Thursday, September 11, 2008

Can An Author Go Too Far?

I’m currently reading Death Perception by Victoria Laurie and love the entire series. Leading me to …..

Someone posted a comment on my post for the above book directing me to another site showing Ms. Laurie in an unfavorable light. Apparently Ms. Laurie took offense to a negative review on Amazon and things began to get heated. In turn, Ms. Laurie has posted some not so nice things on her site (since deleted) about two of the posters and has since placed each person in her latest books (thinly disguised of course!) but as not so nice characters.

NO ONE likes to have negative things said or written about them. But it’s going to happen. Not everyone will be happy with the way you called and spoke to a client, the way you typed a letter or the latest book that you’ve written. Negative reviews/feedback are bound to happen. The answer lies in how you deal with it.

So my thoughts are.…. Is there a point when an author can take something to far? Is calling someone out on both a well known site like Amazon and your blog professional? Is taunting them ok or professional suicide – are you willing to risk losing readers over something like a negative review? Is the old saying true – is bad publicity really good publicity?? Would you stop reading an author you like because of negative (and possibly cruel) things that she/he has said? Or is the fact that you love their books enough to make you see past that?

My intention is not to single out Ms. Laurie here. I’m using her situation as an example as it was brought to my attention today. I think I would be exceptionally naive if I were to think she’s the only author that has done something along these lines. My intention was to open up some dialogue on a situation I found very interesting.


goddessani said...

I have stopped reading certain authors because of the way they treat their readers.

I stopped reading another author after she went through a divorce and wrote a "fictionalized" account of it and made her husband look really bad.

And it's not always easy to do, especially if I like the way a particular author writes.

But I feel as if I can't condone their bad behaviour. I realize I have the right to not buy their stuff (hurt them in their wallet) but I also choose not to read (I could borrow the book or get it from a used book store). I feel that is hypocritcal though.

So, for me, if I don't like the way an author treats its readers, then they get moved to my don't read pile.

It may not affect them at all but it makes me feel better about myself.

So many little time. Well, I just found a little more time to read someone else!

Meghan said...

That is certainly going too far. I know it must be hard to write something and put it out there for others to criticize, but your bias should not reflect in your work. I think this applies to all aspects of life - it's just not okay to be nasty and hurt someone else, especially if they were offering an honest review of your work. And I would stop reading that author if I found out.

Melsy626 said...

I have been thinking about this since I read the comment on your post for the book, and I still haven't made a final decision.

In this specific scenario I'm trying to decide what to do specifically. I have 2 of her books sitting on my TBR pile and have Death Perception on my WL. I love this series so much, so I will *probably* go ahead and continue reading it.

Do I condone her behavior, NOT AT ALL!!!!

I think it's horrible that authors would treat their readers in any negative fashion. Especially once you have built a following and have several books under your belt. Why would you risk hurting that.

Book Zombie said...

Wow I think any author who behaves this way is crossing a line. As long as the unfavorable review is done in a tasteful manner, then I don't believe an author has a right to go after that reviewer.

Authors should know that not everyone is going to like what they present, and readers should have the right to voice their opinion. Perhaps even going so far as to state that reviewers have the responsibility to provide their true opinions, negative or positive.

As a blogger and I reader I am totally for honest reviews. Otherwise how would a reader make an educated choice on what to read. Some negative views on books have prompted me to read the books. Everyone does not have the same taste.

Another thing about this that bothers me is that authors shouldn't expect everyone to love their work just because they are published. Writers who behave this way need to realize that negative reviews may be helpful to them - maybe they never heard of constructive criticism before. Who knows.

But I definitely do not like authors who behave childishly like this. They need to either grow up or not sell their books to the general public.

Anonymous said...

We should all remember that *everything* we write (email, blog post, comment) can potentially be read by anyone (and everyone), and that copies of that text can multiply and spread for a very long time.

The best bet (for an author or anyone who takes offense at something that has been posted) is to be calm and clear in any rebuttal, then drop it (take the moral high ground, as my husband would say)

I imagine that author may already regret what she has said/written. Her books aren't on my TBR, so I'm not in the same boat you are!

Ruth said...

I don't really know the specifics of the situation with Ms. Laurie, so the following is not a condemnation of her in any way; just general thoughts.

I can understand, to a certain extent, an author being upset by a negative review. Obviously, they put a lot of time and hard work into their book, and having someone rip it to shreds in a couple of paragraphs can't be a good feeling. Especially if the review is written with very little actual substance. (Some of the vitriolic negative reviews of Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Myer come to mind.) It's one thing to politely express an opinion, it's another to launch a personal attack at an author just because you didn't like something in their book.

On the other hand, an author needs to have a thick skin. Not everyone is going to like what you write. There's no way to please every single reader, which is actually a great thing. How boring would the world be if we all liked the same things?

I definitely think an author can go too far when it comes to dealing with negative reviews. Online feuding is not going to win an author new readers. Wouldn't the energy they put into taunting one or two people be much more wisely used to create something that hundreds or thousands of people could enjoy?

pinkcypress said...

I've also thought about this a lot, and read through a lot of sites that had the "deleted" comments published.

And I've decided that I'm NOT going to let it stop me from reading certain books just because I don't like the author's public behavior. Just as I wouldn't let it stop me from enjoying the work of any artist (painter, musician, etc.).

Mare Fairchild said...

I think that this type of behavior is incredibly immature and bordering on bullying. I am a firm believer that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and I don't feel obligated to base my decisions on someone else's thoughts.

I have stopped reading authors when I've heard of this type of retaliation and, while there are plenty of wonderful books to read out there, I feel that they are not only hurting themselves, they are behaving as very poor role models.

Tantrums should never make it past age 3 regardless of the situation.

Becky LeJeune said...

Wow this seems to be a hot topic. I read Victoria Laurie's post about the incident and it does seem a bit different from the others I've heard about.

I have heard of authors who lash out at people who review their books in a negative light, and have read said reviews and seen that they were valid and in no way malicious. What seems to have happened to Victoria Laurie looks like a very malicious attempt directed at her and not really legitimate "reviews" of her books. So in this case, I have no problem with her getting back in this fashion. It's fairly innocent actually.

I have also come across people like the one she mentioned on Amazon who go through specific types of books (maybe all by the same author or all on the same subject) and give them all negative reviews. I don't know why anyone would go to all that effort, but if Victoria Laurie wants to call out one of those people and make them a gross character in her book, that's perfectly fine with me.

I don't think any real "fan" would ever do what has been done to Ms. Laurie (and if you haven't read the link in the first comment for the review of the book, I suggest you do before you decide she's being unreasonable or a bully by putting them in her book). Most people are never going to write an author directly and tell them that their book is dumb trash and that it was a waste of their money. And to post this in numerous places, including Ms. Laurie's own website, deserves to be called out on it.

Authors deal with criticism on a daily basis. I think most have learned to deal with it very well. Those who have lost it on readers who criticize their work are way out of line. These two people aren't criticizing Ms. Laurie's work, they're being downright mean.

Write away Ms. Laurie. I haven't read any of your books yet but I will now!

Terri said...

Without having read the review or specifics, it is hard to say. Amazon has has this problem a lot from what I understand. But I will say a lot of amazons reviews become personal attacks on the author in which case I would say they have a right to defend themselves on blogs and websites as well. Some so-called reviewers are just nasty. Happened a lot with Dan Brown and other controversial books.

I DO think a responsible reviewer should be specific about what they didnt like and why. Examples: mistatements of facts, bad editing, lack of believability, difficulty following the plot etc...

On the other hand, if it is just a regular bad review, that is just bad behavior on the author's part.

And basing a character on someone in a book? Happens all the time. The guy who pushes in front of you in line becomes an annoying character in your next book. Frankly I dont have a problem with that.

As for book reading/buying, we all have our own values that we try and stand by which is good. Many people won't read Anne Perry's books because of her personal past for instance. I am not one of those. Personal life and ability to write a book are two different things as far as I am concerned. I will ammend that though - I agree that criminals should not profit from their criminal acts with book sales. Frankly I dont care if they write the book -- free speech. But profit. Absolutely not. Should go to the victims, their families or a non profit.

For those who will no longer read Ms. Laurie's books, I respect your decision. For me, I like the books, so I likely will continue to read them.

Most of us behave childishly at times,it doesnt make it okay but we do sometimes learn from it. Plus I do have to wonder about the reviewers if the attacks were personal. What is their motivation?

Ladytink_534 said...

Oh no that's not even the half of it! This is from the blogger that she threatened.

Becky LeJeune said...

Ok, Ladytink, see I really have no problem with what I read on your link from the other day, but this link (above) is very upsetting and does change my perspective. With the first, I could understand the frustration of what seemed like just plain mean and pointless nastiness. The second, however, does put her completely in the realm of crazy. Threatening people with legal action... well, yeah. As bad as the other author who flipped out and said she was going to track down the reader who gave her book a three star review!

Becky LeJeune said...

Ugh! All this mess makes me wonder if any of us is really safe to post or voice any opinions on anything anymore.

Lana said...

I've been dealing with this particular situation myself. I've got the Psychic Eye mysteries on my TBR pile. I read the first one a while ago and really enjoyed it.

But given the recent uproar and having read many of the posts about the incident, I'm debating whether I feel comfortable reading and reviewing her books.

I don't mind authors putting obnoxious reviewers in their books. That's what all kinds of authors do. But it's a completely different thing to post publicly that that is what you're doing. It's a different thing to threaten people.

And, honestly, while I understand that cruel 'reviewers' lashing out about works is hurtful, it doesn't excuse this sort of behavior.

I know if I had heard about this prior to having read any of her books, I would probably refuse to buy them. And unlike some people (and I don't mean that in a rude or judging way) I have difficulties separating authors/artists' actions or public persona from their work.

I don't enjoy Gauguin or Hemingway and similar not because their work has no merit - it does, but that I cannot separate their (in my opinion) despicable behavior from their output. Because I believe that art like this reflects a great deal of a person's psyche and soul. And it just feels tainted to me. Not that I begrudge anyone else their enjoyment.

So I'm struggling. I find her series charming and original... but I'm not sure if I'll be able to read them 'untainted' anymore.

(sorry that turned out so long)

gwendolyn said...

Definitely, an author needs to rise above criticsm. However, reviewers and authors alike need to keep their egos out of their work. If their behaviour is so obnoxious that it overpowers their work,then their work becomes useless to me. As a reader, I want the author to fade away into the background (unless I am reading a memoir). And if I cannot respect a reviewer, then their opinion means nothing to me. Whether I avoid reading an author (or reviewer) would vary depending on my own ability to put them out of my mind, but I have no desire to be witness to their feuding.