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Are you fucking kidding me?

Pardon the cursing, but really.

Over at Dear Author, Jane has up a very apt post on the reader/author paradigm (honestly, should be required reading). The discussion that follows is, as usual, also very, very interesting–which doesn’t mean that everyone agrees with Jane on all points, by the way.

And so it goes until we read a looooooooooooooooooooonnnnng screed comment left by EMoon(1)(2). We get all the usual–but readers don’t understand how much about publishing a book is out of the author’s hands. But readers don’t know how horrible the author’s life was while s/he was writing the book. But readers just don’t get how difficult it is to write a book.

The kicker, though is at the very beginning:

I agree readers have a right to their opinion. They have a right to state their opinion. They have a right to state their opinion publicly, in writing. This does not, however, make every reader a capable reviewer. (It doesn’t make every reader a competent reader, for that matter.)

Are. you. fucking. kidding me?

Not that this is a novel idea. Whenever authors rant about readers not understanding what the author meant, the implication is there: you are a moron who can’t read.

 

(1) please take note that I was very, very controlled in my reply to that comment in that thread. Not my blog, not my space to engage this…person.

(2) a commenter later speculates that EMoon is author Elizabeth Moon.

*  *  *

Okay, I’m a bit calmer now.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, here’s the deal: authors who publish their books–independently or otherwise–are trying to get readers to buy those books.

Hence, it makes sense for authors not to antagonize readers.

Which in turns means, don’t be patronizing, don’t be condescending, don’t be abusive and, above all, don’t loose your cool–at least not where readers can see it.

Because if you do, you’ll have to face the music. Free speech doesn’t mean speech without consequences.

Look, it’s not that reviewers are immune to criticism. It’s not that reviewers ‘can’t be wrong’–as I said over at DA, I’ve been called on factual mistakes from the book at least twice by the authors, so yeah, reviewers can be wrong.

But the crucial difference between authors and reviewers in the public eye–particularly people like me, who review because we want to share the love of books and have no one around who wants to talk with us about them–is that we do not get paid. Most of us publish our reviews at small, tiny, personal blogs, many of which are free blogs. If someone reads our reviews/thoughts/rambles and comments? Yay. If no one does? We still write them. Having followers or regular readers is nice, but it’s not what makes us blog.

Of course our speech has consequences, such as losing the trust of those who read our reviews or posts, but blogging is–for most of us–not a career.

For authors, however they publish, it’s supposed to be(3)

 

(3) I’ll concede that many people writing fanfiction are authors who publish their work, yet don’t consider it a career. This is obviously not what I’m talking about here.

8 Comments »


  • Jane G
    January 12
    9:30 am

    Well, not that diplomatically stated, but she is not entirely wrong.

    I’ve often seen readers – and in some cases even reviewers – misunderstand some of the less obvious (but still far from ambiguous) plot points from books and other written works.

    Not that this accounts for most of the criticism of course, a large part is simply due to personal taste and there’s hardly a lack of badly written stuff out there either.

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  • Mireya
    January 12
    2:50 pm

    Wow, she sure sabotaged any validity to whatever argument(s) she may have had. I sure didn’t read further after that first, pompous, condescending remark. What would be the point, I lost interest on hearing anything else from her.

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  • I found everything about that comment pretty outrageous myself. Even the bits I might have agreed with were washed out by the length and the sense I got that she was taking time from her Very Important Work to school the ignoramuses.

    And here is why you should be on Twitter, AL: someone shared Moon’s anti-Muslim blog post of 2010 (with lines like, “many Muslims have all the virtues of civilized persons”) (see http://worldsf.wordpress.com/2010/09/16/elizabeth-moon-on-islam/).

    Oy.

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  • Jane, I am very sorry, but…so what if “readers – and in some cases even reviewers – misunderstand some of the less obvious (but still far from ambiguous) plot points from books and other written works.”

    That does not give authors the right to condescend to the unwashed masses, tell us how we aren’t qualified enough to analyze their IMPORTANT WORK. It was published and the reader paid for it–the author needs to let go already.

    Mireya, I’m still seeing red. Condescending…something or other.

    Jessica, and that is why I cannot be on Twitter–my blood pressure just went through the roof reading the excerpt.

    (Plus I’m not allowed to have my cell phone on my person at work, so it defeats the purpose)

    (Plus plus there are lovely people out there who keep me in the loop :wink: so it’d be redundant in any case)

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  • Keishon
    January 13
    3:14 am

    Agreeing with Jane G. I thought the reader competency remark was valid to some extent and I don’t exclude myself. There will be readers who get it and some who don’t but that is not for the author to comment on nor can they control (and they shouldn’t). Her comments on Muslims was disgraceful. I’ve never read EMoon and have no plans to start.

    PS I read/skimmed her epic tl;dr post.

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  • Jane G
    January 13
    6:33 am

    @AztecLady: Never meant to imply they are right to be condescending. But I think they should be able to point out that a bad review is a bad review if they want to, even if it is not likely to be a productive use of their time.

    Freedom of speech and all, goes both ways as long as you avoid libel and such.

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  • Anon 76
    January 15
    5:16 pm

    Oy, haven’t even looked at the link but I’m sure it’s the same old same old that will bring my blood to a boil.

    Facts that have never gone away since I joined this biz in 2001:

    1) Don’t dis readers or reviewers. They have a right to their opinions as long as it’s about the book. Pull up your big girl panties and step away from the keyboard if you feel you absolutley cannot control your ire. Tisn’t actually about you as a person, but about said book.

    2) If you feel the reviewers and readers aren’t “getting” the nuances in your book, then it’s probably writing related. The movie plays in your head as an author, but those visions must translate to the page. Some small niche of people may pick up on your cryptic style, and if that is all you aspire too, fine. Don’t berate the rest of the reading public because the execution was weak when seeking a mass audience.

    3) Never believe your naysayers to be uneducated. Many have read the genre you write in for years upon years. So, one woman is a waitress. So what? I was in honors classes from the time I was in second grade. My home circumstances at that point pushed me in the direction of waitressing. No college, never even made it to my highschool graduation point. I’m a highschool dropout but I certainly know what I like to read and when it’s done well.

    4) As an author, never believe your own hype. Having a thick skin is far different from believing your work rocks the planet.

    Hmm, think it’s time to stop on that note.

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