What Stace had to say on Tuesday, March 8th, 2011
The Last One

Say my love is easy had,
Say I’m bitten raw with pride,
Say I am too often sad –
Still behold me at your side.

Say I’m neither brave nor young,
Say I woo and coddle care,
Say the devil touched my tounge –
Still you have my heart to wear.

But say my verses do not scan,
And I’ll get me another man!

–Dorothy Parker

Authors shouldn’t respond to reviews. That’s fine. Most of us don’t. We understand that reviews are for readers, not for writers. I don’t even like the “they can be helpful/constructive” because no, they really aren’t constructive, and they don’t help me, and more to the point, they don’t have to be. There is absolutely no reason in the world why a reader should have to remember a writer’s “feelings” when writing a review. There is absolutely no reason in the world why a reader shouldn’t say whatever they like about a book. It’s totally allowed.

But more to the point…who allows it? Nobody. There have been writers out there who’ve been shitty about “amateur” reviewers, and gone around huffing and puffing that they shouldn’t be listened to, or that no one should be allowed to write negative reviews ever, or whatever other self-entitled silliness. Funnily enough, last time I checked that didn’t actually stop anyone from blogging their opinion of a book, or from reading that blogged opinion and giving it whatever consequence the reader chose. Last time I checked, no gang of writers in a black windowless van started making the rounds of reviewers’ homes, grabbing them off the street and releasing them, naked, in a public park several miles away after telling them they won’t be writing any more reviews if they know what’s good for them, dig?

Last time I checked, a reader did not need a writer’s permission to read whatever they liked, and to say about it whatever they liked. So why the idea has come about that writers can or somehow are trying to “censor” readers, I don’t know. Where the idea came that the opinion of writers on that subject matters worth a fidder’s damn, I don’t know either.

Readers can say whatever they want.

Writers cannot.

I accept that. As I’ve said before, I knew that getting into this. I knew there were a lot of subjects I could no longer be myself on. Frankly, it’s a privilege to be in that position, and I’m grateful for it. Of course, I foolishly believed that standing up for readers every time the situation arose would mean people would remember that later; I foolishly believed that going out of my way for people, that being a good person, would mean something, but that’s neither here nor there.

The point is, I totally understand, accept, and whole-heartedly approve of the idea of writers staying away from reader reviews, and keeping their mouths shut regarding opinions of them. Fine. Just as I don’t have any overwhelming need to review books on my blog, nor do I have an overwhelming need to blog about readers and their reviews. I mention them, yes, because as I’ve said before, when a reader shows appreciation for my work I like to repay that; they work hard on their reviews. I want to give them credit for that work and let them know how much I value it, and them. Some of them–most of them–are damn good writers, and it makes me proud to have such smart and awesome people recommend my work. I won’t stop doing that, either, because my readers are important to me.

But the only real thing I’ve ever said on the subject is that readers can say whatever they want. Then I said readers who review and wish to become writers–who review as part of their aspiring writer persona–might want to be aware that they could find some writers who aren’t really eager to do them favors if they’d been negatively reviewed in the past. Funnily enough, last time I checked a favor was just that: a favor, something people are under zero obligation to do for someone else, and can turn down for any arbitrary reason. “I don’t feel like getting my lazy ass off the couch” is an acceptable excuse to refuse a favor, frankly, so I’m not sure how this is different. Favors aren’t obligations.

And for a long time things have been pretty smooth. But now? Now I’m finding that not only is it not okay for me to respond to reviews publicly, not only is it not okay to respond to them privately, but I’m not even allowed to have feelings about them.

Sure enough, the “My books aren’t me and they’re totally separate from me and I’m so professional and detached that I don’t care what people say” crowd leaps in to prove how much more professional they are than those of us who admit negative reviews can be hurtful or sad or disappointing, as if they’re far better than us pussybaby freaks with an emotional attachment to our work. That their work isn’t them, and they are totally detached from it, as if it was something they spat into the sink, because they’re True Professionals.

Sorry, but no.

I fully accept that not everyone is going to love my books or even like them. I know that. I can take it. I knew going into this business that there would be people who don’t like it. I’m happy to stand back and not engage. I don’t let them have their say–it’s not up to me–but I’m glad they have it. More power to them. I have never once tried to quiet another person or keep them from expressing their opinion.

What I will not stand for is the idea that not only can I not reply, not only can I not reply privately, but it’s not even okay for me to feel something about a review. Even feeling privately hurt or upset or down is now wrong and unprofessional. And fuck that.

My books are not my babies. I have babies. I have books. They’re different. But you bet your ass my books are part of me. Every word on every page came from me. Every word on every page matters to me.

Now it’s not supposed to.

Or at least, it’s not supposed to if I write genre fiction. I’ve found a few articles/discussions about literary fiction writers who made the Mistake; funnily enough, no one writing those articles or commenting on them implied that it was wrong of the writer to even feel bad about the review. It was understood that their work was important to them, that they would care about the response it gets, that they would have opinions on those responses. No other literary fiction authors jumped in to say how ridiculous they were for wanting people to like their books, or for feeling kinda bad when they didn’t. It would never occur to most people that those writers aren’t supposed to be personally invested in their work. (For that matter, it would never occur to most people that anyone isn’t supposed to be personally invested in their work. I worked at a Dairy Queen once in high school; I made the best damn Strawberry Shortcakes and Peanutbuster Parfaits you ever saw. My Dairy Queen curl was always perfect. Why? Because I cared. Because I liked the satisfaction of knowing I’d put something of myself into my work, to give someone else the best possible experience.)

And I ask you to show me someone whose boss told them their work wasn’t good enough, wasn’t acceptable, who didn’t feel the slightest twinge of sadness or pain because of that. It’s expected that people will be a bit hurt. It’s expected that they react professionally; no screaming “Shut up, asshole!” It’s expected that they not take it hugely personally and freak out, or be inconsolable for months, or tell that person they’re obviously morons, but it’s expected that it might be a bit hurtful.

But it seems that over the last few years, and of course especially the last couple of weeks, there’s this attitude–sometimes spoken, sometimes implied–of “It’s not like your work is important. You only write genre fiction, you know. It’s not important, what you do. You only churn out a product. So shut up about your feelings.”

You know what? I think that’s utter bullshit. I think if you can detach from your books that completely, maybe you’re not really putting enough of yourself into that book.

My books are not a churned-out product. My books are not a fucking TPS report that’ll go in the shredder as soon as the boss gets a glance at the numbers. My books are not a paint-by-numbers picture of a unicorn that anyone can put together.

My books are mine. My books are me. I’m in there. I’m in every word and every page and every character. Megan? Me. Chess? Especially me. My past. My outlook. My dreams. My thoughts on the world and people in general. My books are what they are because I make them that way. They come from my conscious mind; they come from my subconscious. They speak to parts of me I’m familiar with and parts I don’t know exist.

In other words, my books are me stripped bare. My heart and soul is on every page of every book. They are part of me.

Why? Because I think I owe it to you. Because you as a reader want something, and I want to give it to you. You want a book that will make you think and feel; that is what I want to give you. And how the fuck can I expect to make you feel, really feel, if I’m not feeling when I write it? How can I expect you to have an emotional reaction to my work when for me it’s just another fucking day at the office, whatever, toss out some words and who cares what they are because as soon as the book is finished I’ll emotionally disavow it anyway?

My books are not written according to some formula. My books are not thrown together with a “That’s good enough for the likes of them” sort of casualness, for me to dust off my hands when they’re done. My blood, my sweat, my tears, my pain, my joy, my thoughts, my feelings, go into every goddamn page. My books matter to me. They are important to me.

Yes, my books are genre fiction. So what? Does that mean they can’t be meaningful? Does that mean I have to shrug them off when they’re done, like they’re just some widget I built on an assembly line? Does that mean I’m not trying to say something big with them, that they don’t have a theme that’s important to me, that they aren’t a plea for change or a light being shone on something negative or anything else?

Some writers think we all should be able to completely detach from the book and not care if people like it at all, have it not effect them emotionally in any way. Well, just as they obviously think something is wrong with me and I’m unprofessional for caring if people like my work, I frankly think their work can’t be that damn good or meaningful if they’re so easily able to wash their hands of it and not care about how people take it. When I pour my heart into something I don’t just walk away when it’s done. When I really connect to something and it really matters to me, I don’t just shrug it off when it’s finished and forget it ever mattered. And I think it’s bullshit that I should be expected to. Fuck that.

Yes, it’s just genre fiction. Yes, of course there will always be people who don’t connect with certain books or characters. We all know that; it’s a given, and it’s fine. But don’t you dare tell me that because I just write genre fiction I’m not allowed to care about my books, and the only professional way to write genre fiction is to view it as some sort of toenail clipping, something that came from me but to which I have no attachment whatsoever.

My work matters to me. My work is part of me. I put everything I have and everything I can into my work.

Quite frankly, if I don’t feel deeply when I’m writing it, if I don’t dig deep and push myself and expose everything I can…how the hell can I expect readers to feel something when they read it?

They deserve everything I can give them. And I deserve to not be ridiculed for caring about my work in the privacy of my own home. Because I will never stop caring about my work, and I will never stop trying to make it the best it can be.

An endnote. This will be my last post on writing/writerly topics. I’m tired of it and I’m done. It’s not worth it to me. Yes, I know the people who read and enjoy my books are smart enough to know what I’m actually saying and not what some alarmist claims I’m saying. Yes, I know those who read this and haven’t read my work but know what I’m actually saying are just the sorts of people who probably will like my work. But giving time and energy and feelings to shit like this takes away from what I should be giving time and energy and especially feelings to, and that is my books. (This isn’t just related to stuff on the blog; you AW members may have a good idea of some other things that have contributed to it.) So I’m making some changes here on the blog, and that’s one of them. I will probably be blogging more often, but shorter posts, and I will no longer be commenting on things happening in the online writing world. I don’t want to be part of it anymore; I haven’t wanted to for a long time, actually. I’m happy to let other people have their opinions on things and rarely feel the need to challenge them; the same courtesy is not usually extended to me, and the way to avoid it is simply to stop posting opinionated things, and that’s what I’m doing.

I will always be open for suggestions on topics, and I will always be happy to answer questions here on the blog; I’d like to do that regularly, actually, so I encourage you all to ask away.

40 comments to “The Last One”

  1. Synde
    Comment
    1
    · March 8th, 2011 at 2:11 pm · Link

    Brilliant post stace!! I do not care for this sudden gag order on writers.. Ridiculous !!
    Hugs



  2. Amos Keppler
    Comment
    2
    · March 8th, 2011 at 2:11 pm · Link

    Reviewers are the parasites of the art world, really. They aren’t really readers or viewers or anything and serve no function except their own overblown ego :) .



  3. Chelsea / Vampire Book Club
    Comment
    3
    · March 8th, 2011 at 2:18 pm · Link

    I think if you can detach from your books that completely, maybe you’re not really putting enough of yourself into that book.

    And, really, those books probably won’t be connecting emotionally with readers if the authors aren’t deeply invested.

    Excellent post, Stace. While I like your posts about writing, etc. it’s not worth the drama.



    • Sadie Hart
      Comment
      3.1
      · March 13th, 2011 at 9:38 pm · Link

      Exactly, Chelsea/Vampire Book Club. If they can detach that much from their books, then chances are, their characters aren’t reaching the readers in the same way. I don’t think I could have said it any better myself.



  4. Anne-Mhairi
    Comment
    4
    · March 8th, 2011 at 2:27 pm · Link

    What happened? How are you not supposed to care if someone disses your book? Jeez, I had a bad day today because someone dissed my blog. And I totally spouted about it, too. This is obviously a writerly thing I haven’t heard about. Glad too, because it’s really pissed me off. Well done on your decision to step back. Life’s too short.



  5. Brenda Hyde
    Comment
    5
    · March 8th, 2011 at 2:42 pm · Link

    I’m going through a blog crisis for lack of a better term because of the sort of thing you mentioned. I’m a writer– mostly nonfiction, but I write fiction too. I used to do blog reviews, but then realized that might not be cool since hopefully one day others will be reviewing my books. The thing is I love stories, authors, writing and the total book “scene”. I never dissed authors, but had fun reviewing the cool books I was reading. Then some said that’s not really reviewing if I didn’t have bad reviews along with the good. So, my blog is kind of in limbo. We shall see. I honestly don’t think we can please everyone. Someone is always pissed. Personally, I love your blog, plus Ilona Andrews, Deadline Dames and a couple others. I learn, I laugh and appreciate what you all share.



    • T.M. Thomas
      Comment
      5.1
      · March 8th, 2011 at 2:48 pm · Link

      I don’t review and I rarely read reviews, but I have to say that I’m quite okay with a reviewer that only talks about what he/she likes. Especially if it’s disclosed that the reader reads other books that don’t make the cut, or says it’s a positive things blog.

      I once wrote a book review for a scholarly journal, back when I was trying to be an academic. I did the “real reviews must be harsh” school of thought and the end product sucked because there was really no reason to be so difficult on the product in question. I’ve always tried to remember that.



      • siebendach
        Comment
        5.1.1
        · March 13th, 2011 at 7:10 pm · Link

        Posting only good reviews is a perfectly cromulent strategy — especially if reviewing is not your professional job, and especially if you get to choose what you’re reviewing.

        The point is to be honest. As long as you’re not calling bad stuff good when you honestly feel it’s bad, who cares if you stick to honestly describing what you liked?



  6. T.M. Thomas
    Comment
    6
    · March 8th, 2011 at 2:44 pm · Link

    I long for the day I get fed up with being misquoted to the point I can stop blogging about things.

    My hackles rise anytime the issues of “just genre” gets raised, because everything fits into some sort of genre. “Literary fiction” is a genre of fiction, wherein mopey people weather the mundane vagaries of life until the reader puts it away and claims to have read it to sound smart at cocktail parties. The idea that anything other than this is somehow formulaic or less “art” is depressing.



  7. B
    Comment
    7
    · March 8th, 2011 at 2:58 pm · Link

    This is why we can’t have nice things. :sad:

    I’m sorry that you won’t be writing these sorts of articles anymore, because you always have something insightful to say. But I understand. I wouldn’t want to either and I’m pretty sure now that I’ll never start.

    I’ve never really bought into the “I’m completely thick-skinned, nothing bothers me” attitude. I see people say it but I just don’t believe it. No one is immune to everything.



  8. Yasmine Galenorn
    Comment
    8
    · March 8th, 2011 at 4:02 pm · Link

    I totally agree. Genre writing can be as masterful as the most literary piece. I may write 3 books a year but I do NOT “churn them out” and they are not frivolous. They deal with life issues “even” tho they’re urban fantasy. They are a part of me. Entertainment does not equal fluff.

    And just because we do not like something does NOT mean it lacks credence or importance. It simply means that for us, it didn’t work.

    Yasmine



  9. kalayna price
    Comment
    9
    · March 8th, 2011 at 4:31 pm · Link

    *hugs*

    I totally agree. I don’t see how you can pour not only endless hours but the emotional upheaval that goes into a book and not “feel” something about it. With any job, a worker is expected to take pride in their work, so why would a writer to do any less? To simply not care? Yes, anyone who is going to last in this career has to understand that you can’t please everyone. And yes, we have to ignore the bad reviews because looking defensive won’t help, but no one can tell you you’re not allowed to feel that punch in your gut when someone trashes what you created.

    Even if people think we’re “churning out” “genre trash”, readers expect a genre book to take them on an adventure that includes a full range of emotions, which means the writer has a ride those same emotions to create them. Yasmine said it great when she said “Entertainment does not equal fluff.” Entertaining isn’t easy, so more power to all of those who do.



    • kalayna price
      Comment
      9.1
      · March 8th, 2011 at 4:33 pm · Link

      That should have been:
      “With any job, a worker is expected to take pride in their work, so why would a writer be expected to do any less?”

      Sorry about that. I really should read back over my comments before hitting submit.



  10. Rachel
    Comment
    10
    · March 8th, 2011 at 4:50 pm · Link

    I am so glad to hear someone admit that their work is a part of them and that it does matter.

    As a reader I don’t want to think I’m just some sort of dupe who is shelling out my hard-earned cash for something that is completely meaningless to the person who wrote it. Or that I’m investing my emotions into falling in love with the characters when they’re only some sort of strategy thought out to get the big bucks.

    My family and friends who are writers bleed on the page, they put everything into their work and not a one of them is too cool to admit just how much it hurts when someone tells them what they’ve written sucks.

    Even people who spend the time writing thoughtful reviews are putting their feelings on the page and when they receive negative criticism about their opinions that can be hurtful too. Certainly not as hurtful as telling an author their work is garbage, but putting yourself out there to be judged is always a very personal thing.

    As far as genre fiction, I don’t know who the hell these people are saying it’s less than any other type of fiction. They might want to remember back when they used to scoff at Stephen King and then when Bag of Bones came out how they bowed to lick his boots at how “masterful” he truly was.

    Genre fiction allows an even greater level of creativity and a heck of a lot of imagination to create worlds and characters that aren’t part of the real world.

    Sorry to see your posts on writers/writing topics go, but I’ll enjoy most anything you have to say here!



  11. Ann Somerville
    Comment
    11
    · March 8th, 2011 at 5:26 pm · Link

    “Last time I checked, no gang of writers in a black windowless van started making the rounds of reviewers’ homes, grabbing them off the street and releasing them, naked, in a public park several miles away after telling them they won’t be writing any more reviews if they know what’s good for them, dig?”

    I guess you’ve forgotten about the writer who dug up information about an Amazon reviewer’s *grandchildren* – and yes, it was a very personal and very specific threat in revenge for a mediocre review. I was told of rumours that a group of authors was trying to get my Samhain contracts revoked because of my reviewing. I’ve had people trying to out my real identity for the same reason. So yes, you do get crazed authors doing things to reviewers. It’s rare but not unheard of.

    Frankly I think it’s childish of an author to make any decision regarding about anyone based on their opinion of her books. You can dislike their opinion, but to hold that opinion against them when it comes to favours – favours which, when it comes right down to it, you as an author have benefited from in the past yourself (if not from that person)? Sorry, I think that’s unprofessional. You can have feelings and reactions, but if they’re affecting your professional judgement, then you need to look at how reasonable your response is.

    I like you, Stacia, but the more you bang this drum, the more I feel it’s yet another attempt at a chilling effect on author-reviewers. Do we as a profession really want to get to the point where the only people who review our stuff are readers who don’t understand or appreciate good writing, and squee mindlessly over evertying, or cranky old bitches like me with no career worth speaking of and no professional credibility? I sure don’t. I want good authors reviewing books, because the opinion of good authors is important to discerning readers, and useful to me as an author.



    • Lunamoth
      Comment
      11.1
      · March 9th, 2011 at 11:06 am · Link

      Your examples lack cited sources, and thus sound a lot like stuff heard over the washline. Not to say they are therefore untrue, but “rumours” are just that until backed up with something tangible. I for one have never heard of these incidences you name, but I’ll tell you what: people do nasty stuff to each other every day all day in all sorts of industries. What does that have to do with someone like Stacia saying that negative reviews can be hurtful?

      The argument “he did it too!” or “he started it!” doesn’t fly in my book for a child to their parent, so it shouldn’t fly for adults either.



      • Lunamoth
        Comment
        11.1.1
        · March 9th, 2011 at 11:08 am · Link

        Gah, please omit the second paragraph from that reply; it was conflated from something else that had naught to do with the comment I was actually replying to.



      • Stace
        Comment
        11.1.2
        · March 10th, 2011 at 12:00 am · Link

        No, Lunamoth, I’m familiar with the example Ann cites. It did happen, and it was shameful and disgusting.

        My views on that behavior haven’t changed. What I take exception to is the idea that I can’t be even privately a little disappointed or sad.



      • Ann Somerville
        Comment
        11.1.3
        · March 10th, 2011 at 6:49 pm · Link

        Yes, it was heard over a washline. The biggest washline in the Romance community.

        http://dearauthor.com/wordpress/2008/04/10/author-deborahanne-macgillivray-harasses-amazon-reader/

        As for what happened to me, you’ll have to take my word for it. But I can tell you that I don’t know of a single reviewer of my acquaintance who hasn’t had viciously nasty blowback from butthurt authors. It’s not at the level of what was done to the reviewer in the link I’ve given you, but plenty of reviewers have given up entirely, or stopped reviewing entire genres, because they’re sick and tired of fighting the constant hateful comments. I can also tell you from personal experience that publishers are not the least bit afraid to stop sending ARCs to reviewers who are not diffident enough regarding their products. This kind of internal censorship is not good for readers or authors.

        So when it comes to reviewers, I would prefer authors err on the side of sucking it up, rather than risk doing anything to silence or repress honest commentary – by reviewers of any ilk. Because honest, thoughtful reviews are invaluable to readers – ie customers – and thus indispensable to authors. Really, it’s about time authors accepted that review by their peers as well as their readers, is something that happens in the grown up world and is a mark of respect.

        Bad reviews sting like fury, and any author who says otherwise is lying. But they come with the territory. I would never hold one personally against any reviewer – author or reader – unless there was prima facie evidence of actual malice (and yes, I’ve had that happen to me, as have many authors. It’s not exactly hard to distinguish that kind from the genuine review.)



  12. Marie
    Comment
    12
    · March 8th, 2011 at 6:14 pm · Link

    I understand that writing those types of posts isn’t worth it, with the general climate at the moment. I’m just glad you’re not giving up blogging entirely. I love reading your blog posts, regardless of whether they are about publishing, or Toy Story depressions. 😉

    And I would still love to hear your opinions on translations, and how they’re handled from your/your publisher’s end.

    LOVE.



    • Marie
      Comment
      12.1
      · March 8th, 2011 at 6:18 pm · Link

      LOL! That didn’t turn out the way I meant it to….

      This was supposed to be quoted:

      My books are what they are because I make them that way. They come from my conscious mind; they come from my subconscious. They speak to parts of me I’m familiar with and parts I don’t know exist.



  13. Erin Kane Spock
    Comment
    13
    · March 8th, 2011 at 6:57 pm · Link

    I have been noticing that the new generation of young adults is made up of people with a ‘good enough’ attitude about their performance. They don’t give of themselves. They do the job based on specific guidelines without consideration. They never were disappointed in themselves when they got a C because they just didn’t care. They probably can’t comprehend that someone might care so much about their work that criticism would be hurtful.
    I don’t know what was said in your review(s) or who gave it, I just know that you can’t take it to heart when you know there was no thought behind it. It’s like when a five year old says she hates you — it just doesn’t count.



  14. Michele Lee
    Comment
    14
    · March 8th, 2011 at 8:30 pm · Link

    The internet ate my comments so I’m leaving this: Yes, yes and hell yes. Thanks.



  15. Ash
    Comment
    15
    · March 8th, 2011 at 9:37 pm · Link

    And why oh why are these reviewers jumping down your throat when you reply to their review?
    After all if they want you to de-sensitize from your work and act on a “professional manner” surely they can do the same from theirs?
    I’d like to see their definition of professional also .. because if standing up for your work is unprofessional why you would put so much time and effort into it in the first place then go out of your way to publish it and then disregard it’s progress and any or all sort of exposure it gets from there is beyond me!
    I am surprised that if these people want to put something negative out there that they are not prepared to receive negative feedback back! But that is an amateur for you I suppose.
    I would assume that an author would reply to a review if it was written in a nasty way completely bringing down the author and in a way belittling them, why this was necessary by the reviewer I am not sure and personally I get a little peeved when I see reviews like this. By all means if you don’t like it don’t sugar coat the review! But do not rip the sh*t out of the writer either because well here it comes again … that is unprofessional!
    In my opinion I love your writing Stacia, it makes me feel like I am there, I can smell what the characters can smell, feel what they can and I can relate to your characters because they are real. They have real emotions and respond to situations a way a real person would. I don’t know how you do it but it’s what appeals to me when reading your books.

    I remember reading a review a while back you posted a link to where the person sent you a questionnaire and then rip apart your answers.
    They, to Para phrase said your characters had too many faults … that was stupid in itself .. read a fairytale if faults upset you!
    Even then you can’t get away fault free.
    Anyway that’s starting to go on a tangent ….

    In saying this all of this of course, this is my own personal opinion and in no way expect others to agree whole hearted with me.
    What I am saying is that in a profession, people should expect other people to get critical with their work, this includes reviewers. If your going to dish crap on an author don’t think you wont get it back from their followers or from the author themselves .. don’t expect not to get it back!

    On another not I read your book “Blood Will Tell” (from ebay actually!) Woooooo! Hot :) Loved it, it was awesome .. can’t wait to find Black Dragon …



  16. sondrae bennett
    Comment
    16
    · March 8th, 2011 at 11:59 pm · Link

    Great post. Just today I got a negative review and sent a tweet saying “ouch. That review kind of hurt”. Immediately after sending it, I started questioning myself and thinking about deleting it. I never mentioned the reviewer but I still felt like I had committed a taboo. I was sorry that reader felt like it was a waste of their time and money to read my book but would never try and censor their opinion. That’s their right. I hate how I felt so compelled to not feel anything about it. How mentioning the review at all could be frowned upon. It’s a matter of pride in your work to feel badly when the job doesn’t please. It boggles my mind that people think pride in your work is “unproffessional”.



  17. BernardL
    Comment
    17
    · March 9th, 2011 at 8:42 am · Link

    I’ve enjoyed your blog no matter the subject. Your writing and publishing business tips have been invaluable. I can appreciate your concerns though.



  18. midnightblooms
    Comment
    18
    · March 9th, 2011 at 10:01 am · Link

    **hugs**
    I’m sorry to hear you feel you have to censor your posts in any way, however, life is too short to be angry and frustrated all the time. I’m glad you’re continuing the blog. I would miss your posts.

    I can’t help but wonder if the cavalier attitude some authors express about negative reviews is an attempt to convince themselves. If a negative review is laughable or silly or unimportant, then it isn’t worth getting upset over, right? Sometimes we have to fool ourselves.

    Those posts say a lot of the same things you do: don’t respond to negative reviews, don’t take them personally, they are part of being published, and you can’t learn anything constructive from reviews as they are subjective. The rest struck me as a case of protesting too much.

    Still, it’s insulting to reviewers and readers to laugh off reviews, whether good or bad. The posts I read seemed to brush off reviewers and minimize their opinions. (I’m not saying the author intended that, just that they danced along that line.) You didn’t do that. You’ve said from the get go reviewers can write what they want. It’s writers who have to be careful what they write/say publicly, or they have to be aware and willing to face the consequences.

    As a writer I understand needing to convince yourself that everyone gets negative reviews and they just aren’t important in the grand scheme of your career. But as a writer, I also understand that need, that drive to express yourself–your feelings and thoughts on a subject–and I’m very uncomfortable with minimizing someone else’s opinion publicly, especially when I see an author doing it.

    It falls close to saying “such-and-such reviewer is an idiot because they didn’t like my book.”

    Again, I’m not saying that was their intention, just that their posts could be taken that way in a certain light, and it made me uncomfortable.

    *sigh* I’m beginning to think that never mentioning negative reviews, directly or even broadly like you’ve done in this series of posts, is wise. People’s opinions and feelings are so closely tied together, it’s difficult to discuss without causing a kerfluffle.



  19. kyahgirl
    Comment
    19
    · March 9th, 2011 at 11:20 am · Link

    I love your writing. keep doing it.



  20. Phoblacht
    Comment
    20
    · March 9th, 2011 at 11:27 am · Link

    I sort of feel like I’m missing part of the discussion, or something. Where have people been saying that authors aren’t allowed to feel bad about negative reviews of their work? Because I was under the impression that this all started off being about reviewers who want to be writers, not reviewers and how authors should feel about them…where is all of this stuff about authors ‘not being allowed to feel bad’ getting said?



  21. Allie
    Comment
    21
    · March 9th, 2011 at 2:14 pm · Link

    Aw, I am sad that you will not be posting on these topics anymore – they were so insightful and your passion for your work really came across. Thank-you for being so generous with your time and sharing your knowledge, but if people cannot take the posts in the spirit intended then I don’t blame you for stopping. Life is too short – be happy :)



  22. Karen
    Comment
    22
    · March 9th, 2011 at 4:02 pm · Link

    First ((hugs)). I think you need them.

    I’m just a reader, and a huge fan of your books & your posts, but here’s my advice … (and this is something I tell my son – who has aspergers – all the time)

    Let it go. It’s for the best.

    Everyone is entitled to their opinion, even if its wrong. You don’t have to like it, you don’t have to agree with it. Its not worth arguing about it most of the time because all it does is make you nuts. The best thing to do is nod your head, say “Hmm, that’s interesting” and walk the hell away. In the end, you’re better off. Some people will carry on an argument just to frustrate you and push your buttons. Save yourself the crazy. You can always call them names in your head.

    I haven’t read other people’s blogs, so I’m not all that familiar with what has been said. But I think your books are some of the best urban fantasy out there because you put your heart and soul into them, and that is obvious from reading them. Chin up, Stacia. You’re a brilliant writer. Don’t let nasty people get you down – be they reviewers who don’t know their ass from their elbow or jerks who just want to upset you.



  23. Crys
    Comment
    23
    · March 10th, 2011 at 6:19 pm · Link

    I have to say that I really enjoy reading your posts Stacia and I can’t believe how blown out of proportion this whole situation became.

    I also have to say that I’m a little disgusted by the comment that Ann Somerville made above regarding whether you really want readers to be the only people reviewing books since they don’t understand or appreciate good writing. I’m not a writer, never will be but that does not mean that I’m incapable of appreciating literature. No, I can’t write-I don’t have the talent but that doesn’t mean I don’t love books, all types and genres or that I’m incapable of composing an unbiased and thoughtful review.

    So yes Ann, I can appreciate good writing-maybe even your writing although I certainly don’t appreciate your elitist attitude.



    • Ann Somerville
      Comment
      23.1
      · March 10th, 2011 at 6:41 pm · Link

      “whether you really want readers to be the only people reviewing books since they don’t understand or appreciate good writing.”

      I knew someone would take what I wrote that way, and yet what I said was “readers who don’t understand or appreciate good writing”. In other words, there are readers who ‘review’ who don’t understand good writing. Not all readers are discriminating, although many are. You will find that there are reader reviewers who do a great job understanding and conveying what makes a book work – or not. You will find many that don’t do such a great job. Ditto author reviewers. But if you force authors not to review because they’re afraid of blowback (real or imaginary), and authors and readers use disapproval and more intimidatory methods to silence reviewers who are unafraid to call a spade a spade, then basically you are only left with reader reviewers who love everything they read, and praise mindlessly.

      This isn’t good for authors, and it’s certainly not good for readers. Of which I am one.



    • Stace
      Comment
      23.2
      · March 10th, 2011 at 6:57 pm · Link

      All right, we don’t need to argue over this. I value Ann’s opinion as a friend even when I disagree, and I think we all want good books reviewed by people who love them–or hate them, as the case may be.

      My point wasn’t at all that authors shouldn’t review, simply that they should be aware there could potentially be consequences from those whom they review, and to keep that in mind. I didn’t create those consequences, nor am I responsible for them except insomuch as they apply to me personally, and I’ve never personally turned down a favor for someone because they didn’t like my book(s). And I don’t believe for a second that Ann meant readers aren’t capable of judging good books.

      Let’s just remember we’re all interested in the same thing, as I said above, and that differing opinions are always valuable.

      Thanks to both of you for commenting.



  24. Shay
    Comment
    24
    · March 11th, 2011 at 1:16 pm · Link

    I am coming into this fairly blind but I can say this:

    When I read the reviews on books I understand that not everyone enjoys books in the same way as I do. I Read all the reviews and then decide for myself if this book will be worthy of buying. Also , when I see that many have taken the time to review it I think hmmmm this could be a good book so I take the time to look and decide.

    I have read books from popular authors that I felt were good but not great but then again I am looking for a certain kind of book and if it does not come up to what I want then I just move on to other authors.

    To write a book is very hard. You are trying to please many and you cant please all. So those who dont like a book should get over it and move on.

    To say a book was not worth the money is rather cruel because no one forced you to buy it… it was your choice..just say that the book was not one that fit into the reading you liked. When I see a review like this I ignore it as they usually do not give a good reason as to why not. What does that tell you?

    I am an avid reader and believe me some books are not as good as others but it still gave me some enjoyment as I read it to the end and that is all that counts.



  25. siebendach
    Comment
    25
    · March 14th, 2011 at 11:10 am · Link

    When I read Amazon reviews, I tend to head straight to the 2-star reviews (if there are any) or, failing that, the 1-star reviews, and skim them all to get the consensus on why some people didn’t like it. Then I go to the 4-stars (if there are any), or failing that, the 5’s, to get the other side.

    Someone who says “this sux”, or “I don’t like explicit sex, so I bought this book even know I knew it was in there”, or “I had trouble downloading this” only reveals that the reviewer’s an idiot. That lowers the “burden of proof” considerably for the good reviews.

    Does this take a lot of time? Sometimes (though I’m often done in well under 10 minutes). After all, I’m ordering this on Amazon to download it, I’m saving a truckload of time from buying it in a bookstore — I can take a few extra minutes to read the reviews carefully.

    I know I don’t post here much, but I’ve really appreciated your posts on writing, Stacia. I’m sorry to see them go.

    Still, I understand your decision. No matter how much you “take things in stride”, dealing with the kind of negative crap you’re describing still takes time and energy — and your time and energy is as precious as everybody else’s.

    Allie’s right, life’s too short. Be happy.



  26. Amy Ashley
    Comment
    26
    · March 14th, 2011 at 2:17 pm · Link

    Stacia, great post. I feel repulsed by all that I see going on, and I know there’s more out there. Sad that it affects you badly, but I am REALLY happy that you’ll be able to focus more energy on some things that are important to you. Embrace all of it. Blog for yourself and congrats on making a tough decision about this.



  27. Adrienne
    Comment
    27
    · March 16th, 2011 at 11:31 am · Link

    One of the biggest pieces of advice I offer new authors having to deal with rejection is that they are allowed to feel lousy. So many new authors are told “you’ll need a thick skin to handle all the rejection” and “if you can’t even handle a form rejection, just you wait till your work gets torn apart in a horrible review”.

    So these authors then go out into the big bad world so tense, so worried about feeling anything (because if they do, they aren’t real professionals) that they can paralyse themselves. Possibly even decide it’s not worth it to even try.

    That’s why I tell them that it’s okay to feel sad, angry, scared etc when they are rejected. That feelings are normal, and to bottle stuff up never helped anyone. Feel what you feel, have a day of eating ice cream or whatever, and then . . . move on.

    That’s the key. Move on. Dwelling is what’s wrong, not feeling.

    My point is, anyone who says feeling a twinge of sadness at a bad review isn’t professional . . . well they suck at giving advice. The important thing is to understand that in the end, the review doesn’t matter. But we are still allowed to feel something when we read the review.

    Especially in private.

    Anyone who says otherwise has issues.

    Probably seriously bottled up issues.

    (oh and don’t get me started on the debate of literary vs genre, I just wrote a massive blog post about it – needless to say, I roll my eyes at the notion that genre isn’t as worthy or as quality)



Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Midweek Writing Links | Cora Buhlert

Leave a Reply










XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Subscribe without commenting