A Writer's Journey

February 6, 2012

When Authors Behave Badly

Filed under: journey,writing — mackenziew @ 12:00 am
Tags: , , , ,

The most exciting part about posting your story in a public place is receiving notification you’ve got a new review. Then the most nerve-wracking part is reading that review. Will it be positive? Will it be negative? Will it be helpful? Will it be useless? Then you read it. Now, it’s your turn to react.

I’ve been involved with fanfiction for over a decade. I’ve seen all types of author reactions. So much so, I wrote a post about how to properly respond to a review. And after reading Cleolinda’s post, I think some published author’s need to read it as well.

I’m not a member of Goodreads. Surprising, given how much I like to read. But I’m not, so I missed most of what happened. Apparently, there are some writers out there who are not thrilled with some of the reviews they got on the website. And they decided to get back at them. Comment on their reviews, have fans backlash against the reviews, etc.

But are they just damaging their reputations? Are they hurting their own genre? Most likely. Even other authors have come out against their tactics. Cleolinda’s post has links to some of them. One is extremely entertaining and I advise you read it. It might be exaggerated, but it does seem to reflect how other authors are acting.

How does this hurt? Well, I see it this way: I review fanfiction. But I do so hesitantly. I am not a hand-holder in my reviews. But I’m not incredibly harsh. Someone once described my style as being like a teacher. I point out the negatives and explain why they are negatives. It’s the same for the positives as well. So why do I hesitate? Because many fanfiction writers are young and/or haven’t developed a thick skin. They ask for criticism they actually do not want. And get very defensive when you write something that isn’t: “You did a good job and you should continue to write!” They then lash out at the reviewer. So this leaves me hesitant. Why should I spend my time writing up a review that will just cause the author to yell at me?

In the same way, this might hinder potential reviewers on the internet. And frankly, the reviews on these sites aren’t for the authors. They’re for other readers. It’s to determine if we want to buy the book or not. Much like you would do before going to the movies or see a play or try a new restaurant. Or to see if anyone else shared your opinion. To see if they think this is the best book ever written. Or that it’s a good book but the main character was Douchey McDouche. Or it’s an okay book but Lady Awesome the Amazing saves it. Or have a plausible theory about how it even got published. The last three might be difficult for authors to read. The author may love Douchey McDouche and think he’s Noble McHero. Or that Lady Awesome the Amazing shouldn’t be better than Princess Bland the Boring.

I don’t even have to explain why the last one is difficult, do I?

How else might this hurt the author? To put it frankly, they’ve just alienated future readers. I know if I found Diana Gabaldon’s rant against fanfiction before I started reading her series, I would’ve passed when my friend suggested the books. If I’ve learned nothing else from my years of fandom, at least I’ve learned you never anger the fans. They’re the ones who give you the power—the ones who buy the books you publish. If your sales go down, guess who will have trouble publishing again?

So, authors, be cool. If you can’t handle it, don’t Google yourself.

And if I get like that once I get published, please, dear readers, give me a slap of reality. Or contact my Irish grandmother. She’ll gladly do it.



  1. A very thoughtful and well worded post. you must be a writer. 🙂 I am on Goodreads, but don’t do a whole lot with it so am not up to speed on the YA (or mostly YA) furor you touched on. I have learned it’s best to walk away from negative reviews and shrug them off unless there’s anything you can actually glean from one. At this point, though, the story is written and published, and you can’t go back and change it even if you wanted to. Which I usually don’t.

    Comment by bethtrissel — February 6, 2012 @ 7:50 am | Reply

    • Thank you for your comment. I’ve learned the same over the years regarding reviews. Most times, if they offer something constructive, I can go back and correct it. If they don’t, I just let it pass and move on. Hopefully when my book is published, I’ll be able to use those lessons as well.

      Comment by mackenziew — March 5, 2012 @ 10:55 pm | Reply

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    Comment by my Facebook Blog — February 29, 2012 @ 4:32 pm | Reply

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