Friday, July 13, 2012

How NOT to deliver criticism.

NOTE: I apologize to my friends who are bored by this silly battle between a group of vampire fantasy authors and me. I'll try to make this my final post on the subject.

Background: A fellow author posted a negative review (2 of 5 stars) on my book. I read her book (did not make it all the way through) and posted a 1-star review because I felt the book earned it, and to make my point that authors should not criticize each other in a public forum where it could hurt sales and livelihoods. Point was made. We both removed our reviews.

Then, some uppity authors (probably friends of hers) decided to pile on by trashing me on their blogs. They hurled personal insults and criticized my writing. If they did this to get attention, I'd understand the motive. I won't mention the blogs or people specifically, as they don't deserve the exposure.

The most pompous of the asses slams me for mixing a past tense sentence in a present tense paragraph. Here is his biography on Smashwords. How many tenses are in this?

"[asshole's woman's name removed] has a doctorate in English literature.
[shithead's name removed] was in the Navy for more than fourteen years, both enlisted and as an officer, before he cashed out and started writing. Together, she and [fartbag's name removed] have written more than thirty sf/f books. They live in Colebrook, New Hampshire."

After seeing his picture, I realize there's no insult I could hurl that would exceed the severity of the one his ancestors delivered. Ooh-fah!

Perhaps I should explain my stance about authors posting negative reviews (as in below average or highly critical) with an analogy:

If a chef of a popular restaurant visited a rival restaurant, dined there, and then published a negative review of the rival's chef, how would that be perceived? Jealousy, right? Even if the food was sub-par, the chef is out of line. Would it be less egregious if that review were posted by the restaurant owner? I think not. If that chef were to speak in person to the rival's chef and suggest another way of caramelizing onions, that could be respectable, if done tactfully.

This scenario applies to most professions. Heck, it even applies to parenting. Don't you cringe when you see a parent scold a child in public? Must children be forced to learn through embarrassment? Jeez, I hope not.

So, people, please exercise restraint when criticizing others in a public forum. It's not nice, and you're not going to correct anyone by embarrassing them or damaging their livelihoods.

Since I get to have the last word in this (it is my blog), and I know the jealous author who attacked me will read this, here you go:

"Fuck you, Mr. M--the mule you rode in on, the tic on its ass, the flea on the tic's ass, and the microbe on the flea's ass."

See, I learned nothing from you--still mixed case.


  1. Wow, so sorry this happened to you. I always like to think of it this way--if you hate someone's book, they didn't write it for you. As an author you don't need to spoil their chances at reaching the correct readership.

    Don't let it get you down. You have plenty of positive reviews! :D

    1. Really not a big deal. It's actually increasing my sales. I'm just being a sarcastic prick.

    2. Oh, well then, prick away!

    3. For all of us, who tap/scribble/hunt/peck - thank you for the pricking - yes, that is a made up word. Hell, we make up worlds when we write, why not grammar, syntax, sin taxes etc... Cheers to copy editors with class and your cheekiness!

  2. You handled the whole thing pretty well, plus I learned some shit along the way so it's all good.

    I just picked up the first volume of your trilogy from Amazon. I haven't actually finished 50 Shades of Grey yet and I'm trying to before I get onto all the parodies. But I figure I like the blog so I'll just grab it now.

    Besides, as you wrote, there's controversy! Gotta buy! lol.

    I think you made some solid points regarding how authors should support one another, so onward and upward...with your sales...

  3. i went out with a flea's ass microbe once. it was not very rewarding :)

  4. "After seeing his picture, I realize there's no insult I could hurl that would exceed the severity of the one his ancestors delivered. Ooh-fah!"
    This made me laugh out loud because I had exactly the same reaction to the picture you refer to.

  5. I think intention matters even if the public perception will never accept it.

    Authors do not have to like the work of other authors and have the right to say so. Doing so respectfully and without being petty is best. Still some people can only offer so much to the world...

    Not all feed back is meant to be helpful. The kind of people who share it are not going to be the types deterred by rules of decency.

    Those who are going to put themselves out there need to make sure they have a structure for peer review and are available for private one on one critics or feedback.

    Then people who really only want to be helpful will have a way to do that. People who just want to be mean will have no excuse.

  6. I wonder if this is the same flaccid windsock that went after my (deceased) mother's books on Amazon, berating everything from the character's names to the accuracy of the period's vernacular (in a NOVEL - she never professed it to be a textbook, geesh!)

    Upon investigation, I found that this person ALWAYS delivers horrific reviews on any historical-type novel she can get her grubby claws into. She rips them apart like a football fan going after an errant bag of Doritos, then smears her orange-stained fingers on her own blog or in replies to anyone who disagrees. She must spend hours crafting pages and pages of these things a day, giggling maniacally in the soft glow of her monitor as she sips sherry with her hairless cats underfoot. At least I assume she has feet. And cats.

    Out of literally hundreds of these reviews, she only liked ONE book.

    Her own.


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  8. Come on Phil. I can't believe you would call someone a vampire fantasy author. Such a low blow. The fact is, a bunch of douchebags from #TeamEdward do not warrant a blog post. A 4 day weekend in Cancun that includes a bottle of phenobarbitol, a 23 year old set of twins with different last names (still don't know which one was married) and 4 tickets to one of those shows with a donkey (if you can get down here in 7 hours the 4th ticket is yours!) is something that warrants a blog post.

  9. One would think that talented writers can find a way to communicate effectively -- that would be without being petty or spiteful.

    Having been through web design school, I have had to take constructive criticism and give it. When I analyze a colleague's design I ask them their reasoning for a specific design choice (when I find an element of their design that does not work for me). This helps open a dialogue rather than put them on the defensive.

    I do the same thing when someone tells me they don't like one of my designs -- I ask questions and I usually explain my reasoning for the choices I made. I also freely admit when I didn't think about it. I listen to the suggestions they make and evaluate their ideas. Then either accept the idea or reject it as per what I think is right.

    I have no doubt that if these people had started with a reasonable approach you may have done something similar. This was a good article, even when I don't know who all is involved -- but I do know that no matter what profession you are in -- you will run into jerks. Good that you handled things well.

  10. Yeah, I had an Amazon poster try and rip me out, but it was on a forum board. Still it would effect my sales if prospective buyers were to have read it. And yet I've had other people say it was fine. Then I put on my detective hat and investigated this (B***ch) and it turns out she was the author of some bad SMUT disguised as real writing. Suddenly I didn't feel so bad. After all when you are being chewed out by an IDIOT, it is usually kind of like a compliment. Because if an idiot liked it, that would mean you were an idiot too. So it's all a matter of perspective!