Gabrielle Bisset

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Author Cardinal Rules

Oh my.  The recent meltdown of an author on a book reviewer's blog to the tune of 300+ comments between her, him, and other commenters shows how important one of the cardinal rules of being an author is:  Don't EVER fight with a reviewer.  NEVER. EVER.

The details of the recent author behaving badly episode are the same as always.  Reviewer agreed to review a book and didn't give the review the author was looking for because of a misunderstanding.  Whatever the reason for the less than stellar review, the author forgot one of the most important facts of writing/publishing, and especially self-publishing: You can't please everyone all the time.  Hell, you can't please everyone at any time. 

Writers take a chance every time they hand over their work, whether it be to a potential agent or publisher, or later when it's published, reviewers.  Will they see what you saw when you wrote the book?  Will they like it?  And if it's high concept, will they understand where you intended to go with the story?

I know book reviewers who have no qualms about criticizing a book.  I know one very well, in fact.  And I trust her when she carves into a book like it's a week old cantaloupe because I know her skill as an editor and reader.  I've read every review she's written and know that when she points out problems, it's with the intention of being true to what she believes a well written book is supposed to be.  However, she will admit, these are her opinions, that's all.  Nothing more.  But the reality is that I don't know all reviewers out there, and I have to trust that they will read my book with an open mind and with the aim to enjoy it, like my friend does. 

So when I get a response that angers me as much as our recent author behaving badly did, I know that the only course of action is to say, "Thank you for reading my book.  I'm sorry it wasn't for you."  That's all, and that's only if I really want to be gracious.  If I think the review is pure crap, then I say nothing and gather up friends for a drinking/bitchfest about it.  And once we've verbally eviscerated the poor soul over some beers, my friends will then say, "Whatevs.  We love you, regardless of what that jackass wrote."  And then we'll move on to checking out some guy across the bar who we suddenly all realize is incredibly hot (or the beer has made us think so). 

If only our recent example of an author behaving badly had turned to her friends instead of the instant gratification of the comment box below a single blog post.  If only...



Anonymous said...

I heard about that and thought it was funny. If you are going to give a book to a reviewer you got to ready for bad comments as well as good comments. Not everyone is going to like it as everyone has different tastes!!!

I know when I finally get my work published I will not criticize reviewers publicly as the backlash can finish your career before it starts!

Selena said...

I heard about this too. It's a very strange dichotomy today that this can happen at the same time that poor teenage girl is getting more dislikes on YouTube than that Bieber creature. It's like the world has gotten permanently stuck in middle school, and we don't know how to treat one another anymore. Not everyone will like you or your work, but picking on people isn't cool at all.

Komal said...

How ungracious. An author should be grateful that someone spent their time reading and reviewing their book.

Any criticism should be taken as constructive. It's proof that you can't always please everyone and that you can improve upon your work regardless of being a published author.

Nadja Notariani said...

Amen! You make excellent points. It is much better to get it out with friends than to argue with a unsatisfied reviewer. Whew! What a mess.
Now....about those beers......