Another Big No-No

Remember awhile back that woman who had a mental breakdown in the comments section of a book review blog because the review in question didn't care for her book but she was convinced otherwise that her book was amazing, and then the whole thing went viral and the review got over one hundred comments and the book itself got dozens and dozens of one-star ratings, probably forcing the writer in question to maybe overdose? Yeah, well, that little hoopla was one of those "writerly lessons" on what a writer should never ever do. Because it is bad show for writers to respond to bad reviews. Sure, the reviewer may not always get what you meant, but that's beside the point. It's just a part of being a writer. It's just a little thing called professionalism.

But then you have writers who feel the need, time and again, to respond to reviews. There's even one author who probably Googles his name every half hour -- so if you're the writer in question, welcome to my blog! -- who constantly responds to one-star reviews of his novels on Amazon (he responds to other reviews, too, even five-star reviews, but those aren't as entertaining). And, I mean, come on -- they're Amazon reviews, for pete's sake! They're certainly not the end all be all. But whatever. I heard awhile ago that this writer constantly responded to one-star reviews, but I didn't believe it until I saw it for myself. Sometimes, when I'm bored, I go looking for more one-star reviews and the comments that follow just for a good chuckle.

Anyway, the writer's name is Noel Hynd and he writes a lot of "Christian fiction," which basically means that most of his books are published by a Christian publisher and so hence he is given that title. I'm not even going to show you the reviews in question, but the comments instead.

For a review titled "An Embarassment to Everyone Who Writes and Reads English," this is the author's response:

So, uh, you're saying that you didn't care for it?

Someone else comments:

Thanks for saving me the effort of writing a review. I actually stuck it out till the bitter end and would like those hours of my life back.

And then the author again:

For an author, reviews like these and the comments above are among the most perplexing part of one's profession. What works for some readers, fails miserably with others. I realize that it's often a matter of taste, what sort of mood the reader was in, how much he/she spent...whatever. I seem to be very popular among the people who like me but the people who don't would like to see me killed with a sharp stick. In fact, they seem ready to provide the sharp stick. Go figure. Curiously, so far on this book here are 26 reviews. None are 3's. There are more 5's than anything else, and several of the 1's seem to be agenda driven. Fascinating. Despite the nasty vibes, thanks to BH and CS for taking the time to post. CS, sorry, but I can't return your time to you. Better luck with the next book you read. BH, I'm from New York too. Want to meet under the Williamsburgh Bridge some night on the Manhattan side and duke it out? ;-)

In another review titled "Don't Bother - Poorly Written and Not Tagged Correctly," (apparently readers are upset that the novel doesn't scream "Christian fiction" on the cover), the author responds with:

Completely untrue. I took no digs at anyone or anyone's beliefs. Certain characters did, certain passages are in the POV of certain characters. You frankly just didn't read very carefully. As for the history, it's necessary to the story. Are you an expert on Ukraine from the 1930's to 2010? Most people aren't, including myself. But it's impossible to understand the current story and current events w/o understanding what happened in the 1930's and what, for example, the 'Orange Revolution' was all about. Like many people here, you admit that you awarded one star without finishing the book and more as a rating of the publisher than the author. That's your privilege, just as it's my privilege to respond to your comments. Aside from that, I love you very much.

And then there is someone back and forth between the reader and the author.

Another one-star review titled "Absolute Dreck," the review is very short and sweet:

Filled to the brim with non-stop typos, grammatical errors, plot lines that go nowhere and overt christian prostelization. I can't beleive I paid for this!

And the author's response:

No profile, no other reviews by this 'reader', no examples given, and at odds with 45 other readers who gave this book 4 or 5 stars. One wonders.....

And then another one in which the review says:

I rarely give up on a book. I got to Chapter 49, still waiting to become interested in the book, and finally decided I was just too bored with the book to continue.

And the author says:

Tell you what, Gary. I'll come over to your place and read the back half to you. How's that?

You get the idea. It goes on and on. In fact, there's one definitely worth checking out (one of the author's earlier comments, I suppose), because he starts his rebuttal off with this:

I don't normally reply to comments on books I've written since everyone is entitled to his or her opinion.

Uh-huh. That was back in April 2009. But wait! The author doesn't make snide remarks to everyone. He even says so here in here:

Just to even things out, I didn't finish reading your review......Actually, I was just about to click off and I saw you yelling at me, "UNPROFESSIONAL UNCALLED FOR AND OBNOXIOUS!" so that got my attention. I don't make a "snide" remark to everyone. I don't even make one to everyone who has made one to me. Reader reviews here are like reader mail. So I answer it. I used to be published by The Dial Press back when they published Robert Ludlum. I knew Mr. Ludlum fairly well. He always answered all reader mail as far as I know, good or bad, even the wacko stuff (and believe me, he got plenty) and advised other writers to do the same. So I do. If you prowl through all these notes, you'll see that I've put gracious notes of thanks on some pretty awful reviews. What can I say to someone who didn't one of my books? "Thanks, I hope you get hit by a truck." (That's a joke, Kim.) So I try to keep it amusing, at least. Reading is entertainment, so is this section of give and take. Most people take these reviews and responses with a grain of salt. I feel that anyone who has taken the time to post a review merits a response. You disagree?

Yes, in fact, I do disagree. A writer without readers is a very sad writer indeed. And a writer who constantly pulls these kind of shenanigans? That writer is just begging to lose more and more readers.