It’s a sad day when one hears or must utter the statement: There’s drama on Twitter and Goodreads.
Alas, that day was yesterday for me (or…this morning because It was like 5am)
Twitter: is an online social networking service and microblogging service that enables its users to send and read text-based posts of up to 140 characters, known as “tweets”.
Goodreads: Goodreads is the largest site for readers and book recommendations in the world. We have more than 6,700,000 members who have added more than 230,000,000 books to their shelves. A home for casual readers and bona-fide bookworms alike, Goodreads users recommend books, compare what they are reading, keep track of what they’ve read and would like to read, find their next favorite book, form book clubs and much more.
Social networking sites are good and bad.
They allow readers to have contact with some of their favorite authors, and allow those trying to get in the publishing business to keep track of agents, agencies, trends, and anything related. However, because they are SOCIAL networking sites, the true personalities of these people are revealed. You learn things you can’t see through flat pages or emails.
This is not a bad thing. It’s good. It creates a community.
It becomes a bad thing when people’s personalities don’t mesh or people take offense easily. It’s bad since the internet does not convey the emotions of inflections behind the typed words.
While, this is not an isolated incident, the one prominent in my mind is this:
SCENE: A novel. A young reader. A computer. Goodreads. Author of said novel on otherside of unknown computer universe. Random friend of author who is also an author.
(picks up the novel)
Read, read, read.
READER is unhappy with novel.
READER turns computer on, opens browser and logs in to http://www.goodreads.com.
READER types honest, albeit negative, review of novel.
AUTHOR of novel does not respond.
RANDOM FRIEND takes umbrage to negative review.
RANDOM FRIEND defends AUTHOR.
AUTHOR does not respond.
RANDOM FRIEND proceeds to badger READER and stalk READER on Twitter and Goodreads.
AGENT OF AUTHOR AND RANDOM FRIEND comments on Goodreads.
(Actually, if you want you can read that as a video game too. FIGHT!)
Let’s a get a few things out of the way:
– I don’t see anything wrong with giving a book a negative review.
– I don’t see anything wrong with an author responding to a negative review.
While there is nothing wrong with having confidence in one’s craft, YOU ARE NOT GOD’S GIFT TO WRITING – If anything, the only God’s gift to writing is, well, God (with the multiple Holy Scriptures attributed to him and what not. He didn’t even need an agent.) If you write something and allow the public to view it, expect negative comments, negative reviews, harsh criticism, the ripping out of your baby’s heart. I don’t care how many books you’ve published, how large your advance, how many contracts you’ve secured, or how many Bestseller Lists you’ve topped – your work will always have flaws. Each and every single time, your book will have flaws. Most of which you’ll see yourself, but there isn’t anything you can do after it’s been printed. (Unless YEARS later you revamp the novel and reissue it.)
If you still think YOU ARE GOD’S GIFT TO WRITING consider the fact that if you’re so amazing negative reviews shouldn’t affect you because you’re so amazing. (But, guess what, you’re not God’s gift to writing.) You’re not as amazing as you think you are or as your mother tells you you are.
LET YOUR WRITING SPEAK FOR ITSELF. If you’re still hung up on being God’s gift to writing, take a page out of His book and let the words speak for themselves. If your writing is so amazing people will overlook negative reviews and still pick up your book.
LET YOUR FANS SPEAK FOR YOU. Again, if your writing is so amazing, you will have developed a fan base. Fans are pretty loyal people. (Just ask J.K Rowling, Stephenie Meyer, J.R Ward, or Stephen King) There is no need for an author to involve him or herself in a review war. The fans will support you and if necessary, badger the reviewer for you because when fans love an author they don’t want the author wasting time responding to negative reviews. They want them writing new books.
Has ETIQUETTE gone out the window? If a reader gives a book a negative review, a snarky, sarcastic, bitter, eviscerating review, do you respond in kind? Is this tit for tat, eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth? Do we need to reintegrate etiquette classes into our curriculum? Or maybe ask the queen for some advice?
AS AN AUTHOR, YOU’VE GIVEN UP THE RIGHT TO BE A READER. You may not agree, but it’s true. Writing is a business. Once you’ve entered the world, there’s no going back. You’re in there, you need to make contacts, socialize, and foster relationships that will help you down the road. In any company, bad talking the bosses, snubbing the higher-ups, or screwing the boss’ daughter will get you in trouble. Therefore, you’re always (or supposed to be) on your best behavior as your livelihood depends on it. Unless you have another job lined up, you’re not going to walk into the boss’ office, tell him, “Fuck off!” and walk out. So, why would you give a negative review to another author’s book? You’re in the same business. It’s a VERY small world, the publishing world. Word gets around. Post that negative review (i.e. screw the boss’ daughter) and you’re on the next bus ride to the unemployment line (assuming unemployment’s still around when you get there).
READERS, however, STILL HAVE THAT RIGHT. They are not in the business, but are in fact, supplying your business with demand. If readers didn’t buy books, you wouldn’t have a job. Reviews, despite what you think, affect sales. Obviously, you think so too or there wouldn’t be drama right now. So, saying otherwise, saying that Goodreads is useless or that reviewers/bloggers have no affect on sales is BULLSHIT.
If people didn’t EXPECT NEGATIVE REVIEWS then there wouldn’t be an option to assign lower than 3 stars.
If you’re looking to CENSOR NEGATIVE REVIEWS, novels like THE HUNGER GAMES, 1984, A BRAVE NEW WORLD, and FAHRENHEIT 451 come to mind.
HAVE THICK SKIN or live under a rock. If you can’t take criticism of your work publishing is seriously the wrong venue for you. By trade, you’re asking for other people’s opinions, comments, and criticism. If someone likes your work they’ll buy your book. If they don’t, they won’t. It has nothing to do with you personally. I can think you’re the sweetest person in the world. But, if you can’t write I’m not wasting my money on you. (WHICH IS PRETTY MUCH THE MENTALITY OF THE PUBLISHING INDUSTRY. Why would an agent, editor, or publishing house shell out good money for a crap book? Obviously, if the book has been published as least four people thought it was good – these four being the only ones who really matter since they got the book in print.) Assuming the person buys it, reads it, and doesn’t like it it’s up to he or she to write a review or not. It’s not up to you to decide negative reviews are not helpful or people don’t know how to write reviews.
STAY OUT OF IT if it’s not even your book. If there is a negative review for a book, the book is not yours, and the author of the book hasn’t responded WHY SHOULD YOU? Mind your own business. It’s not your book. (I can’t tell you how many wars could have been avoided if people just minded their own business.)
An agent, while useful in securing contracts and getting drunk with you when your book is sold DOES NOT NEED TO FIGHT AN AUTHOR’S BATTLES. If you shouldn’t have gotten into the drama, it definitely doesn’t make sense for your agent to be involved. That’s like dragging a six-year-old into a dark alleyway, jumping him, and having your eighty-year-old grandmother join in for kicks and giggles.
Giving NEGATIVE REVIEWS WILL DESTROY A PUBLISHING CAREER BEFORE IT BEGINS. This one is iffy. It can go both ways. If you want to get into the business, it’s best not to antagonize the bosses. However, it is possible to still offer reviews of book as an author. Eloisa James has a monthly column with Barnes and Noble. Of course, if she doesn’t like a book she won’t review it. On the other hand, Sarah Wendell of SmartBitches, a woman known, well-respected, and published, has posted F+ reviews (as well as reviews by guests).
If you weren’t LOOKING FOR ATTENTION you wouldn’t have posted your comments on a public website where anyone can view them. There are Direct Messages, Private Messages, E-mails, Skype sessions, Text Messages, Phones Calls, and Snail Mail for private correspondence.
Of course, now if you go look up these tweets and comments many have “disappeared”, been deleted, gone to the Never-Never. Unless, you remember this is the internet and nothing EVER goes away.
*If you take offense to anything in this post it’s because you’re guilty. There is no need to be offended by something that has nothing to do with you. Don’t like it, don’t read. Also, you may be an ass.
Bullying under any circumstance in any situation by any person is uncalled for.