Bad reviews as bullying?

I’ve been holding this one in for a few days, but I think the topic bears discussing.  To date, I’ve been relatively blessed with my published books and their (mostly) positive online presence.  Many could argue that’s because the total number of readers I have isn’t that many, but I think this topic is important for any author – no matter how many readers they have.

When I go onto Amazon to purchase a book for my Kindle app, if a book looks interesting, I, of course, read the reviews.  These reviews will often have a direct impact on whether or not I purchase the book – even if that book is for free. And, like a car crash, I find myself looking at both the 5 star reviews as well as the 1 star reviews.  The 1 star reviews are usually slightly fascinating and even if I mentally throw them out, they are still there, permanently marking the book for other potential readers.

While I could be seen as slightly hypocritical (obviously I have reviewed books on this blog and some of them were not positive), I follow the rule ‘if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.’  I would never leave my negative comments directly on Amazon, Goodreads or Shelfari.  I keep my opinions to this rarely visited blog.  If a potential reader somehow happened upon my thoughts, fair enough, but most likely my opinion is well buried and would not influence a potential reader.

So, when I saw on Tumblr that my book had been tagged, I instantly got excited.  Then I saw this comment went with the book.

[Name redacted]: WTF I LOOK COOL. I hate this girl.

I know I am not a special snowflake, however, comments like this directed towards me make me genuinely sad.  There are other equally disparaging remarks, which, if I am completely honest, made Monday a pretty bad day for me.  And a quick check of the young woman who left these notes shows she’s a teenager, so part of me wants to chalk up her note, dashed probably without a second thought, to immaturity.  But another part of me doesn’t want to let her off that easily.  Yes, she’s entitled to her opinion and no, it doesn’t have to agree with mine.  I guess I am still taken aback by the implied animosity in this statement.  I’m not quite sure a silly book about a boy crazy girl drummer deserves this.  Considering the book costs a whopping $.99, I just wish the commenter would return the book and take her money back.

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Keep telling yourself that.

It’s a brave thing to write a book, to spend hours creating it and then place it in the public sphere for consumption.  Comments like above make me think twice about if I have what it takes.

What about you, fellow author, have you ever received something similar?

4 thoughts on “Bad reviews as bullying?

  1. I think this explains my thoughts pretty well: http://jimhines.livejournal.com/606453.html

    Bad reviews are bad reviews. To be blunt, if you don’t want to see bad reviews, then maybe you shouldn’t be an author. Not everyone is going to fawn over your work and if you only want positive feedback 100% of the time…I don’t think that’s going to happen.

    Many famous authors out there have gotten tons of negative reviews but that hasn’t stopped them. J.K. Rowling’s first adult novel wasn’t as positively received as her Harry Potter novels, but she still wrote another book anyway (although it was under a different name, but still).

  2. A negative review is not, not, NOT bullying. It’s an expression of one person’s opinion. Even if one person writes in her review, “This book sucks! Don’t buy it! Don’t waste your time or your eyesight!” it’s still not bullying. It just plain isn’t.

    Falling back on that old “If you can’t say something nice” bullshit is just an excuse for lying. Would you “say nothing at all” if you went to a restaurant that served lousy food or took your car to a mechanic who broke more than he fixed or a plumber who didn’t made your leak worse or a doctor who dismissed your complaints because you’re just a whining wimp? If not, if you feel some obligation to your friends or even to strangers to warn them when you encounter poor service, why would you lie about books you didn’t like, that didn’t fulfill your needs as a reader?

    Everyone is entitled to an opinion, and there will always be people who for one reason or another don’t like your book — or you. Most people know this and understand it and accept it, but there are those who just can’t bear to actually read the words. They take it much too personally. Your book is a product you’ve put out there for the public to purchase, to use, and to review if they choose.

    If you’re a writer who wants to publish and hopes to sell what she publishes, please learn the difference between genuine bullying and not liking somebody’s book.

    If you’re a writer who wants to publish and hopes to sell what she publishes, please learn not to get all bent out of shape because someone, somewhere, doesn’t like your book. If it hasn’t happened already — and obviously it has — it will eventually.

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