« The Point of Process Porn
A Feel Good Joyful Funny Film: The Sapphires »
A friend of mine, a librarian and blogger and reviewer, has had a handful of authors attack her because she wrote what they considered to be bad reviews of their books.1 She did not enjoy it.
This is not an isolated incident. Reviewers have had authors dummy spit2 at them, sic their fans on them, and generally make them wonder why they’re bothering to write reviews.
What can bloggers do when wrathful authors and their hordes descend up on them?
Here’s what my friend did. She took down those reviews. Good idea.
What these authors don’t realise is that their worst enemy is not critical reviews; it’s obscurity. No reviews is way, way, way worse than bad reviews.
Someone hates your book? That’s a good thing because it means they actually read it. (Even better you got a passionate response!) No one reading it. No responses? That’s the fast track to out of print and gone and forgotten.
That’s what I fear: not being able to sell my books because I have no audience. I do not fear people hating my books. Jane Austen is hated. Every writer I love is hated. It’s a feature, not a bug!3
So here’s my advice: if an author has a go at you for a less than gushing review of their book—take it down. And if it’s possible leave a polite note explaining why. Something like:
This space was occupied by a review of X by Cranky Author. Cranky Author was incensed by the review so I have removed it and will no longer review anything by Cranky Author.
See? Everyone’s happy. Cranky Author’s eyeballs are no longer assailed by your shocking blindness to their genius.4 You don’t have to deal with their crankiness.
And maybe if everyone does this, those authors—and fortunately they are small in number—will get the message and knock it off.
As a general rule, authors, do not respond to reviews.5 They’re not for you, they’re for readers. And especially do not attack the authors of those reviews! Leave reviewers alone!
Posted by Justine at 8:20, 13 August 2012 under Bloggery/Internetty Stuff, Praising, Ranting, Writing life | 18 Comments »
I try and read as many books as I can so I can recommend books to students and help them make appropriate selections. As such I sometimes have to read stuff I don’t like. I read a book a couple of years ago that was touted as the “like Harry Potter for adults”. I hated it (but finished it) and my boss hated it so much she didn’t finish it. I read bad reviews and good reviews of this book. But it’s on our shelves, I still point it out to students in case they are interested. I wish people wouldn’t take criticism to heart so much, I don’t believe a bad review is a bad thing. I often read bad reviews but still read the book.
August 13th, 2012 at 9:07 AM
Kim Baccellia Says:
This happened to me too. There was one that started to attack me on posting a 2 rating on their book. Then this person posted a rant about how terrible that was. I’m like, I gave it a 2 and did post some good things about it. I also then decided to just take the review down. Better that way.
Lilian Darcy Says:
Justine, you’re absolutely right. Still, though, when somebody peeks into the lacy white bassinet where slumbers your beloved book (that you birthed after a nightmare four-year labor) and says, “Wow, your baby is really ugly!” it does actually make you want to cry…
August 13th, 2012 at 10:55 AM
4. Justine Says:
ElvinaGB: Exactly. Lots of negative reviews have encouraged me to read the book.
Kim Baccellia: I’m sorry you were hassled. They so need to get over themselves. How can it be news by the time your an adult that people don’t all like the same things? Bizarre.
Lilian Darcy: When somebody peeks into the lacy white bassinet where slumbers your beloved book (that you birthed after a nightmare four-year labor) and says, “Wow, your baby is really ugly!” it does actually make you want to cry
You do know books aren’t babies, right? I mean you haven’t been attempting to feed yours, have you? Or change its nappy (diaper)? Just checking.
Seriously, sure, it hurts. But the world does not need to hear about our pain. That’s what friends and relatives are for. Oh, and make sure you moan and cry about the mean reviews offline where there’s no permanent record.
August 13th, 2012 at 11:21 AM
A really sensible idea. I have a feeling it could prove highly effective.
Have you been getting comments about your use of the term “dummy spit”? I’m curious to know, because the assumption that none of us in the US would be bothered to look up an unfamiliar term does sting a little.
August 13th, 2012 at 11:48 AM
6. Justine Says:
Tamara: Thank you.
Every time I use an Australian expression or word I am asked what it means. That was my attempt to forestall that question. And, yes, it’s always USA folks asking. I wanted to save myself the bother of snarkily asking if their google was broken.
I get to call them on it. I am a proud dual citizen of Australia and the USA. I aim to beat laziness out of both my peoples!
August 13th, 2012 at 11:52 AM
“Every time I use an Australian expression or word I am asked what it means.”
I was afraid that was the case. Overcoming rampant laziness, that’s a tall order, but I’m rooting for you.
August 13th, 2012 at 1:58 PM
8. Justine Says:
Tamara: Google is a beautiful thing. Those who truly want to know get their answers.
You used “root” on purpose, didn’t you?
August 13th, 2012 at 2:02 PM
As always, your post is full of common sense. I’ve never been hassled by an author for a negative review (possibly because I tend to prefer squeeing over books than disrecommending them), but the recent idiocy did make me wonder whether I should be more careful about what I say. Thanks so much for reminding me that most authors are very nice and very sensible!
August 13th, 2012 at 7:04 PM
Kat Kennedy Says:
I think this is an excellent route for people who don’t have the emotional energy or time to deal with author tantrums. It is not something I would do, as I spend a lot of time and energy writing my reviews. Unfortunately, too many authors view the take-down of a negative review as a win – and the only downside to this option is that it may encourage the author to continue this behaviour in the hopes of removing all their negative reviews. Plus, it means that valid criticism is no longer available to other consumers.
But, ultimately, people being attacked by authors need to do what is best for them. And I completely know how stressful it can be to be the target of author attacks, so I’m glad you mentioned this option.
August 13th, 2012 at 8:41 PM
It might be even more effective if instead of naming the book and the author in the review you’re deleting, you simply state, “I have removed a review from here because the author was unhappy about it. I will no longer be reviewing books by that author.” If you’re going to oubliette an author, really oubliette them.
August 14th, 2012 at 1:58 AM
Janet Reid Says:
Great post and one I intend to forward to my roster of clients. I often write to the people who review my authors’ books to thank them for doing so including reviewers who didn’t particularly like the book. Any review attention in this noisy crowded marketplace is valuable. Thank you for saying this so much more eloquently than I ever could.
August 14th, 2012 at 4:47 AM
Stephanie Jaye Evans Says:
Cranky authors are zombie-hating sparkly pastel fart rainbows. (I’ve been dying for a chance to use that phrase ever since I saw it, Justine.)
August 14th, 2012 at 7:09 AM
14. Justine Says:
Lizabelle: It really is a minority.
Kat Kennedy: It is not something I would do, as I spend a lot of time and energy writing my reviews.
Yes, that’s the part of this that doesn’t work. Some of the reviews that the loony authors attack are wonderful pieces of writing. I don’t want them gone.
Also some of the nuttier authors, as you say, do view it as a victory to make the bad reviews go away, which is why I think it’s important to publicly say “This review was removed because of the author and there will be no further reviews of that author”. There does need to be a record.
I would like there to be consequences for the authors who bully reviewers like this.
–E: See my response to Kat.
Janet Reid: Thanks! I enjoy your blog.
Stephanie Jaye Evans: Ha!
August 14th, 2012 at 8:31 AM
I agree with Kat Kennedy that sometimes after working really hard to figure out why I didn’t love a book, the idea of deleting it can be difficult, especially if doing so will make the author go “YES! VICTORY.”
But I agree you’re right. I can’t tell you how many books I’ve bought based on a bad or snarky review because I thought “Hey, even though the reviewer didn’t like it, it sounds up my alley.” No attention in the over-saturated book world is way, way worse than some less than glowing reviews.
August 14th, 2012 at 8:38 AM
16. Justine Says:
Tori: I know! There are reviewers who if they hate something I know I’m going to love it. Authors, stop being so stupid!
I too agree with Kat. What I’ve suggested I think is a good solution for some reviewers if they can’t deal with the insanity. But I totally support reviewers who decide to ignore the crazy author and keep their review live.
I guess if every reviewer in the world could co-ordinate to not review the bully authors it would work . . .
August 14th, 2012 at 8:45 AM
My book is on two-hour feeds and is waking me up five times a night with colic. Is this why I am cranky? How soon will it potty train?
August 14th, 2012 at 10:58 AM
18. Justine Says:
Lilian Darcy: *backs away slowly from the crazy author on my blog*
August 15th, 2012 at 8:42 AM
RSS feed for comments on this post.
Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.
© 2003-2013 Justine Larbalestier