Monday, May 14, 2007

SBD -- Reviews. Or, Plunge the Knife in Me NOW!

First off, don't forget to give me your advice here.

Second, I've really and truly HAD IT with the review whining. Completely.

Tara Marie was the most recent person to sound off on how idiotic and frustrating this spinning wheel is, in response to a not-very-annoying-RTB post. What was annoying about the RTB post was to watch the comments dissolve into "Woe is me"-dom.

Here, girls. Let me 'splain something to you. You are not your work. Your work is not you. OK?

If you are a lawyer and you lose a motion in court, your career is not over. And furthermore, the judge does NOT think you are a baby-murderer because your legal arguments did not hold sway on that day. You are not your work.

If you work an office job and you do a great job pulling together all the data you need, editing the report just so, and making the perfect presentation, this does NOT mean that you are a perfect person and that daisies live in anticipation of you walking past them. You may be a perfect shit at home to your husband or to your kids, but you may still be able to churn out the best damned report anyone has ever experienced. Your work is not you.

Here's a secret. Ready? People read books.


And you know what else? Readers form opinions OF THE BOOKS, and then, God Forbid, they go on to tell their friends their opinions.

I know. This is shocking. If you are experiencing heart palpitations about this, then why don't you go for a bit of a lie-down? We'll fill you in on the details after you've recovered.

When a reader says that s/he did not like the book, it is NOT directed to the author, nor is it offered up as constructive criticism, in general. It's simply an opinion. If it hurts your feelings to read negativity with your name in it, then I advise you to follow Kate Rothwell's lead and use Monica Jackson's "Author Visualizations." They're quite funny. And apparently quite effective.

Here's where this continual confusion just burns me up. You made the decision to go after a publishing contract. You did. Yep. YOU wanted to share this book with the world. It's not as if this qualifies as an invitation for an all out assault, but good grief ladies, grow a spine, or some ovaries or both.

If you cannot quite deal with people honestly stating their opinions about your work, or if you cannot separate your psyche from your work, then please know that you HAVE an option. Write for yourself, for your friends, for your students and teachers. It can be very rewarding in and of itself.

But for god's sake, don't ask me to play a violin for you.

When I screw up in my job, not only does it hit the papers, but it also hits the front page, the internet, the grocery store, and the playground. (Even when I'm right but stating an unpopular position.) In some cases I've been reported to the District Attorney by people who did not like me, and they have invited that very interesting gentleman to investigate me. (Fortunately he has a well-developed sense of humor and well-grounded sense of reality versus hyperbole. He also has a very pleasant chuckle on the phone.)

Ever been threatened with investigation by a prosecutor for writing a plot which was thin, although the characters were engaging? Yeah. Thought not.


Bookwormom said...

Wow. That's scary- people reporting you to the law if you have the nerve to disagree with them??

Suisan said...

Welcome to politics.

(The reporting thing was so silly that it made the DA laugh. There was no action taken for him to investigate. There was a *proposal* which people did not agree with, one which we decided to research further. Their allegation was that the proposal, if enacted using the language as written, could be seen as infringing on someone else's rights. Fairly spurious, and since it never happened, very hard to prosecute.)

But I get crap written about me and my intentions every day of the week. Especially on the internet. That's what gets on my very last nerve about authors complaining about reviews, which books, by their very presence, solicit. It is part of being out and about in the public. Period.

Tara Marie said...

I guess if I were an author maybe I'd be more sympathetic, it's pretty simple bad reviews go with the territory.

Apparently politicians deal with crazier people :D

Note to self--avoid novelist and politician as future employment aspirations.

Lyvvie said...

I've written my fair share of negative reviews, and I've received a couple - but as Tara says the negative ones often come with a running commentary of disappointments. that's where the critique is, that's the good stuff. Not the snarky, nippy non-constructive bitchiness. Maybe some authors haven't figured out how to separate them out?

Kate R said...

Suisan, Politics is too scary for anyone with any skin at all. There has to be armor on there to last.

And sure, okay, yes, reviews are for readers but whining--about books, about reviewers--is for everyone.

Jennifer said...

I hear ya. I hate it when certain authors Google themselves and find a review they don't like. One of them, well, apparently I kicked her in the crotch. Well, I don't mean to demean her personally, but I can't help it if she did the very thing she professes to hate in books, can I?

I just posted a really negative review a few days ago and I dread the day that author Googles herself and throws a hissy. BLECH.