During the past three weeks I have seen and heard about other publishing professionals besides authors attacking reviewers and all the fun bad behavior against an honest critique of a book. This has nothing to do with the bully reviews (which are not really reviews IMHO) we are hearing more about (more on that later) these days. Even still in the face of a bully review, it’s best not to engage and feed the trolls (that’s what they want).
This is something I didn’t think I would ever see or hear about. It’s bad enough authors are doing it–but really? REALLY? A publicist shouldn’t make a reviewer want to cower under the bed just because she felt the characters should be better developed or the writing had a lot to be desired. An editor shouldn’t attack a reviewer because the character development is lacking or the main character is incredibly asinine and annoyed her. They did their job–an honest (honest isn’t always positive) assessment for the book for other readers. Reviews aren’t for the author unless there is a note in said review that says “Note to Author” or it is written in direct address with the author’s name. Usually, the author will be contacted privately.
I don’t know if there are any publishers doing it so far…
A couple of of the reviewers in question were connections on Facebook. For the sake of this post, I am not going to go into the whole thing about what happened–it’s pretty much the same ol’ same ol’. I also looked at the reviewers’ reviews and they were honest critiques about what they didn’t like, why, and some constructive comments. For good examples of troll reviews visit STGRB.
However, in these cases, the publicist, agent, or even an editor comes after the reviewer in the stereotypical bad behavior we’ve heard so much about already. But guess what? Usually the author takes the fall for what other people did out of their control. They don’t usually find out about it until there is a firestorm and wonder what the heck happened (when there is no Call to Arms by the author). Sometimes the author can be involved, but for this post, these are for examples where the author was not involved in the attack–the publicist, etc were. In summary, this can and does happen. Probably 75-85% of the time it is the author–this post represents the other 15-25%.
Then, the author must go and make amends and try to fix the situation. Their careers are on the line, because the agent lost her scruples with a reviewer. The author tries to pick up the pieces and hope to put them back together again. When people peel back the layers and find out that the agent did it, it almost screams like “the butler did it”. There are those kinds of cases in real life, and they are not in the majority. It’s a cliche because it does happen.
For the record, NO publishing professional, author, publicist, or otherwise should EVER attack a reviewer on their pages or a public forum. Not all (probably most) negative reviews are not troll reviews. A comment saying that the characters need to be developed better, so I can care about them doesn’t make a reviewer a troll. Now a review saying an author needs to be gang raped in prison or sodomized by lawn sculpture for writing *blank* is a different story. Still, an author should never attack there are other means to deal with the situation professionally. In the case of a troll, don’t poke the hornet’s nest and not expect to be stung. Avoid. In another post I will teach you how to spot a troll and how to avoid them. There are ways to do this under the radar and professionally, and I have discovered this from personal experience and by talking with book bloggers. It would be a similar process used for tour host selection by blog tour companies.
When querying for reviews, and you spot a reviewer that is looks suspicious, avoid and don’t submit. You owe it to yourself and your readers, or in the case of the publicist, your client. It’s not the # of reviews or the star count, but the quality of those reviews both positive and negative. If a troll wins your book in a contest or buys it, then all bets are off. Publicists and other professionals should adopt a similar MO.
As an author, this sounds pretty scary to me. These are just incidences I am aware of, and undoubtedly not isolated incidences. Generally speaking, most of these professionals will not behave this way. Finding out that my publicist (if I had one) attacked a reviewer under the guise of my name or whatever would make me very angry and embarrassed. I worked hard on my books and my platform, and I don’t want to see him/her make it come crashing down in two seconds with their actions. That reflects on me until if and when I can clear it up. First things first, they would be fired, and I would be finding me another and be more careful. No ifs, ands, or buts. I have worked with book bloggers and reviewers myself, and I have a good idea about what they expect from us. I would just pray that I could make amends with the community for what somebody else did, and just hope my good name be cleared. I would also hope that maybe someone would be concerned and ask. To be sure, I would hope that would never happen. Take note: things can go awry when you had stuff over, and it can bite YOU in the ass. It depends who it is handed over to.
What would be the moral of this story? Network, research, background checks, word of mouth etc. when looking for a publicist, agent, or an editor (if you need/want one).If it can work for publishers and other businesses, it can work for them. Make sure they have a good reputation with reviewers as well as authors. Friend both in the community and ask around. Having a good name with reviewers will definitely help you and your chances with success.
Have questions, comments, or stories to share? Need publicist or editor recommendations? Leave a comment or email me privately (About page) .