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In defense of the clueless

Over at the Book Binge, the nice ladies there posted this about the whole Silvia Massara thing. My summary*:

If you don’t want an honest review, don’t send us your work. If you are going to send us your work, check out the ‘about’ page, wherein we state that we won’t write only gushing accolades to every book we get sent. If you are an idiot about a less than gushing review in this here site, you’ll get mocked. Get over it.

As one can easily imagine, there’re quite a few comments going on–mostly marveling at the stupidity of an author trashing readers. Yes, readers. Her target market. The consumers of her product. The people who make her what she is–in a world with no readers, would there even be authors?

But alas, no such thread would be complete without at least one person–aside from the predictable c*ckpuppet–claiming that of course, the poor author has every right to ‘review the reviewers’ blog.’

Bob Mayer writes:

So let’s see. An author got upset about a bad review and blogged about it. A reviewer got upset about the blog and blogged about it and called the author an ass and an idiot, while saying they don’t say things like that in reviews. But just did in a review of the blog.

I’m wondering what I’m missing here. I’ve read both blogs and the author didn’t call the reviewer names and seemed relatively level-headed about it. This blog post seems spiteful and superior. I know few authors would dare say that, because, after all, they want good reviews, but as an author who has been around a while, I’m a bit weary of self-appointed experts slamming authors in public and everyone kowtowing to them. Calling an author a “big fat ass” and having a picture saying “I tried to see things your way. You’re still an idiot” isn’t professional. So I think the author probably has a reasonable point to avoid reviewers that would say such things about authors. Because it appears when the shoe is on the other foot and the reviewer gets reviewed, they react even more heatedly than the author. Your blog post confirmed exactly what the author said about you if you look at it quite rationally.

Let’s take this in stages, shall we?

  • The author didn’t get a bad review–she got a well written review that happened to be negative.
  • The author didn’t simply blog about it, she went out of her way to helpfully warn other authors away from these ‘unprofessional, subjective, grocery-list writing, “smartasses who don’t know hot to do anything else”‘ reviewers. And those adjectives are in quotes because I plucked them right out of Ms Massara’s post. Further, in case there is any doubt, yes, that’s both unprofessional and offensive. We ‘just’ avid readers do believe that we have the right to tell each other what we like, what we don’t like, and why–silly us!.
  • The author didn’t review the reviewer, she passive-aggressively whined about a negative review. For what she wrote to be a review of the blog, she would have to, oh I don’t know… linked to the blog**? linked to specific instances of the reviewers trashing a book? giving a scale defining ‘good review’ vs ‘trashy review’? In other words, backed up her comments with facts–that’s how she defines ‘professional’ reviewing, isn’t it?

In a later comment, Mr Mayer says (in part):

And, yes, Sylvia has a right to call them amateurs. That’s her opinion just like a review is an opinion. Am I the only one missing the logic flaw to these arguments on both sides? You can ignore her just as much as she should have ignored your review.

But hold on! Opinions are subjective, and Ms Massara very clearly states that subjectivity is a big no-no in reviews. I thought Mr Mayer read both blogs? (and no, Mr Mayer, I do see that Ms Massara’s logic is flawed. So is yours, IMO. See above bullet points.)

In his (so far) last comment, Mr Mayer ends with this (bolding mine):

I really don’t care one way or the other–I think both sides got in a tiff over something both should have ignored. Perhaps I mistook the tone of the blog here. It apparently was supposed to be snarky. I guess a lot of people got that and I failed when I read fat ass and idiot toward a writer. I’ve written some snark and I didn’t find it snarky. As Dorothy Parker says: Wit has truth in it; wisecracking is calisthenics with words.

The snake is eating its own tail here.

And now I will take my own advice and ignore it as logic has failed and continues to fail. And I guess never get reviewed.

Help me out, readers, did that last sentence sound a bit like sour grapes? Or is that my amateurish lack of professionalism coming through? And am I mistaken or is there certain superiority and disdain evidenced by quoting Ms Parker?

~

Either way, as far as Mr Mayer’s comments go, I wonder what’s wrong with avid readers writing reviews. Aren’t we all experts on what we ourselves like? And if so, who else but ourselves is going to appoint us?

Perhaps we should let Ms Massara, experienced novelist, expert author and public relations specialist, tell us what is what.

~ ~ ~ ~

*This means, I’m very loosely paraphrasing here, okay? Don’t adjudicate my wording to the nice ladies of the Book Binge, people.
** Well, wouldn’t you know it. She had indeed linked to both blogs, but then backtracked and deleted the pertinent line. Methinks such behaviour almost guarantees that it was indeed the author who left those ‘anon’ comments in the original damned review (sorry, Rowena, it’s Casee’s doing!) Not to mention the original inclusion of that classic witticism “we’ll be laughing all the way to the bank with our huge royalty checks despite the flak we copped from those unprofessionalreviewers.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

UPDATED TO ADD: via The Book Binge, the ladies at Book Lovers Inc had the original post and the first 100 deleted comments up.

11 Comments »

  • First of all if you’re going to put up a post, stand by it. Why would Massara take out the part where she mentions Book Binge and Chick Lit reviews, but keeps most of her damaging remarks and then deletes all the comments?

    Her deleted and taking things out doesn’t change what she posted. And did you see her response in caps of all things?

    Can no one take criticism anymore? And if you send out a book for review, you’re putting yourself out there for criticism, both good and bad. Just because an author send a book to a book blog, they shouldn’t expect a great review because you went out of your way to send your book to be reviewed in the first place.

    And I ask, when is the last time you seen a Bob Mayer book reviewed on a book blog? Perhaps there is a bit of sour grapes going on.

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  • I’ve had the odd negative review (or less than positive review, really), but only one I considered bad.

    In that case, a reviewer on a fairly large site (large in the sense of a large pool of reviewers and lots of reviews–I’m not sure how popular it was as a site) reviewed my second title–an m/f romance that had a LOT of f/f sexual content, something that was clearly noted on the back cover/blurb.

    It was very clear from her review that f/f content is something she’s not into. At all. While she didn’t trash the scenes themselves, she devoted more than half her review space to telling readers the scenes in question “didn’t do anything” for her, even if they made sense in the context of the plot.

    When I went back to link to the review, I found that the site had taken it down–I’m not sure why. Maybe they had the same concerns I did?

    I’ve also had incidences of reviewers missing crucial bits of information placed in the story (I try not to bludgeon readers with things like characters’ sexual orientations or minute details of their backstories, but I do leave bread crumbs all over the place), and then taking issue with certain plot points because they missed that info. In those cases…well, what are you gonna do? Go leave a comment asking them to please reread pages 96 and 127? There’s no point, because if the reviewer missed it, then other readers will too, and it’s my job to make sure they don’t miss vital character information, isn’t it? So in those cases, it’s a learning experience for me, showing me ways I could more effectively get information into the reader’s brain. :)

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  • Bored
    February 11
    4:46 pm

    I find these conversations about bad reviews boring. Both “sides” have the right to free speech, but neither “side” will acknowledge the other’s right nor learn from the other. It seems they would rather remain in coflict.

    There are far more pressing issues, such as poverty and hatred, that deserves our attention on blogs and Twitter. Even saving a “good man” in Congo deserves more attention than this drivel.

    Quoting Martin Luther King, Jr., “An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”

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  • Janean
    February 11
    6:06 pm

    Lol @ bored. If you’re so wonderful and only want to read and talk about the “broader concerns of all humanity” why are you reading KKB? Did you get lost or something?

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  • Lol @ bored. If you’re so wonderful and only want to read and talk about the “broader concerns of all humanity” why are you reading KKB? Did you get lost or something?

    This made me LOL, Janean.

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  • Bored, I hope that means you are busy not reading irrelevant drivel such as this but donating to good causes everywhere instead, right?

    *

    All mocking aside, I wonder how hard it is to understand that neither authors nor reviewers are The Borg.

    Both groups are made up of individuals, many of whom have never found themselves in this particular situation/conflict/disagreement/brouhaha before. It’s not “that they would rather remain in conflict” as much as new territory for many.

    Such as, say, Ms Massara.

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  • LVLMLeah
    February 12
    5:24 pm

    Reviewers lashing back at criticism of a review- nothing to lose.

    Authors lashing back at a negative review- everything to lose.

    Fair? No. We all have a right to say what we want. But then we should be prepared for the possible consequences, right or wrong.

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  • Reviewers lashing back at criticism of a review- nothing to lose.

    Authors lashing back at a negative review- everything to lose.

    Exactly. There’s no point authors going on about their right to reply to reviews because at the end of the day, it’s their reputations on the line, not the reviewers’.

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  • Nora
    February 14
    12:34 am

    The thing is, millions of readers “review” books every single day — it’s called word-of-mouth publicity.

    The only control an author has over his or her work is to write the best darned book they can and be a well-informed professional when it comes to the business side of things.

    I guess this sort of unprofessional behavior is just another reason to avoid non-traditionally published books. The bad writing and lack of editing are reasons enough, but I suspect an author who’s gone through the process of query & review, meeting deadlines, editing, etc., would not have behaved as badly as this over a relatively minor negative review.

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  • Um… well… as I suspect this comment probably has something to do with the fundraiser thing I’m doing, I’m going out a limb here…

    There are far more pressing issues, such as poverty and hatred, that deserves our attention on blogs and Twitter. Even saving a “good man” in Congo deserves more attention than this drivel

    I love Karen’s blog. It amuses me. If I only read blogs and topics about one thing, regardless of what it may be? I’d be…well, bored.

    If people only concentrate on one topic, be it ‘drivel’, as you call it, or even vastly important matters, world peace, starving kids, injustice…well, eventually, it bores the mind and your readers wander off.

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  • Anon76
    February 16
    6:04 am

    Verra, verra true, Shiloh.

    And honestly, how many of us have looked at some celebrity and muttered, “Oh, give it a rest, already.”

    There’s a fine line between “use” and “abuse” when leveraging ones talent. Being an actor doesn’t suddenly make a person a political genius, nor make one wiser when it comes to religion, or more savvy than others when it comes to, say, solving world hunger.

    But some people buy into their own hype, and by doing so, drag in their fandom or people who want to “grow up” to be “just like them.” (And this is soooo not directed at you, Shiloh.)

    This will now go back to the relevance of the whole situation as seen through my eyes. An individual wrote a book and published. This individual took offense to one? two? reviews. Now this individaul feels the need to spread the “wisdom” that such reviewers are basically dog poop and should not be allowed to spread such propaganda about things they know nothing about. These people probably couldn’t write more than a “grocery list” for heaven’s sake.

    Believing ones own hype, much?

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