Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Authors Behaving Badly

In recent months there have been two authors who have been called on the carpet publicly for poor behavior--by readers. One has been accused (and there seems to be documentation to back up the accusations) of not only manipulating the Amazon review process, she also issued not-so-veiled threats to one of the people who posted a review.

You might think it was a terrible review aimed at the author personally (along the lines of "This woman couldn't write her way out of a paper bag" or "This author definitely shouldn't quit her day job" which, I might add, is uncalled for. You want to give your opinion about my book, fine. But don't criticize *me*.). But there was none of that. The review was the reader's opinion of the book and why it did or didn't work for her. And it was a 3-star review. Which is not bad--it means the book was an average read and, more importantly, *not* a waste of money. The author manipulated the system to have the review taken down. The reader re-posted it. Again it came down. Again it was re-posted. And so on and so on. Until the author made it known to the reader that she knew where she lived, what her children's names were, etc.

WTF?!? It. Was. A. Review. Get over it. You know, I consider myself lucky that I've never gotten a review less than a 3-whatever (3 stars, 3 hearts, 3 ribbons, etc.). And some of the 3s have been less than flattering, but...they were still 3s. And they were the opinion of the reviewer. For every 3 I've gotten I've received a 4 or 5 review on the same book by another reader. What that tells me is that my story spoke to one person in a different way than another.

It's just a review. Let. It. Go.

Then there's the case of plagiarism. A well-known historical romance author has been *proven* to have lifted (sometimes entire) passages from non-fiction works in her novels. (Mainly when she was describing something relating to Native American culture, or something in nature (such as black-footed ferrets)). A *reader* realized that part of the book she was reading didn't feel like the author's voice, so she got online and googled a few phrases, only to find out that those phrases had been part of an article in a nature magazine. Other readers did the same and found other instances where the author had "borrowed" word-for-word from other writers.

The fall-out? One of her publishers, Signet, has "divorced" her. Her reputation is tainted. Is it tainted for good? Only time will tell. The cynic in me says, no. The compassionate side of me says everyone deserves a second chance. The outraged reader in me says...

She'd better keep her day job. Oh, wait. This *is* her day job.


This kind of behavior makes the rest of us look bad, no matter that the majority of authors don't have sky-scraper sized egos and know better than to steal other writers' works. Most of us have thick enough skin that we don't go ape-shit over a review that isn't that bad. So those of you for who these debacles have left a bad taste in your mouth, take heart.

We're not all bad.

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