Saturday, May 18, 2013

Blind leading the blind or Dumb and Dumber?

Earlier today a good friend came to me for advice because of something that had happened to an author she admires and respects. This writer has a loyal and supportive readership, people who genuine love her books, her style, and her sarcastic sense of humour. We should all be this lucky, to have readers who love us and care about our success. So let me tell you a bit of what happened, and you can then tell me how fair you think this situation is at the moment.

The author in question here writes witty, acerbic, somewhat irreverent books, I’m told. I don’t have an opinion because I’ve not read her books, but I genuinely DO feel anger for what has unfolded recently. Like many of us, she was invited to be a guest at a blogger’s site, and the writer thought it would be fun, so she accepted the invitation. Imagine her horror when her humourous responses were wholly misinterpreted, and even misquoted. Seems this unleashed a shit-storm of nastiness that has left the author feeling understandably upset to the point that she’s ill. To make matters worse, small-minded idiots seem to have taken it upon themselves to start leaving one star “reviews” and ratings on her books via Amazon–people who not only have NOT read her books, but who have been taking the word of gossip to make their nasty judgements. The blog host removed the post when it came to light what was happening, but the shit continues to go viral, with nothing to stand on.

So, authors and readers–what are your thoughts on a mess like this? And those of you who think you’re doing the general public a service by behaving like bitches and petty minded idiots are free to weigh in as well, because believe me, I wouldn’t dream of silencing you if you have something to say about your moral crusades because I’d like to know what the fuck you think you’re achieving? NO two people ever read the same words and see the same thing, it’s human nature. My opinion of a book is not the same as yours. BUT, I do believe we have to exercise some level of intelligence and understanding when we are dealing with written words. You can’t hear tone, laughter, or see the sparkle in someone’s eyes when they write words; and humour is very much a hit and miss gamble with the written word.

We all make mistakes when we deal with the public, assuming we are being clear and concise when sometimes we miss the mark. Does that mean if I say something that doesn’t stroke your sensibilities and soothe your ego that you’ll rise up against me and begin to pan my books, telling your friends to do the same? What gives you the right to judge what I meant, especially if you don’t ask–or worse, you’ve never even seen the “offensive” words, only heard about them from someone else?

The internet allows many small-minded people to have a sense of power, and if one of these people doesn’t like the way they hear about something an author has said, they can very easily jump on the hate bandwagon and start encouraging other people–without ever seeing the post/blog/interview themselves. Naïve or not, I’m one of those people who believes if I don’t see the content, I don’t have the right to judge it–wild concept, I know. We, as authors, put not only our creative hearts out to the public when we write stories, we then put our personal lives and fears before you when we do interviews and write blogs, etc. This is all in an effort to connect to the people who may enjoy our work and our craft. I don’t know of many authors who haven’t been trashed for one reason or another and been made to feel like total shit because someone misunderstood their book, or their intent when they’ve responded to a question. If you think it’s easy to be on display for an audience, try it some time. And before you decide to exercise your power of nastiness, why not exercise your brain and ask yourself just why it is you’re about to attack someone you don’t even know? Because yes, those one-star reviews you use as your retaliation–they’re taking away an author’s paycheque and credibility–all because you’re going to be a bitch who hasn’t got anything better to do at the moment, or this writer offended your girlfriend’s sensibilities because said girlfriend misread a statement and got shitty. Honestly, grow the fuck up and realize, if you don’t ask, only act, all you’re really proving is what an ass you are. There are enough hurdles and hassles in this business without readers looking for ways to hurt a writer’s reputation just for the sake of being able to do it.

The next time you want to jump into the pool of controversy, ask yourself honesty what the target has ever done to you? We write stories, the best way we know how, and then we offer them to you to entertain you. Maybe you should consider how you’d feel if we suddenly passed judgement on you for your tastes, or started slamming you because you said something we may have misinterpreted? There are always two sides to any situation, if you don’t know enough to ask and think for yourself, then go back to the pasture with the rest of the sheep, please. And here’s hoping the wolf is hungry when he finds you!!

*ALL comments welcome and unmoderated... and yes, that is sarcasm, but it's also true. Let's hear from you now.


  1. It's really sad, because so many choose to hide behind a keyboard and type things they would never, ever say. Internet gangsters! I feel bad for the author because it really is hard to understand the negativity of those who don't even know who you really are. Everything blows over in time, and I hope this person can hang in there.

  2. Ok I read this and honestly what. The hell is wrong with people. Even if I. Didn't like the author or the books I would keep that to myself because your right that is the authors pay check that is the authors way of life you guys share your amazing stories with us and you really. Don't have to. I think that who ever is putting a one. Star for this author should be put in a situation where they misjudged and let them know how it feels I mean all them one stars that takes people away and nake them not want to read. A book so he/she loses fans and that's not right
    .so to all you small minded ppl that didn't even hear or see what happened ur just goin off what you hear from some one else seriously. GROW UP and get a life instead of ruining some one elses that never did anything to you and keep your opinions to your self. Karie lynn

  3. Ladies. Your thoughts are very welcome, and I,too, hope the author stops feeling bad and gets on with creating the stories her readers love so much. Thank you for dropping by and sharing your comments with us.

  4. Oh. My. God. Biting my tongue here. Love you Denysé know that, but if I do start typing I'll end up writing a book. I will say this though...there are always two sides to every scenario and then somewhere in the middle lies the truth. Witchhunts are petty and childish and I don't condone them, but... and this is a big but... there are ways to express sarcasm via the written word. Or even humor and since I read the original post before it was deleted I can tell you I didn't read it as humor or sarcasm. In fact.. this author seemed pretty adamant and direct about her beliefs until it bit her in the tush. Should she be trashed for her opinion... no... but one has to wonder why someone is so shocked when she is bashed, but had no problem doing it to others in the industry. Goose... Gander... our words carry weight and have consequences. Sad... but true.

  5. It almost seems we need some sort of educational program to teach people how and what to communicate via the internet, since that (and the invitation to reader reviews in lieu of professional reviews) seems to have spread a whole tide of nastiness. We have gone from a culture where people generally see one another to one where they often don't and it has loosened our moral restraints in a way I don't think anything else in history has done. It's a new world, Goldie, and one I don't like very much.

  6. My opinion? Everybody has balls behind a keyboard. I want to see these people stand up in real life and say the things they type. People like this are just a bunch of cyber bullies who think they can get away with anything because nobody can "see" them. Their opinions don't count for anything if they would purposely lie about an author they have never read before. Just another example of no moral code anymore. I hope the author reads these posts and doesn't give up on creating her stories. That would be letting the cyber bullies win.

  7. I agree, Nicole - it is possible to convey real humour with words, and if in doubt, make sure you point out you are employing humour or sarcasm to make a point. I don't know the author, I'm sure she made her errors in this, too - but in principle, we all know that reviews and gossip are lethal to everyone, and that's the real point here, isn't it? Bullying is wrong, no matter what cries attempt to justify it. I'm sure the author will be a great deal more circumspect in future, and it's NEVER good form to run down anyone in our industry - we all hear about it, don't we? Love and hugs to you, D

  8. People definitely hide behind the anonymity of the cyber world, and some get addicted to the feeling of 'power' they get from it. As a result, they say things they would otherwise keep to themselves or possibly share with only a few very close friends, in ways they would never use in public, probably giggling along the way. They are immune to any consequences, and sadly, they stop worrying about honesty or truth, about being thoughtful or polite. Because there are no consequences for themselves, they never worry about the consequences to those they are commenting to or about. It's yet another kind of cyber-bullying, and, sadly, it frequently has the same effect.
    In my opinion, regardless of whether you are commenting openly, using your real name, or not, you are still responsible for the harm your comments do, and therefore, the comments should be carefully considered, honest, and as polite as possible. This is real communication, which benefits everyone. Rude, cruel, and inconsiderate comments are rude, cruel, and inconsiderate regardless of whether or not people know exactly who is commenting.
    So, even if the author's comments contradicted readers' opinions or beliefs, their responses should have been carefully considered and expressed with consideration for whoever read them. This leads to honest discussion, which benefits all of us.

  9. See this is one of my great fears in all this. I've been asked several times to join this VBT and that one or submit for a review here and there and while I VERY MUCH WANT TO BECAUSE HELLO-I WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW WHO I AM, MY BOOKS, AND MOST DEFINITELY WANT TO MAKE MONEY FOR ME AND MY PUBLISHER *holds up a finger while mentally counting to 10 in Sandskrit and taking a much needed break* The fact there are people out there who either prey upon Indie authors or just think one day, "Gee, I want to be a book reviewer and I don't have to know anything since well I can read but who cares about how the publishing business works or how books are written-let's throw caution and education to the wind and be a book reviewer today!" makes me sick because I DON'T ALWAYS KNOW WHO THESE PARASITES ARE! If I didn't have friends and mentors like Denyse Bridger and my publishing house to kind of steer me or give me a heads up, I would be seriously A-bombing my writing career! What the heck do we do? What do we look for? It's the internet and anyone can claim to be as reputable as Siskel and Ebert of the literary world. Okay, I'm going to go find some yard darts and tell my husband to mow the yard because believe it or not-long grass doesn't really hide blood splatters or bodies that well.

  10. The sight of even a single one-star review would terrify me and probably down me for quite a while, even though I can bravely say (not yet having had any) that it is someone else's opinion, and if they think they could write a better book, I would be pleased to let them try. But scads of them? it is a mob mentality, and it is horrible, and it does take away the writer's paycheque, and possibly ruins her passion for the craft. That these people could do this IS horrible...

    But we set ourselves up for it, in a way. Words cannot - absolutely cannot - be interpreted the way we might want them to come across without body language to back them up. It's why it's so easy to lie (as long as you keep your story straight) over the internet. Because we can't see the little 'tells' that everyone has when they lie. Just the same as we can't see the witty half-grin, or the sly wink or the twinkle in our eye that we might have when we let loose with a comment that, on its own, WITHOUT that body language to soften its blow, might seem too 'out there' or rude or ... whatever. Now, I am CERTAINLY not advocating "keeping mum" or hinting at that what those others did was in any way correct or nice or right. Nor am I placing fault on ANYONE. But we do become public figures ... and our meanings are not always crystal clear. What happened is a travesty. But surely, by banding together and reporting such things to Amazon or Goodreads or wherever the one-star ratings were placed and issuing an order to look into them and perhaps have them removed, we can reverse the harm done. Because while a flaming-hot thread, choked up with the smoke that people driven to misguided anger can sometimes produce, is horrible, IT did not destroy the author's credibility. The one-star ratings did, and again, I am HORRIBLY sorry that happened. People ARE smallminded. We DO still have, despite what we call civilisation, a mob-mentality, and some people can 'go off half cocked', as a dear friend of mine once said. But there's good in the world, too - look at the attention this post has generated, after all.

    Above all, keep writing. Because you don't write for them - you don't interview for them. You do it to share your story. Keep writing. Keep sharing.

  11. I would seriously like to thank each and every one of you who has taken the time to come here, read, and offer intelligent and thoughtful perceptions and comments. We all understand when we do the public thing that there is HUGE potential for disastrous backlash if something doesn't come out the way it was meant to, but there is always room for rational thought and discussion. Instead of getting up a lynch mob, why not simply express in a reasonable way what it was you found so offending, and why? Don't enlist your backup team if they weren't even there for the original post. No matter what - destroying someone's hopes and hard work is never an answer to your dissatisfaction, it's mean and petty. Engage as an intelligent individual, not a rabid mob... then everyone learns.

  12. Writing your own book is hard enough with out having people sit behind a desk and judge the work that has hours poured into it. May this author continue to remember, that is why there are so many different types and kinds out there. (I am trying to make this short and not actually write my first whole book on my opinion.) If writing is something they enjoy, to continue to do so and not let the simple minds of others push them away from their passion. (Speaking from experiences here)


Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.