Writer on a Warpath: Dylan Saccoccio Rampages against Reviewer


There’s only one way to respond to a negative review: DON’T

Authors who challenge a review do nothing in the way of damage control. Quite the opposite, actually.

This is a major writing faux pas. At best the author comes off defensive or childish. At worst, the author comes off psychotic, especially when they threaten to post revenge reviews or even file a lawsuit.

On the offenders registry are authors Stephan J. Harper, Carroll Bryant, Emily Giffin, Chris McGrath, and now Dylan Saccoccio.

Today, I’d like to focus on Dylan Saccoccio (author of The Tales of Onora) for going on a rampage against a recent reviewer.

dylanDylan is an author I’m rather familiar with, having purchased his book based on the number of reviews, comparisons to Tolkien and George R.R. Martin, his impressive Amazon Best Sellers Rank, and the fact that I’m a sucker for an attractive cover.

You’ll note I did not determine my purchase based on the number of positive/negative reviews.

Similar criteria attracted the recent reader who left a less than positive review.

How Dylan responds is absolutely cringeworthy. See for yourself. If you’d like to see a train wreck, follow the link here.

His arguments aren’t even valid. He accuses negative reviews of being damaging to his novel’s success and a reflection of the reviewer instead of the author or book.

What I find funny: It’s his response to the negative review–NOT the negative review itself–that risk damaging his book’s success and his reputation as an author. So essentially he’s causing the very thing he is afraid will occur.


With over 100 reviews (60% being positive), a large twitter following, a loyal fan base, and a high Amazon ranking, it’s petty and ridiculous that he would even hone in on this one review.

He is so afraid of others threatening his writing career, he isn’t even aware he is committing career suicide. That’s like worrying about getting West Nile from a mosquito bite while smoking a cigarette.

Let’s look at the damage, shall we?

The review did no damage whatsoever; however, his response could cost him fans (new and old), damage his reputation, hurt sales, and lose followers.

Case in point. I used to follow him on twitter, but I simply can’t follow any author who behaves this way. Will he notice the sting of one bee? Maybe not. But if enough bees sting . . . you start to feel the venom.

So what did he accomplish in the way of damage control? Nothing but assuage a bruised ego.

So why did he respond to this review? The simple reason would be a lack of logic. He wanted the reviewer to remove his review because he worried it would damage sales. So in truth, he wasn’t trying to be a defensive man-child. He was responding to misconceptions of the dreaded negative review.


Negative Reviews Discredit Your Book or Writing

Negative reviews add legitimacy to a book’s reputation. Case in point, I almost didn’t purchase The Tales of Onora because it had too much praise. Without a negative review, I’m led to believe that his friends and family (or paid people) were a majority of his reviewers.

Negative Reviews are Slander

Slander and opinion are very different things. Can anyone tell me what a review is? Yes, for those of you who said opinion, you would be correct. We live in ‘Merica where everyone has a right to an opinion–whether informed, well-constructed, or biased. Does the latter describe this recent review. Hardly. He simply didn’t like it, and to be honest, neither did I. And for a lot of the same reasons as this guy, I might add. I guess I’m glad I didn’t review it. I’d hate to be the target of damaged pride.

Reviews are Personal

Youve_Got_Mail_20917_MediumHere’s where he really lost it, accusing the reviewer of having no sympathy or humanity. As if the reader’s goal was to bring down his career. Most of the time, reviewers don’t know you. Your success or failure isn’t their concern–and it shouldn’t be. This isn’t heartless, it’s just a fact. They are interested in finding a good book that they will enjoy. You are not their focus when they leave a review. Reviews are for READERS, not authors. They are telling other readers why they liked/did not like a book and whether they think it is a worthy read. Their opinions can be hurtful, but it isn’t an attack.

For the record, the ONLY good way to respond to a negative review is to NOT RESPOND.

You could try NOT READING THEM, though I think an author interested in growth should read and consider all their reviews.

Instead of going on a rant, consider these alternatives to take the sting off.

  • take a shot for every negative review (non drinkers can substitute shots for chocolate)
  • frame them on the wall of shame
  • burn them
  • put a hex on the bad reviewer
  • determine if their negative response is in fact positive criticism and use that to improve your writing in the future
  • whine to a friend
  • re-read positive reviews
  • sing Let it Go
  • go online and distract yourself with cat memes

Well there you have it. I’m a firm believer in learning from other’s mistakes, so let this be a lesson to the rest of you. When you get a review–good or bad–be gracious, be humble, be prepared, and most importantly be quiet. Whatever your response is, keep it out of the spotlight. In the end, your success or failure relies more on you than your reviews and readers.

30 thoughts on “Writer on a Warpath: Dylan Saccoccio Rampages against Reviewer

  1. orangepondconnects

    Great post on a very important reminder of what NOT to do when dealing with negative reviews as an author! Complain to your cat, complain to your sock drawer, but don’t go online and complain where your loyal fans will see it.

  2. Another thing to do when you get a bad review is call all of your friends and rant to them about the jerk who gave you a bad review. They can handle it for a few days and then you move on. I do understand when a reviewer seems especially mean-spirited (and I’ve seen that) why a writer would be tempted to respond so I do feel compassion for him, but agree it’s best to stay quiet.

    • Exactly. And sometimes the really mean ones are trolls anyway, which means you have nothing to worry about, because it’s not a legit review. potential readers can usually sniff out a troll if the review doesn’t seem honest.

      • It always stuns though. As a mild-mannered writer it’s hard to understand people taking time from their day to write long, angry reviews. (My favorite is when the reviewer has gotten the book for free–no need to be angry).

        I read the link you gave and that author must have been having a really horrible day. We just have to hope not to be near a computer on those days as writers. 🙂 We’re constantly being told not to let people bully. But all of the best people rise above it all (at least give that appearance as they probably cry themselves to sleep some nights-haha) and so we must do the same.

      • I agree. I’ve never left a hateful review of anything I got for free. To be honest, I don’t leave hateful reviews. I didn’t even review this book though I paid for it and didn’t like it. I always like to include in my reviews what I like and don’t like. But considering his success, his reaction is just asinine. He isn’t struggling, especially compared to other independent authors I know. I know people who celebrate all reviews, because their happy to get one, and are happy for 50 book sales. I know he’s made more than that. Just sad to turn on a reader. My motto: rant and rave, but don’t make it public.

  3. Couldn’t agree more. It’s best to stay quite.

    Having said that, it’s not always easy. And, sadly enough, trolls *can* hurt your sales.

    After picking a fight on LinkedIn with a lady who declared her dislike of all Indie works, a particularly nasty (and off-topic) review appeared on Amazon for Schism (heck, she said she stopped reading after I introduced a giant to the story. There are no giants in any of my stories). What’s impressive is that it did so on every single Amazon shop – from India to Australia to Canada.

    Now, in the States, where I had some 20 reviews, it made little to no difference. In the UK, however, I only had 3 reviews, so her review lowered my sales and overall score significantly.

    Like you suggested, I said nothing, refusing to engage. I haven’t regretted it. But I can’t help but sympathize with Dylan on some level… 🙂

    • That is a good point. I agree, when there aren’t a lot of reviews, I could see how that might hurt sales. But I can’t sympathize with him at all because he has a huge fan base (he has posted on twitter that he gets hundreds of new followers in his sleep), makes a lot of sales, and he has 122 reviews (only 6% negative). He is not grateful for his success, especially when it is so difficult to be a nontraditional author.

  4. JennGalazios

    Great review of the situation! I had a long drive with my husband the other day (I was passenger), so I spent it reading the review responses on GoodReads. Ouch! I read some of it to my husband, but the ridiculousness of it all distracted him too much.

    Another idea, one I use regularly, is to write a response to negative reviews, DON’T send it, sit on it for 24 hours, then delete. You’ve not only vented in a healthy way, but had time to calm down, evaluate the situation, and move on.

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