Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Author bashing



Even before I became a writer I had a major problem with author bashing. I completely understand that everyone has their own opinion and we all have the right to share that opinion but I've never understood the need to publicly bash or slam an author or their book. Now if you don't enjoy a book, and give in an honest review that states that opinion, I understand, but when it turns to mug slinging, berating and slamming a book, author, or their ability to write, that is where I draw the line.

As a reader, I have never felt the urge to do that. I've never emailed an author of a book I disliked and told her all the things I thought were wrong with her book. I've never posted a bad review or spread the word in anyway that I disliked a book because the way I see it, just because I don't like it, doesn't mean the book is terrible. What I hate you may love and vice versa. Why would I want you to go into the book with negative thoughts about it because nine times out of ten, that will sway your opinion when you might have enjoyed the book without going into it from a negative standpoint.

That is how I take it from a reader standpoint but from an author view it plain pisses me off. Again, not saying people don't have a right to their opinion but when a NY Times best selling author feels the need to publicly announce that another author "dosesn't write worth a darn" I think that's wrong. The way I see it, as authors we should all be on the same side. You have to worry about what your readers will think of your books (rightfully so), you worry about reviews, your editor, agent, why should we be getting slammed by our peers as well? I KNOW how much of my heart, mind, time and love goes into my books that I can't imagine attacking another author who does the same thing. Even if I feel that way, to me, something like that is better kept to myself, or even a close friend.

I have a friend who received an angry letter because "there is so much going on in the world today that you should be ashamed of yourself by focusing on something a trivial as you are" Umm, really? So throw out escapism, imagination and HOPE? I don't think so. In times like that, I rely on my books even more. Even if I didn't, I can't imagine emailing an author to tell her that.

Of course, that's just me. I try to play by one of the first lessons my mom taught me when I was four years old: Treat others the way you want to be treated. I think that's a damn good rule to live by.

29 comments:

Amy Ruttan said...

I know who you mean. I was shocked by the comments, that is so unlike him. Really, it made me respect him a little less.

Anne Rainey said...

I'm not even interested in reading his books now. How you act online is a reflection of you. How you treat others is a reflection of you. Therefore, talk or act like an ass, I'm probably going to walk right on by that big fancy NYT Bestseller and spend my money on something else.

Great post, Kelley! :)

Anne Sorgeson said...

I may not like an author but I won't tell someone not to read them. I just won't recommend them. And when I used to review, even if I didn't care for the book I kept it nice. I would say that the book just didn't go along very well with my taste. I also mention that if you like this kind of writing, it was well done and to check it out. :)

Katrina Strauss said...

If readers want to voice their opinion, fine, because that is our paying audience, but I find peer bashing distasteful. I bite my tongue when authors hit the blogs and slam others writing in the same genre. Naming names is bad, but I find it equally ihn poor taste to slam others in the genre as a whole with general complaints. Sure, we should hold our peers to higher standards in regard to editing or ethics, but when it comes to issue like characterization, plot tropes, etc, that's all subjective. I'd like to see some things done differently in the genre myself, but you know what? I express that desire every time I sit down and write a new novel. I've got enough clutter to clean in my own backyard. I don't need to waste my time or energy peeking over my neighbor's fence.

BrennaLyons said...

I think I missed the identity of this rather obnoxious gent, and I'll probably be glad that I did.

Not liking a book or author is one thing. No person or book is universally loved or hated. It's life. I can live with that. As long as the person isn't libeling me (and that HAS happened before), I can usually ignore a lot.

But, there is no reason for personal attacks...ever. Especially not some NY hotshot who thinks he's God's gift, out there trying to crush another author. That's proof that power corrupts, in the making. What other reason could he have for saying it, save the fact that he thinks his loyal fans will listen to him and hurt the sales of the other author?

For that matter, what is this preoccupation with the idea that one author steals sales from another? No one is stealing anything. The readers buy who they do. In the end, it's the readers' call.

Anne Rainey said...

Brenna--We're purposely keeping his name off the post. We don't want him having yet more airtime. :)

Molly Daniels said...

I do the same, Anne S...if I read a book I don't particularly care for, I don't recommend it to others. But I've never publically slammed anyone's writing! What comes around goes around.

Anne Rainey said...

Molly--Exactly! I feel the same way!

Kelley Nyrae said...

Anne Sorgeson, I agree! Keep it nice. It just wasn't for me but no bashing.

Katrina, I agree as well. Readers ARE our paying audience and that is one thing, coming from another author is another.

Kathy Otten said...

Hi,

I guess I missed the comments by this particular author. I need to come out of my cave more often. i do agree with what everyone has said so far. Bad mouthing other authors is unprofessional and reflects worse on the person who did the bashing. The author who was bashed with likely have an increase in sales because everyone will want to know what was so terrible about his writing.

BrennaLyons said...

Anne,

I completely understand THAT. I've posted about rather unsavory characters before, and I usually make a habit of NOT naming them, for the same reason.

Brenna

BrennaLyons said...

Found it! OMG! I always respected him...until now. How rude!

Anne Rainey said...

Brenna--Yep...like I said before I'll be walking right on by that big fancy NYT Bestseller and I'll be spending my money on something else.

BrennaLyons said...

As one of his long-time fans, you might be interested in my blog post about this event.

http://wpmgroup.blogspot.com/2009/02/when-your-idols-let-you-down.html

Brenna

cindy said...

Kelley,I couldn't agree more!
The only time I say anything about a book that I don't like,is if an author asks me to read it & give them my opinion,& even then,I am
very careful to state that why this book does not appeal to me,that doesn't mean someone might not love it,thats why there are so many different types of books out there,& so far these authors have ask me to read another book & give my opinion again,& they also know that if my opinion is neg. then that stays between me & them,I personally think it is wrong to be neg. about a book in public,if you don't like it or the author,DONT buy there books!
Thanks,Cindy

Josh Lanyon said...

The only thing I would say is that as a writer -- and especially as the writer of a book on writing -- discussing other writers' work is of interest to me.

And writers, like all artists, are sensitive creatures, and sometimes they believe that to criticize the work is to criticize the author -- and I don't agree.

Nor do I agree with the sweet but silly notion that things like characterization, plotting, pacing, etc. are subjective. We may wish they were, there are reviewers who certainly believe they are, but these things are not subjective, which is why we teach the fundamentals of good writing, and have such things as formal literary criticism.

(Some things are certainly subjective -- whether something is funny, whether a character is likable, what is sexy...these things are subjective. But I digress.)

I do find the public evisceration of an author -- critique as a team sport -- to be distasteful. I'm not into watching cock fights either. But the open discussion of writing should not be a threatening thing -- or perceived as a personal attack.

BrennaLyons said...

No offense, Josh, but if he'd given a critique (like that he found her weak in X area), that would be fine with me. I could give a very comprehensive crit of him, from an author's POV, an editor's POV AND from that of an avid reader of his work. He's a god-author in characterization and a wonderful storyteller, but the man has edit concerns that his editors have apparently never addressed and never will, but he's so good at what he does, people suspend the editor hat...at least, I do.

I KNOW the difference between critique and personal attack. What I gave was a crit of his work. Pure and simple. The man is a genius who needs a little more editing support than he gets, on a daily basis. Not entirely his fault, I'll note, since the editors should be doing better by him.

Saying an author "doesn't write worth a darn" IS subjective. It's not a crit, especially not a constructive one that any good changes could come from. There are no nits about what he didn't like...not in the article I read, at any rate. For all we know, his only complaints are things that are completely subjective.

Further... It's dismissive. It's mean-spirited. It serves no purpose but to make the author commenting feel superior...and possibly to play-down or hurt the feelings of the other author. If you're not going to give a constructive crit, why bother?

Genella deGrey said...

Ugh.

Bad move Karmicly, dude.

Although I can't imagine too many of his fans read the other author- Different genres and all that.

G.

Anne Rainey said...

Hi Josh--Thanks for commenting! :)

My own two cents (not that anyone cares, lol)--I have two different edits at two different publishers that I'm working on right now. If I got upset every single time they sent me revisions, I'd be curled into a ball and sucking my thumb. Add to that, I've had reviews that were well written and gave good advice on how the story could be better. Advice I listened to! I have a few beta readers that I send my work to for input and thei crit is always invaluable to me. I don't cry when I see that someone took the time to explain to my why one of my stories didn't work for them. I stop and listen.

I’m convinced it’s because of all these wonderful critiques that I signed a three book deal with Kensington recently.

However, this person’s comment wasn't helpful. It was just nasty and frankly quite childish. BUT, that's just my take on it. :)

Kelley Nyrae said...

I believe there is a difference between critiqing and bashing. To say something can't write worth a darn, to me, is bashing.

I love reading all your opinions! Thanks to everyone for taking such an active part in this coversation!

Saroya said...

reviews play a part in writing. A good reviewer can help the author improve. A bad reviewer doesn't help anyone. I have books I wonder why I bought, if asked directly I would tell the person my disappointment. I would base the author, just state what I didn't like.

Katrina Strauss said...

Bear in mind, even with the best and most polite intentions, if you inadvertently 'dis an author, you may actually insult their readers. In addition to the incident Anne is referencing, I've seen this happy recently with a few authors at the NY level. I keep up with a semi-known horror who enjoys a cult following in the horror genre. She is often flummoxed as to why, everytime she calls out a peer for writing what she considers "tripe", she receives a slew of angry letters from readers who enjoy that other author's work as well and, in some cases, loses those mutual readers. I think the issue is not so much that she's complaining about the other authors, but that in doing so she comes off a bit elitist. I suppose that's my big problem -- critique all you want or else none of us will evolve, but do so in a less public fashion and in more polite manner. I don't think that's being "silly but sweet", that's being a professional and being diplomatic. But we all have our own opinions on proper author behavior -- that just happens to be mine. ;)

Believe me, I think a lot of stuff out there on the market sucks. It's one reason I decided to start writing again. It's one reason when I'm asked by a peer for private critique, I gladly filet, skewer, and grill their labors of love with no mercy. Once that work is published, however? It's out there for whoever cares to read and enjoy it, be it a small cult following or enough to put you on the NY Times bestseller list. I sa let the readers and reviewers hash it out, while we writers get back to what we do best, which is writing. (As I am getting back to now...)

Katrina Strauss said...

And thank god my editors don't ever see my blog comments, which are replete with typoes and other crap. LOL

Sophia Danu said...

Hi Kelley,
I know exactly what author you are talking about and I have to say that I was shocked when I saw the article. My husband and I talked about it -- wondering why he would say such a thing. Why would he feel the need to say anything at all?

Like you say, it's fine to critique a story and give an opinion on what you didn't like, but to put someone else's ability down is immature and unprofessional. It smacks of insecurity -- which is ridiculous.

Here's another old line that is a good one to live by: if you don't have anything nice to say, then don't say anything at all.

Regina Carlysle said...

It's never cool to slam another author. There IS such a thing as differing 'voices'. Even if this author were genuinely trying to offer a 'critique' of the work, the writing,etc, it should have been done privately and not in a public forum.

Connie Northrop said...

My thought was the same as Sophie's. If he didn't anything nice to say, then don't say anything!

This is just a case of schoolyard bully in what is supposed to be an adult setting.

Desirée Lee said...

Yeah there is a big difference between saying "I didn't like this book because..." and offering your opinion and bashing an author for their writing.

I had an in-person incident years ago with a NYTBS author that left me very angry and disgusted with her. I refused to buy her books for years after that. I finally put aside my grudge enough to read her work, but the whole deal still left a bad impression on me. However... I won't name names in a public forum like this because I don't want to come off as starting a flame war. This author has her legion of fans, good for her. I just keep in mind that I will never treat my fans the way she did. I'll take the higher road.

Carpe Noctem,
Des

Desirée Lee
Putting the Romance Back in Necromancy
http://www.desireelee.com
des@desireelee.com

Jacquie Rogers said...

Author bashing goes on all the time. One of my friends was victim of a nasty debacle last year, using altered emails that no one seemed to question. Bashing also is rampant on Amazon. Too, we are quick to convict an author before the legal system does, as the case of an author who apparently copied text from wildlife books. I was truly embarrassed for some of the people who posted.

I don't agree with any type of character assassination and I can't imagine why anyone would want to badmouth another in public. It shows the nature of the basher more than the bashee, IMHO. Not only is it poor manners, but anything on the internet is here forever, and you have to stop and think before you write anything, do you want to see this 50 years from now? Because it will be searchable and your grandchildren will find it.

So there are many considerations here: manners, career, and personal morals.

Helen said...

I don't know that the NYT author's comments will hurt the person he talked about, or even affect him in the long run. They're both successful enough and have strong enough fan bases that neither one is going to be left hurting by the fallout from the incident in question. Whether these comments should have been made or not, I won't get into. It's like Kelley said, treat others like you want to be treated. But celebrities obviously have some leeway in that golden rule.

These days, I'm more concerned with e-published and small press published authors I've seen lashing out online at other authors, publishing houses, review sites, etc. I've seen some really outrageous blog posts and twitter comments that just leave me shaking my head. How any writer can think they can post such vituperative words and still have a career afterward is beyond me. Especially when they attack their own publishers (and yes, I've seen that more than a few times). That's biting the hand that feeds you. Makes for interesting blog reading, I can't deny that, but lousy career planning.