Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Us Against Them- One Small Author's Take On A Growing Problem

I normally start my posts with a chipper "Hey, peeps! Hope everyone is doing well!" As you can see, that didn't happen today. That's not to say I don't wish any of you well. I do. I'm just not very chipper.

I debated for a better part of the night as to whether or not I should post anything. I haven't been blogging much as of late (been focusing on my WIP's) and the situation that has my heart heavy doesn't involve me in any way. Thing is...the issue that has me upset appears to be a growing problem, one that doesn't seem to be going away, and has offenders on both sides of the fence. The problem I'm referring to is the growing "us against them" war between authors and review bloggers.

I took an extended leave of absence from both writing and social media sites over the holiday months this past year. I felt I needed to focus on my family more and am so thankful I did so. The break was very refreshing and I quickly found I didn't miss the daily snark from both authors and reviewers that is becoming more and more prevalent. Twitter, for me, has been an invaluable tool, both for my writing endeavors and for alerting me to what's going on in the world. I've made some great friendships and have met some truly wonderful people.  I've also seen some hurtful behavior that makes me question people's motivation.

As an author, I realize that once I've placed my work out into the world, there's not a thing I can do about the type of response and reviews I may or may not receive. I've seen the warnings, and know the folly of responding to reviews (especially critical reviews.) We are emphatically NOT supposed to engage readers or respond in ANY way, EVER, when it comes to reviews. This particular rule has been hammered into my consciousness from day one. I get it, and I've obediently followed the rule.

Let me just say: I'm no stranger to critical reviews, lol. My writing style is such that people either love it, or they really, really hate it. That's okay. I'm an acquired taste and not for everyone. I totally understand this and am perfectly okay with it. I write because it's my passion, and am happy there are even a few people out in our big world who derive some type of enjoyment from it.

In my opinion (and that's all this is really, just my thoughts on the matter) there are two types of negative reviews: the critical review that is unbiased and focuses solely on the book itself with carefully thought out reasons as to why specific instances, characters, or plot lines didn't work for him/her. Then, there's the biased review which, IMO, is meant to elicit hurt feelings. These reviews often contain swear words when describing characters, call the author's thought process into question, contain a series of all cap sentences that mimic shouting, and a lot of times will contain demeaning animated gifs that are mocking and extremely hurtful. In case you were wondering, you can find all of the above in reviews for my books. I felt it best, when talking about this heated topic to use myself as an example.

I've received 2 star reviews from well known bloggers, and of course, the reviews sting (let's be real, they do) but I fully respect the manner in which they thoughtfully and carefully reviewed my work and am appreciative they took the time to do so, and in such a professional manner. On the flip side, I've also cried my eyes out to my husband, best friends and critique partners after seeing reviews where people want to destroy my books and throw the balled up pages in my face!

Words hurt, people. Yes. As an author, I've chosen to place my work in the public light, and in doing so I need to be prepared for all types of responses to said work. That being said, I don't think there is ever cause to purposefully set out to hurt an author and hide behind  so-called "snark" while doing so. I also think it's purposely hurtful and extremely bad form to openly engage in public bashing on Twitter, Facebook and various other social media sites. I understand when situations arise and feelings are hurt, people tend to rally with one another in support. What I think we all forget, is that this type of support often times escalates into what I consider online bullying. Just  because we are adults doesn't mean we don't experience the same pitfalls our children do (ganging up on individuals in the name of justice or support.) The best course of action in these types of situations are to go privately to the source of the hurt/conflict. Private conversations can almost always be dealt with in a respectful manner and serve to avoid the explosion of ugliness we've seen online as of late.

ALL of the above can also be said about authors. In the past three months I've seen appalling behavior by authors that make me cringe and whisper to myself "what in God's name was he/she thinking?" It's NEVER okay for an author to call a reviewer or reader stupid––or any other name for that matter. It's not okay to berate a reviewer or blogger for stating their honest and well thought out opinion about their book. Especially if the author has solicited the review in the first place. This is common sense, people. If you ask someone to post their public opinion about your work, be prepared for the possibility they may not like it, and don't make a public stink about it when they do. If you've received an honest, unbiased, critical review that was written in a professional manner, take it and be thankful. I've received plenty of these and let me tell you, they haven't made a dent in my monthly sales. A well written review, critical or otherwise helps readers to determine whether or not they want to read a book. My tastes and likes are my own, and if a reviewer has done a good job in stating why they didn't like a book, I may go out and purchase said book because I enjoy the very thing they didn't.

Winding down here, I promise.

While I haven't ever, and am fairly certain I would/will never respond to a hurtful review, I do understand that everyone has a breaking point. If one of my works came under heavy, consistent, and hurtful attack, I'd like to think I could continue on as I have been doing and remain silent, but who knows? I'm definitely not perfect, and I would hope that if I were to open my mouth in a respectful manner to defend myself or my work, that I wouldn't be crucified.

I think this entire issue boils down to respect. If we, as people on a basic level, treat each other with respect from the get go, and make ourselves aware of others feelings before we speak or type, a good deal of this drama would cease to exist.

Stepping down off my soapbox now. Discuss amongst yourselves, lol!


CarolOates said...

This is so well said, Lisa. Thank you for writing it.

Lisa Sanchez said...

You're very welcome, Carol. It's an issue I've been thinking about a lot lately. I hope it dies down soon!

Killian McRae said...

here, here

Jennifer Lane said...

Very well written, Lisa! And a good reminder not to respond to negative reviews--always tough to do.

Brenda Pandos said...

I so agree. Thanks for writing this so well.

co wendy said...

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