The Three NEVERs of Social Media

Image via Demi-Brooke Flikr Creative Commons

Original image via Demi-Brooke Flikr Creative Commons

I understand that many of you who follow this blog are new, so if you’ve made one of these mistakes, you’re learning. We all oops (especially in the beginning), so don’t sweat it. Yet, I see these three behaviors far more often than I’d like. These three professional blunders can hang on like the smell of dead fish and stink up our author career, so avoid them at all cost.

You’ve been warned ;).

Never Be Nasty in a Blog Comment

I am fully aware that my blog can’t make everyone happy. I work my tail off to entertain and enlighten but I know I can’t be all things to all people. If I’m not your cup of tea, just click the unsubscribe button at the bottom of the e-mail WordPress sends you or e-mail me and I will happily assist you leaving (and cry later *sniffles*).

There is no need for this:



The irony was 1) I didn’t even write this particular post. It was a guest post and an excellent one at that 2) It wasn’t negative at all. It just wasn’t coated in glitter and fluff. Professionals don’t have a lot of time and shouldn’t need to be handled with kid gloves and 3) Was it really necessary? I’ve written over 560 posts and one isn’t her cup of tea, so we just carpet bomb?

I once wrote a humor post about my many failed attempts to join the military. It was a humor post. It was posted for Memorial Day and to honor those willing to sacrifice for the very freedom this person liberally uses…

Yes, this counts as a troll...

Yes, this counts as a troll…

And my personal favorite?



See, the thing is, if you want to tell a blogger she has the brain of a retarded chimp, that she’s a loser-poseur fake, don’t do it in the blog comments (or at all, for that matter). The comment is there forever, complete with the commenter’s name and face.

Oh, and it’s spelled “expertise” by the way ;).

Most of the time, when I get nasty comments like these I just send them to the trash. They aren’t heathy for the comment community and everyone has a bad day, which is why I didn’t include the gravatars of these nice people. But, remember, not all bloggers will be nice.

I have the right to be wrong and y’all have the right to un-sunbcribe, never buy one of my books and tell all your friends that oatmeal is smarter than I am. I get that I can’t please everyone, but there is a way to disagree and remain polite, respectful and professional. There’s no need for ad hominem attacks.

If someone writes a blog you don’t like? Fine. But keep in mind that this person worked hard and for free to offer you something of value. All they ask in return is for some common human decency.

People have long memories regarding those who are needlessly cruel. And sure, a blogger might be a new, unpublished nobody. Doesn’t mean she’ll remain that way. We never know who we might need and burning bridges is a bad long-term plan.

If you do goof and hurt a blogger, just e-mail them and apologize or apologize in the comments. A lot of bloggers (I’d like to believe) are reasonable. Own the mistake and ask for gratis.

Never Be Nasty on Twitter

Twitter is a wonderful tool, namely because it can help us go viral. Yet, that’s precisely why we must handle it with care. It can go VIRAL. A random woman on Twitter tweeted a nasty remark about rapper Ice-T’s wife and millions of fans pounced. This woman had to delete her account and practically go into witness protection. I am certain she didn’t think it was a big deal at the time, but it shows that tweets should be handled with care.

Sure, we can delete tweets, but often by the time we realize we need to delete one…it’s already too late. Twitter goes quickly, so it can get out of hand quickly.

Never Write Bad Book Reviews

This doesn’t apply to book bloggers and book reviewers. That’s your job and we love that you give us guidance on what to read. But, as authors? I believe in what Candace Havens calls Writer Karma. If I can’t give a book a five-star rave review? I just don’t review it. Again, publishing is a small world and we all need each other. The world is already out to throw us under a bus. We need each other to keep from turning into cutters.

If a writer really bungled and you just cannot remain quiet? Send her an e-mail outlining the problems and maybe suggestions how to do better with the next book. This way correction is private and we aren’t publicly and permanently humiliating a peer. If you goofed on this and now feel badly, remove the review. In the future, focus on reviewing what you love.

We Are Human

I’d love to tell you I’ve never made a mistake, that I am the shining example to all, but I’ve had bad days too. I’ve screwed up and had to apologize. Just own it and say you’re sorry.

We all need grace, let’s just try not to make a habit of needing it too often. We’re wise to remember there’s a human on the other side of that screen. The digital world is wonderful, but it takes work (and sometimes holding our tongue fingertips) to keep it a positive experience.

Have you ever had someone shred you publicly on your blog? On social media? How did you handle it? Did you cry? I used to. Have toughened up. Do you delete the comment or leave it up so everyone will know they’re a jerk and steer clear? When you see comments on a blog that are rude and in bad taste, what do you do? Do you make note of the name? Defend the blogger?

I love hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of June, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

And also, winners have a limited time to claim the prize, because what’s happening is there are actually quite a few people who never claim the critique, so I never know if the spam folder ate it or to look for it and then people miss out. I will also give my corporate e-mail to insure we connect and I will only have a week to return the 20 page edit.

At the end of June I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!


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  1. I agree on all counts on this one. It may be an old saw, but when they say “what goes around comes around” it has a large grain of truth in it. If we wish to call ourselves professional we must act in a professional manner.

    • Janie G on June 19, 2013 at 8:20 am
    • Reply

    I like “Never Write Bad Book Reviews.” I wrestled a bit with this one and came to the same conclusion.

  2. Yes, and yes, and yes. There’s really very little to add to this. Maybe except: Ignore bad reviews of your books on Amazon or wherever. Just walk away. NEVER start a debate. You can’t make everyone happy, etc. BUT you also don’t want to be seen as a small-minded, easily insulted person.

  3. Reblogged this on Wendy Reis Editing (Blog) and commented:
    Too good not to share. Kristen nails it again.

  4. Very good points, all. I think the worst thing that’s happened over the past several years as the internet has become a big form of communication, is the anonymity and how its affected some–ok a lot–of people. Gone is civility. The idea that two people can disagree without one of them calling the other an idiot and insulting parentage and everything the other holds dear. If everyone in the world believed exactly the same thing not only would no one ever learn anything new, but it would be a very boring place to live. Remote controls and unsubscribe buttons exist for a reason, but the dramatic exit stage left is really unnecessary.

  5. Weird, because I’ve been doing these 3 for a long time.

    The great thing about being an Indie writer with a first book out, is you become part of a community. The bad thing is, you get solicited to read and review a lot of books or posts that simply don’t crank your tractor. I try to find the one positive aspect of something, comment that, then move on. I’ve never negatively reviewed anything on amazon, smashwords, Good Reads, Lulu, or any social media sights. My book, The Ballad of Helene Troy, available on all of those places, especially in paperback from (see what I did there?), is a very punk rock piece. You will either love Helene or hate her. It’s gritty, foul-mouthed, sleazy, and in your face. My reviews have all been five-star or nothing. I know that means there are people I interact with everyday who didn’t like it. That’s cool. At least they didn’t trash me for God and everyone with a book deal to see.

    Just because you’re Indie or new or whatever doesn’t mean you don’t have the capacity for professionalism.

    Good post. I see a lot of nasty of the medias that are social and it’s disappointing.

  6. Well said, Kristen. It is a puzzle that makes my teeth hurt that there are people out there who seem to actually enjoy being negative, even mean-spirited. As you say, there is Writer’s Karma. They will feel it in the end.

  7. Some great tips here, reminds me of what my mum always used to tell me when I was little “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

  8. Yes, I’ve cried over social media, but that was a long time ago. I’ve toughened up and also learned a lot. These days the nastygrams usually come via private message, and I often simply ignore.

  9. I can relate to the comments you had in your post today. A few or so ago, I had a similar experience on my blog “connecting with the soul”. I had emailed a woman and asked if I could link her sight with mine regarding something spiritual, I felt it was a match but when she reviewed my site stopped at the name. She said ( in an email thank goodness) that connecting to the soul wasn’t”spiritual or of God and declined. I was new and could handle that. She didn’t stop there, but it was a test I won when my faith was in question.

    Your right we must rise above and take it with a grain or three of salt when someone doesn’t like what we blog.

    Keep writing, I’m sticking ’round.


  10. Totally true. What mama says is still true: What goes around, comes around.

    • Arlene on June 19, 2013 at 8:38 am
    • Reply

    Some people are thoughtless, while others live to create or feed into high drama. It’s excellent advice not to become like that, and I too don’t review peers whose stories I didn’t finish or skimmed. Making the world a better place one kind act at a time, way to go Kristen. Thanks for sharing.

  11. It’s always amazed me that a blog about social media and writing can attract more trolls than a blog that involves politics half the time (mine). Still trying to figure that one out.

    You are dead on. I remember forever is someone publishing an attacking comment or blog. Leaves everyone wondering when it will be their turn.

    As for your expertise–it totally works for me. 🙂

    1. I’ve been amazed (perhaps naively) at how many trolls my paranormal and true crime posts attract. As another commenter said, some people feed on drama and hatefulness.

  12. You surely have got a good point, but I am not sure I completely agree with you. Being polite and professional is important, and if you would not say something to a person’s face, you should not put it out in the open – no matter where. But I think that it should always be an option to speak one’s mind – politely disagree on a blog topic or while on Twitter or even post a bad book review – if I give a bad review, I try to include objective reasons why *I* did not enjoy the book, and only do it if the book still stayed with me (heck, if I had to review every book I started and did not like, I would have to quit my day job). Still I usually try (unless something heavy steps on my toes) to put my opinion out in a way that does not make it impossible to take up conversation again later on a different topic.

    (And if I really do not like a blogger or Tweeter (Twit?), I simply unfollow them – otherwise I’d most definitely wind up with a knife to my back within hours. ^^

  13. Hugs, Kristen!! Emotions tend to run close to the surface for everyone, so yeah, I think it’d be best if someone just waited to comment if something rubs them wrong till later, maybe then they could be nicer about it, or just simply not say anything at all. I know when I write my blog, I’m sometimes on the edge of the cliff, waiting for someone to push me off. Thankfully, the majority who visit don’t do so. It’s all about respect. You’re not going to earn it in your own presence on the web if you don’t extend it to someone else. Great blog!! I don’t always have time to comment, but I LOVE your posts!!

  14. Been trashed in a couple reviews, but never on social media or my blog (that I know of). While I usually remain lurking in the background, I did interact with a reader PRIVATELY concerning a piracy issue, and she chose to make the correspondence public. I thought I handled it diplomatically and with tact, but lesson learned.

    I also think there’s a difference between trashing someone’s books/writing, and trashing the author. I can forgive the former to some degree, but the latter is inexcusable.

  15. … what a refreshing, downright common-sense piece, M’lady .. well done .. cheers :))))))

  16. Good training for new bloggers. There is a bloggers’ etiquette to follow. I have been lucky. All of my nasty ones have been in the spam box! 🙂 Your expertise works well for me, too. I have reviewed one of your books on my blog, and I really enjoyed the book and the advice! 🙂

  17. Great post Kristen! I can only hope that it will reach the people who need to hear it most. I am relatively new at blogging, but must admit that I agree with you wholeheartedly. While I have only had a few comments posted to date, I am sure that as my audience grows I will eventually have to face the trolls. One thing that has always bothered me was the need some people seem to have to post negative comments. When I find that a post does not appeal to me, I just move on. I’m not saying that you cannot have an opposing opinion and still want to read what a blogger has to say, but there are ways to state a different point of view without being rude or cruel.

  18. Reblogged this on Seumas Gallacher and commented:
    … refreshing and common-sense filled piece from Kirsten Lamb… excellent stuff .. :))

  19. I am new to blogging ,and I agree with everything you said. I always say you should treat people the way you want to be treated. Hoping you don’t want anybody to be mean and cruel to you. You never know who you’re going to need, Life is too short. We are all here temporarily. So we all should be able to get along and help each other. Love and kindness is what need.

  20. I do not disagree with never write a review slating a book; however I disagree with only posting reviews of books you consider 5 Star.

    By only posting great reviews you are missing out the reviews of books that you thought could have been better for a reason that does not affect other people: for example, if a book is set in my home town then I would comment negatively if everyone spoke in US English, but would not expect everyone to care. So – unless your audience are clones – your imperfect reads will be a book someone out there will love.

    You are also making your reviews less meaningful: while different countries might have different levels of experience of hyperbole in advertising, if all your reviews are “this is suberb” then it raises the question whether you are doing it to give a genuine review or to gain a favour from the author. This impacts particularly on books you gifted in exchange for a review; if your audience has no evidence that you have the character to say you did not like aspects of a book then how can they trust your opinion on a book that you were effectively paid to review?

    Obviously if I was asked to review a book in which I could find no worth I would suggest the author look somewhere else rather than just posting a negative review.

    Therefore, instead of only reviewing 5 Star books, I review by giving my opinion of both the good and the less good. As my least favourable review received a personal thank you from the author I feel that reviewing 3 and 4 star books fairly is no barrier to a good relationship with other authors.

    1. My main point is we are authors not reviewers and even a 3 or 4 star I would send a message to the author. And I think if you give only 5 stars to books that earned it, it doesn’t dilute your authority. If I recommend a book, it’s a super good book. But the main point is to focus on the positive and not be out there slaying your professional peers.

      1. I reject your assertion that authors and reviewers are exclusive categories; many of the authors I know are also prolific readers with a strong background in English Literature.

        While it might not be your intent, your post implies a hard binary state: either you are friends or enemies; either you love a book or are attacking it. I feel it is more nuanced. Finnegans Wake is acknowledged a classic; am I attacking Joyce by saying I can see great technical skill but did not enjoy it?

        While I am not advocating attacking your peers, to limit yourself to only reviewing books that are great buys into the fallacy that people will automatically lash out at criticism. In my experience they do not.

        It also cuts off a huge source of author/audience communication. If people know what does not work for you then it helps them know what you like: for example, saying you found the portrayal of alien psychology in a book flawed indicates to readers that you are likely to write about that in your own work.

        If you publish one review every few months as a “found a super good book” post then posting only about those makes sense; however, if you are posting reviews regularly then include books you would not take as your one luxury to a desert island.

        1. Publishing is a small world. Review any way you see fit. My job is to alert you to areas that CAN hurt you as an author. We don’t know who knows who or the backlash that could come. I once told an acquaintance that I was reading a certain book and couldn’t get into it. The dream sequences were confusing me and there were some errors. Little did I know the acquaintance was BEST FRIENDS with the author. That author was nothing but nasty to me from then on and it did affect me professionally…and I didn’t post a bad review. I was simply TALKING about a book and I wasn’t even mean. It was just an “I can’t get into this book.”

          We are making a HUGE assumption that people won’t be emotional or spiteful. So do as you want, but I’ve at least done my job and alerted you to the risk involved.

          Also, if you are regularly and professionally reviewing A LOT of books, you fall into the “book reviewer” category, thus the rule doesn’t necessarily apply. If I am an author who reads prolifically, has a background in Literature and reviews all across the board? That is a book reviewer.

          1. I definitely agree that only ever saying pleasant things about other authors is one way to not make enemies, and that you should always write as if the author will read it.

            However, I wanted to raise the positives of reviewing a wide range of books, so that those people who want to both be a book reviewer and an author can assess whether to take the risk.

  21. I haven’t read all the comments, but I want to point out that “he or she are” is also incorrect in the comment from the person who could not spell “expertise.” I am posting the link to FB for SAWG and SARA. Write on! You rock!

  22. My father used to say that my mouth would get me into trouble. He was right, of course, on more than one occasion. However, as I’ve grown in years, I think I’ve melloed. When I see a post or comment that makes me angry, my first reaction is to ignore it. Having a knock-down, drag-out in a public forum is just stupid. Especially when it’s with a total stranger. I also shy away from using the word expert. the definition of an expert is as follows:

    An ex is a has been and a spurt is a drip under pressure. 🙂

  23. I know you’re right about everything here, but I’m struggling with the bad book review thing. *sigh* I guess I could just email the author instead. I haven’t written too many bad reviews and for a few I was contacted and had polite conversation with the author about it. I also saw huge improvement in the next book by one author (I don’t take credit). Gave him a glowing review then and he seemed ecstatic. In the future, I’ll email. I can see how someone might not handle it well. Someone who can’t handle criticism isn’t a professional but there is no need to publicize it.

  24. Thanks for #3; I have struggled with that. I want to be honest, and have my own integrity to uphold, but I also realize that my liking or not liking a book is entirely subjective. Luckily I have chosen to simply back off, which feels a little cowardly but seems to be the better option. If I say anything, I might just say it’s not my cup of tea.

  25. Since I was the guest poster in question on the first example, I’m glad you posted this cause I did feel bad that I lost you a subscriber. Your private response was awesome though. Brightened my day considerably. Trolls suck. Get a life.

  26. Thanks for another timely post, Kristen. For sure, you’re not going to receive any negative stuff from me.

  27. I would not be thrilled to get an email from someone I don’t know suggesting how to write my books better. Call me thin-skinned, but I’d rather hear this feedback from my agent, editor and colleagues who have multiply published non-fiction — i.e. people with proven expertise. I would never dare send an email that was negative or critical to some author I do not know personally. It’s none of my business!

    Why bother reading amazon “reviews”? I used to, but after the insanely ad hominem attacks on my most recent book, a memoir of working retail — my personal favorite calling me “bitter, pretentious and lazy, lazy, lazy” — I gave it up a long time ago, If you are unable to discern the difference between a writer and their work, (even in memoir, two different things to some degree), just stay silent. Ignorant shouty rudeness does nothing to help a serious writer improve. It may make you feel important to be an amazon “reviewer”, especially when anonymity allows you to be vicious with impunity. It does nothing for a professional author — who does value intelligent feedback.

    In four years — and I often express strong opinions on some politically tough issues — I’ve only gotten one nasty blog comment (weird, but true.) I trashed it, then blogged about why I chose to do so. As you point out, every blogger is working for no pay (and some of us do write for a living), so getting angry with them is a waste of everyone’s time. Sure, disagree. But be civil.

    1. I think it’s all in presentation. I’ve gotten letters asking that I address one issue more or they were disappointed that I didn’t talk more about Thus and Such. To me that is very valuable for writing future books. Book reviewers and regular readers can put that in the open reviews, but with our peers, I think it’s more polite to e-mail and offer constructive critique (if we just HAVE to say something).

      1. True. Tact goes a long way! It’s also probably quite different for you, as you’ll likely be writing on similar topics, where I will not be — so criticism or suggestions about what to do better are somewhat moot when I don’t return to the same subject.

        I did get some very tart comments from a few of my publishing-pro first readers, right as we went into production, so much so that we tweaked a few sections as a result.

  28. In the world of self-publishing mania, the only way to separate the great stuff from the junk is by reviewing both.


    Bill Wetterman

    1. Leave it to book bloggers and reviewers. Trash other writers at your own risk. There are plenty of readers and reviewers who can throw out one and two stars. Our job is to write books.

      1. And there is nothing saying you can’t tell other people to avoid a book. You can talk about it on Facebook. But reviews have a different permanence….one attached to your name.

  29. It’s the Golden Rule. Thanks for the reminder.

  30. I’m glad I found your blog, Kristen! Thank you for pointing me here, Seumas Gallacher!

    All your advice makes perfect sense, Kristen. I haven’t run into trolls yet on my own blog, but as a guest on other blogs, I’ve tried to deflect with compassion where possible. A person who spews venom is someone who is hurting, a lot. Doesn’t mean I have to listen, but the comments mostly just make me sad for the commentor.

    You ask about carrying a grudge. Someone gave 3 stars to one of my novels, after posting essentially a rave review. What?? I’ll admit that I’ve avoided that person’s blog since then. I’m totally with you on the reviews. Truthful 5 stars, or no review. That’s why I don’t tell anyone what I’m reading until I’m done. Saves embarrassment both ways.

    So happy to meet you! I’ve joined your blog and look forward to future posts.


  31. All I can say is comments/tweets/email and Merlot don’t mix. 😉

    I’m not an author (I’m a book cover designer, in fact) so no need to put my name in your hat. Just wanted to post a comment that might help the nasties get a grip.

    Have a lovely day. Enjoyed the post. Thanks.


    • Janet B on June 19, 2013 at 9:31 am
    • Reply

    Leaving a bad book review is just being nasty unless it is your job. I have emailed authors about formatting issues in their ebooks, rather than leaving that info in a review. I read on a Nook and on Amazon PC and figure the authors are unaware of how their book appears in all formats. Some have said thank you, some never responded.

  32. Best blogging/reviewing/social media advice I’ve heard all year. We have to remember, we’re not in a critique group, so … ignore it, or be nice. God, how simple.

  33. Is it okay that I love you? Because I do. 😀

    1. AWWWWW, of course it’s okay. I love you too!

  34. Love! I haven’t received a negative comment yet but I also don’t have nearly 25,000 followers! In fact I have less than 100- lol 😉 Once I receive a snarky comment, then I’ll know I’ve made it big 😉 I really enjoy your blog btw!

    1. Strangely enough, the nastiest comments I received were in the beginning of my blogging career. They think you are a nobody so they can say what they want and treat you like dirt. Weird, but true.

      1. Wow, that’s interesting. I assumed the opposite was true but that makes sense.

    • Jennifer Cole on June 19, 2013 at 9:43 am
    • Reply

    Hi Kristen, I am so glad for your blog. You’ve given me the inspiration to blog on my own and if I need advice, I feel completely compelled to go to you and get it. I’m glad for your blog as it has been a fountain of truth and advice I shall take with me.

    I’m glad you showed me how to handle negative comments so when I start to get them, I can simply practice my ability to ignore them and take them with a grain of salt. Thanks again and keep blogging!

    Date: Wed, 19 Jun 2013 13:13:17 +0000 To:

  35. And I’m mentioning this post on my What Caught My Senses this Week post (later this morning).

  36. I did receive a weird review on Amazon that made no sense. The reader said she had put me on her authors-not-to-read list. Curious, I checked out her other reviews. Once I read her complaints about a vibrator that didn’t come with adjustable speeds, all became right with the world again.

    You brought up a good point. Deleting a obnoxious comment is also a kindness to the poster. Maybe he/she had a bad day, and it will save them future embarrassment. I like that idea.

  37. When I worked at the Verizon helpdesk, they always reminded us to smile even though we were talking to customers on the phone – not face to face. People tend to forget that humans can even hear a smile in your voice. Later, I was promoted and started auditing the calls. You know who advanced in the company? Those people who were friendly and personable. They didn’t have to bend over backwards exactly, but they treated the customer like a fellow human being and not a faceless issue that needed fixed.

    There was one guy that I loathed auditing. I felt like the customer was talking to a rock. A rock – not even a tree because a tree is alive. He had been working there for years and had no chance of advancement.

    If we expect to be successful in anything, we must treat people like people. Even if we can’t see their faces.

  38. “Never Write Bad Book Reviews” I agree with you on this. I think it’s better if they just write their comments or suggestions in the nicest ways they could. Bad reviews could freak out new authors.

  39. So true. It just doesn’t pay to be rude. Sometimes I read things and think to myself, surely that person wouldn’t really say that if they were standing next to that other person? I’m sure they wouldn’t. Manners are good things!! Agree on the reviews – honest reviews, but don’t tear someone to pieces.

    • Ryan McNeill on June 19, 2013 at 10:02 am
    • Reply

    I appreciate you encouraging us to put relationships/people first before our opinions- We have all seen to much of the other. It’s a great lesson in humility (as I have learned from my mistakes). I hope for a community of people who see it as a mandate to protect the integrity of how we treat each other as writers. Great article!!

  40. My policy is that if I can’t give a book four stars or better I don’t review it, if it’s an indie book anyway.. That’s mostly because I pretty much never give five star reviews, because for me five stars means world-shatteringly, page-turningly, so-good-it-leaves-me-drooling awesome. Which is really rare. The vast majority are four stars, which are really, really good.Spectacular even. Three is “Yeah I liked it”. But I do see what you’re saying about them being permanent and all that. I’m leery about reviewing indie books after a bit of a SNAFU where someone took exception to one point of criticism in an otherwise good (four star) review. So now if I mention a book on my blog it’s usually by a bigger name author, unless an indie really, really strikes my fancy. Or I review movies because I seriously doubt Spielberg or Kubrick cares what some random dude from the Midwest says about their movies, haha

    1. I have no issue with people giving four stars. Just stay away from negativity. Bad juju.

    2. Oh, good, it’s not just me! To me, 5-stars means I adored the book, want to read it again as soon as possible, might want to have its children if it plays its cards right. I don’t give many 5-star reviews. I do give a lot of 4 stars, and I’m honest about why, noting when they’re issues that might be unique to me as a reader. I’ve never left a nasty review of a book, and I don’t usually finish a book if it’s not worth 3 stars to me (or review if it’s less than 4).

    3. This is my policy, too. I give out mostly 4 stars reviews and break down what I loved/liked about the book, and then mention what didn’t work for me personally. I ALWAYS add the “for me, personally.” But since I’m reviewer but ALSO a writer and wannabe author, this post was a good reminder. I could be burning bridges even with my “for me, personally” notes.

  41. I agree with you, Kristen. I don’t leave bad book reviews. It isn’t a matter of thin skin–I simply regard it as a courtesy. I’d rather read a 5-star book any day of the week, but some folks are still new in their craft. They’ll get better. I always have hope. Or maybe it’s simply subject matter or a hero or heroine I just can’t warm up to. We all react differently–to people and to books. Some people like snake . I’d rather cuddle up with my cat (or my honey).

    I have a lot to say about the individual who wrote your second example. However, I’ll just say this: I’m thinking you gave trolls a bad name .

  42. great post!

  43. First and foremost, I love your blog. I don’t remember how I found it, but I’m so glad I did. Second, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Whatever happened to that?

    I haven’t come under fire yet, but I know the trolls will eventually find me. And when they do, I’m going to delete their comment instead of posting it. It’s not that everyone has to love me or my blog, but I’m not going to dirty up my own writing space with their garbage. Nor will I inflict it on those who read my blog.

    Really, posting nasty comments on blogs is the same as walking into someone’s home and smearing cr@p on the walls.

  44. I’m new, and it all makes sense to me! Thanks for this great post Kristen – keep them coming!

  45. ^_^ you made laugh really your post reminded me of some people at a poetry site one in particular told me to ( grab a dictionary dud ) although i never said i’m perfect , i knew i have my own style, i don’t follow any school new or old i admitted my lack of techniques but still i found people who either make fun of my writing or make me feel like crap. but truth to be told there was also good helping hands , i loved your post my dear keep it up

  46. I got momentarily upset this week because someone “unlliked” my author page–I can’t imagine a bad review or comment 🙂 I completely agree–golden rule all around. I also would add never react defensively to a commenter or reviewer. I’ve seen too many authors just have to respond, and they do so ungraciously and argumentatively. It looks very unprofessional. Exactly–not everyone is going to like you. If a writer can’t handle that, this is not the business to be in.

  47. RE: Book Reviews – I happened across a post the other day by a gal who is kind enough to send private emails with constructive criticism – that didn’t seem to go over to well, either…LOL
    Here’s the post link to this avid reader/author:
    I guess sometimes, doesn’t matter how we word our offer of help, there are those who see any offer as an attack…

    1. Yeah, but then that’s their problem and our brand isn’t tainted with negativity.

      1. So true! I found it interesting that I came across the topic twice in such short time period! She and I had such a great comment exchange by it and then I find similar stories here regarding this phenomena – Guess there’s just a segment that you can do nothing but say, “Ahhh well…” over! LOL

  48. Great post, Kristen. Sucks that as part of your platform you inevitably get some criticism, but I love how you handle it. Your humor and good attitude shines! Thanks for being a writer advocate. I’ve learned a ton from your blog.

  49. Love reading your blog .

  50. I’m a book reviewer and an aspiring novelist. I decided not to review books I couldn’t honestly promote about a year ago, much to the chagrin of one my review websites. But what exactly deserves a five star rating? I leave that for classics, books I’ll read repeatedly, or books that leave me in awe. Most of my review are a solid four stars, and I’ve had many authors share my reviews of their work across social media channels.

    But the closer I get to joining the ranks of the published, the more I want to stop writing reviews, period. You never know how sensitive a writer may be.

    • Shannon on June 19, 2013 at 12:05 pm
    • Reply

    Everything you said here is so true. The need for Mercy in our world is huge. There is enough attacking all of us that we don’t need it from the people around us too. I have had to delete a comment before rather than have the world see it. The comment was by my own mother. I cried and cried and cried then decided to keep going. I will be starting my blog this year, hopefully in a more successful way than the one I started two years ago. Your advise and guest speakers and your book have been endlessly helpful. Thank you.

    1. Shannon, if i may, some times those closest to us can cause the deepest scares. I am glad you are continuing to be your creative self, and always keep in mind what doesn’t destroy you (even though you feel like it will/does) makes you stronger. Glad you aren’t quitting.


    2. This is why we don’t use family as beta readers/editors, etc.

      Good for you not letting her vitriol stop you from doing what you love!

  51. Made me laugh. Hope I’ll manage with the nasty reviews I am sure to get. I’ve already been told by an atheist to go burn in hell, so it will be interesting if I get anything worse than that. My oldest son lectures about video games and sculpture on youtube. I hated reading what other people said about my delightful son, but then he said his favorite comment was when someone called him a giant bag of douche. What? I’ll try to adopt his attitude, but I am a girl, and we tend to not like playing so rough.

    • annerallen on June 19, 2013 at 12:10 pm
    • Reply

    Amen! The more high profile you are as an author or blogger, the more people will consider you fair game for their free-form rage, bitterness and cruelty. Lots of bitter wannabes out there.

    I’ve had hateful comments like those, as well as hate mail and even death threats. We have to develop a pretty thick hide. Every snarky review still stings, especially the ones from people who don’t understand the nature of fiction and think I am identical to my ditzy heroines.

    One thing I have learned about the Interwebz is a whole lot of people out here do not get humor of any kind. Any metaphor, satire, sarcasm, or hyperbole will be taken literally by about ten percent of the population. These are people whose brains are not wired for humor and they’ve spent their life feeling like outsiders because they’re never “in on the joke.” Some of them are full of misplaced rage they direct at anybody who writes in a light, humorous tone. I try to feel compassion for them instead of wanting to punch out their bitter, nasty little lights. Still working on that.

    People reading your blog probably don’t belong to that category, since you’re a gifted humorist, but i think this is great advice to everybody: do not drink and Tweet/review/FB. Even if you haven’t had any alcohol, if you’re drunk on rage, self-pity, or self-righteousness, step away from the keyboard.

  52. It’s funny that you mentioned not giving bad reviews, because the only blog I have is one that is strictly book reviews. If I read a book or story that has serious problems and I was asked to read it by the author, I will send them an email or a message that points out things they could do to improve the story or book, with as much tact as humanly possible. In almost every instance, the response was very positive. They were glad I chose to discuss it with them personally, rather than posting a review discussing the weak points of their writing. I just would not be comfortable writing a scathing review when I don’t have any idea how long the author has been writing, how old they are, their background or anything else. Yep, I was raised in the “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all” generation. But it is still good advice, as you point out.

    NB: This new-fangled electronic interweb stuff just don’t like to let go of anythang at all! Unfortunately, a large number of people just can’t seem to get that idea. Really, it’s forever.

  53. Thanks for this post. I especially appreciate the one about leaving so many 5-star reviews. I’ve never been comfortable leaving negative reviews. And it’s nice to know I’m not the only one who gets those kinds of blog comments.

  54. This is a tough one for me, because I’m suspicious of five star reviews in general. I try to give a few pros and cons and an honest reaction number of stars (I really liked it vs It was okay). I don’t leave troll reviews, though, by any means! That’s not fair to anybody. If I hate a book, I won’t review it.

    Those are some doozies of comments you got. I’m chortling at the anti-war person, though. Know what’s going on in the rest of the world? Wars. Flaming you isn’t going to stop that. :-p

  55. Just wanted to say, I think you’re wonderful!

  56. I think sometimes negative comments come from someone having a bad day or some major stress in their lives. Bottled stress can come bubbling out at the most inopportune times, and most people regret their actions and comments and will apologize. This is just being human and we other humans should strengthen our forgiveness muscles, because ‘there but for the grace…’. But when there is a consistent pattern of humiliation and degradation, rather than a simple disagreement with someone’s opinion, then those people are bullies, plain and simple. They just have a new playground to terrorize. Trolls are bullies who can hide behind a keyboard. On the one hand I feel sorry for them, but on the other I have to tamp down my righteous indignation that a trollish commenter feels they have the right to tear someone down, whether it’s me or a fellow writer or blogger, for what they deem is some offense against the human race. If we could get the majority of the social media community to ‘pay it forward’ by following these three simple suggestions in common courtesy, the trolls would stick out like a sore thumb and the playground would simply ignore their ignorance and continue to build positive and supportive communities. Kristen, great post, as always. 🙂

  57. I did give less than 5 star reviews. they tend to be 4 stars if I loved it, 3 if i just read it. Never less, never more. Like in my architectural profession, 5 stars is rarely there because I believe no book is perfect. So, it’s rare that it does that for me. My blog started out as a book review blog and evolved. As for the drama kings and queens who actively try to hurt people online, I try to channel my frustrations at those into really dramatic fiction. It’s the only place drama should exist.

  58. I so agree with this post. I have seen some crazy comments blasted at bloggers. What gives? If you don’t agree with the posts, then don’t read the blogger. Simple. Move on.

  59. Anne covered my comment better so hats off to her. To answer your specific question; I have defended people on Twitter and G+. We never know how a person will react to unkind behavior. Not out to save the world but I can do my part when I see it. Great post, as always. (Loved that you had to correct the writer’s spelling.)

  60. Personally I do give reviews below 5 stars but I don’t give a review of below 2. I don’t often find a book I don’t like and some I simply don’t review. I do agree though, it is never nice to get a bad review, however IF it is about the book and not just a bitch about the author then I can see it might have a place.

    Sometimes people forget what is online stays online…somewhere. There are people who seem to take a perverse pleasure from trolling. A comment said in haste or misinterpreted is one thing cyber bullying or cyber nastiness is another,

  61. Reblogged this on Library of Erana.

    • holliganlee on June 19, 2013 at 2:25 pm
    • Reply

    People who leave nasty comments are bullies and they have generally missed the point, anyway. I don’t let them post. Its my blog, if they want to vent, they can get their own blog! And as to trying to dialogue with most of those nasty-comment-posters? Well, you can’t fix stupid.

  62. I, now, never write less than a 4 star review. In the past I wrote a three star review giving a very valid reason. I wouldn’t do the same again. If there was a problem in the books I felt needed me to leave less than 4 stars, now I would contact the author instead. Since I contribute to I may also address the issue in a blog post. Not the specific author or book but the grammatical or other issue.

    I have also challenged a review in which the reviewer indicated my facts were incorrect and gave me a less than glowing review. I am very careful in making sure facts are correct for the time period since I write historical fiction. If I use poetic license and fudge times a little I include an author’s note explaining what I changed and why as well as the correct fact is.

    Thanks, once again, for a good post.

  63. Wow, a very good discussion here. Kudos to you, Kristen, for introducing such a hot topic here. Your first two points, on blog comments and Twitter updates , are, in my opinion spot on. I am wrestling with your number three, mainly because I have not figured out how to handle the review of friends’ books. In some ways, I don’t like the 1-5-star rating system. If I were to give four stars (writers are sensitive peeps, ya know?), someone might be crushed. On the other hand, a thoughtful, positive review in comment form can go a long way to help a writer’s career and/or book sales. And then, if I just don’t review if I don’t feel I can give five stars, I will have offended a writer friend. Perhaps because I was an educator for so many years, I look at it in a grading sort of way.

    Any suggestions, other than just giving everyone 5 stars? (Sorry, I’m writing my first book and rather new to all this review stuff. : )

  64. great post Kristen. And a good reminder to all of us authors.

    the nasty comments you got on your blog is exactly why I don’t blog. I could never be as gracious as you have been. I’d be all up in those peeps faces like instantly.

    I figure its my house, my rules. Don’t come into my house and insult me or mine.

  65. I wish I had read your blog Kristen before I started! I’m finding it so helpful. I went into blogging so naively, thinking I could just use it to explore my thoughts about things, be entertaining and improve my writing. I had to take the whole blog down yesterday because of two threats of legal action in the same week. The first was completely groundless, a disgruntled ex basically whose identity I had very carefully protected, but the second had a real cause, and although I had made a mocking comment about him I had truly no desire to hurt him or his business, I just honestly didn’t think of the consequences. I felt terrible, stupid and really scared. I took down the blog, called him and apologised, He was nice over the phone and said he wouldn’t pursue anything. It has made me very wary of any personal blogging/ writing and I think it is safest for me to stick with fiction! I know ignorance is no excuse of the law, but I really do wish someone had told me to be more careful and not just lavished me with praise for honest and entertaining blogs.
    What I really appreciate in this blog is your completely no- patronising tone, but also the very useful advice. Thank you so much for posting it and imparting your experience.

    • Karin on June 19, 2013 at 3:15 pm
    • Reply

    Love you blog! Keep writing! :))

  66. Ah, the ever-popular discussion about book review etiquette. I see the value of both sides. However, my personal opinion: I don’t really like the silent approach, because it winds up negating the existence of the book in question in service of avoiding public disagreement. If a book is bad, or has serious flaws, being silent about that fact doesn’t help the author improve. I’m not keen on the idea of sending an author a personal email outlining the problems with their book; to me, that always comes across as intrusive and snotty. I do understand that some authors would prefer that; but to me, inviting that sort of personal critique is equivalent to asking readers to be a sort of writing group. If your work is in the public eye, then getting a bad review — by professional or private commenters — is part of the risk. There is definitely a line past which a negative review goes into unhelpful snark territory, and I won’t ever defend that; but I think a thoughtful, well-supported 1 star review is more valuable to both writer and readers than a gushy “loved it!!!!” 5 star. It’s not a simple question and there isn’t a simple answer, which is why this is always a popular discussion topic. 🙂 I BTW, Ms. Lamb, I love your blog and its well-moderated community of diverse, interesting opinions. Thanks for all your hard work, and thank you to all the thoughtful commenters!

  67. I learned my lesson. I posted a response to a reply in a blog (We’ve been following her lately) and thought I was being brilliant. She e-mailed me telling me that I might havve been a bit over the top. I thought about it, and rewrote my reponses. I feel better about it. Also nice post, itshould be mandatory reading before anyone enters social media.

  68. I made the book review mistake, decided that a bit of honesty was what was needed amongst the five star reviews, then found out the lady had learning difficulties. Mortified, I removed it.

  69. Just in follow up to a point made in your post about emailing directly to the author if there is something wrong with their book–is that really okay? Does the author still hate you forever? I found a mistake in a book I’m reading (a bad one, I’d be totally embarrassed if I were the author) and I didn’t know if it was appropriate to let the author know. Maybe I’d be the 100th person to tell her.

    1. I still get e-mails over the handful of typos in my first book. I just e-mail them and say, “Yeah, sorry about that.” I think it’s lovely people take the time and they are lovely enough to be discreet.

    2. I recently found an embarrassing typo in one of my books–one that leaves you wondering if you uploaded the right version. The book has been for sale for a while on Kindle, and I would have LOVED it if a reader had sent me a note. I corrected the mistake right away, but I still feel like an idiot and worry about those people who already bought the book. Possibly many of them thought that I had already been contacted.

  70. Oh dear…yeah, some people were having a not so good day. I’m really surprised actually, because your blog is, at least I think, one of the most helpful out there. Keep it up, please!!!

    Sarah Allen
    (From Sarah, With Joy)

  71. I am writing a Young Adult Sports Novel and the comment that one should not write about basketball unless they were on the varsity squad was remarked. I only made junior varsity and quit before the first game during my sophomore year in high school and my senior year I quit because I was not going to dress out for the first tournament (no uniform), but supposedly I made the team. I did not think of it back then but I could have help coached the guards. The coach wanted me staying. I knew that I would sit the bench at my height. I did not grow and stayed 4-foot-10 and seniors I knew who were five-seven or five-ten at best grew 6-7 during the summer. Supposedly they ate the jumbo cafeteria-size peanuts all summer to snack on. I found out later they washed downed the peanuts with six packs of beer, which milk and even 100 percent cans of pineapple juice would do the same, if drank a six pack a day.

  72. This inspired me to take most of my 1-4 ratings off Goodreads and Amazon. Thanks! I’ve been meaning to do that. I left a few that, while not 5, were still higher than the average rating. Is that appropriate, or should I clear those even if doing so brings the book’s overall rating down a bit?

    1. 4s are fine. I tend to be extreme in all things even praise. THIS BOOK WAS SO AWESOME I SAW JESUS! Just take down anything that would make you feel weird if you met the person face-to-face.

  73. I happen to think you’re way smarter than oatmeal. And I’m a WV hillbilly and we know oatmeal. And we lead the nation in sending our men and women to military service based on percentage of population. That doesn’t make us war cravers, makes us freedom lovers. Boy that comment really irks me. I’d be have tempted to hunt that blogger down and heckle them, but I’ll take your advice and just move on.

    I read often, comment seldom but if it makes you happy, I’ll make a better effort. 🙂

      • malindalou on June 19, 2013 at 5:56 pm
      • Reply

      If you leave a comment, people will be more likely to check out your blog.

    1. I was just curious where the hell he was going to move…ANTARCTICA?

        • robynaldridge on June 26, 2013 at 4:01 am
        • Reply

        Don’t think so, Kristen. They have internet access down there. but I hope he hasn’t relocated to Antarctica because my jaw almost dropped as far as that when I read your post.

        Atta girl, look forward to more inspiration from you. Keep the pages coming. It appears as if I’ll be walking into a trap when I get a blog up and running, plus maintaining’ …Next month’s to do list is getting closer.

        Must do as Gerard Jampolsky recommends us to do. Feel the fear and do it anyway.

    • malindalou on June 19, 2013 at 5:54 pm
    • Reply

    Yes, yes, a million times yes! Some people need to learn that leaving no comment is perfectly polite and gets your message across just as well as leaving a nasty one. Plus, you don’t look bad afterward. If you must leave a nasty comment, do it as a post on your own blog to your own peeps (please).

  74. I’ve been attacked publicly and personally in response to some opinion pieces I’ve written, but for some reason it doesn’t really worry me. I guess it’s because these people don’t really know me. I am always polite and respectful back, because I am conscious others are watching and because I feel it disarms the attacker. Don’t give them ammunition.

  75. I’m unpublished, but that will change and I hope people will be truthful and kind when they review my book. I try never to rag on a book in a book review, but I am honest. If a character is unbelievable, I say it. If the plot is slow, I say it.
    I’m sure R.A. Salvatore isn’t going to cry over the two star rating I just gave one of his books on Goodreads. After all, there are ten on my shelves with fours and fives.
    Being a troll and ultra negative is a big no-no, I agree, but I think honest feedback can’t hurt. The other option is to remove a third of the books from my read shelf on Goodreads….

  76. About the Three Nevers blog… I totally agree. I uploaded something neat on YouTube and it has surprisingly received over 200K hits. But the comments section is a mix of loving support from total strangers and loathing criticism from others. Why are people so mean and heated about a silly little video? It was just something I caught on my backyard security camera that looked like a little fairy. But the people that think it looks like a bug get hateful! They even put down other people for commenting positively. They ask me if I’m on drugs and tell me I’m crazy. It’s like, chill out, it’s a video. Even if it is just a bug, why so mean? I don’t understand it.

  77. Amen! My mom used to tell me “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” That’s not a hard rule, of course. Sometimes you have to speak up about something or tell someone something they don’t want to hear. But you have to consider what you say, online and off.

    My policy is to treat people with dignity and courtesy as much as I can. I don’t blow sunshine but, if I can’t rave and have to give a comment, I will find something positive to say.

    Fortunately, I’ve only once been attacked online (on my blog in fact). It was due to a misunderstanding and the fellow came at me with all guns blazing. Not fun. But he’s just one dude…and probably not an especially happy one at that.

  78. Thank you Kristin. I always learn a little from each of your posts. I agree with you completely on your book blogging/reading (reviews). Just don’t do it unless you can give them the best star rating possible.

  79. A very good reminder to everyone. Considering recent events where someone I thought was a friend trashed my newly released novel publicly this one was a good reminder. Thankfully I chose not to respond and calmly walked away (metaphorically speaking).

    Thanks for the reminder that words are easy to spew through the privacy of a keyboard. I reblogged your post here.

  80. Great advice ~ I can’t believe those horrendous comments you received. So unnecessary. Good on you for rising above and turning it into helpful advice.

  81. Excellent advice all round! I think all of it should fall into place if we remember, as you pointed out, there’s a human on the other side of that screen. I spent nearly thirty years preaching to my staff that “there’s a patient on the other side of that specimen, and she’s scared to death!”. Thankfully, that attitude has made a smooth transition into comments and tweets.

    I’ve been the unhappy recipient of attacks and they upset me no end. The one thing I don’t do though, is give the commenter the satisfaction of posting their nasty remarks for the general public.

  82. I seriously cannot believe that people actually say those things.

  83. Great post, Kristen! I wish I’d read this yesterday before I got snippy with a blogger who said indie writers were uneducated and trashing the market with crappy books ( Even Mark Coker has joined the fray. I allowed the blogger to get under my skin, but now I realize he was just out for the publicity he was garnering with his blog post.

  84. I’ve been trashed on the Internet going back maybe 15 years. For the most part I’ve laughed and/or raged privately (my poor husband and a couple friends who are the recipients of my rage). I’m more likely to be trashed for sharing true facts than my opinion. I’ve been an unnamed person whose words were quoted regularly in an opinion column in a newspaper. I’ve been picked apart in a few places on the net for sharing the realities of orthodox Jewish life and how the laws of Israel and the religious implications I’d you’ve not had a properly approved conversion (which is a moving target and a hidden list). So it takes a fair amount to really feel hurt enough to make me cry. After all the Internet is a crazy place and people forget they are talking to/about a real live person.

    I tend to give people a few chances before I unfriend/unfollow them unless they are publicly lying about my business practices mentioning my name.

    I have a set of suggestions for good Internet behavior that a group of friends and I developed and I’ve continued updating over the last 10+ years that has helped keep me out of trouble on the Internet when I remember to follow it.

  85. Kristen, I can’t believe people wrote those comments to you. You are always self-deprecating and funny and never tout yourself in a “look at how wonderful I am” way. As someone said, there are those who have to be negative and mean-spirited. My favorite of your experiences you shared is taking your son to school on Saturday. See, someone who brags would never admit that. You keep us grounded. And writers who intend to be successful should act professionally. Never write or say something negative publicly. It will come back to bite you. Right?

  86. Please can I just send hugs for this…………….. Love you :O)

  87. OH MY! This post came at a good time for me. I recently received my first negative comment post. Fortunately for me it was the individual’s first comment and I just refused to approve it and then deleted the comment. While it is my first, I am sure it won’t be my last. I deleted it for two reasons: 1) I didn’t think I needed to give this individual’s post a voice on my blog and 2) I knew it would start a whole backlash of comments. Of the blogs I follow I just don’t post a comment if I disagree with a particular post. We don’t always have to agree to every post a person places on their blogs. But to be rude and comment is not the answer.

  88. Reblogged this on allergictolifemybattle and commented:
    I had to share this blog from Kristen Lamb because I recently had my first negative comment. You didn’t see it because it wasn’t approved.

  89. Oh why not weigh in on this? Yes we should all have good considerate manners, no we should not say unkind or harsh things, and we all need to try and stay in our own lanes. Breaking new trails does offer two outcomes at least; one is that we might have to go it alone through difficult uncharted ways, arriving as alone as we left, or we might have written a new path by breaking new ground and every one follows. Any variation of that is possible, so I don’t really think that in the long run we should constantly socially engineer each other into one happy mass, otherwise what is there to write about. Be truthful and suffer the cost. If your a nice person it will come out, if your not, that will come out too, So I like when nice people tell me the truth in a nice way, and I don’t like when not nice people tell me the truth in a not nice way.
    Great posting you did here, it makes the blood churn, and that is a truth that gets a response.

  90. I worked for a school district prior to retirement and entering the writing field. From the beginning, it was my policy to act like a lady in public, whether a blog, social media or e-mail. Back when I was teaching a basic computer course for adults, one three hour class was devoted to Internet etiquette. I’m still appalled by some of the items posted for any random reader to peruse. The Internet IS forever.

    As an erotic romance writer, I’ve especially come in for my share of nasty reviews. Such is life. Keep moving.

    Lovely post with wonderful examples. Keep posting.

  91. Very wise words.. 🙂

  92. I’m new to the whole Blog Community and I have to say that so far it has been a great and welcoming place. I’m sure I’ll get a negative comment at some point… But your post here is great! It make me think of a quote (which I’m sure I’ll misquote). Also, I can’t for the life of me remember who said it, but it’s a good one.

    “If you write to please everyone you’ll never write anything good. Write what you love and the people who love it will find it…”

    I’m sure I misquoted that- but the point is valid I think. You win some you lose some. Great post! 🙂

  93. Thanks for the great advice.

  94. I agree with everything except the ‘no negative reviews’. That one bugs me, because I personally hate it when I see other indie authors whining about their negs and low stars. I also think that not writing a negative review is dishonest, and I am quite willing to deal with the backlash from it if it comes my way.

    That said, I also stay pretty strictly professional in my negative reviews, and try to write all reviews with a sense of balance. Personal taste, I guess.

    1. But if it’s professional and balanced, then is that “negative”? If you read today’s post, these are “guidelines” because this stuff can come back to bite. Publishing is a SMALL world and we never know who we might need and it might just be their BFF we threw under the bus. Is it worth it? Or is time better spent writing more books?

      1. That really is a good point. I do my damnedest to be properly honest, but I DO emphasize good points along with bad. In my experience so far, even if you try to please all the people, you’ll land in hot water eventually. I’m not very good at that–I’m better at being kind and sometimes irritatingly blunt. So–where do you draw the line? I have seen people throw tantrums over a 4 instead of a 5 too.

  95. I have made a point of when I post something to ask for issue to be pointed out. But I do have to agree with everything on your post.

    How ever the first comment you posted looks a lot like the spam I’m getting of late but they all come with dodgy likes in them.

    Please keep going. You make some interesting points.

    • Yvette Carol on June 21, 2013 at 7:55 pm
    • Reply

    Yeah, over on LinkedIn, I said whatever I wanted to say on the discussion forums, and a few trolls nearly bit my hand off. They said things like, was it possible to delete certain members (after pointedly saying I was one of those members), and that the tone of the group had degenerated to the ‘cliques of high school’, and various other hurtful comments. Myself and three other friends there who had been singled out all backed off of the playful banter. So, I learned it’s good to share but not too much or too noisily, not to stick my neck out because the trolls are waiting to chop it off.

  96. Thanks for your advice here. I read it with great interest since I am trying to become smarter about social media..

  97. Reblogged this on sarenastraus and commented:
    Another great topic by Kristin.

    • katyasozaeva on June 21, 2013 at 11:14 pm
    • Reply

    I’ve noticed that a lot of people are becoming “suspicious” of people like me, who actually enjoy most of the books we read. I try to explain that after almost 40 years of reading I’ve become adept at choosing books I know I’ll enjoy, but it comes right back to “Oh, you’re just trying to be nice for free books.” What? Right, yeah, the 950+ books I already have to try to review aren’t enough? LOL

    Personally, I think it’s important to be honest. If I didn’t like a book, I’m not going to lie and say I did. At the same time, there is no need to be mean or cruel. Critical book reviews can be written in such as way as to not be rude or unpleasant, and often can provide helpful insight for the author for their next book. But you’re right – in the authors-reviewing-authors business, it’s probably better to stay silent than to potentially cause problems in the future.

    • JW on June 22, 2013 at 3:28 pm
    • Reply

    Thank you so much for addressing the issue of bad comments and you’re right. You handle it wonderfully..

  98. Thumper’s father had in right. “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”

  99. Kristen,
    Your words nourish my soul. I had an uncle be the very first to review my very first novel “grace” on –the world’s largest market place. It was not so kind….my uncle of all people– my peeps!!?
    I went through a kalaidescope of emotions as I considered responding. How could I write a book titled “grace” and not be able to extend it?
    I didn’t have to respond…someone else responded to the review.
    His review ignited me to passionately do what I do…write a blog response (titled “free waterskiing.”)– check it out 😉
    I posted it on WordPress and on my Facebook page… guess who “liked” it??!!! That very same uncle!!!
    Whaaattt?? Yep.
    All things can be used for good…support a fellow writer and respond to his review of my book “grace” by Julie Eddy on
    Or just rest assured that grace always wins!
    Julie Eddy

  100. Perception is everyone’s reality. What we do online is scrutinised, and it’s even worse if you’re famous. I’ve seen news stories around one cringe worthy tweet from a celebrity.

    We cannot control the world, but we can control what we say and do. Common courtesy is number 1, and if criticism or a bad review is being given, then there are ways to professionally give out criticism without upsetting people too much, and staying honest.

    (my 2c, which is short of a penny)

  101. Wow. Just wow. It’s pretty hilarious that the one blogger misspelled “expertise” in her nasty post.

  102. Dear Kristen,
    This is a crate full of GREAT advice!! I learnt a few things while going “public” and yes, I definitely agree. One needs to be careful!
    Not everyone likes every blog – or every blog post. And writing something “controversial” – or just personal opinion, can cause unexpected reaction.
    One of my favorites was a comment on this blog post:
    which was sent to me November 22nd, 2012, out of the blue, completely unexpected and about 6 months after the post was written.
    The last time I got a hail in really bad reactions I just decided to write this post as a reaction:
    I guess it was quite an unpleasant experience for me.
    Thanks for your post!

  103. Really great advice here. I admit to having lost sleep over mean comments – trying to toughen up. 🙂

  104. I like this except the bad book review. If you don’t like something and you’ve paid money for it, aren’t you entitled to (constructively) criticise? Every writer or artist throughout has been criticised and received bad reviews. That’s why it’s art – it appeals to the heart and some you like, some you don’t. Constructive criticism helps an artist grow.

    1. It’s part of your brand. Do at your own risk. You have a right to do a lot of stuff. My job is to point out areas where you need to be careful.

      • katyasozaeva on July 1, 2013 at 12:30 pm
      • Reply

      Critical book reviews, if written respectfully, are gold to an author. It provides them with a way to improve next time around. But RESPECT is the key. Too many people nowadays think it’s fun to write reviews attacking the author and try to destroy their careers. The trick is to walk a line where you provide, as you say, constructive criticism in a respectful manner. I saw an awesome blog piece the other day that beautifully explained the difference; reblogged it over at my place, Now is Gone. I’ve blanked out on the blog name where it was originally, but it should still be on my front page, just down a few, and you can follow the link back to the original.

      1. Sadly, witty critics (who can be very insightful) are few and far between and people confuse them with catty critics. Being bitchy to show how “clever” you are is never good and reflects worse on the bitcher than the bitchee.

  105. As a wise man once said, “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothin’ at all.” Oh wait — guess it was a rabbit that said that.

  106. I totally agree with all of it Kristen, but what to do when you’ve privately told the author there’s work to be done on their book and they still want you to write that review? Knowing it will not be more than a three star (3 because the story is actually good, it’s just riddled with SPaG and plot issues) The book has had mostly 4 and 5 star reviews, but I guess the general public i.e. readers instead of reading writers/proof-readers, doesn’t even see those, or don’t care about them when the story is good.

    1. No expert, I, but I have an understanding that some readers are suspicious of all five-stars for reviews. They think that will reflect reviews from friends and family rather than the average reader. I know that I myself read the three-star reviews first. Also, I think, at the beginning of a writer’s career, it is important to have a great volume of reviews even if some of them are negative.

      1. Yes, if you have explained the details privately to the author and they tell you go ahead and post it, go for it. There is nothing wrong with constructively critical reviews, and authors should welcome them as long as they are addressing the book. They provide ways for the author to improve the next time!

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