Responding to a review is every bit as important as receiving one. Late draft version.
On The Value and Importance of Replying to Reviews
WdC, as a singular entity, is primarily a meeting place for new and old authors to both have their writing read–which is to say, reviewed–and to read and review the works of others.
Some writers like receiving reviews while others, not so much. Especially if an assessment of their work is critical and less than glowingly complimentary. The same is not nearly as true, however, when it comes to receiving a response to a review that one has given to a fellow member. Reviews that are often the result of a sincere and concentrated effort on the part of the reviewer.
In a very real sense, replies to reviews are every bit the equal of the reviews themselves. To not respond is the equivalent of snubbing someone who has taken the time to say hello. It is a rebuke, a rebuff not only of the reviewer, but of the very process itself. A vital interchange that lies at the heart of WdC, and jeopardizes its continuation as both a social and learning enterprise.
It must be assumed, in my opinion, that the importance of replying to a review of your work is often of such crucial value to the average reviewer, that no amount of rationalization or other excuses can justify one’s lack of response or acknowledgement. In some cases, nothing more is necessary than a simple, "Thank you, I read your review and appreciate your time in writing it." If one is so pressed for time, so busy with other activities that a reply which takes only seconds to write is not possible, then that person is occupied with one-too-many other involvements.
Even more to the point, I'd suggest that a person who, for one reason or another (short of death) frequently fails to answer reviews, is guilty of a kind of parasitism whereby they profit from the opinions and experiences of others while giving little or nothing back to the reviewing community as a whole. In my humble opinion, this represents an abuse of others' good will, kindness, and/or an honest effort extended on their behalf.
Obviously WdC is much more than a hang-out for reviewers, both giving and receiving. A lot more. In some cases, too much more, some might argue. It’s not my place, however, to comment on all the other attributes, facilities, and benefits that the site offers to its membership. I leave that in the more-than-capable hands of an army of faithful followers who keep and maintain WdC as what is likely one of the better--if not the best--author locations of its kind on the internet.
It has been my personally rewarding experience to correspond with a large number of both foreign-born citizens of the U.S., and those living in countries other than America–most of whom participate in everything WdC has to offer. For many of these folks, English is a second, even third or more language, and they are all to be congratulated and lauded for their gutsy willingness to conquer writing in English. Which can be confusing enough just to speak coherently. I suspect, however, that this affects the review process and needs to be taken into consideration accordingly.
Once again, after all is said and done, reviews are the grease, in a manner of speaking, that lubricates the internal machinery by which WdC operates. It is nothing short of a privilege, even an honor to have your work reviewed by total strangers. For better and, granted, sometimes for worse.
Much is said on the WdC site about how to write a good review. Long lists of "do's" and "don't's" are prescribed as to the proper etiquette when assessing the work of others. However, way too little, I submit, is mentioned as to the importance of acknowledging reviews, and how the ebb and flow of giving and receiving are not mutually exclusive.
Regardless of outcome, whether you are flattered or insulted, all reviews of your work are both learning and teaching moments. Unfortunately when the reviewer him or herself is ignored or otherwise left to believe that their evaluation was unwanted, unread, or rejected altogether, then that, too, can become a learning moment for the reviewer--albeit less than desirable.
It is not possible to conclude this subject without a brief mention as to the additional importance of reading–comprehensively–the full and complete content of any message that is sent to you by a reviewer. This is true under normal circumstances, as pertains to casual emails, texting and the like, let alone the often more vital material contained in a given review.
Almost too numerous to mention are the instances where my reviews, for instance, have included certain details, comments, questions, and other critical remarks which go unnoticed, unread, or otherwise ignored by recipients of those reviews. The net result of such omissions is that, speaking for myself, they can and often do represent the termination of all future communications between that person and myself. Not out of anger or resentment, but a simple realization that our time is likely wasted by people who are too busy to hear all that we might have to say.
It’s hard to figure why this is so true, so much of the time. It could, I suppose, be relegated to the fast-paced world we live in? WdC itself is surely an example of almost too much of a good thing. Faithful supporters and devotees would argue, no doubt, that it is precisely the myriad elements and aspects of the website which make it so unique and worthwhile.
Worth repeating, nonetheless, is how the practice of reviewing is so critical a component of the site, that it must be assumed such exchanges are in constant jeopardy. That they are always in danger of losing their important position near the top of all other priorities. Further, that the relevance of the "two-way-street" nature of reviews themselves, is in dire need of increased and enhanced attention.
In the end, unacknowledged reviews are an anathema to everything WdC represents. It is a form of inattention to detail which detracts and diminishes the principles upon which the site, as a whole, is predicated.
It’s also an interesting topic and one in which a select group of others will, I hope, find some amount of value. Provided, of course, they ever read this. And further provided they read all of it. Even more so, that those who feel a twinge of guilt, might be moved to mend their ways.
I’m not exactly holding my breath waiting for a miracle, but one never knows about these kind of things. I’ve never met so many wonderful people all in one place before. And sometimes we get so busy, so involved, we simply lose our way. Like Hansel and Gretel, we get lost here and there.
So here’s my version of a big bag of bread crumbs. Please feel free to help yourself.