Authors Gone Wild! (wherein they act like boobs instead of flashing them)

By now I’m sure most of you have seen at least a few examples of Authors Behaving Badly in regards to reviews they’ve found to be less than favorable. No? Well, here’s the worst example I’ve seen. And if that isn’t enough for you, simply Google “authors behaving badly” and you can spend days getting lost in the muckety-muck.

I haven’t gotten too wrapped up in this whole blowup, but it seems like it’s turned into an Interwebz Civil War…only without any civility whatsoever. Authors and Reviewers are choosing sides, sometimes pitting friend against friend, as everyone weighs in–rather heavily–on the subject of authors and reviewers mixing it up.

Everyone has the right to speak their piece. That’s a given. In an ideal world, people would take others’ feelings into consideration and refrain from being total jagdishes. Unfortunately, our precious world is far from ideal and there are a lot of assholes out there who couldn’t give a damn about anyone’s feelings. Such is life.

My author friend, Jessa Slade, wrote a post about this whole debacle and used a great analogy, comparing authors and reviewers to unwed parents. I like that analogy, especially since authors are wont to view their stories as their “precious babies.”

So, following that line of thinking, I believe the parents in Jessa’s analogy should stay far away from one another. You know, all that “and never the twain shall meet” kind of thing. Authors should view it as having a restraining order against them once someone has reviewed their book. At most, a polite nod from across the street to acknowledge the reviewer’s presence would be appropriate. And that’s even if the review is wonderful! Just like you don’t want to hurt your image by bashing the reviewer if they found your book to be less than cookie-dough-wonderful, I think it would seem just as unprofessional to publicly gush your appreciation for a glowing review.

This recent ‘splosion of shite is a perfect example of a few bad apples spoiling the whole bunch (here’s a Goodreads shelf listing a whole bushel of those bad apples). But with the internet’s permanency and lightning-quick ability to make anything viral in a matter of minutes, the spoilage spreads faster and farther than ever before.

The best we can do as authors is write a book to the best of our ability. But once we hand it off to the masses, we can’t control how they’ll receive it. Hopefully they’ll love it, but not everyone will. It’s an absolute and unequivocal certainty.

Authors, do yourself a favor, and stop the review-stalking madness. If you must say anything at all, please leave it at, “Thank you for your time,” and then go write another book.

Ciao, bellas!

14 Comments on “Authors Gone Wild! (wherein they act like boobs instead of flashing them)”

  1. I think authors think that their comments will just go to the reviewer – I don't think they understand how the Internet is a very public sphere and that things catch fire quickly. Besides, it's hard to step back and let people bash your baby. Still though, I think the best action is to disengage. It's hard, but the author makes that choice when they decide to publish. If they can't stand the heat, then get out of the kitchen. Good post – I've been thinking about this a lot lately.

  2. Absolutely! Booksellers and other related professionals pay attention to this stuff and remember it. I know I do when it comes time to order the next Badly Behaving Author's book for the library. I have to step back and remember to evaluate the work itself, not the author. The readers are paying attention, too and they're not a cerebral when deciding who to read. Anne Rice's very public meltdown at Amazon reviewers a few years back directly impacted the sales of her next book. (Along with a shift in genre and a general refusal to be edited which led to the meltdown.) At my library, her circulation stats have never recovered.

  3. Hi T! I'm not sure in which arena authors would think these foibles are going straight to the reviewer. I mean, at least for the ones I've seen, these authors are posting directly in the comments sections of these sites. I'd find it impossible to believe they aren't aware that the entire world will then be able to view their comments.

    Now, if the author sends the reviewer a private email (which I still don't suggest at all!) and then said reviewer posts any portion of that email publicly, then that's a different story. Then less blame (but not much less) can be laid at the author's feet since they attempted to keep things private.

    That being said, if the author uses email or some other form of non-public medium to express their dislike of the review and acts like a total douchebag, then I still don't pity them if the reviewer wants to reveal said douchebaggery to the world.

    The bottom line when doing ANYTHING on the internet, folks, is if you wouldn't want it displayed on a billboard with your face on it, then for the love of all that is holy, don't put it online!

  4. Thanks for stopping by, Mel! It's great to hear this from a librarian's perspective. I hadn't even thought about how it could affect their circulation stats.

    Jessa (mentioned in the post) was just talking the other day about Anne Rice's meltdown and how she's no longer edited and likened her books to miracles or some crazy crap like that. That's insane!

    I hope you'll swing by Passions again soon, Mel. Take care!

  5. I've never understood why anyone says anything other than THANK YOU at all. A group of reviewers I'm around was just saying they don't understand why authors don't thank them for reviews. I tried to explain that inevitably an author says too much that can be misconstrued and often is…

  6. That's a very good point, Skhye! As writers, we tend to get a little…well, wordy. So whether we want to tell them how much we appreciate their awesome review or need to thank them for their time even though they didn't give us a favorable review, chances are it'll take wild horses to drag us away after we type those two succinct words: Thank you! We'll want to embellish on our elation or explain our reasons for our plot choices. I've never written anything short-n-sweet in my life, and I think it would be incredibly hard to do so under the pressures of answering a review for something that's so dear to me. Please tell your reviewer friends we appreciate what they do for us, and to take our silence as a good thing, not bad. šŸ™‚ Thanks for stopping, Skhye!

  7. > then go write another book

    Ya know, this is pretty much the perfect advice for everything when it comes to writing. Form rejection? Go write another book. Sucky sell-through? Go write another book. Want to eat a whole bucket of cookie dough? Go write another book.

    See, it does work for everything šŸ™‚

    Also, those boobs are hilarious.

  8. I think there are some authors out there who need to learn how to take criticism, and how to accept that a review is one person's opinion and everyone's opinion is subjective. Not everyone will adore your book. That's just fact. Like not everyone loves mac and cheese, or the latest blockbuster film. Readers have different tastes and there's no way on this planet that you could ever write a book that will satisfy the entire population.

    I've seen authors go off the deep end and start a personal war with reviewers on places as public as Amazon, where others readers see the fall out too. Personally, I find it unprofessional and ridiculous. If someone leaves a bad review, read it and move on. If there's something you can learn from it (perhaps that plot twist was glaringly obvious, or your character was a class A prick) then learn it and go forth to write your next book. Just remember that it is one person's opinion.

  9. I absolutely agree that it's just better for the author to ignore negative reviews and go write the next book – after all, everyone's taste is different, and explaining just how much your genius was misunderstood won't change the reader's taste.

    However, among all the talks about the douchebaggery of authors, I can't help but think of those reviews which aren't just negative reviews, or arguably reviews at all – the ones that are actually needlessly nasty, attacking the author as a person, seemingly being offensive just for the sake of it. I personally never received one, but I happened to read some around the internet… and it bothers me how it seems like these particular readers have some sort of untouchable right to be douchebags if they so choose, and no one can dare object. Of course such reviews generally invalidate themselves without the need of anyone commenting. But I do think a measure of civil interaction should be required from all parties involved.

  10. So glad you love the boob-tasticness, Jessa. What can I say? You inspire greatness in me. LOL

    Seriously though, your post did prompt me to write this when I noticed that my comments on your site were way past proper commenting length. And you're right, if we used writing a new book as the solution to our every problem we'd be prolific as hell. After all, though we tend to have happy-go-lucky personalities, we also tend to go through angsty-patches (usually attributed to those damn Doubt Demons).

    Thanks for stopping by, Jessa! *squishes*

  11. “…there's no way on this planet that you could ever write a book that will satisfy the entire population.”

    Considering how all art is subjective–I mean, we're talking math or physics which have absolute right and wrong properties–you'd think that artists, of all people, would understand this. But alas, the unfortunate truth of the matter is that so many don't.

    Thanks so much for weighing in on this topic, Felicity.

  12. Cornelia, you make an excellent point (and it's probably a whole other can of worms worthy of a different post). Just as authors should be respectful toward their reviewers, the people who choose to review books should show the same level of respect and professionalism.

    Reviews are done for the purpose to give facts and supported opinions about something so that the readers of said reviews can determine whether they want to take a chance on something or not.

    Reviews ARE NOT done for the purpose of slandering one's name or books to anyone who will listen with vile comments that are no better than a bully ganging up on a kid at recess without provocation.

    Thankfully, as you said, those types of reviews tend to discredit themselves and any reader who takes them to heart and chooses not to read a book based on nothing more than a review resembling diarrhea in Times New Roman probably isn't our target audience anyway, and good riddance.

    Thanks, Cornelia, for your thoughts. I hope to see you again here at PoP. šŸ™‚

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