Jeff O'Handley, Author

Jeff O'Handley

The Doubting Writer Finds His Voice

Required Reading

I’m breaking with my usual Monday-Friday thing because I think this is important enough to warrant it.

Donna at Musings of a Penniless Writer posted this the other day. I then went and found the thread where all this stemmed from. Essentially, it was an author and an agent ganging up on reviewers over at Goodreads. The behavior, as Donna has said, is NOT ACCEPTABLE.

Exploring the threads and things led me to a few other places, so instead of writing, I was reading. But I think it’s worth reading. Two very thoughtful posts, one hysterically funny. (This is the funny one, go through all five days)

It’s a lot of reading, but well worth it, in my opinion.

Most of you who read this blog are in the same boat as me, somewhere on the journey of writing and seeking publication. Some have agents, some do not; some already have book out, most don’t. We all hope to be published some day, and when we get there, and the reviews are (hopefully) pouring in, know that some will not be good. Think before you act, folks. The internet gives us the luxury of cooling down before we hit ‘post message’ or ‘send’. Use that time, and remember that what you say will follow you around, like one of those really embarrassing Youtube videos of that time you were drunk….

14 Responses

  1. These fall into the category of "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all!" That last link was hilarious. I loved it!!!! Thanks for sharing these (although I couldn't open the first link in the list of three).

  2. Thanks for the heads-up, Lisa, I think I've gotten it fixed now.

    The best policy would seem to be 'don't comment on reviews. Period.'

    Easy for me to say, hah hah

  3. Well, even just for readers (not writers) everything is subjective. I may loathe a book and you may love it–or vice versa. I recently read a post by an author friend (she write romantic suspense) who mentioned that one reviewer complained that it was too obvious who the villain was while another reviewer for the same book didn't like it because the villain seemed to come out of nowhere.

    Not every book is for every reader. Accept that the ones who don't like really aren't your audience (and as another author said) pray they don't have a goodreads account.

  4. I've heard a lot about that whole Goodreads thing but I haven't actually read anything about it for myself. I'll be checking out those links! But from what I've heard, yeah, that is NOT acceptable behavior for an author.

  5. There was that big scandal a few months bag on Big Al's Book Blog. Everyone is going to get bad reviews. Your heroes get bad reviews. There's a pretty nasty one about my flash fiction over at Barnes and Noble, but you just have to move on. 🙂

  6. Unless you have something truly constructive to say, as opposed to being destructive, I say keep it to yourself. All those reviewers can learn a thing or two from you, Jeff.

  7. This is awesome, Jeff. I love the fact that it is the writers taking the moral ground here and banding together against very unprofessional behaviour.

  8. Hello from a new follower. I cannot comment as of yet because I have not read the articles you have linked to. I have a good idea about what I am about to read and I do not think I will be happy. I understand your frustration. I will be back to visit your blog soon.

    Nice to meet you.

  9. Great post and links! Reviews, positive and negative, are part of the deal when a book finally makes its way into the world. I truly believe that everyone is entitled to his or her opinion, but there is no need for nastiness or excessive negativity. There are polite and graceful ways of making a point, even if the point is to share that a book doesn't work for the reviewer.

  10. Thanks for the comments, all, I truly appreciate it, as always. Welcome aboard, Melissa, it's nice to have you here.

    It's easy to blame the authors in these cases, and I will – they should be exercising greater self-control in the face of bad reviews (easy to say when you haven't gotten any, heh heh). At the same time, reviewers need to pay more attention to what they write. I've seen plenty of examples where reviewers seemed to revel in snark. Maybe that's their shtick. Maybe they're proof of the 'normal person + anonymity + audience = total F-wad' theory (see for a graphic example), I don't know. It seems mostly unnecessary. Humor good, and snark can be funny, but a lot of it just goes too far.

    And this makes me think of a future confessional post I will need to make.

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