Sunday, August 24, 2014

Are You A Pansy Author?

Yesterday I wrote a blog post (post #2) about a guest post (post #1) I wrote earlier in the week for Kristen, over at Pretty Little Pages Book Blog. You should really check them both out, but just for the sake of summarizing, I talked about the recent buzz with what I usually refer to as "review bullying". Tonight I'll shout out to the pansy authors AND the bullying a-hole authors. Tomorrow, I'll talk about how you can figure out whether you fit into either of those categories ... and in a future post, I'll tell you what to do about it.

Okay. You ready for this?
Okay. Here goes.

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To start off, and I know that in light of the whole worldwide, anti-bullying, everyone-should-always-be-NICE-and-almost-disgustingly-PC-all-the-time thing, I probably shouldn't say this, but ...

"Come on, pansy authors. Stand up and stop being pansies. It's just a review! It's not 'bullying'. So get over yourself, and understand that you can't please all the people all the time. And each review, regardless of the rating that comes with it or the words that are in it, each review is NOTHING more than someone else's opinion. And if you're such a pansy that you can't take a bad review, you seriously have no business in this business. Because even the authors that you can't even dream of coming close to in talent ... they have bad reviews too. Scathing ones. Ones that would make a pansy author like you crawl in a hole and just die. So if you're thin-skinned and you can't handle someone else saying your book sucked? You're a pansy - toughen up, or give it up. Because you'll NEVER have a book that's rated all five stars, all the time. Never. Seriously."

Now, with that off my chest (because I've been carrying it around for a LONG time, now), I can finally get on to say this:

"Hey, a-hole authors who use their fan bases as overgrown high school mean-girl cliques. Knock it off - all you do is ruin the fun for everyone else. And even though most people are too scared to really call you out, your names do get around. People find out who you are and what you're up to. People find out when you get your blogger buddies to completely shun another author because you were displeased about a review that didn't bow down and kiss your ass. And when you notice that your fan base stops growing? That's why. When you notice that sales stop happening? That's why. When your name drops out of conversations and people forget about you just you were so afraid that they might? That's why. Because you're an a-hole. So stop using reviews on other author's books as a way to forward your vendetta or fast-track your career. It's childish. And because you're too much of a coward to make it on your own steam without taking someone else down ... you're a whole different kind of pansy. Maybe the very worst kind."

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You know, what really upsets me about the whole thing is that because of a-hole authors, there really is a kernel of truth in the "review bullying" thing. There are authors out there who really do behave that way, and there are bloggers who get in on it. There are fans who get in on it. But the majority of this "bullying" stuff is actually normal in the world that we're all trying to break into. I mean really, what's the goal - to make enough money writing to be able to write full time, right? To write books that are so well-loved that people come to our signings specifically to meet us? To be recognized in restaurants because people actually read our books and care about who we are?

To be celebrities in the reading community.

But don't you know what that means? Haven't you ever read a tabloid magazine? Seriously? Celebrities are threatened. Stalked. Constantly watched. They get set up to look like fools, with people freaking out every time they eat a french fry or forget to put their eyeliner on. And then they get mocked ruthlessly by the entire world when they crack under pressure and go nuts. And this is what we're working for? Are we stupid?

Maybe we are a little stupid to seek this out. Maybe we aren't. But my point is, when you ask to be in the eye of the public, whether your "public" is ten people or ten thousand, you're asking for attention. You're asking to be noticed. And when you make - or don't make - a living based on the public opinion of your books, your products, then you're asking to have your feelings hurt. There's no way around it.

YOU WILL RECEIVE BAD REVIEWS.

I'm sorry, but no matter what your mother or your best friend or your kindergarten teacher told you, you are NOT flawless as a writer. You are NOT impervious to failure.

YOU WILL RECEIVE BAD REVIEWS.

The thing is, those reviews aren't all there is. There's the self-satisfaction of finishing that novel. The pride you take in your work as an artist. The professionalism that requires you to polish your work, and polish it again. The big girl panties that you pull up when someone tells you they found an error in the book. And yes, the tears you shed, the first time you get a review like this one:

"This book gets one star from me for having a really unique and interesting premise. I might have given a 2nd or even 3rd star if I weren't so angry and confused by the last few pages and most especially the ending! To ease my frustration I had to come up with some reason for it... Maybe the ending was cut off while being uploaded? Perhaps the author died before the ending was written and well-meaning family, having NO clue what the author had planned for concluding the story, just uploaded it to Amazon without even looking!"

And then, there's the somewhat self-righteous laughter you can't hold back when you get a review like this one:

"Okay story line but badly wrote! Not worth the time spent to read it! The ending sucked so bad and was horrible! Took so long to get into it too!!!!"

Because, really? Badly wrote?

That second one is actually my #1 top favorite review so far, and has actually encouraged me in so many ways. I mean, really? "Badly wrote?"

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But seriously. And you know what? I can see where a pansy author might have a hard time drying up their tears - some of the reviews out there are really brutal. But we all need to toughen up and remember that it's just someone else's opinion. And maybe you owe it to yourself to sit back and think about whether the review is right. Does your story lack something? If it did, I bet you felt it when you were writing it, but you pushed it off and called it "nerves" and kept going even though you knew the story wasn't working and wouldn't be worth reading. Does it need more polish (mine probably do)? Are there errors in it (I have found and fixed a couple in mine)? Does your cover suck (one of mine does, but I can't fix it yet)?

Be Honest.

Take that into account, stand up and accept it, then fix it if/when you can, and see what happens. But don't play the martyr and pretend the whole world hates you just because you got told something you didn't want to hear.

Stop being a pansy. I know it's hard, but really. You gotta do it. Be a grown-up.

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And to the A-holes? Remember:

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