Does everyone buy Coke instead of Pepsi? Does everyone have to love polo shirts? Heaven forbid we were all required to love Fifty Shades of Grey or else be subject to a sharp rebuke. People feel free to express their love or hate for Tolkien, Hemingway, or Poe, perhaps because they’re already dead. Last time I checked, Laura Ingalls Wilder didn't pop out of the grave to haunt someone because a reader didn't find the Little House books captivating. Nor would I expect that she sat in her home, writing nasty letters to those who weren't her fans while she was alive.
I'm so angry I could just spit. It's one of those rare times when I'm furious about something that's not my business and not in my control—when I'm indignant on the behalf of people I don't know, whose lives will not change in any way, regardless of my anger.
Yes, I'm talking about life on the Internet.
A few days ago, I witnessed two author meltdowns on Goodreads. As is always the case, they started off with being on the receiving end of a one-star review for each of their books. Follows basic procedure, right? Read. Like or don't. Review. The end.
Wrong, wrong, and wronger.
Not the end. An end would be merciful.
The final step these days has moved right along from "review" to "defend your review/rating and then have your name smeared across every social media available."
I want to call out the first author in question, but I don't even want to give her any recognition by typing her name out here. A review was posted, and she jumped right in and attacked the reviewer. Friends on both sides joined in.
The reviewer had posted portions of the book so all could see why she rated it so low. It appeared to me that the author had somehow ingested a thesaurus and vomited all the words four syllables and higher into a manuscript. Truthfully (and I'm a big fan of the thesaurus, myself), I was glad the original reviewer explained some of the passages featured, because I would never have gotten what was being said.
The author removed all her own comments from Goodreads, but moved over to Facebook. There she began to spew some horrid stuff: shouting out names of people she deemed trolls, posting links to their Amazon profiles, and encouraging others to harass this reviewer and anyone who showed support of this review. She stooped as low as to call one of the reviewers "The Creature from the Black Baboon."
The part that made me the most angry—and believe me, it was tough to choose just one—was when one of the author's friends commented on one of the Facebook posts, saying, "[Author name], you really should take a step back and get some control. You're doing a lot of damage here, and may be alienating your readers with this type of stuff," and the author replied (and I am NOT kidding you here), "Don't worry. I know what I'm doing. My sales are going through the roof since this started."
What?!? She was creating a horrible situation on purpose? And reveling in it?
Apparently she was, because she began repeating the mantra, "Even 'snublicity' is good publicity!" and thanking her "trolls" for all the free promo. She accused them of creating Amazon accounts simply to trash her book, ignoring that they all had established accounts with multiple reviews of other books and products. Facts were not needed or welcome.
As I was in the middle of writing this post, a second author started another attack on a reader who dared to mark his book as a "don't want to read" based on her reading of the sample of his book.
Mr. Author attacked the reviewer on her own blog, calling her names in the comment section of a recent post. She responded with facts and restraint. He went back to the original review and began a long list of insults against her on Goodreads. Her only response at first was to copy his posts for the record, since we all know the pattern by now: hurl insults today, remove all your posts tomorrow. His posts (mostly unanswered) continued to come, sounding more and more unhinged with each moment.
I finally got to the point where I just couldn't take it anymore, and decided to stand up for the reviewer. I need to make it clear here that I do not engage in Internet arguments as a general rule. People are not going to have opinions/life beliefs changed when shouted at by a stranger online, and that's all there is to it. But I can't sit idly by while someone attacks an innocent party, and I feel it's important to show support in those situations.
I was embarrassed for the attacking author, because he was making a colossal fool of himself by acting worse than a child. There was no reason, other than immaturity and a bruised ego on the part of the book's author, for any type of response. If she had rated it four stars with no explanation, I don't think he would have attacked her, shouting, "Why?"
The man was not rational. He kept going whether anyone was responding or not. He even went to another thread to complain, thus ensuring that more people moved over to "his" page and were witnesses to his ranting. I should probably mention that his author profile had been deleted after a tantrum two weeks prior, where he’d gotten a GR member banned for bullying that didn’t actually occur, so he had created a new profile as a non-author and was using that for his attacks.
It’s a shame, really, that there are selfish authors like these two who are unable to accept the fact that not everyone out there will be their fans.
Most self-published authors have more class than that, and are concerned with next year’s sales in addition to today’s. They’re insulted that the actions of a few are tainting the reputation of the many, because they have to work twice as hard to get people to even look at their books, much less review them.
I will never forget the names of those tantrum-throwing authors and will be quick to discourage others from supporting their work. I won’t paint the others with the same brush, but there are many who will, and who have already dismissed SPAs as too much bother and high drama. What a shame for all those who work hard to put out a high-quality product, only to have a few bad apples spoil the reputation of all.