Re: I wish we could comment on reviews.

#1
Got a bad review that overlooks a lot of basic facts. He says that there is too much suspension of disbelief in my story because in my story the chracters do not bring back a plague. He doesnt realize that not meeting people for several months or more than a year means that the quarintine would have wiped out any modernn diseases they had. Most times this would be kinda forgivable to overlook, but we are all in quarintine from covid 19 so I figure most people would notice. Then he complains about the characters drinking tea and coffee instead of alcohol, but on 18th century ships the salors ration of grog was just a cup. The rest was terrible nasty water, if the 18th century couldnt produce enough alchol to replace water my characters deffinitly cant. The english and chinese empires exploded once tea became popular largly because they were drinking much cleaner water. Finallly he complained about the reaction the natives have to clothes, but I literally rewrote scenes written in biographies from David Livingstone in africa, to James Chalmers in the south sea Islands, to Jim Eliot in south america. Any culture that doesnt wear clothing pretty much reacts the same way to clothing when its presented to them.

And yes in my opinion if it wasnt for the tsetse fly subsahara africa would have spawned a major civilization. Much of what Paul is trying to do is spawn that civilization despite the fly.

If there is something uncomfortable in my story its probably because I read about it somewhere in a biography or a history book. Truth be told some scenes make my story because they are mentioned in a lot of history books or biographies.

Re: I wish we could comment on reviews.

#2
I have found that when people leave reviews that aren't just "this story sucks, don't read it", they're usually open to talking about their review in private messages. Approach them respectfully, thank them for their review, and then raise your points as professionally as you can. Don't tell them they're wrong, say that you disagree or that it wasn't what you intended. Ask them for more clarification on why they felt that way. Ask for suggestions on how you could make your intent clearer, etc. Maybe it won't work out and the person will stick to their guns, but in my experience people who went to the trouble to write a genuine (even if negative) review are willing to hear criticism themselves.

EDIT: In short, don't treat it as a me-vs-them situations, treat it as a dialogue, and at the very worst it's extremely unlikely that you'll lose any ground.

Re: I wish we could comment on reviews.

#4

Zurai Wrote: I have found that when people leave reviews that aren't just "this story sucks, don't read it", they're usually open to talking about their review in private messages. Approach them respectfully, thank them for their review, and then raise your points as professionally as you can. Don't tell them they're wrong, say that you disagree or that it wasn't what you intended. Ask them for more clarification on why they felt that way. Ask for suggestions on how you could make your intent clearer, etc. Maybe it won't work out and the person will stick to their guns, but in my experience people who went to the trouble to write a genuine (even if negative) review are willing to hear criticism themselves.

EDIT: In short, don't treat it as a me-vs-them situations, treat it as a dialogue, and at the very worst it's extremely unlikely that you'll lose any ground.thanks
Thanks

Re: I wish we could comment on reviews.

#6
I agree with Zurai - this person seems to have really thought about your novel. He may be wrong, but that is just a lack of information. Share some of your sources, thoughts and research and either you'll get someone to talk about your novel, or he might change the review. A polite message should do the trick

I don't agree with your assessment that the Tse-Tse fly is the reason there were few large civilizations in the sub-Saharan part of Africa. The fly is extremely uncommon in the southern part, where we now have South Africa and where the Zulu nation arose, which has a temperate climate and enough fertile land to, potentially, support a thriving civilization.

I've been reading a book titled 'guns, germs and steel' which tries to explore why this is, going back +- 6000 years ago to the rising civilizations in the fertile crescent and China. Why those places? What made them different? I'll keep it short, the book doesn't, and I may generalize somewhat. The main component is food, the second is livestock. on Eurasia, several plants existed that, when farmed as crops, produced large amounts of nutrition for relatively little effort. Wheat and rice are the ones you know best. Sub-Sahara does not have any native plants that come close to this. Either they are hard to grow or they have very poor nutritional value. The same was true for North America, by the way. The corn grown there by the time Europeans came was imported from South America and the budding civilizations never got the time they needed.

Sub-Sahara Africa is also missing large animals suitable for domestication. Elephants are the closest contenders, but due to their massive maintenance impractical. Zebras can be tamed, but not domesticated and the same is true for any cow, pig, sheep or similar species in the area. This in turn means your only reliable source of protein is fishing. Hunting is not a reliable source, especially if you don't have horses to chase your prey, but have to run. There have been arguments that the domestication of Zebra or wildebeast could have been possible but wasn't done for various reasons and efforts have been made to try it now with modern technology and knowledge. The last 100 years have not shown any noticeable progress

It wasn't until the introduction of sheep, cows, wheat and other produce from north of the Sahara that populations started to grow significantly.

Re: I wish we could comment on reviews.

#7
I support review comments to a big degree. They allow discussions about specific aspects of a story, which can allow people to comment on their thoughts on a story without directly reviewing it, and can allow the author to comment/express thanks without sending a PM. 

The argument against that is that it will cause authors to get into arguments and fights with readers. I say that that is a plus, not a negative. It allows potential readers to see how the author responds to bad reviews before taking a dive, and will spare some readers from having to deal with one of Those Authors before they get invested in the story.

Re: I wish we could comment on reviews.

#8
To stop it from spiraling down into a brawl, do it like practically any review site for hotels does it - one reply can be made to a review, by the author only.

Honestly, this has the potential to hurt a lot of authors. Putting up a bad reply to a review is worse than no reply and while it's writing, it's a completely different writing skill compared to creating a novel. In hotels, the reply is done by someone who, honestly, doesn't care that much. Sounds bad, but what it means is that person won't feel offended by harshly worded critique. As an author, replying while trying to remain calm and polite when someone is spitting on your baby may backfire massively

Re: I wish we could comment on reviews.

#12
something I just thought about; and doesn't address the desire to reply to a review-

Like Oskatat had mentioned, it might come down to education/knowledge of the subject.  In the author notes for your chapters, maybe include citations and links to information about the topic, or just include in the notes "hey this is what was going on about this thing I wrote about"

Re: I wish we could comment on reviews.

#14

Xian Wrote: something I just thought about; and doesn't address the desire to reply to a review-

Like Oskatat had mentioned, it might come down to education/knowledge of the subject.  In the author notes for your chapters, maybe include citations and links to information about the topic, or just include in the notes "hey this is what was going on about this thing I wrote about"


This is great advice for anyone writing a story based on research, like the original poster's. 

Re: I wish we could comment on reviews.

#15
Almost everyone should probably have some research to fall back on. In my case, I made up a fantasy world where the rain is rather acidic. I looked up what kind of natural materials we know that are resistant to acid, including metals, because I didn't want to feel like a complete idiot when someone points out 'chemistry doesn't work like that'. If you're writing a chapter about cooking, provide a link to the recipe that inspired you. Things like that.

Edit:
On the cooking thing.... Look up your cooking techniques. The last thing you want is people getting upset about you mixing up boiling, broiling, braising, steaming, simmering and stewing when it's supposed to be some light-hearted downtime for your intrepid heroes. You know Foodies will get upset about it

Re: I wish we could comment on reviews.

#16
It's incredibly unprofessional in writing to comment on reviews. Even if they enabled this feature, it'd be for the best if you didn't engage. You're not wrong that it's one of the most infuriating things in the world when someone claims you did your research wrong when, no, they're just ignorant.

The only thing to hope for as far as optics are concerned is that your readers are either discerning enough to spend five seconds on Google and realize you had it right the first time or are at least willing to suspend their disbelief and enjoy the story.

I looked at the review you mentioned. That person looks like the kind of guy who'd have a hundred arguments even if you presented him with perfectly reasonable sources. It's probably for the best that reviews can't devolve into insanity. At least he seems to have an equal number of upvotes and downvotes.

Re: I wish we could comment on reviews.

#17
As a reader I'd love to be able to comment on reviews. So many good reviews will point something interesting out, but it won't be clear where in the book they found it. Alternatively there are "negative" (i.e. not full marks) reviews that make a good point only for the author to have too little to go on, misconstrue it and respond in a forum thread or post-chapter memo. Meanwhile we the fans are like "oh, if only we could have had a brief back and forth, this negativity could have been productivity :<".

Re: I wish we could comment on reviews.

#19
I know it can sting when you feel like someone's criticism took off from a point of misunderstanding.  I've found that readers are a lot like customers when you're in business:  someone once said, "There are no good customers or bad customers - there are just customers and you want them, or you don't."  I try to remember that when I get disappointed (in my day job, and as an amateur writer) but I would say if there's a silver lining, it's the fact that the person who offered these detailed critiques was really into your work and cared enough to comment - even if it didn't come off as caring to you.  I hope you can shake it off and move forward - you definitely reached this reader, perhaps your content wasn't what they were looking for but your work didn't go unnoticed.