February 6, 2015

Keep It Professional

By Pen  

Judging from some of the things, I have read regarding the actions of self-published authors, it seems a little advice may be in order.

I’m referring to the horror stories of book reviewers being verbally abused by an author because of a bad book review. Not only is this in poor taste, it is harmful to your self-published colleagues.

Fewer Reviewers

Some book reviewers no longer review self-published authors. Although a reason isn’t given, a little digging uncovers the truth. Self-published authors who received a bad book review sent scathing emails to those reviewers.

The reviewers cannot be blamed if a book didn’t appeal to them. Or if that book didn’t meet basic standards such as being well-written, strong characters, interesting plot, etc. etc.

Look Closely at that Review

Does the review you’re upset with make any constructive criticism? Such as, weak plot, insignificant characters, too many errors to be enjoyable. Criticisms such as these can be helpful.

If the review points out specific problems then look the book. Read your work with an objective eye – as though someone else wrote the book. This will help you gain insight into what the review said and will help you find errors.

Do’s and Don’t’s

·        DO send a polite, respectful email or letter thanking the reviewer for his/her time.

·        DO analyze the review thoroughly to determine where your trouble spots are. Then apply what you have learned to your writing.

·        DO use any criticism of your writing as a means to improve. Everyone can improve, usually in more than one area. But your area and main concern is to improve your writing. Remember: the one big advantage self-publishing has over traditional publishing is that a self-published author can always make changes, corrections and rewrites and re-upload. Everything in a traditionally published book stands for all time, including errors.

·        DO begin working on your next project as soon as you have one published. If you are a dyed-in-the-wool, ink-in-the-veins writer, your next writing project is always on your mind. You honestly don’t have room in your mind to worry over a negative book review, let alone respond to one in an unprofessional manner. Let the reviews fall as they may and get busy writing.

·        DO be professional at all times. Nasty communication with a reviewer harms your reputation as a professional writer. Just because you’re self-published doesn’t mean the rules of professionalism don’t apply. If anything, they should apply more strictly than for traditionally published authors. After all, we don’t have the name of a big traditional publishing house behind us. We stand on our own and our actions show us as we are.

·        DO grow a thicker skin. All creative people have egos, but the writer’s ego seems to be more fragile than most. It isn’t easy to set your ego aside but it can be done. If you believe in yourself as a writer, you will not allow negativity a place at your table. Regardless of what anyone says, you are a writer. Just don’t let it go to your head. An overinflated ego is just as cumbersome as a lack of one.

·        DON’T lash out at the reviewer. S/he is doing you a favor; a huge favor at that. Treat the reviewer with respect. Think about how you feel when someone doesn’t appreciate a favor you’ve done. It isn’t worth harming your reputation – as well as the reputations of others – to bombard the reviewer with abusive and profanity-laced emails because of their honest opinion. To which they are entitled, I might add.

·        DON’T obsess over a negative review. An obsession over a negative review can lead to disastrous results as in a recent author stalking a stalker. If you do stoop to that level, for heaven’s sake don’t blog about it! It makes the rest of us look bad.

Be Professional

Be professional at all times. This cannot be stressed enough. It seems in this world where “anything goes”, professionalism has become somewhat lax. When dealing with people from whom you are seeking a favor, showing a little respect can go a long way.

This advice holds true in all dealings but it is especially true when dealing with reviewers. Keep it professional. The reputation of the self-publishing industry depends on it.
Pen was bitten by the writing bug at the age of ten, Pen is an avid reader in addition to being a prolific writer. Influenced by the world around her, Pen writes whatever comes into her fuzzy little red head. She writes in no specific genre as she has a variety of interests and passions about which to write. Her latest endeavor, Nero’s Fiddle, is a fictitious account of an Electromagnetic Pulse attack on the United States, complete with female heroes. She lives in Atlanta, GA where she is staff to a feline, who keeps her busy. Website:
Nero's Fiddle website:

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