There is no shortage of authors behaving badly thanks to a culmination of social media, self publishing, and Max Rager in the water (is it Tuesday yet? No? DAMN IT!).
This one comes courtesy of the most pretentious of names, Dylan Saccoccio.
Seems someone dared to leave a one star review on his book The Boy and the Peddler of Death, and our Serious Literary Genius took it upon himself to tell the reviewer just how terribly wrong she was. She was taking food right out of his mouth, crushing his gossamer dreams, and then he compared the reviewer to a kidnapper or something. It gets really confusing as he goes on and on into the depths of rage (a great reflection of the book I'm certain.)
As this all blew up across Goodreads, Amazon, and Twitter, our Mr. Saccoccio of course deleted his comments and blog posts. But, as the ancient Sumerian saying goes - the internet is forever.
You can read the entire exchange lovingly preserved here.
I've been wanting to talk about the whole author/reader relationship for awhile. With social media, authors are encouraged to dole out info, quotes, and general excitainment for readers. And readers are invited to befriend and share with authors. But the review line is where that friendship runs into a brick wall.
Long before I did the writing thing, I'd review stuff; things I loved and things I hated. I spent a lot of time worrying about my take on Other Space because I had so many MSTies that were friends/how easily the review could wind up under Trace or Joel's noses. Even my poking fun of the idiotic Food Network show Halloween Wars invited a small bunch of people questioning me for daring to voice my unappreciative of shitty cakes.
As our vampire hunting president put it, "You can't please all of the people all of the time. Now duck while I stab this bloodsucker in the heart."
People have every right to say what they do and do not like. Trying to force everyone to only discuss things they love sounds like the plot of a dystopian novel.
Authors, you might be really really tempted to rush in there and defend your words or refute something a reader got wrong but don't. Even if the reviewer called your main character "one dimensional," your plot "invisible," and the writing "broke after I plugged it in" do not rise to the occasion.
Nothing freaks a reviewer out more than seeing a response from the author/creator. You just know they're coming to raise some hackles and rattle chains. And if they're not, if they have a very civil response, it still feels creepy.
It breaks down that invisible wall that readers want their review to be for other readers. When an author responds, your brain goes to the old canard "If you can't say anything nice..." and you want to rush to hide over your words. Actually, civilly responding to someone's 1 star review is a great way to get them to change it. They're reminded that it was a person who they just dumped all over and will feel bad. Their opinion of the material may not have changed but they're worried about looking like a jerk.
It may work, but is it honest?
And that's why I never respond to reviews I read (because we read them, we all read them). Good, bad, indifferent, I don't want readers to think I'm watching over their shoulder about to pounce if they don't click the right number of boxes.
For the sake of the reviewer I keep it all to myself and my dog.