Monday, March 9, 2015
Bad review? Lessons in what NOT to do.....
If you write long enough (or bad enough) someone is going to leave a review that is less than favourable; as sure as sunrise and taxes; it will happen.
Think VERY carefully about how you respond to that review. My advice would be simple - do not respond. If it grinds you that much that you feel the need to type a crappy response to the review I would strongly suggest that you go to the shed and beat your fingers with a sledge hammer in the hope that the temporary incapacitation will prevent your swollen digits from pressing the keys on the keyboard long enough for the urge to respond to subside. It will be less painful in the long run, and do less damage to your career as an Author no matter where you are along that career path.
Why do I offer this advice? Well, because some people just don't get it.
The relationship between the Author and the reader is symbiotic; without one there is no need for the other. If you start ranting at your readers because they didn't like your book then you may as well give up writing and get a job at Walmart.
In my view (and it's my blog so I can say this) once you have published your book, once it is in the public arena, then it is fair game. Even people that don't buy it will give it bad reviews because there are some very sad, angry and demented individuals out there that love inflicting this sort of pain on people - not just Authors, anybody; they just have to be that spitfull because it makes them feel good about themselves. Not too dissimilar to Vladimir Putin.
And IF you do bite back, brace yourself because like that fantasy monster that is slithering away and then hears your footstep, it will turn and attack with a viciousness that you can't, and don't want to, comprehend.
In this situation you, the author, are the only person that has anything to lose so just don't do it.
Here is a couple of examples of a very well know, apparently popular Author that has let the marbles slip from the dish:
"Reviewer: Anne Obrien Rice (New Orleans, LA United States) - See all my reviews
Seldom do I really answer those who criticize my work. In fact, the entire development of my career has been fueled by my ability to ignore denigrating and trivializing criticism as I realize my dreams and my goals. However there is something compelling about Amazon's willingness to publish just about anything, and the sheer outrageous stupidity of many things you've said here that actually touches my proletarian and Democratic soul. Also I use and enjoy Amazon and I do read the reviews of other people's books in many fields. In sum, I believe in what happens here. And so, I speak. First off, let me say that this is addressed only to some of you, who have posted outrageously negative comments here, and not to all. You are interrogating this text from the wrong perspective. Indeed, you aren't even reading it. You are projecting your own limitations on it. And you are giving a whole new meaning to the words "wide readership." And you have strained my Dickensean principles to the max. I'm justifiably proud of being read by intellectual giants and waitresses in trailer parks,in fact, I love it, but who in the world are you? Now to the book. Allow me to point out: nowhere in this text are you told that this is the last of the chronicles, nowhere are you promised curtain calls or a finale, nowhere are you told there will be a wrap-up of all the earlier material. The text tells you exactly what to expect. And it warns you specifically that if you did not enjoy Memnoch the Devil, you may not enjoy this book. This book is by and about a hero whom many of you have already rejected. And he tells you that you are likely to reject him again. And this book is most certainly written -- every word of it -- by me. If and when I can't write a book on my own, you'll know about it. And no, I have no intention of allowing any editor ever to distort, cut, or otherwise mutilate sentences that I have edited and re-edited, and organized and polished myself. I fought a great battle to achieve a status where I did not have to put up with editors making demands on me, and I will never relinquish that status. For me, novel writing is a virtuoso performance. It is not a collaborative art. Back to the novel itself: the character who tells the tale is my Lestat. I was with him more closely than I have ever been in this novel; his voice was as powerful for me as I've ever heard it. I experienced break through after break through as I walked with him, moved with him, saw through his eyes. What I ask of Lestat, Lestat unfailingly gives. For me, three hunting scenes, two which take place in hotels -- the lone woman waiting for the hit man, the slaughter at the pimp's party -- and the late night foray into the slums --stand with any similar scenes in all of the chronicles. They can be read aloud without a single hitch. Every word is in perfect place. The short chapter in which Lestat describes his love for Rowan Mayfair was for me a totally realized poem. There are other such scenes in this book. You don't get all this? Fine. But I experienced an intimacy with the character in those scenes that shattered all prior restraints, and when one is writing one does have to continuously and courageously fight a destructive tendency to inhibition and restraint. Getting really close to the subject matter is the achievement of only great art. Now, if it doesn't appeal to you, fine. You don't enjoy it? Read somebody else. But your stupid arrogant assumptions about me and what I am doing are slander. And you have used this site as if it were a public urinal to publish falsehood and lies. I'll never challenge your democratic freedom to do so, and yes, I'm answering you, but for what it's worth, be assured of the utter contempt I feel for you, especially those of you who post anonymously (and perhaps repeatedly?) and how glad I am that this book is the last one in a series that has invited your hateful and ugly responses. Now, to return to the narrative in question: Lestat's wanting to be a saint is a vision larded through and through with his characteristic vanity. It connects perfectly with his earlier ambitions to be an actor in Paris, a rock star in the modern age. If you can't see that, you aren't reading my work. In his conversation with the Pope he makes observations on the times which are in continuity with his observations on the late twentieth century in The Vampire Lestat, and in continuity with Marius' observations in that book and later in Queen of the Damned. The state of the world has always been an important theme in the chronicles. Lestat's comments matter. Every word he speaks is part of the achievement of this book. That Lestat renounced this saintly ambition within a matter of pages is plain enough for you to see. That he reverts to his old self is obvious, and that he intends to complete the tale of Blackwood Farm is also quite clear. There are many other themes and patterns in this work that I might mention -- the interplay between St.Juan Diago and Lestat, the invisible creature who doesn't "exist" in the eyes of the world is a case in point. There is also the theme of the snare of Blackwood Farm, the place where a human existence becomes so beguiling that Lestat relinquishes his power as if to a spell. The entire relationship between Lestat and Uncle Julien is carefully worked out. But I leave it to readers to discover how this complex and intricate novel establishes itself within a unique, if not unrivalled series of book. There are things to be said. And there is pleasure to be had. And readers will say wonderful things about Blood Canticle and they already are. There are readers out there and plenty of them who cherish the individuality of each of the chronicles which you so flippantly condemn. They can and do talk circles around you. And I am warmed by their response. Their letters, the papers they write in school, our face to face exchanges on the road -- these things sustain me when I read the utter trash that you post. But I feel I have said enough. If this reaches one reader who is curious about my work and shocked by the ugly reviews here, I've served my goals. And Yo, you dude, the slang police! Lestat talks like I do. He always has and he always will. You really wouldn't much like being around either one of us. And you don't have to be. If any of you want to say anything about all this by all means Email me at [EDIT]. And if you want your money back for the book, send it to [EDIT]. I'm not a coward about my real name or where I live. And yes, the Chronicles are no more! Thank God!"
The fact that this is Anne Rice leaving a review for her OWN book is against Amazon TOS (Terms of Service) is irrelevant in this example. The fallout from this is still going on, the Amazon fora is full of Anti-Anne posts. Some may say that such a famous author couldn't possibly suffer as a result of the above outburst - you would be wrong. It may have cost her the sale of 100 books, from 100 people that suddenly looked at this and thought 'What the hell... I'm steering clear of this one." or it may of cost her a whole lot more. The thing is that building a 'following' is hard work and takes a long time, it's like building a reputation; an eternity to build but lost in a split second.
As an author, actually just as a person that's been around for a few years, there are a few elements to her 'review' that concern me, or at least indicate to me that not all of the wires are in the right sockets. Apparently, her loyal band of cult followers (of which she brags 1 million on her FB page) then set about attacking the original review poster in very unpleasant ways, mainly on the internet - the whole Troll/bully thing.
To witness that level of 'support' (foot soldiers) do her bidding must have been a huge ego boost to the Author, but I'm not suggesting that (in my opinion) her response was either warranted or productive, in fact quite the opposite.
I'm not picking on Anne Rice, I'm just using examples of a famous and successful authors behaviour to demonstrate why certain actions/ responses are unwise.
Not content with the above 'review response' Anne went much further recently when a woman called Kayleigh Herbertson wrote a blog about how she found an old copy of one of Anne Rice's book from a charity shop and, after reading it, cut it up for an Arts project
This time Anne Rice was so incensed that a tiny, insignificant blogger dared voice a negative opinion about a tatty copy of one of her years old books (and cut it up for art) that like a scene from Lord of the Rings, she summonsed the forces of evil and launched them at her perceived attacker:
"Punishing Pandora And A Surprising Opinion on Anne Rice" by Miss Articulate is a review by someone who loathed the book so much she cut it to piece. Comments most welcome. And then she posted the link to the blogpost!
A lesson in how to send your minions into attack mode? Definitely.
To (again in my opinion) rub salt into the wound, and to bask in her own deliberate handy work, Anne Rice writes "Thanks, guys for the spirited discussion. I think reviews negative and positive are good food for discussion. And I hope Miss Articulate is pleased with the numbers who have discovered her blog."
So, now I am convinced that the wires are loose and electricity is flowing all over the place inside that head, definitely not plugged into to all the right sockets. Is this what being a famous author brings?
Further irony's are based around her attempt to raise a petition to have anonymity erased from Amazon for reviewers ONLY and, the latest stunt is to become the ambassador for a site called STGRB - A self appointed policing site for 'bullies & trolls and anyone they don't like. DO NOT visit this site - it will poison the creative mind of any normal person.
All of the above is here for one purpose - to help new writers understand that the world is not a nice place, peppered with minefields that need to be avoided - it can be a war out there people, and there are some very nasty individuals waiting to trip you up. An old saying that has stuck with me for many years is;
"If you get in a sh*t fight with a pig, you both get dirty, but the pig enjoys it." Oh so true!