A few weeks ago I had one of those weak moments where you find an interesting blog post somewhere and one thing leads to another and you wonder how you end up where you did at the end of the day. In this case I went from how not to deal with bad reviews to Smenkhaure.
At the beginning of the day is what I will write about today. It isn’t really about how to deal with bad reviews, blah blah blah. That’s already been done enough already. What I am going to mention is you never know who’s watching.
What do I mean?
I stumbled upon a post on Orangeberry’s site in their resource page that caught my eye about how to NOT deal with bad reviews. You never know who might have a unique twist or idea on an ‘old’ subject so I went to check it out.
Not only did I find a lovely article, I also found out how NOT to deal with a bad review in living color–in action. I saw a flame war with an author and the reviewer. This took place about a year or two ago, and it took a bit of detective work to piece together the day’s events but I could put it together.
Within minutes from the author posting a nasty comment on the reviewer’s blog, it went viral and hundreds of comments poured in within seconds or minutes apart. I won’t mention the author’s name again–hopefully she learned her lesson, and she’s apparently still around. I did a bit of an investigation and her books are still on Amazon, and she still has a functioning blog. she left about three or four more comments engaging the commentors which have now been removed, but the damage is done.
Then, I read the reviewer’s honest assessment of the book, and it was a one star, but it wasn’t a smackdown review in the least. He didn’t cross the line among reviewers and call the author a stupid asshat or anything like that. So what’s the big deal? Even when that happens it’s still not OK to attack the reviewer. Just walk away and let others handle it the way they see fit. If you engage then you BECOME the asshat.
Shortly after this author was made a public example of what not to do. If I wanted to be a public example of something, or if someone else made me a public example of something, I would want it to be positive and not something like this.
Bad reviews suck, but everyone gets them. There is no if; there is when. It isn’t the end of the world. We ask reviewers to give their honest opinions, and it isn’t always positive. It’s not about us anyway; it’s about other readers. Sometimes critique will help a reader’s experience and increase their enjoyment. Sometimes, a bad review can encourage a purchase. A perspective buyer might wonder, “Is it really that bad?”
At any rate, twitter and facebook came ablaze, and the blogger’s small blog got record traffic all in one afternoon. The blogger and the author became instant celebrities, but on opposite ends of the spectrum. It was a mess. Shows you the power of social media and the blogosphere.
One commentor mentioned that there are some agents and publisher editors that visit this blog… Can anyone say “Oh crap”? That person didn’t have to say that, but it was some good advice that also provided me with today’s post material. This person could have been an agent or an editor. My thanks to that person–I’ll never know who they are and it is highly unlikely they will find this blog, but if they do? Cool.
No one volunteers any information on a book blog that they are Jane Doe for ABC Literary Agency or John Hancock, senior editor for X publishing house. These people are usually incognito for obvious reasons. Some bloggers and reviewers lead double lives–they can be publicists or something or other at a small press (I know a couple like these). Due to the changes in the publishing industry, small presses and larger publishers are leaning toward making self publishing a prerequisite–brand and platform being built, getting the name out there, etc.
This author even told everyone to “f*ck off” in one of her comments–I knew even though her comments were deleted by others’ responses. Ergo, Jane the agent or John the editor just saw that. I doubt they would work with this author. This author’s work hit hundreds of DNR (do not read) lists in one day. That F bomb backfired big time.
Worse still, the internet doesn’t forget. Case in point, I was able to find this a year or two after this occurred, and it is still in cyberspace. Even if you are in the right, do not engage any reviewer. If you must have a pity party or a tantrum, do it offline. Less likely for anyone to see you.
In a nutshell: You never know who’s watching.
Cate Russell-Cole says
Ohhhh there is a serious warning there. Thanks AK, I will pass this post on.
AK Taylor says
Awesome! Thank you!
Cate Russell-Cole says
Reblogged this on "CommuniCATE" Resources for Writers and commented:
If you have ever felt like hitting out publicly at a bad review – read this. It is an essential warning of the ramifications of starting a public fight.
Kindness is always the best option…
I saw some of the action when this case scenario happened and I was shocked at the author’s silly and emotional response. I got a one star review for one of my books on Amazon but though I was upset about it, I would never be stupid enough to engage with the reviewer. Besides, as long as no-one makes any personal remarks about me, it’s a case of everyone being entitled to their opinion.
AK Taylor says
Thanks for stopping by! That’s cool you saw some of the action. It can be difficult to not to become emotionally involved when our babies and our egos get bruised. There was a time someone DID cross the line with me, but I still did not engage. She hurled some darts at me in her review, but Amazon removed it. I did have to talk to friends privately and pick myself up and keep going.
Tessa Tangent says
Yes, important reminder. I don’t do reviews any more unless I’m utterly in love with something/believe in it strongly and if I’d give it ten stars, let alone five. The lowest * review I’ve written on Amazon has been a 4. No-ones ever argued or engaged with me about those! ;D
Seriously, I’m by no means perfect but I do believe that resentment taken out on someone comes back to poison the resentful one, so there’s no point at all if a writer’s going to maintain his or her sanity, reputation or dignity. I think I’d have to get over it in any way I could, like you say in the above comment. 🙂
AK Taylor says
Yes exactly. It has been said that resentment and bitterness is like drinking poison in hopes to hurt the offender. Doesn’t work. Reviewers who feel bad about posting anything below a 3 and contacting the author privately are really doing us a favor. There’s no book for everyone.
We authors have tender egos (everyone does) so we just have to develop alligator skin. In doing so it’s not easy and it takes pain to make something tough1