Tuesday, March 29, 2011


I just came away from the sort of trainwreck that I said once would make me point and snicker. I'm not doing either, I'm more sad than anything. This has to be the worst mess of this kind that I've seen. A reviewer gave what looked like an even handed review to a self-pubbed book, and the author disintegrated. The link is here, if you must, but you might want to skip it. Suffice to say that the author went outside without putting on her big girl pants.

And everyone knows about it now. I found out because a friend passed on a newsletter from a writing course that used it for a cautionary tale.

It's been said before that reviews are for readers. Writers get some benefit too, it's publicity if the review is good and hopefully a way to improve if it isn't so good. But the review isn't meant for ego stroking, it's a map to readers and sometimes it's marked 'here be dragons.'

I try not to forget that writers are people. Low-rated reviews are hard to write. In fact, if I don't review frequently some weeks, it's most likely because I'm struggling to review something that didn't work so well. There's no way to keep it from hurting sometimes without abandoning honesty. And I'm not going to do that. Not everything written is the most deathless prose since the Iliad.

I'm sure I've hurt some feelings already, or maybe no one ever read, but either way, no one has gone off on me, and for that, thank you authors. It could happen one day, and if it does, I just hope I can keep as calm as Big Al did.


  1. I have to think it's her. Or maybe it's a fault of the whole self-publishing system. A self-published author doesn't have to go through the submission and rejection cycle, or even the editing cycle that a decent publishing house provides. And therefore, a self-published author hasn't developed the ability to recognize and accept a tough but fair review, let alone actually appreciate and learn from it. They haven't developed the necessary tough skin that comes from the process of making your baby even more beautiful.

    At any rate, I love your scrupulously honest reviews. Keep up the good work!

  2. That may have a lot to do with it, but the only other time I've seen something this extreme was from an author pubbed with Dorchester, and that's New York. But gee, I never even posted fanfic unless my beta looked at it. The reviews don't get beta'd so all errors are on me.

    Thanks for the support, it means a lot.

  3. Ow. Ow ow ow ow ow. Geez, I've never even heard of any of these people, and I'm wincing. With every new comment from the author, the mental picture of a gum-popping pre-teen gets more firmly entrenched.

    I've always thought what you do is pretty brave, Crys. I've never had the neerve to post a review unless I absolutely loved the book and would wholeheartedly give it five stars. If I don't like something enough to do that, I just don't review it.

    And now, after seeing this... I hadn't quite considered this particular risk. I mean, I didn't think people did things like this.

    Personally, my respect just went up a couple notches. More power to you, love. Rock on.

  4. I knew it was possible after seeing Jenre get slammed for reviewing a Big Name and noticing that the emperor had no clothes on, but that was fans, and before I started reviewing. The shrieking on Speak It's Name last week brought it a little closer to home. But if I let the prospect stop me, my Daddy'd be REALLY disappointed in me. He'd also be ticked if I couldn't defend my opinions.

    But thanks for the kind words, cause I may need to hold on tight to them one day.

  5. I have to say that I found your reviewing style direct and honest, and I don't just say that because you gave me a great review; I took to heart the criticisms you offered as well because I thought they were spot on. If someone like Howett started flinging accusations at you, most people would know whose problem it really was.

    Apropos of La Howett, I don't have a lot of sympathy for her. The criticism Al offered was about the sloppiness of the manuscript. There is no excuse for putting something out there in such poor condition. (She doesn't have a publisher to blame, after all!) If he'd criticized her writing, said her characters were flat or her plot was ridiculous, I might have felt more kindly towards her, but as it stands, she invited the criticism and then almost demanded the abuse by her own abusive behavior. Kudos to Al for his forbearance.

  6. I got the feeling she really didn't see the awkwardness of her sentences and had no idea that anyone else would find a problem. But she should have left well enough alone.


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