Why you shouldn’t read reviews

“I feel my very existence threatened,” the Sila said.

Mr. M. cast a sardonic eye on the space she claimed to occupy. “How is that new? You’re only a shadow of smokeless flame anyway.”

“I can manifest myself to mortals,” she snapped, rapidly flashing into view as a beautiful almost-human woman, a serpent with flames flickering along its scales, and a cloud of blue smoke. “And at least I’m not limited to one form. Don’t you ever get tired of slithering around as a metal snake attached to an ugly turtle head?”

“They swell in sapphire smoke out of the blue cracks of the ground, They gather and they wonder and give worship to Mahound,” Mr. M. quoted, loftily ignoring the insult.

“Your Kipling obsession gets old very quickly,” said the Sila.

“Illiterate djinn! That was Chesterton. And he goes on to describe much what your current master is demanding: ‘And chase the Giaours flying, night and day, not giving rest, For that which is our trouble comes again out of the West.’”

“Well, I won’t be chasing anybody if your progenitor doesn’t stop reading her reviews. The most recent one complained about her introduction of one non-human creature – that would be you. Now she’s wondering how that reader will feel when he meets a Hindu God and an Islamic Djinn.”

“The Master of Ravens was not a true god; he was only an imitation of the god Shani,” Mr. M. corrected her.

“Details, details. I tell you, she’s on the verge of deleting me from the book!”

“Oh, don’t get your flames in a flare-up. She isn’t that fragile. If anything, she will end up even more determined to give you a major role.”

“You’re sure?”

“She isn’t that stupid, either. She knows she cannot delete me; I’ve been with her since the first book of the series. And you are safe too.”

“I am?”

“Annoying though you are, you are integral to the plot.”

The Sila’s flames flickered in sinuous, winding patterns. “So I am. I am also the most interesting character in the book, and by far the most beautiful. All the same, I wish she would not get all wobbly over the slightest little criticism.”

“So do I,” Mr. M. sighed, “but trust me, she will get over it. I fear such insecurity is in the nature of writers. In the old days it was easier to persuade them not to read their reviews.”

“It was?”

“Oh, yes. All one needed to do was point out how expensive subscriptions to Publishers’ Weekly and Kirkus Reviews were. Now writers can check their reviews on Amazon daily for free.”

“Perhaps,” the Sila suggested, “we should offer a protective service.”


We will look at the Amazon reviews daily and send an email summary to the writer whenever there’s something new. That way we can tactfully gloss over anything that might upset her.”

“Good idea, but she’ll never buy it. You wouldn’t believe how paranoid that woman is about forking over her email address!”

“Do you have an email address?”

“Naturally. Babylonmage@mesopotamia.com. What about you?”



“Hotmail, obviously.” The flames gusted up and died down; the Sila had departed.


  1. I wonder how those two would resound to spam emails. 😈

    1. Grumble Grumble

      That should be “respond” not “resound”. [Embarrassed Grin]

    1. I just put up my very first book and am trying valiantly not to check for reviews. I am, however, failing.This is worse than posting fanfiction, I swear…

  2. I left one, right? Checking… Now I’ve left one.

    I don’t see the review that triggered this, though. That bit of dialog also appears to be between the second and third books – not the first and second. Is number two done?

    1. Ha! Numbers two, three and four are all done, and the Sila is in number five. Writing this series is like eating potato chips!

  3. I’m picturing some of my characters reacting to a one star snowflake review. Raucous laughter features prominently.

  4. DM says, “You have published your book Ashley, make a roll to resist checking for reviews.”

    Rattle, rattle…

    “I got a one.”

    “OK, make a roll against being upset by critical review.”


    “Whoot, a natural twenty.”

    “You waste three hours reading the review. Roll to start next story.”

  5. They can be amazing. It was the wholly negative review with three stars that got me.

      1. That’s actually a known tactic of the review trolls. They figured out that Amazon’s bots will run checks, and if you run around leaving one-stars with very similar wording on multiple author’s books, All your reviews are likely to be yanked. Also, that normal readers will automatically lend less credence to one-star reviews as “clearly, that guy hated it” (they also tend to lend less credence to five-stars, as well, which is why having some 3&4 stars helps sales more than straight 5-stars).

        So now there’s a dedicated subset of trolls that specifically leave three-star negative reviews so it’s where the buyers are looking, and to avoid the bot sweeps… for now.

        *sinal salute*

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