Things went to hell on Goodreads again last week. I was chatting on Facebook when Giselle from Xpresso Reads made a comment on Twitter about another author going off the rails. I messaged her and she sent me the links. I followed them and landed at ground zero of a nuclear explosion going off.
It went off when Indie Author Heather White responded nastily to reviewer Andrea Thompson's review of the novel WHEN DESTINY KNOCKS. You can read the initial review here and then dive into the comments to see where it all goes horribly wrong. This is the perfect lesson of what not to do if you are an author. Don't call reviewers douches and morons. It's just a really bad idea.
The author's epic meltdown got a lot of attention. I watched it in real time, hoping to God she would see sense and stop the madness. It didn't happen. She started going off on another reviewer, Kara of Great Imaginations Book Reviews, for stating she would NOT be reading the book after seeing how the author was behaving. You can see how it gets really bad by reading here.
By the end of the night, the writer had deleted her Goodreads account, deleted her blog, and Twitter. All of this could have been avoided if she had just realized that Andrea's review was her own personal viewpoint and not said a word. In fact, I thought Andrea's review was pretty fair.
But that explosion has been just one of many in recent history. Now a new blog has started up to attack reviewers on Goodreads for posting negative reviews. It's pretty nasty. You can see it here. I want to state openly that I do NOT support in any way shape or form authors going after reviewers for negative reviews. It's childish and bullying.
Two of my favorite reviewers, Lori Parker of Contagious Reads and Ashley of The Bookish Brunette have both posted very irate posts about the recent crap going down on the internet. You can read Lori's post here, and Ashley's epic two part rantfest here and here.
As an author, I have to say that as a whole we can be a very sensitive lot. We work in isolation, trapped in the worlds of our imagination, and fall deeply in love with the characters that inhabit our novels. Often, we're positive that what we wrote is absolutely magnificent, or absolutely dreadful, and can switch back and forth between these two verdicts in a matter of seconds. We face years of rejection from editors and agents and grasp desperately at the dream of being published despite terrible odds. We take a ton of abuse from family and friends who try to give us the helpful advice of “Do you realize how many people try to write books? You’ll probably never be published. You should concentrate on something else.”
But we cling to that dream with all our might because, you know, once you're published, the world is perfect, you glow in triumph, and everyone is stunned and amazed at your accomplishment.
Then reality sets in. You worry about sales. You worry about your next book deal. You worry about people hating your book. You're filled with anxiety.
Now, how you handle this stress is the tricky part. I suggest margaritas, marathons of Dr. Who, and ungodly amounts of Skyrim. It works wonders for me!
Other writers, sadly, freak out at every bad review, convinced it will tank their book, ruin their chances of a new book deal, and render their hard-won accomplishments obsolete. Some writers live and die by reviews. My editor told me she once compiled a huge list of snippets from reviews that directly contradicted each other in order to convince one of her authors not to constantly change her work in progress based on the latest review she read.
Reviews are subjective. People have opinions. What floats someone's boat will sink another's like the Titanic. That's reality. Hell, editors and agents can turn down a manuscript over and over again that one day wins the Pulitzer Prize, or ends up #1 on the NYC bestseller list. If you're a writer, develop a thick fuckin' skin, because those arrows aint' gonna stop comin' yer way, babe. (said in my Texan accent) The trick is to keep writing your best work, embrace your fans, and realize not everyone is going to like you.
The present day climate surrounding reviews has made it nearly impossible for an author to respond to reviews, even in a positive way. A few bad incidents has created a very tense environment. I am VERY aware of this. I hope that it will dissipate in the near future and things can calm the fuck down.
I plan to record a series of videos about my thoughts on reviews, how to respond to them, and why they are important.
Meanwhile, I want to share my all-time favorite review with you. It's a 1-star review. I love it. It makes me smile. Why? Because it's passionate, intense, and the book was obviously not what the reviewer thought it would be. She was expecting a YA vampire romance and got an adult horror novel. Many people have told me they bought my book because of that review! What she hated about the book is the exact same reason why the other people wanted to read it.
Even 1-star reviews can sell your book.
Something to think about....