In light of recent discussions I thought I'd clarify my thoughts on the authors (and other creators) commenting on reviews issue. I’ve said in the past “just don’t do it, ever”, but I think the time has come for me to expand that thought into more than just the idea of authors behaving badly.
My updated advice to creators is that they should pretty much never comment on negative reviews. If you want to thank someone for a good review, please do; but, don’t say much beyond a gracious “Thank you”. Especially if you have any negative or irritated feelings inside you. The reason I say this is because people can tell, and—at least from the publicist’s perspective—you don’t want people thinking of you as an author behaving badly. And that includes authors behaving in a passive aggressive manner. Or a whiny or entitled manner.
“But I have a right to talk to people online. They have comment functionality turned on, and that’s what it's for!” Yes, that’s true. You certainly have that right and privilege. But stop and ask yourself whether is it wise from a public relations perspective. If you are a wise person, you’ll realize that the answer is most likely going to be “no, I shouldn’t”. It’s similar to the adage about not emailing angry.
Think about what you want your name to be as a brand, because your behaviour feeds right into that idea of the personal branding, and for creators on the internet, word gets around fast. Negative feelings about you will affect fans’ perceptions of your work, whether or not you want to believe that’s true.
Not only that, the stuff you post on line can’t ever really be removed. People take screen shots, aggregators aggregate. So if you want to get on that train to interactivity, then feel free, just make sure you’re doing it for reasons that further your goals and cultivate the online image you want to have. Or you know, if you actually like and get along with people and are just socializing. Which is way different from commenting on reviews/criticism.
Anyhow, here’s a final piece of free advice: when in doubt, don’t.