Thursday, December 30, 2021

Dear O'Abby: How do I deal with this in reviews?

 Dear O'Abby,

I'm a recently published author and I got a review in which the writer mentioned that they were excited to read my book because the author (me) was from the same country as they were.  They then went on to express their disappointment that US spelling and punctuation was used throughout, mentioning that it made the story feel generic and not of the author's home country.

My publisher is US-based and their style guide requires US spelling and punctuation.  It's something I've had to learn as I went through the publication process as we use British spelling and punctuation where I come from.  It still makes me feel weird when I read passages from my books and I see Mum as Mom, but that's what my editor asked me to do.

Is there any way to explain this to a reviewer?  I don't feel like it's a fair criticism.

All the best,

Guideless

Dear Guideless,

It's never a good idea to reply to reviewers.  They are as entitled to their opinion as you are.  And yes, this criticism seems unfair, but in reality, it's not a critique of your story.  If that's the only thing they found to nit-pick about, you're lucky!

Reviewers don't necessarily understand the publication process or that different publishers have different style-guides  (my publisher's style guide doesn't allow the use of semi-colons) which dictate how your writing ends up on the page.  And they don't need to know that.  Their role is to write about what they like and don't like about a particular book.

The best thing to do is to ignore this particular review.  Many writers don't read their reviews at all because it's better for their mental health not to know what people are saying about their work.  If you have decided that you do want to read them, you have to be prepared for the bad ones and learn to shake them off.  Even if you think the reviewer's criticism is unfounded.  If you're not able to do that, then perhaps you need to re-think your policy on reading reviews.

I hope that helps.

Have a wonderful New Year and here's to 2022 being filled with rapturous reviews.

X O'Abby

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