Being Valentine’s Day, I was going to blog about how Disney’s Tangled is the perfect romance (maybe next week), but this week I have something else on my mind.
I just learned about the debacle on Goodreads last month, where YA authors or friends of YA authors commented on what were perceived as snarky reviews (a detailed overview can be found here).
This whole thing reminded me of the YA Mafia incident a few years ago (countered here by Holly Black and here by Justine Larbalestier) where an author and book blogger clashed, and the whole thing resulted in a misconception that YA authors were threatening the careers of aspiring writers/book bloggers who gave their books scathing reviews. Clearly no good comes from authors responding to reviews.
I love Goodreads. I have an account that I never update. I think I’ve written one review, two at the most. I don’t really use Goodreads the way it was intended. But every time I finish a book the first thing I do is go to Goodreads and read through a page or so of reviews. I like to see how other people felt about the book I just read. It’s kind of a way to gage what other readers feel is important in a book. I think of it as research. :)
For the most part, I’ve always found the reviewers at Goodreads to be fair. People are entitled to their own opinions, and as long as there are no personal attacks, I think it is all good. Some reviewers are a little snarky and ranty, and honestly, I think a little lesser of these reviews than I do of those that are more respectful and well-thought out. And the Tempest review that started one of the fiascos was honest and intelligent, in my opinion. The reviewer had an issue with a character, and she clearly demonstrated her point. And whether someone agrees with her or not, she made her point very clear without demonizing the author.
But I have seen some pretty scathing reviews at other sites and on blogs. Some bloggers and reviewers make personal attacks on the authors with some pretty bold claims about who the author is and what the author believes in, like you can really know who someone is from a brief biography and reading one of their novels. Writer John Scalzi wrote an interesting post on being fictionalized.
This to me is the dark side of being published, and the more successful you are, the more people are going to pick on you. And I know there are some writers looking down from their huge piles of money, but that comes at a price. I have to say, I feel kind of bad for Stephenie Meyers. So many people who don’t know her are so mean to her (not her books, but her, personally).
Sometimes when I dare to dream that I could actually be successful at this writing thing, I think about how I’d feel if those things were written about me. Would I still think those negative reviews on Goodreads are fair? Would I grind my teeth when people try to psychoanalyze me or claim I’m anti-feminist because my MC doesn’t fit their idea of a strong, independent woman (only a true Mary Sue would be that perfect)? Will my skin be thick enough for this plugged-in culture where everyone has an opinion and the means to share it, and some do so without any regards at all to common courtesy?
I do know that I’ll need a good plan to deal with it. So this is a note to me if my dream ever comes true and I actually get published. I know, dare to dream. :)
1. Don’t read reviews. Reviews are for readers not the author.
2. If you do read a review (cause I know you will), do not respond. I repeat, do not ever respond, ever.
3. If you are so dying to respond that you can’t contain yourself, type it up in word, share it with your friends and family, sleep on it, then delete it in the morning.
4. Remember that tastes vary. Not everyone is going to love your stories, hopefully some will.
5. Remember that some people on the internet do not see other people as people only a faceless mass. This gives them permission to be meaner and ruder than they really are.
6. Surround yourself by supportive friends and family who know the real you and will share in your outrage, but will repeatedly remind you not to break rule number two.
7. Always remember what really matters.
That is my plan of attack. I know it is a little of putting the cart before the horse, but I can’t help indulge in the fantasy every once and a while.
So how about you? How would you deal with the negativity once you are published?
Oh yeah, and Happy Valentine’s Day.