The Shit Stops Here
I am so sick of the internet right now, well social sites in general that I am literally about to step back from twitter. It seems that every time I get online something mental comes through my feed. It’s like everyone has swallowed insanity pills and are ejaculating their special kind of crazy all over the place.
It would seem that a few bad eggs have slipped into the dozen and now they are rotting the entire lot. Are we really going to let all this define who we are as a group? This community used to be like a small town, where everyone was rather cohesive, they might not have gotten along, but at least they respected each other. Now, we are like a bunch of inner city roving gangs, this one pitted against the other, threatening dastardly deeds if one steps out of the line.
I will eradicate you from GoodReads.com!
I will 1 star all of your books the moment they are released!
And it seems to all stem from a negative review that results in a contact from an author, or an author’s representation. Which seems to be happening a lot lately, even with me. With the fingers of some authors being pointed at the bloggers, just for daring to state their opinion.
Evil Bloggers & Your Animated Gifs!
Comments on Negative Reviews
Even the most innocuous comment on a negative review seems to get our panties in a twist, mostly because WE DO NOT WRITE the negative reviews for the authors. We write them for the readers and we actually feel a certain amount of embarrassment if the author acknowledges that they’ve read it. Or at least that is how I feel. The resulting feeling of embarrassment is like talking about someone’s outfit and them overhearing your less then complimentary commentary. Your statement was honestly your opinion, might have been mean, but it was meant to the person you were speaking to, not to the person you were critiquing. Blurry semantics yes, but it is the underlying psychosis of the problem.
A negative review though, in general can not be compared to a whispered Mean Girl statement, because we are sending it out there for everyone to read, but I think the underlying confrontation is the same. When the author or agent reads the review and acknowledges receipt, no matter how innocuous, the review becomes personal and a sense of guilt might be felt by the reviewer. We are generally good people and we want to see authors succeed, but we also strive for a good read and if something mediocre or bad is delivered we must acknowledge that. We acknowledge that our negative review might impact that author’s feelings, but we are also faced with the morality of our honesty and the fact that we as reviewers have to give our opinion. And frankly if the author doesn’t like that opinion, well, there is a short pier and commence to long walking. I understand you might have given us that book to review, thank you for thinking of the blog, but you gave it to us to review. Not to promote. If you want us to give a biased opinion, pay us for advertising. Then I’ll write you marketing copy that will make your toes curl with goodness. But it won’t be a review. And for you to make me feel guilty for stating my honest opinion, or going further and threatening, or trying to eradicate negative reviews is censorship of a nefarious nature.
So, how do we go about dealing with things like this?
First step would be to not bait the authors with your review. (Put the TOMATOES down!) I understand voicing your opinion and I understand speaking your mind. I write negative reviews and I’m sure my negative reviews have impacted authors (I know they have and I’m not proud of the reactions), but as I’ve stated before, I make sure those reviews never once touch upon personal aspects regarding the author. I don’t name-call or harass with my reviews. Calling the author an idiot or saying their publication of that novel was an affront to the general populace’s intelligence and speaks volumes in regard to the authors state of mind, is a below the belt hit. When writing things like that, it is almost as if you want the author to retaliate. Me, personally, would not sit their quietly while someone called me an idiot, would you? Being on the internet and knowing the nature of these things though, the best bet in any situation would be to ignore. But, really, a review of that caliber is baiting and as a reviewer I wouldn’t be surprised if the author does say something.
But, what if your review was a fair minded negative review, yet, still the author contacts you and makes things personal? First step, if it is not in a public forum, I would ignore the negative response. If it is done in a public forum, in your comments or on goodreads, what I usually do is respond back with:
“This review was my honest opinion. I am free to voice my opinion.” In a manner of speaking, I sometimes address what they accuse me of, but usually I leave it at that. I will defend myself though if personal accusations are thrown, but I make sure that I keep things level and never resort to name-calling or childish insults, because once that happens things quickly degrade and the next thing you know it is an all out troll war, on your blog, on amazon.com…wherever and nothing of value ever results from something like that, it usually ends to both parties just boiling down to abject hate. What I do find though, is that when I get defensive I use big words, so I get accused of “enforcing my superiority” and being an “elitist”, so even when trying to engage on a logical level, when someone is hating on you, there is really no way to change their mind. In light of a public forum, it’s usually you playing to the audience that will be reading the posts and not the actual person you are responding to. Because of this, again ignore is the best option. On Amazon you can click NO on the tab that says does this add to the discussion. On goodreads.com you can try to report the comments, on your own blog you can delete the offending comments.
But, the thing that I must reiterate over and over again is that you can’t fight FIRE with FIRE. No matter what side you think you are on, because of course everyone thinks they are on the RIGHT side, when you use underhanded and nasty tactics you are on the wrong side. We are authors and reviewers, we are just people, sitting behind a desk with a computer…we aren’t up to nefarious and evil deeds. Both sides are just trying to make a living, create something worthwhile that people want to read, whether that is a book or a review blog. And please try to remember this when suddenly things like this pop up. Also, remember, on the internet, it tends to resonate for a long time, so it is always best to never respond immediately and while you are angry. Walk away, eat your dinner, have ONE beer and think about your response and then go back and respond. This usually puts an end to a quick, hot-headed response that you might be apologizing for later.
This rant, or whatever you want to call it is spurned by the bullshit that is being churned out by a few anonymous people (well they believe they are anon but it is rather obvious who is behind it and I don’t know if it is assumed, or if it was actually realized but I believe the author was outed last night on twitter) and a website they formed (The Anti-GR Bullies site that featured a few fellow reviewers – don’t go on their site you give them pageviews! They attacked Kat Kennedy of Cuddlebuggery and here is her screengrab). The website is hiding behind the guise of an anti-bullying movement, (update – the web site has removed all of their anti-bullying images, I guess they are embracing the fact that they are bullies) but the operator(s) look like bullies themselves. They are posting images of the supposed offenders and claiming all kind of things, such as reports of where they like to go after work, things they do in their personal life, their husband’s name, the company they work for. It is actually very scary if you think about it. Especially as reports are coming out about female vloggers & bloggers that have stopped posting because they are being stalked, more and more. [source]
And stuff like this is going to scare people into thinking twice of speaking their mind or posting their honest opinion! (Which I’m sure is the underlying tactic) Lunatics that hide behind anonymous tags all to scare and incite reactions. People are pulling reviews because of author harassment. Authors are threatening social media armies against reviewers… [source] what is next? Targeted attacks? Dead rabbits on door steps? Good grief people. I really am quite ashamed of most of the behavior involved in this whole mess. But, again, I applaud the people that have rallied around it and taken a stand, voiced their opinion in a way that is logical and isn’t meant to hurt or destroy. Because, when it comes down to it, we all just want to be loved…and these poor people are probably severely depleted of that particular emotion. Today’s mission. Hug an Asshole. It might save someone’s life.
Questions for my Readers:
Have you been contacted by an author about a negative review? Was it a good or bad response?
Would you like an author to acknowledge your review bad or good?