DeeJay had her say, and I've stated our stance on author bullying. Now it's time for me to have my say about the rant that started the whole mess.
It all started with How NOT to Piss off a Book Blogger, which was syndicated from diantha-jones.com.
A certain author had a few choice words to say in an email to our Review manager, the same Diantha Jones who penned the above rant. We were accused of censoring authors, warning them not to speak up about any of their reviews.
Would you consider this a fair assessment? Does it capture the essence? The purpose of the rant? Let's briefly go over the points discussed in the post.
- Follow a blogger's review policy.
- Greet the blogger by name.
- Don't send your book unless the blogger says Yes.
- Don't tell a reviewer how to write the review. (Don't dictate the opinion of the reviewer)
- Never publicly trash a blogger that gave you a bad review.
If you read the accompanying explanations for these bullet points, you'll see that she isn't talking about bloggers/reviewers who abuse their privilege. She's talking about authors who aren't supporting the good bloggers, the ones who support authors. The kind of bloggers you want in your back pocket, the kind of bloggers you go to when you want a fair and honest review.
A lot of bloggers don't take Indie requests because of the reputation of some authors. And I don't blame them.
That post was talking about those authors and those authors alone. It had nothing to do with the way some authors are unfairly treated, the nasty behavior that happens on Goodreads, Amazon, and some blogs of reviewers I want nothing to do with.
Assuming a warning is a threat to all
In her rant, DeeJay wrote the following:
If you think you're going to trash a reviewer and get away with it, you won't. The other bloggers will most likely descend down upon you with the wrath of the Titans and wipe you off the face of the Internet. They will destroy you. I’ve seen them do it.
I get it. It sounds like the kind of threat authors get on Goodreads all the time, the kind of threat we don't approve of at The Masquerade Crew. So, use your brain. Would I syndicate something that violates that? Would I invite DeeJay to work with me if she were the kind of blogger I don't approve of?
Of course, that's with 20/20 hindsight. But come on. Can anyone name one instance where I have threatened an author? Or anyone for that matter? (If so, let's talk because you might have misunderstood something)
Is the statement from DeeJay a threat or a warning? I'd say it's closer to a warning, not a threat to any author who dare look at us the wrong way.
It's a warning to those authors who truly behave badly, not the ones who are baited by bad bloggers or nasty trolls. It's a warning to those bad authors who think they can pull a fast one on the blogging community.
For example, when Carrie from The Mad Reviewer turned down a review request, the author replied with instructions on how to kill herself. That's not the kind of behavior we ignore, so I gladly syndicated a post from Carrie to support her during her time of anguish.
What does dictating a review mean?
Was DeeJay talking about correcting factual errors in a review? No, though it may not be worth your time to correct every mistake that will crop up in reviews of your book. Pick your battles, and approach those reviewers with a little bit of human dignity.
Some authors (the bad authors from above) expect 5 star reviews. They expect positive reviews, even demand them. They expect everyone to like their book and throw a hissy fit when someone doesn't.
That's what DeeJay was talking about.
If an author has a legitimate issue with a review, that's completely different, but if an author wants to dictate the opinion of a reviewer, they are stepping on dangerous ground.
Do we support author gagging?
One of the accusations against us is that we support author gagging.
The following is a quote from Renee Pawlish. These two paragraphs have appeared on this site before, and they correlate with exactly how we feel about the situation.
My personal take is that authors should not publicly respond to negative reviews. It’s better to just let it all go, move on, and keep writing. If you engage readers, especially in a public forum, you are opening yourself up to being misunderstood, misinterpreted, and unfortunately, bullied. We live in an Internet age where it’s easy to cyber-attack someone because there’s not a threat of physical retaliation, and things can get ugly quickly. It’s not worth it.Does this sound like author gagging to you?
If you do respond, you should always be professional. I am, quite frankly, flabbergasted at the authors who publicly attack readers, take issue with negative comments and so on. It marks you as an amateur, and I’ve yet to see a case where it positively impacts your career (but I can site many cases where it’s hurt or destroyed careers). Let it go…
Yes, we caution authors so that they aren't bullied, not that we are threatening to bully them if they do this or that. Anyone who reads statements like the above or our stance on bullying and concludes that we are gagging authors, that we are supporting the bad behavior on Goodreads and other blogs, isn't just mistaken and misinformed but is borderline delusional.
So, how do you piss off this book blogger?
Let's count the ways. The first two aren't that bad. Probably wouldn't have gotten pissed if the list stopped there. After all, everyone is free to have their opinions, no matter how unfounded they are. Number three is borderline, but four and five really piss me off.
- Misunderstand the purpose of a post.
- Stick to your false assumptions about said post after we explain it to you.
- Indicate (directly or indirectly) that we shouldn't rant about authors.
- Publicly accuse us of endorsing author gagging.
- Assume we are part of the problem simply because we don't combat the problem the way you think we should. (And threaten to treat us accordingly)
This incident has encouraged us to post more about the other side, especially denouncing the actions of bad bloggers and nasty trolls who prey on authors. Shame on you if you ever thought—even for just a second—we were like that.
Starting this Friday we are going to have a special week of activity designed to increase the size of our review crew, so that sounds like a good time to blog about the right and wrong way to be a book reviewer. Stay tuned.