Friday, October 1, 2010

Authors Behaving Badly

Here's a sample of some responses you should never give to a bad review:

"Dear Mr Reviewer, I'm sooooo glaaaaaaaad you hated my book. And your review was just great! In case you can't tell, I'm being sarcastic. You STINK. You are a senile, buck-toothed old mummy with bony girl arms, and you smell like an elephant's butt! Not sincerely, BB Author."*

But the one above? Yeah, it's obviously a terrible response to a reviewer. Absolutely terrible! I mean, the author has called the reviewer an elephant's butt! You can't get much worse than that. Even the silliest of authors would know that's a bad, bad response. Of course, some do it anyway. But more frequently you see this one, because it's a little more sly. As you're writing it, you could almost convince yourself that really, you're being super nice and decent:

"Dear Mr Reviewer, well, you know it's strange. Everyone else liked my book. In fact, all the other people who liked my book are extremely intelligent, well read and all round wonderful people. How odd, that you didn't like it. I mean, I know that there are many, many twists and turns and highly intellectual moments in my book- it takes a lot of really insightful reading. So I suppose I guessed that there would be some who wouldn't get it. But thanks for giving your little review of it, anyway. With slick and slightly queasy sincereity, BB Author."

But believe me, you're not being super nice and decent. We ALL know what you're doing, and almost all of us don't like it. As a reader, the above makes me mad. As an author, the above makes me cringe.

And then there's this one. The one that my hero and future husband, Christopher Pike, did only a few short days ago:

"Dear Reviewer, well yeah, I know that so and so isn't the capital of where-is-it. But actually, it was all my editors fault. Yeah. My fake, sockpuppet editor, who I'm pretending to be now. Plus, you're an idiot. And I think you're threatening me and that you know nothing about country X, even though you're from said country. Sincerely, An Author Who Writes Good Reviews For Themselves Under Said Same Sockpuppet."

As in THIS, pointed out by Dear Author and the Smart Bitches, amongst others:

I could have cried. I mean, the above is my true reason for writing this post. After all, I can take it when some writer I don't really know all that well does it. I can understand, in particular, when it's someone "small", because...well. We all feel on edge, sometimes. I got an absolutely terrible, mortifying, feeling-like-my-career-is-over review the other day, and it means double to me because I'm just starting out. A bad review could mean the difference between making sales and not, for me. I know many authors who are in that same position with me, and when they strike out at a bad review I can sympathise, even as I'm cringing and begging them, mentally, to resist and see the positives of a bad review. At least it means someone read it!

But Christopher Pike? You've sold millions of books, Chris. You are established. One review will not hurt you. And you don't need to give good reviews to yourself, either, because you KNOW people love you! You don't need to prompt people to buy, for God's sake. And if I, and many of my author pals, can resist giving ourselves good reviews (I'm not even sure, to be honest, how Chris managed to write those things about his own work without puking), and resist slamming bad reviews or even just readers who have EVERY DAMNED RIGHT TO VOICE THEIR OPINION, then so can you.

Otherwise, I may not one day marry you. And you don't want that, do you? No. Didn't think so.

*My thanks to The Simpsons, for the greatest non-thankyou letter of all time.


  1. I thought Christopher Pike was the first captain of the starship enterprise?

    Yeah, I got a sort of middling consumer review on something recently and I cringed and it bothered me. Particularly when they complained about things being missing that were sort of the whole point. The fact that they were missing was an important part of the dynamic.

    Anyway, it's hard not to say anything, but what are you going to do?

  2. I'm reading my way through the Amazon stuff.
    It's making me cringe even though I haven't read a Christopher Pike book in many years.
    I really liked a few of them too. I started reading them then went onto Stephen King. I even had a few of Pike's books and would read them from time to time.

    I think you may have to punish him and punish him hard. He'll have to earn your hand in marriage and make up for his heinous crimes.

  3. Fawn- He was! But he's also a YA author who used to be orsum. And I totally get that- it's especially hard when the reader truly has missed the point. Because if you say something, you're still going to look passive aggressive, even if you're right and don't mean to be! It's so tough.

    Jo- Inorite? I has a sad.

    Harley- Oh, I'm going to. He's destroyed my image of him as a spiritual wizard, and so must be spanked.