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.