I received this email today.
“Bonnie – I am respectfully requesting that you remove your review from my Children’s Book – XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX. I found your review much too harsh, and inappropriate for a children’s book. I wrote this for my daughter, who asks that I read it to her for bed every night. I also have had other parents tell me that their kids love to read it over and over, so I really have a hard time accepting a review suggesting that kids “would not want to read it more than once” from a 65 year old. I understand that everyone has their opinions, but writing such a scathing review on what is supposed to be a cute children’s book is in my mind, simply unacceptable.
I will gladly offer you a refund if you didn’t like it that much.
I see that you are an author as well with a lot of published works available for review, so I’m sure you understand this from an authors point of view.”
First, I have to disagree with the word respectfully. The tone was not respectful, especially the personal comment about my age. No where in my reviews do I ever make personal comments about the writer’s age, gender, race, etc. “I really have a hard time accepting a review suggesting that kids “would not want to read it more than once” from a 65 year old.” is blatant ageism. I’m 61 btw. I’ve also been a grade school teacher for 33 years, 10 as a teacher librarian, am a mother and grandmother, and have worked with children in various volunteer situations. So, my age is a reflection of my experience, which does not make my opinion less worth while. Is this writer suggesting that anyone over 60 has no right to an opinion on children’s books? At what age does our opinion become invalid? 50? 40?
“I see that you are an author as well with a lot of published works available for review,” I wonder if there’s a hidden meaning there. I’ve heard of writers getting friends to write horrible reviews of another author’s work because they were angry about the review. It will be interesting to see if I suddenly start getting poor reviews.
I don’t know if I would have taken the review down if this had, actually, been a respectful letter. I might have reread the review and decided to include more positive statements. I might have reread the book and decided to increase the star rating from 2 to 3. Maybe.
When parents are asked to pay $6.04 for a book, then the writer needs to be prepared to have readers who believe it is not the best buy for the money. “I wrote this for my daughter, who asks that I read it to her for bed every night.” I’m sure that fact that the parent wrote it and is reading it to the daughter has NOTHING to do with her love for the book. Submissions editors roll their eyes at those kind of comments. “I wrote this for my daughter…” which is lovely, and if it had stayed there, I probably would have said I love it, but now the writer is marketing the book. That’s a completely different thing.
I have received reviews that I found upsetting. I am, in fact, redoing a book because of criticism. I looked past the embarrassment and defensiveness and learned how I could improve my work.
Bad reviews, good reviews, they’re all part of putting your work out there for the public to judge. What is “simply unexceptable” is sending these kinds of letters to reviewers. To all beginning writers out there, never, ever do that. You can quickly get a reputation that steers readers and publishers away from your work.
I’m not revealing the author or the book. I will send him/her a link to this blog. I won’t be posting it below my review as I was tempted to do initially. I am hoping this is a small stumble on the author’s path to success and have no desire to turn it into something that will tarnish his/her reputation. However, I am not removing my review from the location.