon’s Fall: Bondage

Cover of Dragon's Fall: Bondage In Hellenistic Athens, the slave Alexandra finds herself in a new house with a mysterious owner who offers the promise of freedom. Get the ebook at: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-bondage-500121-348.html

Dragon’s Fall: The Dragon’s Quest

Dragons-Quest-200x300 Desmond stood to inherit the throne of Britain until he fell in battle. A vampire resurrected him and now he seeks redemption. Can he entice his friend Arthur to seek the cup of Christ? Get it at: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-dragon039squest-514278-139.html



My science fiction titles are also on sale! Visit the post at David Lee Summers’ Web Journal for a list of titles and links to them.