What should you do if a reviewer obviously didn’t read your novel? #WriterWednesday #AmWriting

There is a lot of discussion amongst writers about what to do if you get a bad review. Spoiler alert: Do nothing (except dip into that bottle of wine). But what should you do if a reviewer obviously didn’t read your novel? Should you even care? A review is a review, right? And if it’s a positive review, then it’s all good, isn’t it? No, not exactly.

First of all, let me explain what I mean by a review that makes it obvious the reviewer didn’t read the novel. I’m not talking about a review which is very short or generalized. Those types of reviews are fine. In fact, I often think those reviews are more genuine as they tend to be from readers who purchased the book and not bloggers/reviewers/writers who read the book as a courtesy to the author. I’m also not talking about reviews that quote the summary and then end with ‘awesome book’. Yes, that does seem suspect, but it’s not blatantly obviously the reviewer didn’t read the book.

There are two situations in which I feel it’s obvious a reviewer didn’t read a novel. And both are, well, obvious. In the first instance, facts regarding the story (plotlines, character names, locations, etc.) are misquoted. The second situation is one in which the reviewer refers to a different author in the review. Can you say ouch? Here’s an example of a review for my novel Searching for Gertrude:

reviewers 1

I don’t need to tell you that the remainder of the review was extremely general and could have been written about any historical novel. There is no reference to the time or place of the novel, the characters, nothing to make it seem as if the reviewer actually read the novel. Normally, I’d be somewhat okay with that. Not everyone can be a great review writer. It’s hard! Especially if you write a lot of reviews. How do you keep each review sounding fresh? So, yes, I get it. But using the wrong name for the author? That I’m not okay with. I fear it gives potential readers the impression that I’m buying reviews, which is an impression I definitely don’t want! What should you do?

reviewers 2

And because I’m a recovering lawyer, my answer is … it depends. If this review were on Amazon, I’d probably spend a week or two coming up with some witty reply to the reviewer, because it could just be an honest mistake. If this review were on Goodreads, I’d send the reviewer a private message along the lines of:

‘Thanks for reading my novel! And taking the time to write a review. I really appreciate it. Just thought I’d mention my name is actually Dena. I know it’s confusing as I use the initials D.E. as my author name. What was I thinking?’

But this review was part of a review tour that I’d paid a blog tour company to organize. Should I say something in this instance? After all, she did post the information about my novel on her blog. I can’t force her to read my novel. I can encourage, sure, but force – no. In the end, suffering from a horrible bout with bronchitis, I decided to do nothing. At that moment, I couldn’t come up with any quick action and I was, frankly, too sick to deal with it. By the time I’d recovered three weeks had passed and I felt it was too late to take any action. I’m mostly okay with that decision. She didn’t post the review on any other site than her blog, so it’s not like potential readers will see and go ‘What the heck?’

What about you? What do you do when a reviewer obviously didn’t read your book?


12 thoughts on “What should you do if a reviewer obviously didn’t read your novel? #WriterWednesday #AmWriting

  1. claire plaisted says:

    Reblogged this on Plaisted Publishing House and commented:
    The very first review I got was on Amazon. The person who did the review decided to change their account name and though they can’t spell it looked like my own name as if I reviewed my own book…Funny thing is…Amazon never ever took it down.


  2. Felicia Denise says:

    That suuuuucks!

    It hasn’t happened to me… that I could recognize… yet.

    If it were me I’d definitely mention it to the tour service because that’s foul. Any review on any site can be edited and at the very least your name should be corrected or removed.

    The service needs to KNOW you are paying attention, and are not pleased. Too many are signing blogs up for tours and reviews with no follow-up or accountability.

    You didn’t ‘buy’ the review but as part of the tour I believe that even as a volunteer who posted your info on their blog, bloggers/reviewers have a responsibility of some level of professionalism or why volunteer at all?

    *Pushing my soapbox back to the corner.*


    Liked by 2 people

    • D.E. Haggerty says:

      Don’t put that soapbox anywhere! I agree with you and that’s probably how I should have reacted. However, as I was sick for so long, I felt like ‘whatever’ when I finally felt up to dealing with the issue. Wrong. I know.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Stevie Turner says:

    Too many good reviews on a site look suspicious. I always think it’s best to have a couple of dud ones on view as well, but I would never leave any comments – it’s just asking for trouble…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Widdershins says:

    The elapsed time may not matter if you let the blog tour company know what happened, and let them do what they will with the information. It may turn out that that particular reviewer has a history of being, well, I was going to say, ‘a douche’ but let’s go with, ‘consistently makes the same mistake’ and no-one is speaking up.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. D.L Finn, Author says:

    I haven’t run into this but it is good to have a plan in place. I don’t think I would publicly respond I would be more likely to privately message them. Good topic!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Chuck says:

    Since I’m a novice, I’ll ask my question even if it shows my ignorance. With Amazon reviews is there a process to request a review removed. When I released my first book, I had a harassing review comment. I responded and he/she replied to that. After six months, Amazon removed the review, but by then the damage was done. Thanks for your help.

    Liked by 1 person

    • D.E. Haggerty says:

      Under the review, is a ‘report’ button. You can use this to ask Amazon to remove or redact a review. The wheels move slowly, unfortunately, and reviews are rarely deleted upon request of the author.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Fictionophile says:

    Ouch!!! is right. I cannot imagine writing a review for a book that I haven’t even read. Bizarre! And as for getting your name wrong, that is just sloppy reviewing – plain and simple. I’m sorry to hear that this happens.

    Liked by 1 person

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