I’m not going to title this post “Authors Behaving Badly,” because I think it’s all a matter of opinion, and this post is simply my opinion. Anyone can disagree with me, and I know there are plenty who will. Just not here on the blog. I like to keep the blog a positive place, and any negative comments will be deleted.
Yesterday I had a few extra minutes, so I went over to goodreads.com to accept a few new friend requests and leave a few ratings for books I’ve read in the past month. And while there, I happened to notice more than a few snarky comments written by authors about other authors. Some were downright vicious, leaning more toward Internet bullying than constructive criticism. If an author did this to me, I can take it, trust me. There’s isn’t much I haven’t experienced. But I know there are newer authors out there who take this kind of criticism to heart, and it literally ruins their entire sense of well-being.
Personally, I don’t care what kind of comments readers or reviewers leave. Readers pay for books and have the right to leave any comments they want. Not everyone is going to love every single book and nothing can be done about that. In all honestly, some of the worst reader reviews for a few of my books have turned out to be exactly what I wanted them to write. (I’ll save this topic for another post.) However, I have a rule that when I don’t like a book I simply leave a rating, not a review. I do this because as an author with almost twenty years of experience in publishing I read with a different “eye” than the average reader. And naturally I’m going to be more critical than the average reader. I even hesitate to leave reviews about a book I love because I’m not sure I can be totally objective.
But I’ve seen several authors leave vicious comments on goodreads. They take personal pleasure in attacking other authors, with snide attitudes, and never bother to consider their own reputations in the process. When I see this happen, my first question is how good is the snide author making the scathing comment, and then I hop right over to where I can read an excerpt of their book. Nine times out to ten, I find the author who made the mean comment isn’t very good, knows very little about m/m romance, and suffers from not only a sense of entitlement, but also an unwarranted sense of superiority. Which then makes me wonder whether or not the scathing comments and ratings are nothing more than a case of jealously. I’d hate to think this would happen. But I’m not naive enough to think it couldn’t happen.
Even if the author who made the mean comment is a halfway decent writer, I still find it hard to take them seriously after I see them attack a fellow author in public. It’s a tacky thing to do, it shows poor judgement, and it suggests a limited amount of professionalism when it comes to working within the publishing industry as a whole. You don’t see doctors attacking other doctors, or cops attacking other cops. Most professionals within specific industries stick together even if it means remaining tastefully quiet sometimes.
I wouldn’t go after another author in public unless the author attacked a social issue I know more about than they do. The worst rating I’ve ever left on goodreads was two stars and I didn’t bother to leave a detailed comment. Readers can do that, and in turn they can help other readers in choosing what they may or may not want to read. But when authors do this to other authors, I rarely ever take these authors seriously again. And the funny thing about the Internet is that whatever you write in public never goes away. It’s there forever. And people have excellent memories.