Friday, August 2, 2013

Merely A Flesh Wound: Author Responding to Unfavorable Review

Any person who writes reviews has probably experienced  (or ignored) snarky responses to their opinions. Being both an independent author and also, a book critic and reviewer, I truly understand both sides of the process. Thankfully, I haven't dealt with many issues over the years, which probably has made me a bit complacent -- or woefully hopeful that many authors, agents, promoters, friends and family members have read enough, "What to and NOT to do as an author," blogs, articles, books and memos that such boob-like behavior is now a rarity.

Before you gasp, I know I have included the offended book that I reviewed, which may or may not conjure blow-back. I understand that some readers will find this step unnecessary. Sure, I could have left it out, but I think it is important to show that it's not only new, green, indie or self-published authors who respond with silliness. Normally, I wouldn't bother, but this one takes intimidation to a new level. It's a good example of a response that will clear all the 'filters' of abuse by using big, academic wording, no swear words, and no blatant personal attack (my name), but the last sentence sends a direct, negative message. Simply, the intent is to school, to make feel dumb, inferior and inadequate. 
May I refer to: Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) a personality disorder in which the individual is described as being excessively preoccupied with issues of personal adequacy, power, prestige and vanity. This condition affects one percent of the population. First formulated in 1968, it was historically called megalomania, and is severe egocentrism. 
Yeah, I'm not easily intimidated -- but I will blog about it. As the saying goes, "bad publicity, is still publicity." You're welcome.  

Unfortunately, every once in a while you come across an author who missed the memo: DO NOT RESPOND TO REVIEWS YOU DO NOT LIKE. I suppose I could go cry in my pillow or soothe my unqualified ass with a hot cup of tea, but I'm a blogger. This means I truly can't resist this wonderful opportunity to re-visit and offer some helpful advice. 

  • Authors, if you must read reviews written and posted about your work, cherish the good and learn from the criticism. Many reviewers actually provide valuable insight. Regardless of their level of education, age, reading variety, punctuation etc. they are your audience (whether you like it or not). Now, not every negative review is geniune, reasonable or honest. However, the open book review system (Amazon, Goodreads, Book Lovin', Shelfari, etc) has been around long enough that the majority of readers spot the frauds and ding dongs. As an author, you should respect the reading community.
  • If you can't resist reading reviews, only respond favorably and positively. Period. I mean this. PERIOD.
  • Remember, the comment section is not an academic discussion panel. Discussion boards are the proper place for debate - and even then, I'd highly recommend staying away from those including your work. Unless you are invited, and the audience knows you are there, do not partake.  
Admittedly, I am flattered that this person feels my influence and opinion is valued enough throughout the book world that he is panicked at my dislike of the writing and feels the need to give me a proper thrashing. Even though I'm certain he is trying desperately to set some record straight, to defend his art, and belittle my intelligence, it typically doesn't work.  Please, let me know if this approach has ever worked for any other angry author--I haven't seen it yet. Most of the time, the author just looks like a big pompous boob. 

I'm not absolutely positive who the true author of this post is, since they have used a clandestine Goodreads profile. I'm no Sherlock, but I'd wager my assumption is spot on. This little gem was posted over at Goodreads by the mysterious "Gilbert" who just happens to be the name of a character in the book, and has no reviews, profile, photo or books on a shelf and joined August of 2013! Suspicious? Duh, what are we new or something? PLEASE! 

Anyhoo...since I've been doing this for years, it is my experience that the only people who put this much effort or take offense are either family/close friends or the author. Trust me, I've had my own family and friends upset about reviews I've received on my books. Believe me, my mother can't stand you lol. However, I tell them to never, ever respond on my behalf.  

When an author makes this mistake, it's terribly obvious and rather embarrassing for all involved. I will note offended book was received for review and published by William Morrow. I suppose I'd like to believe some guidance was given, and that the author would know better, but obviously not.

You've failed to recognise the conventions of the 18th-century epistolary form; and as for point-of-view, this novel is in many ways a philosophical exercise, so the single perspective is part of the 'game'. Every detail, indeed every linguistic motif, is appropriate for the period, there's not an anachronistic note; just what are the 'period drama twists' that you desire?? Gilbert is certainly not just an 'eccentric pervert' - he's a representative of an age when it was imperative to reconcile oppositional extremes and determine how one might live in a world of vast luxury and power and also of immense poverty and degradation. Which characters do you presume are 'written off completely', among the cast of veritably Hogarthian players? And, what could possibly be seen as 'predictable' about the ending? Richard determines to carry on with the perilous experiment, risking his own soul ... what could be more tantalising? As for 'aggressive grunting', have you not read your Richardson or viewed the various rake's progresses that populate 18th-century cultural expression? 

Before you condemn, make sure that your own platform for criticism is secure ...

In all fairness here is the link to my original review if interested. 

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