A short note about responding to bad reviews.
Have you noticed that, especially in America, everything is Totally Freakin’ Awesome or the Worst Thing Ever? Unless it is “Meh.” If you get a review with such hyperbole or inarticulate apathy, is it worth responding to?
If the reviewer dislikes your politics, you’re not going to change their mind. All you will do by jumping in is galvanize the less radical against you. Stand behind your principles, but don’t drag your book into the horrid mud-slinging of American political debate.
If the reviewer hates doody words, you will not change his or her mind. They have likely been averse to foul language since childhood. It is a matter of taste.
This also means, don’t call the wrath of your readership down upon the commenter to respond for you. Maybe you forgot what readers do. On occasion, we get bored and browse review sites to review books that we like. When we see someone trash it, and we discreetly click “No” next to the “Was This Review Helpful?” question, or we vote the review down. We do this without you weeping, raging, sighing, or laughing at the review and calling our attention to it.
Unless you’re Patrick Somerville, and the reviewer got facts wrong, and the paper’s fact checkers email your character’s email account to check it, and you have an amusing back-and-forth that you publish on Salon, don’t respond to negative reviews.
It makes you seem petty and amateur. It makes you seem lacking in self-respect, that you don’t believe in your work, or your readers’ taste. After all, you have many more readers than reviewers (I hope). Whose opinion is more important?
Requiring constant validation will hobble you as a writer. Do you want to write stories that will garner you praise, or stories you want to write?
Forget the reviews. Why aren’t you writing your next book?