Today I set up a Twitter account. Mostly because I wanted to follow my daughter (17) but the minute she found out, she made me “unfollow” her. Her exact words were, “That’s creepy, Mom. Stop following me.”
So I did. The point of all of this is to show how I found out about a new e-book called The Greek Seaman, by Jacqueline Howett. While on the Twitter site, someone tweeted something about an author (Ms. Howett) having a “meltdown” over a bad review. Never one to speed by a car wreck, I checked it out.
Wow. The author of that tweet was being nice. Meltdown? I’d say a full-blown fit.
BigAl’s Books and Pals is a blog dedicated to book reviews. Specifically,
“Book reviews, news, commentary, and other fun stuff for readers and authors with an emphasis on the Kindle world and independent authors.”
This is a direct quote from his About page. As of today, BigAl’s Books has 145 FaceBook fans, and 216 Twitter followers. Pretty small numbers comparatively speaking. He has reviewed a lot of books though, so I assume author’s seek him out, send in their submissions, cross their fingers, and hope for a good review.
So what’s an author to do if that review is, well, not so good? I’ve heard from many seasoned writers that the best course of action is to ignore it. I’ve even heard authors say to not read ANY of your reviews. “It messes with your head,” they say. “The good ones and the bad ones.” By reading J. Howett’s comments following BigAl’s review, I can definitely say that, yeah, that review really messed with her head.
BigAl begins his review with a compliment. The book was “compelling and interesting.” But then he follows up by saying that the chances of someone making it to the end of the book are “pretty slim.” Why? The spelling and grammar errors. He states that there are so many of them it makes it difficult to get into the book. Readers are jarred into reality by Ms. Howett’s many errors. Ouch!
These comments hit home for me because, quite frankly, my grammar sucks. But I know that. I’m never shock when someone tells me they found a mistake. I quickly correct it, and then I thank them.
Ms. Howett’s response was swift and petty. I have to wonder if this is the first time anyone has told her she needs the help of an editor.
Her first comment to the reviewer states that HE read the wrong copy of the manuscript (in other words, It’s your fault). She then goes on to copy and past a few 4 and 5 star reviews from Amazon; which are soon discredited and called fakes by one of the 300 or so comments that followed her internet temper tantrum. (The post went up at 8am. By 6pm there were over 300 comments. Most of them–didn’t read them all–were not favorable to the author.)
The ones I did read stated that they would not buy the book because the author was acting like a child and was “very unprofessional.” Double ouch!
And, no one was talking about the book. No one was talking about the characters or the plot. They were all talking about the writer and her over-the-top reaction.
Ms. Howett took a bad situation and made it badder. (I know . . . couldn’t resist.)
So, what’s a writer to do?
While getting a bad review would not make the reviewer a bully, I would say that the best thing to do would be to follow the advice our parents gave us about school yard bullies. Ignore them. Say nothing. So instead of 300+ negative comments, tweets turning her “meltdown” into entertainment, and bloggers like me spreading the word, the review would have come and gone, without anyone really noticing.
This is really sad. We all know how much energy and time it takes to write a novel. I truly hope this author can recover from this sad fiasco. In addition to an editor, she should seriously consider hiring a publicist One that specializes in damage control.
Or in her second book, she could try this.
Have you ever received a negative review? How did you handle it? (Please, no confessions of anything illegal.)