Authors are told repeatedly not respond to negative reviews. Ignore them, they say. Don't comment. Don't respond.
How many other jobs are there where someone can tell you repeatedly how bad you are at it yet you aren't allowed to respond?
I'll be honest, fear prevents me from responding. And an understanding of my instinctive reaction which is 'Hey, you've just totally ripped out my heart and trampled it to sh**'. I'm terrified of being portrayed as a badly behaved author. I'm so damned scared of receiving hate mail. Or having my books all marked as one stars by gangs of reviewers. Because this has happened to others. I've been bullied before and I don't want it to happen again in adulthood. I'm a contradiction of outspoken friendliness hiding the biggest bundle of nerves and fear and every harsh word eats at me inside. I think many writers are the same.
Do I support free speech? Yes. Do I respect others' right to an onion? Yes. Do I like receiving negative reviews? Hell no. Please, I'd far rather have all 5 stars, of course I would! But on the matter of free speech, why can't I respond without fear of retaliation? Why can't I have the same freedom?
Particularly when it's a lovely one liner, like 'I don't like first person books.'
Really? That's it? All you've got say?
As a reader, that means nothing to me. I wouldn't find that useful. A friend of mine received a review stating that it was too expensive, even though the reader got it on a free promotion. Seriously? You didn't pay, so why does price matter to you?
To be honest, this is probably my response to any reviews I've received that have been hurtful or unnecessary. I know no one believes their own opinion to be unnecessary but when it helps no-one it is. I won't relish negative reviews ever but I can tell the difference between a genuinely thought out one and a rant (like this blog post perhaps ;) ?) and in my mind I will be plotting my response. It may never get published but I will be cursing the idiot who wrote it for being, well, an idiot.
So there we go. I've done it. I've responded. Maybe not directly but this is my response. I'm not hiding. I'm trying not to be scared and failing. Not all reviews are created equal.