Authors Behaving Badly – What’s the Point? by Cassiel Knight

I visit a number of blogs on a regular basis. More than I should because it cuts into a lot of my writing time. However, I don’t consider the time a complete waste for various reasons that aren’t the point of this post. Hmm. Maybe I’ll write a post about why blog surfing can be good. If done with purpose.

Anyway, one of my favorite sites is Dear Author.  If you don’t know about them, check them out (http://www.dearauthor.com). They are a review site but also a fantastic source of industry information. Jane and the ladies at Dear Author really have their fingers on the pulse of what is going on in the romance industry and beyond. Some of their frequent visitors are Smart Bitches Sarah Wendell , Nora Roberts, Shiloh Walker and Angela James with Carina Press. There could be more famous personalities (a number don’t post real names) but even if a visitor is not famous, there are a lot of familiar names within the industry who visit.

Okay, so, off track a bit. The point of this is not to sell you on Dear Author. Because of their connections, I’ve been exposed to things I might not have known about otherwise. Most of the time that’s great. Other times, like recently, that’s not been so great. I’ve been disgusted and saddened to read about the incidents of authors behaving badly. And by this, I mean attacking the lifeblood of an author. Our readers.

In most cases, the attacks are happening to readers who, god forbid, leave a poor rating on an author’s book. It seems to start with said reader leaving a poor rating on Amazon and escalates from there. The kinds of things these authors are doing are rallying their fandom to vote down a reviewer’s ratings and not just on that particular book, but all their ratings on Amazon, which to some reviewers, can have a significant impact. Tweeting about the bad reviewer (even to the point of calling them things like toerags and stupid cows) and generally doing more damage to the reviewer than that rating ever could do to the author.

Dear Author, on a recent post, supposes the frequency and vehemence of the recent debacles have to do with the age of the authors. She says more but that’s the piece that stuck most with me. Want to read it? Go here:  http://dearauthor.com/features/letters-of-opinion/the-reader-author-paradigm

You see, while author flameouts are not uncommon, most of the recent ones are YA young adult authors. Even more, they are self-published. I think she has a point, but I’m thinking about the reason being more along the lines of these young authors don’t have the resources they need. I can’t argue age – young adults, IMO, do tend to be more confrontational than I remember my friends and I ever being. All people’s protestations about RWA’s support and benefits aside, I submit we learn how to behave from being a member of RWA and from our local chapters. I think these self-published young adult authors don’t have that support system. Oh, they have a support system but it’s the wrong kind. It’s not the ones like my dear friends who will smack me around when I’m being stupid. They don’t have someone telling them certain behavior is unacceptable. They don’t have access to education on what it means to be an author and how important the reader is. That’s what I think is lacking.

I’m a published author with a book out there and at least two more coming this year. Do I want a negative review? Of course, I don’t. Who does? I think you’d have to be a pretty hard-ass not to be affected even a little bit by a poor review. Does that give you (by you I don’t mean you specifically but a message to all authors) the excuse to start an online war against the rater? No, it doesn’t.

I know of authors who don’t even read reviews. They are the smart ones. I’m not there yet. I’m too new to having a book come out. I’m too new to the whole I-have-a-book-published scenario to not avidly watch and seek reviews. I haven’t had a bad one yet – I know my time is coming. I intend to learn from the lessons of these misbehaving authors. And that’s not to respond in any shape, fashion or form. Sure, attacking the reviewer may bump the sales of my book (because it’s like driving past a car wreck – we can’t not look (purchase the book) because we want to see what the fuss is all about) but it won’t mean repeat customers. I’m going to be watching these authors and see if my theory holds true.

Honestly? I hope it does. Not because I wish ill on the authors but because I feel there should be some sort of karma for such vitriolic behavior. The car wreck analogy means these authors could be laughing all the way to the bank. What, then, is the consequence of bad behavior?

I have a message for the authors behaving badly and it comes from one of the Jane’s, Susan Lute (her words but THIS message is mine) – Authors, pull up your big girl panties. A bad review will not sink your career. Attacking readers will.

How about you? Hear of any authors behaving badly? What did you think? If you are an author, what do you think your response should be to a negative review (not that any of you will get one :-D)?

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Posted on January 11, 2012, in Kim Wollenburg and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I agree with you on all points, Kim. Marie Harte put up a similar post a few days ago on her blog. Unfortunately bad behavior seems to (please excuse the weather comparison) snowball online.

  2. My mom always said (and whose mother hasn’t?): don’t burn your bridges, if you can’t say something nice, then…you know the rest, don’t bite the hand that feeds you. In the small world of authors and readers, I’m thinking she was right :)

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