Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A Message To Crazy Town


Before I begin, let me make something clear. This message is directed to only a few authors, probably none of whom read this blog. Nonetheless, it has to be said. Ready?

Okay, you’re got to stop it. Really. You’ve just GOT TO STOP. Over the past few months, the number of online author meltdowns has begun to reach critical mass. First there was Jacqueline Howett and the ugliness over the Greek Seaman review. Then there were the widely publicized reviewer wars waged by Alice Hoffman and Laurell K. Hamilton (all of which have since been taken down). Then there was the whole Goodreads debacle (two of them, no less). Then Julie Halpern went medieval on a reviewer’s ass on her blog (the post has since been taken down). And now Mike Coe has decided a negative review from The Self-Publishing Review rates forty (yes, forty) comments in the space of a half hour (the entire amazing exchange can be found here).

The response on Twitter has been predictable. Reviewers calling authors crazy. Authors calling authors crazy. Readers wondering WTF. Way back before the Mike Coe episode, I had written a rather mild blog post in which I explained that posting this kind of response to reviewers wasn’t effective and inevitably made the author look ridiculous. But at this point, I think stronger measures are called for.

So… STOP WRITING THIS CRAP, RIGHT NOW! You’re making all of us look bad. As Moira Rogers/Bree pointed out, every time an author goes nuts in his/her response to a reviewer, it puts other authors in the position of having to prove that we aren’t nuts too. That we’ve gotten lousy reviews and sucked it up. That we’ve seen Amazon comments on our books that weren’t anywhere close to reality and we’ve just let them go. One nutzoid author makes all other authors suspect. And god help the author who gets reviewed after the reviewer has just gone through one of these debacles!

We all know what you’re supposed to do when something like this happens, right? You complain to your friends. You complain to your Significant Other. Maybe you even complain to your editor. And then you move on. If you feel you must write something in response, you write it and then you keep it for your own enjoyment. You DON’T send it off!

Why is that so hard to understand? Maybe because the Internet seems oddly personal. If you post something on your own blog, it’s just for you and your friends, right? Wrong! Ask Julie Halpern or Laurell K. Hamilton. Once it’s out there, it’s out there. And woe be unto you, toots.

So let’s have a few weeks of quiet, shall we? Nobody posts anything. Everybody keeps calm. Reviewers return to reading. Authors return to writing—their books. General amity prevails.

Until next time. Sigh.


10 comments:

Erin Nicholas said...

I think this line says it all-- So… STOP WRITING THIS CRAP, RIGHT NOW!

Amen, sister.
Erin

D. F. Krieger said...

I think I'm still just kinda sitting here in open-mouthed amazement that some of the pro's are even doing it. I mean, wow... Generally when we see an author melt down we roll our eyes and mutter "newbie", but to see certain big names you just mentioned- I'm in shock.

Maria D. said...

Great post! And I agree with Erin:)

Kelly Jamieson said...

This whole self-publishing thing is new to many authors. For the most part, their only promotion is "word of mouth", as most aren't paying big bucks for big promo campaigns without a publisher behind them. It is understandable that they would be so focused on reviews, both negative and positive, seeing the negative ones as detrimental to their sales. (They will learn that that is not the case.) Yes, some of them haven't reacted appropriately. Some others involved I understand come from the world of fanfic where it is expected that you interact with people who give feedback. This is a different world than published books being reviewed. Both authors and reviewers may not realize the difference

And when I say "reviewers" I really mean readers who do reviews on Amazon, Gooodreads or perhaps their blog. It annoys me when "reviewers" (i.e. those who spend significant time reading books and writing up thoughtful analysis of them)weigh in on these messes, aligning themselves with "reader reviewers". In the process they are perpetuating the ugliness and hate and "us vs them" mentality. There are many assumptions being made about people on both sides. I am beyond sick of it but since I know people aren't going to stop being crazy, much as we'd like them to, I'm just going to ignore it all.

Meg Benjamin said...

Actually, while a couple of these writers were first-time, self-pubbed authors, the others were more experienced. And those guys should have known better, IMHO.

Kinsey Holley said...

There's a long long history of big name "serious" authors going apeshit on reviewers. Not too long ago Alice Hoffman tweeted the personal phone number of the Boston Globe reviewer who dared to give her book a negative-ish review. I remember some nonfiction writer going nuts on a guy's blog because the guy (who was in the same field as the writer) criticized his new book - it was a serious breakdown, a "fuck you you've ruined my life now no one will buy my book!!!" kind of rant.

I do wish authors would quit freaking out over readers expressing their opinions on Amazon and Goodreads. Whether they are "review" blogs or just readers posting their opinions online, they all have the right to do it and there is no way - NO WAY - to get into a scrap with him and emerge looking good. There is a huge discussion going on at Dear Author right now. Someone (it might be the author Elizabeth Moon but we're not sure) went on a long tangent about qualified or competent reviews and everyone else was like - no. That's not the point. There is no objective measure of what makes a review competent, just as there is no objective measure of what makes a book good or bad. It is all subjective, and all readers have the right to post their opinion, even when those opinions are badly expressed and ill-informed. I think other readers know how to ignore the dumbass reviews, you know?

Sigh.

Kelly Jamieson said...

@ Kinsey - and that whole thread at Dear Author just proves my "perpetuating the us vs them" point.

Jen B. said...

I am pouting a little. I keep hearing about these melt downs after the fact! I really want to experience one in progress! It's scary how often people knee jerk without thinking. And, yes, I am going to try out the links above. I am an inquiring mind :)

Kinsey Holley said...

Oh, I know. And it all seems so pointless and (melo)dramatic.

flchen1 said...

Amen, Meg. Ugh--hasn't anyone learned from previous debacles that NO GOOD CAN COME FROM LOSING YOUR COOL IN FRONT OF MILLIONS? It just makes you look crazy, whether you're an author complaining about a bad review or a reviewer going off about a disappointing story or an overpaid actor...