I’m Not Saying I Condone It, But I Understand

Duty_calls_2

(Image courtesy http://xkcd.com)

by J.D. Rhoades

By now I’m sure you’ve heard the story:

A lady
named  Deborah Anne McGillivray  writes a romance series about
beautiful hot blooded noblewomen with names like  Aithinne and  Tamlyn and studly Knights
with names like ‘The Black Dragon" and such as that. Not my usual
cuppa, but that’s not important to this story.

After reading the second book in the series, a reader named Reba Belle goes to Amazon.com and writes a three star review, which is actually pretty mild. I mean, check it out…we’ve all had worse.

Ms.
McGillivray (hereinafter referred to as DAM) makes her first mistake.
She goes on the Amazon.com site and starts arguing with Reba in the
comments.

Now, I mean, really. What is the
point of that? Does DAM expect Reba to suddenly have a Road to Damascus
moment and go "Holy Shit! You’re right! This book is the greatest work
of literature in the English language!" Ain’t gonna happen, ma’am,
sorry.

Then, things go from odd to
bizarre.
DAM apparently writes to her Highland Press author group and
claims to have, and I quote,  Reba’s "name, her husband’s name, her
children’s names, her grannies and great grannies name. Her address
phone number and email lol – quite interesting." She demands that other
group members "vote this bitch down", i.e. rate her review as
"abusive", which apparently causes Amazon to auto-delete them without
even reading them.

Okay, so there can be
no mistake and no misinterpretation of what I’m about here, let me
state some things which I consider absolutely without question: DAM may
be a lovely woman if you meet her in person, but what she did  was
freaking psychotic. If someone flames you on the Internet, it’s a
natural reaction to hit back. God knows I’ve done it enough. But
searching out someone’s personal info and threatening to use it against
them over a lukewarm book review is nuts. Cuckoo. Bat-shit crazy.

I
mean, I’m not saying collecting someone’s personal info is always
wrong, but that sort of thing should be saved for when someone’s
threatening or harassing you or your friends. I’m just saying.

See,
here’s the thing: I know there are some readers who sincerely just
don’t care for a book, and they and their opinions  deserve to be
treated with respect. But (and I know there are certain elements who
are going to flame me for this) there are some people out there in the
Interwebs who are just nucking futs–insane dysfunctional  geeks who
are going to hate you for obscure reasons, no matter what, and who are
going to post the meanest thing they can think of because their
anonymity keeps them from getting a bop in the nose. How do you tell
the difference?

Obviously, the best
response is to play it safe. Assume everyone you see is sane and
sincere. Say "thank you for your input," if you say anything at all,
and move on. I also try to hold in my head certain basic principles:

Whatever you do, somebody isn’t going to like it.

The Internet gives everyone who has access to it a voice.

People who are angry, disgruntled, or, as I said,  just plain nuts are
more likely to write about it, especially on the Internet.

Therefore, you can expect more bad Internet reviews than good ones. If
you’re getting more good than bad, you’re beating the odds. Rejoice.

At
least that’s what I try to do. But what is it about Internet reviews
that makes it so hard to resist the temptation to bite back?  Patricia
Cornwell once asked her fans via her website
to go to Amazon and post positive reviews because, she said, "she had
reason to suspect that someone (or a group of someones) might be
mobilizing people to attack me through Amazon and Barnes and Noble,
etc., to hurt my sales and reputation." Said someone or group of
someones, she hypothesized, might include the Bush Administration and
the Billy Graham family (with whom she’d been friends for years).
Uhhh…what? A few years ago, Anne Rice stirred up a fuss by not only
responding, but by posting her home address on Amazon.com
and offering a cash refund to Amazon reviewers who didn’t like BLOOD
CANTICLE. Now, I’ll grant that it’s got to be pretty hard not to want
to respond to reviews with titles like "What’s that I smell? Another
piece of first draft drivel?" and "I WANT TO BURN THIS THING!" But
posting your home address–well, see "nucking futs," above.

In the long run, it’s just not smart to attempt to bite back. As Tess Gerritsen recently discovered to her chagrin, there’s a certain subset of bloggers, reviewers and commenters  for whom every amateur review, blog post or comment, no matter how wrongheaded  it may be, is above questioning by the ink-stained wretch who spent months of his or her life creating the work. If said wretch doesn’t just grin and bear it, or if, like Tess, they even make a joke about it, they’re alleged to be "demeaning and offensive to readers" and/or they’re accused of  thinking readers "are smart enough to spend money on your books but not smart enough to offer reasoned critiques."

It’s an odd form of reverse elitism where everyone can comment except the author who wrote the work , but there you are. The customer may not always be right, but that’s the way to treat ’em.

One
issue this raises, though, is:  if  the Amazon review and
rating system is apparently so easily gamed, is it of any use any more?
If you can mobilize a relatively small number of your buddies to take
down bad reviews, or conversely to flood the place with good ones, of
what use are they? (Not that I’m trying to discourage my friends from going to Amazon or
Barnes and Noble and saying lovely things about my books, mind you. If and only if, the spirit moves you, please, feel free, and do so with my thanks).

All that said, I bet we’re all still going to read them.

So
how about you? Writers, do some of your Amazon or other Internet
reviews make you want to hunt the reviewer down and bop them right in
the nose? Have you ever had trouble resisting the temptation to at
least post back? Is that from sincere respect for others’ opinions or fear of retaliation?

And readers, knowing what you know now, do you really
put any stock in Amazon reviews anymore?

40 thoughts on “I’m Not Saying I Condone It, But I Understand

  1. Mark Terry

    “she had reason to suspect that someone (or a group of someones) might be mobilizing people to attack me through Amazon and Barnes and Noble, etc., to hurt my sales and reputation.”

    I believe this is called The Hillary Effect. The thing about Cornwall that struck me as odd was how she seemed to start displaying the symptoms of paranoia even earlier than that. I’ve always thought one of the key elements of paranoia was megalomania–I’m at the center of the universe, which is why everyone is out to get me.

    Anyway, the internet has allowed every whacko to have a voice and engaging with them only encourages it.

    Reply
  2. Doug Riddle

    Dusty, great take on what has been a very sad episode.

    I have kids who play sports and I always tell them…..”Don’t argue calls with an Ump or Ref. Have you ever seen them change a call because someone agrued with them? No. If you argue then the next questionable call will go against you for sure.” Sometimes you just have to bite your lip and walk away, because no matter what you say it is only going to make things worse. There are too many nuts in the world and they all have internet access.

    As for Amazon, does anyone with half a brain really see their reviews as anything other then personal opinion poles? I mean on any given book you have reviews ranging from…”My third-grader could do better”….to “This book changed my life.” The only real reason to read Amazon’s reviews is to get Harriet’s synopsis’ of the plot.

    Reply
  3. Kay

    Well, for me (a reader), I take everything with a grain of salt. I use Amazon to get a feel for what people are saying or, quite frankly, as a database for my patrons’ questions sometimes, but I figure the reviews are just opinions like the reviews on my blog. And, the episode you related (which is flying around the blogging world) is just plain crazy.

    I say to the author in question, “SERENITY NOW!”.

    Reply
  4. Kaye Barley

    Dusty, can we say “Holy Shit” here? We can? Cool! That is exactly what I said when I first heard about all this. Without getting into how bizarre this whole thing is, I’ll stick with just answering your question regarding feelings about amazon reviews. I haven’t read an amazon review in years. Actually, I don’t read too many reviews at all. I will read what I think of as “opinions,” if they’re written by someone I find to be fair minded.

    Reply
  5. Wilfred Bereswill

    Dusty, Great post.

    I hang out on a few discussion groups and I’ve seen my share of internet bullies. I have a mental image of them and it’s not flattering.

    That said, in reality, it’s an impossible fight. No win situation. Of course, I’m wondering how I’ll react to my first bad review when my book hits the shelves. I’m a realist, I know it will happen.

    On B&N and Amazon, I do read reviews of books I intend on buying. Being an engineer, I employ my own statistical sampling. I throw out the highs and lows and take some stock in the middle ones.

    Reply
  6. toni mcgee causey

    I come from the screenwriting world, where it was just as common to get comments like, “Oh, we love it, it’s absolutely wonderful, but can you make the woman a horse and maybe this could be a fantasy and why not have a talking squirrel as a narrator? But other than that, we totally love your dark, twisted, military thriller.”

    So maybe I just expected there to never be a consensus of opinion. I don’t think any book is capable of generating 100% consensus anyway. The rare time I was bothered was when a reviewer went to the trouble of trashing me, personally, and then said a lot of things about the book which were completely wrong (factually wrong, not an opinion about it), and so clearly, he just either didn’t like me or didn’t like that type of book. But in the long run, I look back and sort of shrug. I did not write an easy-to-love character. I wrote someone who polarizes people in her own life, so I anticipated–long before publication–that there would be readers polarized, and that’s what I’d prefer. I’d rather that than a lukewarm response. And as much as it would be grand for everyone to love me and my book, that’s never going to happen. Some people are vocal about the negatives. Some are vocal about the positives. I have books on my shelf which have gotten the “eh, I don’t get it,” response all the way to me wanting to throw it against the wall because the author broke what I felt was the author/reader contract (bullshit, deus ex machina endings, etc.), and if I have the right to dislike things, I have to grant that to everyone else. But hell, I’m just glad people are reading and caring enough to contribute to the discussion.

    Reply
  7. Alexandra Sokoloff

    I’ve never understood why people bother to trash a book they don’t like. If I don’t like something, I STOP READING – I don’t waste my time finishing and then prolonging the experience even further by writing about it.

    So my guess is that even a bad review means that the book had some kind of power over the person who’s taking the trouble to write the bad review. Otherwise, why on earth would they bother?

    Reply
  8. Stacey Cochran

    I just don’t understand why people like that get published, while other folks who would be professional and supportive of other writers (and who would most definitely start throwing keg parties at Bouchercon every year) are left standing with ten unpublished manuscripts in hand.

    I’m serious about the keg party, folks. If I had a major book deal, I’d rent out the local tavern and get everyone drunk.

    And film the whole damn thing for TV with footage of me holding your book while you do a keg stand.

    Reply
  9. Louise Ure

    Oh, Dusty, you hit a hot button there, didn’t you? Yeah, I read all the reviews. And sometimes I die a little. I’ve even gone so far as to click on the offensive reviewer’s name to read other posts he’s done, trying to convince myself that this person ONLY writes negative reviews. Most of the time I’m right.

    Reply
  10. JT Ellison

    I have a very strict rule when it comes to reviews. If I believe the good ones, I must believe the bad ones. Which gives me the freedom to learn from the bad, rejoice over the good, and move on. The very first review I ever received was so horrible, I think it inured me to the rest. Like Toni, you stop and wonder where you met this anonymous person and what you might have done to wrong them so terribly that they want to lash out at you. But that’s just us writers and our pre-Copernican belief system. We slave over something and if someone says it sucks, that sucks.

    But even the best writers get bad reviews. It’s life. You can’t be universally liked as a person, you can’t be universally liked as a writer. But getting a reviewer’s personal information and publicly threatening them??? That is so far beyond the pale that it should be criminal.

    And the cyber bully’s are fed by reaction. Another Ellisonism — the best way to frustrate a bully is to ignore them. Trust me, it drives them mad.

    Reply
  11. Zoë Sharp

    Hi Dusty

    I sometimes think there’s a lot to be said for the period of reflection generated by having to type a letter, print it out, stick it in an envelope and walk it to the postbox. Typing in anger and hitting the Send key with a defiant flourish might be very satisfying at the time, but it soon leads to that dreadful cold feeling that you’ve just done something really really stupid …

    I get my Other Half to vet any reviews because I totally believe the bad ones, just as I totally disbelieve the good ones. The only ones that annoy me, though, are the ones that get their facts wrong – even down to character names and plot points. That and the spoilers. I had one review that completely gave away a vital part of the plot of one book, which was extremely frustrating, as the comment served no real purpose in the context of the review. But, I agree that biting your lip and walking away is always the best option – particularly when your adversary is lurking in the shadows of cyberspace.

    Reply
  12. Amanda Stevens

    I tried to game the system on Amazon once when I got a really nasty review. I asked my daughter to post a glowing one to counter. Five years later, I’m still waiting for that glowing review.

    J.D., I love the cartoon you posted because that was pretty much the scene around here last night when I stumbled across Tess’s blog. I couldn’t go to bed until I’d caught up on all the drama on the Internets.

    Reply
  13. Doug Riddle

    JT, gosh is that ever the truth. Just think back to being a kid, which ones of us weren’t told that the only reason someone, usually a sibling, was picking at us was to get a reaction.

    This issue has brought up a quesiton for me about blogging and the ongoing flame wars that start from time to time…….Why don’t more Blog-Owners just delete comments that they can see were only posted to enflame? This isn’t a free-speach issue, the Blog-owner gets to make the rules. It kind of reminds me of the bartender’s maxim…Be Nice, Or Be Gone. I know of at least one blog that most of us visit that has done that to calm things down.

    Reply
  14. JT Ellison

    Doug, the only time I’m comfortable deleting a comment is when the author of said comment is personally insulting the blog author. Otherwise, we here at Murderati tend to chastise and point out that every one is entitled to their opinion.

    Does that mean I haven’t been tempted to cut a swath??? Nope. But the risk we run by blogging, by giving our opinions freely to any and all, is that those opinions won’t be shared by everyone. I’ve actually got a post for Friday that I’m concerned about, but I think the message is valuable enough that I’m willing to take the risk.

    Reply
  15. Naomi

    If you think online anonymous reviews for books are bad, how about for restaurants? Hotels? Hairdressers?

    Teachers are getting reviewed online. So are doctors. Pretty soon children will be reviewing their parents on the Internet.

    As a consumer, I usually knock out the worst and the best. Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn’t. After a book that I’ve written has been out for a few months, I stop reading the Amazon reviews. They are just not that helpful to me as a writer.

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  16. tess gerritsen

    Dusty,I think the frustration a lot of writers feel about anonymous bad reviews is that we ourselves are not, and cannot be, anonymous, and thus we’re readily available for anyone’s target practice. Sure, we’re “public figures”, but the nature of many writers, I think, is that we aren’t extroverts. We don’t feel comfortable as public figures. We just want to hide in our offices and write stories and stay away from large crowds. (well, I’m just talking about myself here. Which may explain why I live in Maine.)

    Then our book gets published and we’re thrust out into the public eye and, to our horror, anyone can pelt us while concealing themselves in the invisibility cloak of anonymity.

    Because of this anonymity, 99% of the time, the rocks go in only direction — AT the author, not from the author. But then you get that one example of it going the other way and it becomes a man-bites-dog story, and suddenly everyone’s upset about all the nutty authors who abuse readers.When the opposite happens far more often.

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  17. JDRhoades

    Kaye,as far as I’m concerned, you can say any damn thing you want, including but not limited to “Holy shit.”

    Toni: who was trashing you personally? Who!? I want names. Lemme at ’em! I’ll moiderize ’em!

    As some of you have learned, the way to really get my dander up is to trash my friends 🙂

    Bill: the little hats and red and gold vests for Tess’ Flying Monkeys are on order.

    Graham: I LOVE that cartoon!

    Ah, JT, but if you’re ignoring the bully on line, there’s no way to KNOW that you’re driving them mad…and what fun is that?

    Reply
  18. Becky LeJeune

    Wow, I’m not even sure how to comment on this one, but I feel compelled to.

    I write reviews, not for an esteemed newspaper, but for a site that gets great traffic and has a strong following. I’ve been doing them for just over two years and I agonize over every single review, both the good ones and the bad ones. Fortunately, I get to pick the books that I review and, as I am a fairly eclectic reader, I am usually pretty pleased with my selections.

    There have been some horrible ones, and there have been some lukewarm ones, of course. I feel absolutely awful about writing a bad review. But, the question becomes this, if I take into account how the author will feel when I write this review, would I be doing the readers justice by being dishonest with them? Do I have readers who seek out my reviews? I honestly don’t know.

    I enjoy writing reviews just as much as I enjoyed introducing readers to new authors as a bookseller. My goal is not to convince anyone NOT to read a book, but to earn their trust so that if I say something is great they will give it a shot. Unfortunately that means that I have to be totally honest in every regard – something I try very hard to do even when I dislike a book. I am not a reviewer who feels that their opinion is the end all and be all on a subject. I can see that a book has merit and will have an audience even if I dislike it and I definitely take that into account when writing a review.To think that a bad review could result in an incensed author and their posse showing up on my doorstep is pretty damn creepy – online stalking and harassment is equally creepy in my mind. I don’t want to add this to the list of my worries at night, but again, if I want to offer an honest opinion of a title, I can’t let this get to me.

    Reply
  19. JDRhoades

    Hi Tess!

    Maybe that’s my blessing and curse combined. I’m not only an extrovert, I have an ego so large it has its own ZIP code. And arguing is what I DO in my day job, so I don’t often back down from a fight.

    Finally, I’ve always subscribed to the philosophy of Robert A. Heinlein’s Jubal Harshaw: “I am an almost extinct breed, an old-fashioned gentleman, which means I can be a cast-iron son-of-a-bitch when it suits me.”

    Reply
  20. JDRhoades

    Becky, thanks for that perspective. I think what bothers me is not so much bad reviews, because, as pointed out upthread, those are inevitable. I’m not saying I like them, mind you, but I can deal. I’m a big boy.

    What bothers me are reviews that are (1) anonymous and (2) pointlessly personal. You at least appear to take responsibility for your words, and to think about them.

    No, you should never worry about an author’s feelings if you’re actually telling what you don’t like about the work itself. I agree that’ll cripple your objectivity. But you seem like someone who’d never, as I’ve seen one online reviewer do, post a review saying she wished the rest of this author’s books would fail, nor, as happened to another poster here, do I think you’d suggest that people walk up and slap the auhtor in the face.

    Again, I’m not saying that I, as an author, am going to walk up to you at a conference and give you a big sloppy kiss for giving me a bad review, but I’ll at least drink with you.

    Reply
  21. Pari Noskin Taichert

    Oh, Dusty,What a great subject. Thank you for bringing it up.

    I don’t pay much attention to Amazon anymore because I DO know it can be gamed. While I read most reviews (not all of them), I becoming less attached either positive or negative.

    If the reviewer read the book and I can tell that he or she did, I might write a short thank you (even if the review is negative) because that person really took the time to consider.

    There’ve been a couple of reviews online that I wanted to slam back at — and Tess is right that it rankles that the communication is so one-way, that harm is done through mean-spiritedness and there’s no recourse.

    I’ve chosen NOT to respond though. For me it’s a question of faith:1. Most readers are smart enough to see through snotty venom.2. I don’t want to engage and validate — on any level — the person spewing that venom.

    Reply
  22. Janine

    Dusty,

    I read books based on recommendations from real live people that I know & respect and interact with IRL and sometimes just from looking at the book and reading the first couple of pages and also from previous good experiences with the author. Amazon and the internet and reviews from, say, the NYTimes, just don’t do it for me. I find it hard to believe that people would pay attention to a review by someone they don’t know personlly. But that’s just me ~ a reader!

    Janine

    Reply
  23. Allison Brennan

    Great post. I was going to talk about this tomorrow on my blog day at MSW, but now I can save myself an hour and send everyone over here! Bawahahahaha. I certainly couldn’t have said it better than you did, and I agree completely.

    Now, as far as your question . . . I’ll admit, flat out, that I’ve wanted to skewer a couple nasty reviewers. But then I go back and read the five-star reviews and that makes me feel better 🙂 I tend to have a fairly thick skin about most things. Like Toni, I don’t expect everyone to love my books. I’ve never asked anyone to post a review for me online. I write what I love to write and I’ve found an audience and hopefully that audience will grow over time. But first and foremost, I’m writing what I want to write. And getting paid for it. So I can deal with a few snotty anonymous reviewers. (And, yeah, I read all the online reviews. I’m a glutton.)

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  24. Fiona

    When unpleasant people hide behind on-line anonymity, things can rapidly become ugly.

    I do write reviews for books I REALLY like. I skip it if I’m going to give it a 3 star or lower. It’s not worth my time.

    Some bloggers have gone to closing their comment sections when it gets out of hand. Sometimes the situation simply needs time to cool down.

    I feel sorry for Tess, and any other author, who gets slammed. Why do people do it? She sounds like a nice person and I’ve read a few of her books. I liked them and will read more.

    If someone doesn’t like her-or any author’s-work, just find something else to read. It’s not like the libraries and bookstores are EMPTY.

    That goes for blogs, too. Just go somewhere else if you’re unhappy with a particular blogger.

    Reply
  25. Doug Riddle

    Dusty,

    Great Heinlein quote, which is now posted above my desk. I agrue with insurance companies and doctors all day, so I can relate.

    Reply
  26. Tom Barclay

    This connects to Derek’s blog of yesterday in a significant way.

    We have to remember an odd thing, as writers; no one reads what we write. People see our words through the filter of their own experience. Exceptions, I believe, are rare.

    Audience response has not a lot to do, in important ways, with our real work.

    Some readers are just sadder than others, and want to share their life’s disappointments by force. Some readers (and critics and media arbiters of taste) never really graduate from the high school lunch room.

    But, thank ghod, some people do rise, grow their souls, see the wider vistas, and send back word of what they’ve seen and felt and thought.

    The most important thing I learned in high school was via our religion prof, Father Robert Carey, CSV. He taught us to translate ‘Illegitimi Non Carborundum’ as ‘Don’t Let The Bastards Grind You Down.’

    Reply
  27. R.J. Mangahas

    “The customer may not always be right, but that’s the way to treat ’em.”

    This sounds very much like a theory I got from retail: “The customer is NEVER wrong, but they’re not always right.”

    This a great subject, Dusty. I just find that no matter what you do, some one will be pissed off, offended, etc. I noticed some of these “reviewers” on Amazon sometimes say, “Now my book is SO much better than (insert name)’s drivel.” But you know what? At least their “drivel” was published.

    It’s sort of like what Picasso said about critics: They know all of the rules but have none of the talent.

    Reply
  28. toni mcgee causey

    Dusty, you’re the best, but I shook it off, so it’s okay. (JT was a big help there.) And honestly, I didn’t have a problem with the person not liking the book.

    I think like Becky said (and she’s a terrific reviewer, very thoughtful), reviewers have to be honest or else they lose their credibility. And reviewing is extremely hard; I know I couldn’t do it, because my opinion can change too much depending on my mood or what’s going on around me. I’ve loved books only to go back at a different point in my life and wonder what I saw in it, and vice versa. So my personal philosophy is to realize that most people are just doing the best they can, being honest. And if they’re posting a negative review, maybe they’re doing so because they were hyped up about a book and it didn’t live up to whatever that hype was. There’s just no way to know, and so you let it go.

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  29. Rae

    I hadn’t heard the story – all I can think is, wow, life’s too short for that kind of nonsense.

    As a reader, I pay no attention to Amazon reviews. I look at them occasionally just for the amusement of it all, but they have no impact on whether I read a book.

    As an occasional reviewer, I’m in the happy position of not having to write reviews of books I hate.

    Having said that, my all time favorite review came from Dorothy Parker, writing about one of my very favorite books: “Tonstant Weader fwowed up”.

    😉

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  30. gayle

    I am a reader, not a writer. I find it hard to believe that authors read reviews on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. Good or bad, I would not put much stock in reviews written by amatures. I don’t read reviews in Barnes and Noble (may favorite place to purchase books).

    I do read reviews in Booklist, Mystery Scene, and the Chicago Tribune. Basically I use reviews to find out about authors that are new to me. If the book sounds interesting, I get it. In fact, that’s how I found out about Dusty’s first book. I read it and loved it. Didn’t know that there was a second book, but then I read a review about the third book. So, of course I had to get both books.

    I’m of the opinion that anything on the internet needs to be taken with a grain of salt. I’m still amazed by some of the nastiness that gets written on discussion boards and blogs. People seem to write things that I hope they would never say face to face to another person. I will usually post what I have to say, and then let it drop. If someone disagrees with me, I know I’m not going to change their mind and I don’t see the point in arguing online.

    Reply
  31. Catherine

    My first reaction to reading about some extreme author reactions to reviews was feeling the waves of crazy coming through.( I certainly do not count Tess in this group btw, I thought she handled the whole thing with a lot of grace.)

    Then I thought for a moment and though yeah it’s very easy to have a knee jerk reaction to anything we read.I just had one.

    I think part of the problem is the instant exchange we have access to on the internet.Pointing out the bleeding obvious here, but sometimes people type before they engage their brain…

    Maybe some of the authors that reacted a ‘tad’ extremely wrote in the first or second wave of ‘hurt’ they felt when reading a less than positive review. As someone said way back in this post we all have our own filters of experience. Maybe they’ve had so much positive reinforcement in their life a lukewarm review rocked their world.

    I do realise there are people who do roil with hate and live to vent their spleen…but I also wonder how much ends up on the internet as the text equivalent of drunk dialing?

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  32. Margaret A. Golla

    As a reader, I NEVER read reviews of books I’m interested in buying. Why would I care what some anonymous person said about it? I’ve got my big girl panties on and can make up my own mind.Just remember that no one wins in a spitting contest.

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  33. Amy Wolff Sorter

    I saw this on an Amazon forum yesterday and was appalled, namely because I know the author in question, and heard all about this last summer when it first came up. I thought it had died a quiet death, but apparently not.

    I’ve reviewed this author (I, personally, like her works and okay, gave it five stars because I liked her work). I’ve reviewed others too. And I’m an author myself so I GET reviews. They’re not always stellar and yeah, it hurts like hell when it happens. But it happens. Not everyone is going to like a work. Sure, the temptation is to shake the reviewer and say “uh, excuse me, but were you reading the same book I wrote?”

    But I don’t, because writing is so damned subjective. What thrills one person is going to turn off another. That’s why they have “genres.”

    And believe me, the authors will argue with reviewers. I had one who argued with me over a four-star Amazon review because I questioned her use of backstory! It floored me because her comment was “as a novelist yourself, you should know better!” The review itself was very favorable, I just had the backstory problem, but she couldn’t let it go.I wimped out and took down the review. In light of what happened to Reba I think I’m glad I did.

    But I’m not reviewing any more, and this whole stupid situation is one reason why.

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