I think I arrived a bit late to the game but yesterday one of my Facebook friends (and a published author) shared a link to a post on another blogger's site titled "Authors Behaving Badly." The post is exactly what the title suggests - - a well known, published author (whom I shall call Ms. Author) who not only bemoans her bad luck to only be #2 on the bestseller list but who rallies her troops (her fan base, her assistant and even her husband) to go to battle for her against Amazon reviewers who give her book a low rating. As if that isn't bad enough (and it's pretty bad in my book, no pun intended), one reviewer was called, harassed, called names, told she should just kill herself and even received death threats. Ms. Author's response to that? "If the reviewer is getting death threats, she should remove her review." Unbelievable. And all this started from an initial reviewer who gave the book in question one star and found it disappointing. That was when Ms. Author's husband jumped in to call the reviewer "psycho", criticized how an "avid reader" could only have one review on Amazon and cautioned others to beware.
There are so many things about this story that make me infuriated. Let me start first with Ms. Author's incredibly entitled and pissy attitude about "only" being #2. I know several book reviewers like myself who write, not just reviews, in their spare time and would practically sell their firstborn to be able to list "writing" as their career and able to make a living at it. With the sheer volume of books published every year, to make #2 is a huge accomplishment. It's not the tragic situation Ms. Author is trying to portray to her fans; what's tragic are the people who have lost their homes due to foreclosure or the members of our military who are separated from their families for up to a year at a time, or permanently when they give their lives for our freedom. That is tragic.
Secondly, why is Ms. Author and her husband so up in arms about one or two Amazon reviews? Is she such a special little snowflake that she can't handle someone not liking her work? If that's the case, honey, you definitely should not be in publishing. I am an avid reader (go check my reviews, Ms. Author if you're in doubt) and I cannot think of a single book that every single reader has rated 5 stars or been over the moon about. I can only speak for myself but a few negative or indifferent reviews don't keep me from reading a book if I'm interested in the book or like the author. In fact, when I see nothing but 5 star reviews that gush "this is the best book ever!" I am suspect. Frankly, I believe that if the original "avid reader" reviewer had given Ms. Author's book 5 stars, his/her sole review wouldn't have been met with such derision.
Thirdly, in what world does Ms. Author live in that the answer to death threats is to remove an "offending" review? How can she justify the call to action she incited by posting about the "offending" reviews on her Facebook page, putting it on Twitter, and allowing her assistant and husband to join in the fray? I think the incident would have ended with Ms. Author's husband posting on Amazon, for the most part, had Ms. Author not chosen to share the details on her Facebook page.
The owner of the blog linked above had given the book in question a 4 star review but decided she could not in good faith support an author who supports the kind of behavior that went on after the initial one star review and so changed her review to a 1 star and explained why. That's when the situation blew up and out of control and the name calling and threats kicked into high gear.
I support the blogger 100%. I believe that reviewers have the right to post their opinions on books, whatever they may be. I can understand taking down a review if the review is vulgar and offensive but not removing it because the author got her little feelings hurt.
This kind of behavior is unacceptable. By anyone, be it an author, a fan, a reader, a reviewer. It's becoming more prevalent and that's scary.
As reviewers, we take our writing seriously. The majority of reviewers/bloggers that I know thoughtfully craft their posts and spend their time to do so. We strive to be honest and yet tactful and considerate. We understand that a book is an author's baby. We don't get paid for our work but we treat it as if it was a career. This is time that we take away from our family, our friends in order to do what we are passionate about. We love to read and we don't want that love affected by the disgusting behavior of others.
I have been fortunate in that I have had to deal with very little sarcasm and criticism from authors and fellow reviewers. In general I have found blogging and reviewing to be a wonderfully rewarding experience and I cherish the many people (fellow bloggers, authors, publicists, publishers) that I have been fortunate to meet since joining this terrific community.
But harassment should not be tolerated and will not be tolerated. None of us should tolerate it and authors certainly should not foster it. Ms. Author's books will never be featured here for that reason. I have removed her books from my Goodreads list and have no intention of ever putting a cent in her pocket or boosting her sales, either by direct purchase or by suggesting to others to read her books. There are many authors out there who may not have her name recognition but just as much talent who would appreciate the purchase and the time for a review and I would rather give that to them. The best way to get the message across to Ms. Author and people like her that such childish and improper behavior will not be tolerated is exactly where it will be felt - - in sales.