Oh, what a day, what a day. Where shall I start?
1. Authors – it is possible to have a back and forth on a blog without pimping your own book unless you were asked to. An example of what I mean:
“Oh I totally agree with you! I need to have vikings in my romances and Polly Petty’s pirates are not the same! When I wrote viking buttsecks I and viking fourway III I had such a great time – my mom and dingleberry reviews think so too!”
Or in the discussion about viking romances you could say:
“I love viking romances! Reading Susie Vikinglover’s Viking Sunday is what made me want to start writing. I love the sense of adventure, the brawny men, the history. Have you tried XYZ author or book yet?”
Do you see the difference? One is not a discussion. No, it’s a slap at another author (which folks, seriously, STFU) AND a pimp of yourself while also bringing your mom and some random site run by your next door neighbor where all the books get a 5 viking raider ship review.
The second is an author who is a reader too. Many of us are, you know. You don’t have to shove your book in everyone’s face every thirty seconds. Try just being you for a while, it’s far preferable, IMO.
The internet is not private. If you get involved in something and start talking shit about another author, you’d best be owning your words when you get caught. I’m not going to respond in kind in public, but I will remember who did it and when that person asks me for a favor, as it happened recently, they can go to hell. Don’t be an asshole. Don’t try to make your cred on the backs of someone else and think it won’t be seen because it will. And when you do get busted, be an adult and own it. Don’t backpedal, don’t try to pretend you didn’t mean what is totally obvious you did mean until you got confronted and then punked out like a third grader. It is entirely possible to say, “I like X too and I’m so glad you liked my book.” without also adding, “and I totally agree with you about author Y and her lack of this story element.” and then follow up with more about your book.
Have some dignity and some class. And while you’re at it, have a cup of STFU.
Another thing? Authors who claim to be bestselling authors on everything, their myspace handle, online all over the place, their sig line – without actually being a bestseller in the accepted meaning. By this I mean, if you are Nora Roberts, you are not only a best selling author, you’re also a NYT bestselling author, etc. And yet, she doesn’t wear a t-shirt all over town with BEST SELLING AUTHOR on it.
If you have made the best seller list at your very small pub, you are not a ‘bestselling author’ in the understood meaning. I know this seems harsh, but it’s such an overstatement and everyone else knows that too and it’s just not dignified.
I know these days everyone gets a ribbon just for showing up for the race, but IMO, it takes away from the achievement of those who win when those who simply show up claim the winner title. Also it’s just a huge disconnect.
And while I’m in that neighborhood, sigh, okay, here’s the thing – everyone gets bad reviews. EVERYONE. Go look at any author you consider at the top of her game and check her amazon pages. There will be at least a few reviews talking about how awful she is or the book, about how she has no talent or ripped off another author’s style.
BAD REVIEWS SUCK but they come with the territory. Whether or not you have thick skin, they exist and how you react to them does make a difference.
Every time I see an author arguing with a reviewer or saying their mom really liked it or how some other review site liked it, or, god help us all, the “laughing all the way to the bank” reply – it makes me nauseated. It makes me pissed because the rest of us are painted with the same brush you’ll be. AND YOU WILL. You will be judged as a whiner, as a thin skinned cry baby and why would you want that?
1. Bad reviews happen (say this a few times)
2. So what? I mean, it’s an opinion. Everyone has an opinion. Reviewer A loves it, Reviewer B hates it. That’s a fact of life. People read books with their own filters, with their own likes and dislikes. It’s not about you, or how awesome your mom thought your book was, it’s about who is reading it. In the end it does not make your book better or worse because it’s just an opinion.
3. There are ways to deal with reviews. If they’re really bad, I ignore them. I have thick skin but I’m not dead. Reading someone say my writing sucks and they hate me and my voice, hurts. Doesn’t mean I’m going to flip out, but it means you have to find ways of dealing with negatives or you will go insane or do something stupid like:
4. FOR THE LOVE OF PETE DO NOT RESPOND TO A BAD REVIEW WITH A REFERENCE TO OTHER SITES THAT LIKED THE BOOK. I’m totally serious. First of all, what do you hope to achieve with that? Do you think people reading will say OH! Well then, this reviewer is all wrong and I must have the book! Or do you think they read that and say, “what the hell? Who freaking cares? That author is an idiot” I’ve been doing this for a while now and almost exclusively I’ve seen the latter reaction. The author just presents herself as a rightful target of mockery. hundreds of comments later, after all your friends have shown up to say how awesome you are, and nothing has changed except you’ve become synonymous with some web kefuffle. Keep moving.
5. I’ll either say nothing, reply or send an email thanking them for reading and move on. There’s no battle to be won here, either people like it or they don’t. There’s no right or wrong there.
6. Even if it is personal, shut up. I’m not joking. I hear complaints about how it’s a double standard with regard to what we can say online. And you know what? There is. Get over it.
7. Let me repeat, shut up. Dont have your friends rush over to the blog in question. Dont’ have your fellow authors rush over. This NEVER works. It only makes you look worse.
Sometimes, the only thing to do is just close the window and move on. Call a friend. Eat some chocolate. But don’t throw away your dignity by giving in to temptation and responding. Think. What will this do for you? Will it give you a better review? Will it make more people read you? Will it make you look bad? Do you even have the time to get involved in some huge drama?
Some people will like you, some won’t. End of story. Running over to a blog and hurling insults won’t help anyone. Just step away from the keyboard.
In closing – just use some common sense. Storms will pass. Bad reviews will pass. There will always be authors more read than you, paid better than you, who get better covers than you. Just accept that now and as long as you do the best job you can on your book, that’s all you can do.
Civility goes a long way. Stupidity lasts forever on the internet as long as google cache exists. RESIST TEMPTATION.