Tuesday, February 18, 2014

On authors behaving badly....

I read books by all sorts of authors, self pubs and traditional pub, some by authors and publishers that I like, others by authors and publishers that I can't stand. I read unknowns and famous people. I read small books and big ones. I read cheap books and expensive ones. I'm an equal opportunity reader.

And despite all of my personal feelings about that particular author (sometimes I know them--or know OF them. And sometimes I know the publishers--or know OF them) I work very hard to give honest reviews. I review almost all the books I read, and I am always honest about my experience with that book....even when I know it might come back to bite me in the butt. Even when I feel like a disgruntled author or publisher is going to jump out of the bushes and whack me in the knee, a'la Nancy Kerrigan ("Whyyyyy? Whhhhhyyyyyyy????")

Sometimes it is hard for me to keep my personal feelings towards people at bay. I've been sabotaged by more fellow authors (and mistreated by a publisher or two) than I care to admit, and there have been times when fellow authors have been downright cruel, turning into cyber-bullies because I didn't say or do what they wanted me to do. Believe me, the world of writing/publishing is far more cut throat than one would assume. In fact, I often tell my husband it is like swimming in a shark tank while on one's period. How's that for a mental image??

You would think we would support each other more. You would think we'd realize there is success and money to be made for all of us, not just the one of us who is willing to drown everyone else in the shark tank.....

But alas. Here we are. In the shark tank. Pass the kotex.

It would be so easy to tank a book in one of my reviews, simply because that author has screwed with my social media presence, or insulted me somehow. Or give one star ratings to all the books from a publisher who made me feel like I was unworthy to touch the hem of their robes. Believe me, if I did, I would feel very justified with my decision to do so. Or...I would for a while...before the guilt set in.

But alas, I don't. I read the books, and if I like what I've read, I say so. If I don't, I say so (as politely as possible.) I'm honest, even when it kills me to be. Even when that particular author (or publisher) makes me want to bang my head against a wall, or run my knuckles over a cheese grater.....

Sometimes they've written an annoyingly great book! It happens. There are times when I read a book by an author that drives me crazy (ahem--are you listening, John Green??) and I am left reeling because it was just so damn good. So what do I do? Do I ignore them? Skip the review and go stare at my laptop longingly, because I wasn't brilliant enough to think of that storyline??

*sigh* No.

I give them their dues. After all, they worked hard. Right? Writing a book is in no way easy. I know, I've written 9 of them. It's basically like pouring your soul onto your laptop, then editing it until your eyes are about to fall out, then pouring over graphic art until you're ready to scream, then publishing it and letting the population of the world pour salt over your open wounds--which are a'plenty. Yeah. Not so much fun. But hey, you do what you're meant to do. I'm meant to write. So pass the salt.

There is a common misconception that authors MUST give fellow authors light, fluffy, happy reviews covered in sprinkles and sunshine. Because if we don't, we're unsupportive to our own kind. We are tyrants who poop on the successes of other authors. It is jealousy in it's PRIME. Right?? If I don't like a book, it MUST be jealousy talking??

This is not the case. Honest reviews are just that: honest reviews. They are not (and they should never be) attacks against other authors, and they should never be a way to stick it to a fellow author who ticked you off once upon a time ago. They should be considered a compliment...that author took their hard earned money to purchase your work. That author took their precious time to read your work. That's a big deal, ya'll. Recognize the sacrifice that took. If I hate you, and want to punch you in the face, but gave you two or three of my hard earned bucks to read your book...that's the highest compliment there is. I'm poor. I need my money. Be happy I shared it with you.

In that same vein, reviews should never be falsified to support a book. If you don't connect with a book, or it was horrible, or it offended you, or it made you want to kick a puppy in the face--don't lie. That's dishonest, and doing that author as much of a disservice as tanking them on purpose. Reviews are subjective, and should be taken with a grain of salt. Tanking a fellow author or publisher, and encouraging your entourage to do the same, simply because they aren't your cup of tea is silly, childish behavior that I try really hard not to participate in, and I hope all of my fellow authors will consider doing the same.

Lets just let each other do our jobs, earn a living, and have fun doing it. Just because someone isn't your favorite person in the world, doesn't mean you have license to screw with them. That silliness is best reserved for playgrounds and B-list actors on Twitter.