Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Authors gone wild!

by Jim

I was going to blog about this on Monday after the delightful and amazing Michelle Rowen called my attention to it. At the time, much of the content was missing from the web. Thank you, Guardian, for hunting it down.

Long story Twitter-short: Bad Amazon review makes author lose damn mind!

I can totally relate to Flood’s opinion here that watching an author have a spectacular public meltdown can be incredibly compelling stuff. Know what makes it even more special for an agent? Their clients’ lack of involvement!

This whole saga is really worth tracking through for examples of what never to do once you’re a published author. Don’t get defensive. Don’t respond to reviews on Amazon. And for gods’ sake, DON’T blame your editor!!

Like Neil Gaiman, I will claim not to be posting this because it’s funny in a tragic way (even though it totally is) but because it’s an extreme reminder of why the heat of the moment is NOT when to respond to one’s critics.

(via GalleyCat)


  1. I'm taking Sara Zarr's advice and not reading any of the online reviews. I've turned of Google Alert too. Not that I'm expecting bad reviews, but just in case I'm uncontrollable or something. Haha! Actually, more because I'm probably not tough enough for this biz!

  2. Yep. Professionalism is key. Always. Every email, every blog post. Never respond to a review. Publishing is a tough biz, but it can be great fun with a little humor and a positive attitude. Vent to family and friends, then let it go. Or write something better.

    Great advice, Jim.

  3. I've found that the same is true of query letters as well. I made the mistake of sending a very lighthearted response to a form rejection to an agent.
    ( It started with "Dear Agent" and apologized for the form response, but the high volume of rejections made a personal response impossible. I said his rejection wasn't what I was looking for right now, but I wished him the best.)

    Apparently he didn't enjoy the humor and sent me a nasty-gram back. Beware, authors. Like me, you probably aren't as funny as you thought.
    -Colin Hill

  4. Yeah, this is sad, but it really happens all of the time, with beginning writers also. Most writers don't like to be criticized.

    Why is it so hard to accept that you are not a good writer (yet)?

  5. Was this a first-time author? If so, her next book may be a POD. Has an agent ever fired a client?

  6. Most people don't appreciate being criticized; it isn't just writers. But writers have their computers handy, and the internet has made angry retaliations all too easy. In the old days, you had to find the paper, then pen or type your angry response, put it in an envelope, and run down to the post office to mail it. At any point, you could reflect on your actions and check yourself. Now you've got this wonderful system that allows you immediate gratification -- and the chance to make yourself look like an idiot in one flick of a finger.

    I can't help reading them myself. I read every one of those awful diatribes with a mixture of supreme satisfaction and horror.

  7. Note to self, when the time comes I won't read the reviews, rather I'll just wait until my agent fills me in on all the good stuff.

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