In defense of the clueless

11 Feb

Over at the Book Binge, the nice ladies there posted this about the whole Silvia Massara thing. My summary*:

If you don’t want an honest review, don’t send us your work. If you are going to send us your work, check out the ‘about’ page, wherein we state that we won’t write only gushing accolades to every book we get sent. If you are an idiot about a less than gushing review in this here site, you’ll get mocked. Get over it.

As one can easily imagine, there’re quite a few comments going on–mostly marveling at the stupidity of an author trashing readers. Yes, readers. Her target market. The consumers of her product. The people who make her what she is–in a world with no readers, would there even be authors?

But alas, no such thread would be complete without at least one person–aside from the predictable c*ckpuppet–claiming that of course, the poor author has every right to ‘review the reviewers’ blog.’

Bob Mayer writes:

So let’s see. An author got upset about a bad review and blogged about it. A reviewer got upset about the blog and blogged about it and called the author an ass and an idiot, while saying they don’t say things like that in reviews. But just did in a review of the blog.

I’m wondering what I’m missing here. I’ve read both blogs and the author didn’t call the reviewer names and seemed relatively level-headed about it. This blog post seems spiteful and superior. I know few authors would dare say that, because, after all, they want good reviews, but as an author who has been around a while, I’m a bit weary of self-appointed experts slamming authors in public and everyone kowtowing to them. Calling an author a “big fat ass” and having a picture saying “I tried to see things your way. You’re still an idiot” isn’t professional. So I think the author probably has a reasonable point to avoid reviewers that would say such things about authors. Because it appears when the shoe is on the other foot and the reviewer gets reviewed, they react even more heatedly than the author. Your blog post confirmed exactly what the author said about you if you look at it quite rationally.

Let’s take this in stages, shall we?

  • The author didn’t get a bad review–she got a well written review that happened to be negative.
  • The author didn’t simply blog about it, she went out of her way to helpfully warn other authors away from these ‘unprofessional, subjective, grocery-list writing, “smartasses who don’t know hot to do anything else”‘ reviewers. And those adjectives are in quotes because I plucked them right out of Ms Massara’s post. Further, in case there is any doubt, yes, that’s both unprofessional and offensive. We ‘just’ avid readers do believe that we have the right to tell each other what we like, what we don’t like, and why–silly us!.
  • The author didn’t review the reviewer, she passive-aggressively whined about a negative review. For what she wrote to be a review of the blog, she would have to, oh I don’t know… linked to the blog**? linked to specific instances of the reviewers trashing a book? giving a scale defining ‘good review’ vs ‘trashy review’? In other words, backed up her comments with facts–that’s how she defines ‘professional’ reviewing, isn’t it?

In a later comment, Mr Mayer says (in part):

And, yes, Sylvia has a right to call them amateurs. That’s her opinion just like a review is an opinion. Am I the only one missing the logic flaw to these arguments on both sides? You can ignore her just as much as she should have ignored your review.

But hold on! Opinions are subjective, and Ms Massara very clearly states that subjectivity is a big no-no in reviews. I thought Mr Mayer read both blogs? (and no, Mr Mayer, I do see that Ms Massara’s logic is flawed. So is yours, IMO. See above bullet points.)

In his (so far) last comment, Mr Mayer ends with this (bolding mine):

I really don’t care one way or the other–I think both sides got in a tiff over something both should have ignored. Perhaps I mistook the tone of the blog here. It apparently was supposed to be snarky. I guess a lot of people got that and I failed when I read fat ass and idiot toward a writer. I’ve written some snark and I didn’t find it snarky. As Dorothy Parker says: Wit has truth in it; wisecracking is calisthenics with words.

The snake is eating its own tail here.

And now I will take my own advice and ignore it as logic has failed and continues to fail. And I guess never get reviewed.

Help me out, readers, did that last sentence sound a bit like sour grapes? Or is that my amateurish lack of professionalism coming through? And am I mistaken or is there certain superiority and disdain evidenced by quoting Ms Parker?

~

Either way, as far as Mr Mayer’s comments go, I wonder what’s wrong with avid readers writing reviews. Aren’t we all experts on what we ourselves like? And if so, who else but ourselves is going to appoint us?

Perhaps we should let Ms Massara, experienced novelist, expert author and public relations specialist, tell us what is what.

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*This means, I’m very loosely paraphrasing here, okay? Don’t adjudicate my wording to the nice ladies of the Book Binge, people.

** Well, wouldn’t you know it. She had indeed linked to both blogs, but then backtracked and deleted the pertinent line. Methinks such behaviour almost guarantees that it was indeed the author who left those ‘anon’ comments in the original damned review (sorry, Rowena, it’s Casee’s doing!) Not to mention the original inclusion of that classic witticism “we’ll be laughing all the way to the bank with our huge royalty checks despite the flak we copped from those unprofessionalreviewers.”

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UPDATED TO ADD: via The Book Binge, the ladies at Book Lovers Inc had the original post and the first 100 deleted comments up.

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  1. Endangering others because they hurt your feelings. « Her Hands, My Hands - 13/07/2012

    […] authors and readers on sites such as GoodReads. There have been some epic battles when authors react unprofessionally to negative reviews. Authors must, for their own sanity if nothing else, remember that reviews are […]

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