When Author Magic Wanes

Do you remember when you were a kid and you thought that authors were magical beings? That they were the most awesome people ever and you were pretty sure they kept a supply of fairy dust in their desk? In many cases authors are awesome though normal people.

The internet and social media has brought them out of their magical realm somewhat.  Authors, it seems, are not really so magical themselves though their work may be. They are very much like you or me but their talents allow them to make a career out of their writing. I get to read them. It's really a win-win situation. I'm still not entirely convinced that some of them aren't hiding some fairy dust in their desks.

The vast majority of encounters I've had with authors have been positive. Even really, really positive. Then there are those other authors though - the ones whose online behavior lands them staunchly in my "Do not read" list. On the really, really extreme end of that are the "DO NOT READ. Ever. Even if stuck at the airport for three days and their books are the only ones available."  That list is small but each year it grows.

Those extreme authors are the ones that feel the need to attack people that don't like their books. Authors like the latest author behavior scandal that Fandom Wank is pointing out this week. That author is just one in a line of others that have behaved badly online. While I consider these to be extreme reactions they still happen several of times a year. They usually seem to involve some combination of  review copies/bad reviews (esp. on Amazon or Goodreads)/self-publishing/vanity presses/a conviction that sun shines out of their own butt. These are the authors that make other authors look bad.

Yes, it's true that the reviewers behind the bad reviews can be mean. The difference between a reviewer being mean and an author being mean is that when the reviewer is mean it really only impacts them. When the author is mean online they lose more readers by lashing out than they would through the bad review. Sometimes though, the reviewer isn't being mean, they are just  being honest. It stings even more authors lash out against these reviews, which are not positive but also aren't mean. Then the author isn't just a big meanie, they are a bully. That scenario never ends well. It's right up there with authors attacking other authors. Klassy! (Yes, the "k" is intentional.)

Those authors have no magic left for me. Zilch. Zero.

Those are the really extreme ones of course. I'm seeing other things that trouble. People being required to leave a minimum of a three-star review on sites if they received review copies. Authors who are part of blog tours who only get good reviews and then get their back up when someone not in the tour doesn't write a glowing review. I've seen authors try to convince people that they were wrong to dislike certain things about their books.

Listen, I'm sorry if I don't like your book. Trust me. I certainly did not read it intending to not like it. But this is the thing, I blog for myself. This little blog is my corner of the internet and it was started because I wanted to be able to track what books I read, what I thought about them and maybe talk about those books with other people. When I started blogging the thought that an author would ever read anything I wrote about their book was laughable. I didn't think that I'd really have any readers except for a couple of friends. What is here is my opinion. That's it. That's all. What some people find cute others might find cheesy (in a bad way, there's also good cheese...) or even grating. If we all like the same things the world would be a dull, dull place.

Yes, I really am sorry I didn't like your book. Yes, I'm still going to say I didn't like your book. Yes, I'm going to say what I didn't like about it. No, my opinion is not "wrong" it's just my opinion. I read negative reviews of books. I like negative reviews of books. I'm not talking about the mean reviews (though one should not confuse snark with meanness, I love snark) but negative ones in which people say what they didn't like about the book. You see, sometimes what they don't like are things I do. There have been negative reviews that pushed me toward reading a book, not away.

Negative reviews don't always have negative consequences. A negative reaction online to a negative review almost always ends badly. So authors, when you are thinking about replying to something negative step away from the computer and think about it for a bit. Think through the results. Because I don't want that "do not read" list to keep getting longer.

(And you shiny magical fairy dust authors? I love you. Keep up the sparkly wonderfulness m'kay?)