Friday, April 8, 2011

Follow Friday For Writers #3

Hosted by Elizabeth over at Some Sharp Words
(Click on the link for rules and linky list!)

This week's question -

Inspired by the spectacular melt down of Jacqueline Howett on Big Al’s Book Blog, how do you deal with a bad review?


First off, can I just say - how incredibly bad I feel over what happened to both reviewer and author. As a reviewer, Big Al gave a pretty fair review and did a great job highlighting what he liked and didn't like about the book (which is what he was asked to do) My stomach hurt for him having to deal with such a malicious attack out in the open for everyone to see. He's a book reviewer, someone who helps support authors, and should NEVER be exposed to such viciousness. My hope is that he let it slide off his back and that he doesn't view all self-pubs and indies the same. I thought he handled it with grace *two thumbs up*

My heart also aches for the author - what a spectacular fall from grace. I don't know what else was happening that day but her rant and meltdown was heartbreaking. She did so much damage to her career because she couldn't seperate  what was happening. I know our books are our babies (I get a little weepy over critiques) but when out amongst the community, there had to be some level of professionalism. She won't be known as "Jacquelline "wow that first book was a little shaky but see how she kept working her craft and OMGSH have you read her latest book?" Howett. No, she's the author that went psycho. She let her emotions dictate her actions and the rest was history. Did you know prior to the "incident" she had a 5 star rating on Amazon with 4 great reviews? The next day? Over 40+ reviews - most of them one star! Her ratings took a nose dive and were saved from complete destruction because other readers jumped in and gave her 5 stars. It was a complete mess and one that could've EASILY been avoided *sigh*

Ok, where was I? Oh yeah, the question LOL I'm not published so I have nothing to "review" BUT I do post my writing here on my page and offer it privately to some for critique. Call it mini training *winks* Sometimes you get the glowing gush and it feels really good. Sometimes though, you get your work back full of red edits or something you added was a turn off. What do you do? My first reaction is to start crying, next vomit and then start defending. My writing is a part of me and it's natural to take it personal. BUT (and it's a pretty big one) you need to use your writers filter. That thought needs to go through the "Ok, take a deep breath and let's look at this rationally" process. Does what the person say have any validity? What are the intentions of the person? Is there something that needs improving? If so, be grateful that you have someone supportive enough to be honest with you. The creative process is always changing - each decision you make helps you become better at your craft. Critiques can help (yes even if it feels like your heart's been ripped out of your chest) If you honestly think though, that the critique and review are unfounded? Say thanks for your opinion and MOVE ON! It isn't code for swapping insults or making demands, no matter how much your feelings are hurt.

I've seen quite alot of these meltdowns lately which has saddened me both as an aspiring writer AND a book reviewer. While I may not jump in and be vocal about it, I do watch and take notes. I look at my actions as a reviewer and I decide my actions ahead of time what I'll do as an author. I just hope the drama doesn't overshadow the fact that there are amazing authors out there who are eager to share their work and there are many fine stories to read. One writer's meltdown is another's sincere thank you. Not every author will react that way, at least not the ones who want to thrive.


  1. I agree, Bels. I was cringing when I read what Ms. Howett wrote. You never know what else might have be going in her life at that moment. Seeing that her baby was not well received could have just been the icing on the top of a really big mud pie! Really, his 2 star review was almost gentle, but I know it had to of hurt anyways.

    I know that I get defensive about my work, but I am trying to keep things in perspective. When I look at it as a way of making my novel better- but then again, it is still in the process of being written ;)

  2. I completely agree with everything. I felt bad for both of them. It is hard not be be defensive, but as Nichole said it is a great way to make your work better. I know your book will be fantastic!

  3. Happy Friday!!

    I enjoyed reading your opinion on the whole "Howett" controversey. Just as you do, I really hope that the incident discourages any readers from reviewing the work of authors whose work they read, whether they enjoyed said work or not. Readers should feel comfortable giving their honest opinions. Otherwise, the only point to reviews is to generate fans and make more money for authors and that is just sad to me. I like to learn and grow from my reviews. That's the best part about them, to me, being able to learn from my reader how I can become better at what I do.

  4. You know, after reading all the comments on everybody's blogs, and I did read the original thread last week... I believe we all owe a debt of gratitude to Ms.Howett for the lesson learned.

    Also, I linked to Nathan Bransford's take on the virtual witch hunt that followed, taking it viral.

    I hope to God if I'm in Ms.Howett's position, one of ya'll will have the grace & compassion to pull the plug on me until perspective can set in. That's another tragedy of this: had BigAl pulled the plug, stopped the comments, Ms.Howett might have been able to save face in time. It wouldn't have gained him 900+ followers, but he would've had enormous respect from the writing community.
    Just my two fifty worth.

  5. Newest follower here via the Friday blog hop. I am a new contemporary romance writer and a reader of almost everything! Hope you stop by and check out my blog.