Well, Excuse Me!

by | October 13, 2020 | General | 2 comments

I read a blog post on a reviewer’s website that made me rethink online courtesy. This woman went on a rant about authors who aren’t considerate enough to say “thank you” when she reviews their books, often at their request. She held the opinion that after she spent “hours reading and reviewing” a book, the least the author could do was “take a few minutes” to send a follow-up e-mail, especially if it was a good write-up.

Wow – I thought we were all on the same page! I know a lot of authors who don’t communicate with reviewers because they don’t want it to look like they’re sucking up, and I’m one of them. I do write to people who give me free exposure, especially bloggers who have featured me as a guest or interview subject. Oftentimes it results in a return invitation, and it’s common courtesy. I was raised by a generation that believed in sending “thank you” notes, so it’s a habit. The one time I received a terrible review on a blog, I actually wrote to the reviewer to thank them for their honest opinion. I didn’t like what they said about me or my book, but I chose to take the high road and show them that I wasn’t bothered by their negative comments.

I used to write book reviews for a romance site and I didn’t expect flowers when I reviewed someone’s book. That isn’t why I did it and I can count on one hand the times an author reached out to thank me or question my parentage. If they did drop a line, I appreciated it, but it wasn’t what I lived for. Often, I’ll hold contests and offer a book as a prize. When I send it to the winner, I always ask them to let me know what they thought of it. I don’t ask them to post a review on Amazon, but just give their opinion so I’ll know if I’m reaching my audience. This is something else I don’t count on because people say they will, but usually don’t. It’s all part of the game and no, I don’t take it personally.

The remarks I mentioned earlier gave me cause for pause. The person referenced “hours spent reading and reviewing” books, but I wonder if she has any idea how much time and effort an author invests in getting that book ready for her to read. We agonize over every word, detail, revision and rewrite. We worry that the cover might not convey what the story is about. We sweat out a release date then become sleep deprived from promotional activity once it’s released. We anxiously await feedback and when we get it…we’re chastised because we didn’t say “thank you?”

As I said, it’s all part of the game and there is no right or wrong approach. Some people express themselves beautifully through the mouths of their characters but fumble when it comes to speaking from the heart. I fall into that trap myself at times. I suppose that’s why we choose to write, to express ourselves through words, and that’s a great thing.

For what it’s worth I don’t expect a “thank you” note for this post, either. Just buy one of my books.

Tim Smith

Tim Smith is an award-winning bestselling author. His books range from romantic mystery/thriller to contemporary erotic romance. He is also a freelance photographer. When he isn't pursuing those two careers he can often be found in The Florida Keys, indulging his passion for parasailing between research and seeking out the perfect Pina Colada.


  1. Lisabet Sarai

    I do try to say thank you, but privately.
    I’ve heard many authors say one shouldn’t publicly engage with reviewers.
    When someone posts my media kit material, though, I always try to drop by and leave a comment with a thank you.

  2. rose

    Hi, Tim,

    I was raised during an era when “please” and “thank you” were everyday courtesies, with the “thank you” being a simple acknowledgement of a favour done, or a service performed. I think it behooves an author, who has *requested* a review from a reviewer, to thank the reviewer, though a private note or email, is more discreet. (The exchange is between the reviewer and the author, not the reviewer, the author, and the reviewer’s audience.) I honestly don’t believe that even a fumbler of heartfelt expressions would be unable to send a simple, straightforward “Thanks so much for your kind words.” or “Thanks so much for your honest comments.” Either way, seven words in an email. It may not seem like much, but, yes, if someone *asked” me to read their book and review it, and I invested the time and effort in reading it and writing a review, I think it would be impolite of the writer to not send a simple thank you. Some kind of acknowledgement that the writer appreciates the reviewer’s investment in time and effort should be forthcoming.

    Let’s put it this way, if a writer sent me a book to read and asked me to review it, and I did, and the writer then totally ignored my review after having asked me to do them that favour (for free, I assume), I would certainly think twice about reviewing their work, if they sent something else to me. It isn’t that one does the work for a thank you, but it feels good to get a thank you.

    We do the thank you thing all the time in Storytime, asking others to read our creative efforts and offer comments, and then we say thanks for your comments. How long does it take to write thanks yous? 6o seconds tops. for a quick one? Even when I’ve offered a Flasher and say “Comments appreciated, but not necessary. Hope you enjoy,” I get comments and then I thank the person offering the comments. It’s a small civility in an increasingly uncivil world.

    It would be a different matter, of course, if a professional reviewer (someone paid to review for newspapers, or websites) offered an unsolicited review. I think , in that case, an acknowledgement from the author wouldn’t be necessary. Any kind of acknowledgement would be strictly up to the author.

    Quick anecdote not involving writers. My husband was an auto body repairer, a body man, which includes painting. He was a very good body man, excellent in fact. I was always in awe of how he was able to take a crumpled and/or scraped up and/or rusted out mess of metal and turn it back into a thing of beauty. He had a private shop the last ten years of his life. I still keep the thank you note he received from a lady in town, whose vehicle he worked on not long before he died. In it, she said, “Hi, Joe, Just wanted to thank you again for the work you did on my car. You are an artist! I really love it and am very grateful! Thanks again!” She’d already paid him for the work he’d done and thanked him, verbally, when she picked up her vehicle. She didn’t *have* to send a thank you note, but she did, just to show how much she appreciated his fine work. He wasn’t a prideful man, but I know he was so pleased to receive that note. And I, also, was very pleased that he received it, because I think a lot of people didn’t necessarily acknowledge his artistry. They paid him and *said* thank you, but to follow up with a note was very rare.

    And what did that note cost her? The illustrated thank you note (they come in little boxes that you keep in your desk for when you need them), about two minutes’ worth of writing, a stamp, and the time it took to put it in the mail. But, for Joe’s sake, I’m so glad she did it, and it sits right by his side of our dining table, a reminder that his artistry was appreciated.

    Personally, I think that in the times in which we live, it is more important than ever before, to let people know that you appreciate whatever they do to make your life even a little better.

    And in that spirit, thanks so much for your post and for the time and effort you spent on it. It isn’t easy coming up with blog post ideas, working them into a decent expression of your thoughts, and meeting a deadline.

    Rose 😉

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