Monday, June 29, 2009

yikes.

Be nice on the internet, writer friends, lest you actually dismantle your own platform. Cautionary tale here.

40 comments:

Aimee K. Maher said...

Not. Good. She sounds like an angry brat. Wait, did I just say something I shouldn't have?

Amanda said...

Yep.

I guess it's a good thing I never liked her writing anyway.

Rick Daley said...

Self-censorship is a delicate art.

I would view this as either an inane attempt at publicity, or something akin to cursing under your breath and not realizing that the microphone was on and everyone could hear it.

Other less favorable interpretations of the behavior may include irresponsible, unprofessional, arrogant, and ill-thought-out.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Yeah, I saw that on GalleyCat this morning. I was shocked. Frankly, I'd expected better from her. I mean, this is ALICE HOFFMAN. Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman star in the movie versions of her books. She's big time.

Yeah, I'd expected better.

writtenwyrdd said...

Sometimes it is wisest to say nothing. People can interpret that as stoic, suffering in silence or unaffected, but they at least can't interpret it as vindictive crazy person!

JES said...

Egad. Very surprised she went this route -- I'm sorta hoping her account was just hijacked or otherwise hacked into. Otherwise, er, "Here's the gun. There's your foot. Okay? Now pull the trigger."

Kim Kasch said...

As Arte Johnson used to say on Laugh-in "very interesting"

Emily Cross said...

Yikes indeed!!

Its one thing to not like a critic's review and even to voice your dislike but giving out personal details over twiter purely so fans can mawl the critic is stepping WAY WAY over the line.

*shakes head*

This is like that Robin Hobb thing with fanfiction.

Christine said...

And now her twitter page has disappeared. Nice.

Michael Reynolds said...

Authors have a perfect right to respond to critics. A writer spends six months or a year writing a book that's then attacked by a reviewer in a piece the reviewer knocked out in afternoon, and the writer can't fire back? Says who? Why does the artillery only fire in one direction?

That being said it might be impolitic, but that doesn't make the author wrong, just reckless.

My complaint with reviewers is anonymity and the interchangeable nature of book reviewers. You should know your critic in order to know their prejudices and preferences.

In movie reviewing for example I know Ebert will surrender on plot points if you have pretty pictures. So I can evaluate his criticism. But "anonymous" cannot be judged.

Who watches the watchers? (Wait, that's a pretty good line. I wonder if anyone's used it?)

Katie O'Sullivan said...

Yikes is right.
I found a blogspot for posting and commiserating about bad reviews with fellow writers. It's called The Worst Review Ever. Better forum to vent in, instead of whining in public...

Emily Cross said...

Michael - i don't think the issue is about the right of the author to be able to respond to critics. I think authors have every right to defend their work if they wish to in a professional and reasonable manner

I think 'the yikes factor' has to do with the fact that she called her a "moron" and posting the critics phone number and email address and then asking her fans to ring/email her.

Scott said...

No one's work is above criticism. This was pretty mild. The writer needs to get over herself.

Michael Reynolds said...

I think 'the yikes factor' has to do with the fact that she called her a "moron" and posting the critics phone number and email address and then asking her fans to ring/email her.

Yeah, that was a bit much. I wrote a nasty letter to a critic once that suggested . . . well, things that weren't terribly flattering.

Of course later, sober, I had the paper spike the letter.

Rebecca Knight said...

This is why you don't blog when you're angry. Seriously.

Complain to your family around the dinner table, have a beer, and let it simmer for a day or three.

It does shock me that people can't take criticism professionally after all the rejection they went through to be published. You'd think you'd be desensitized enough to shrug it off?

Andrew Wheeler said...

It's a bad reaction, but not all that uncommon -- a lot of people (particularly those who are older, and haven't used social media a lot) think that they're just communicating with their friends when they're actually broadcasting.

Hoffman was rude and obnoxious, but if she'd said the same thing in a private e-mail, or a newsletter to her fans, it wouldn't have been exceptional. I guess she didn't realize that Twitter isn't just a newsletter to her fans.

angelle said...

uh.... wow... not all that well thought through, huh?

Justus M. Bowman said...

Hmm, another reason to cool off before responding to criticism.

Dynila said...

Sometimes social networking is NOT your friend.

I like some of Hoffman's stuff. Does just saying,"some" instead of proclaiming undying adoration for her body of work mean I'm the next target? lol.

At the very least she should have taken the time to look up the answer to her own rhetorical question. Nothing makes you look like a pro like a web smackdown--both giving and getting.

The First Carol said...

I learned this lesson in business, never write an email when you are angry, or at least don't SEND it. A good night's sleep can do wonders for racing emotions.

Remember, kids (this is your e-mom speaking), you will be the first generation with an e-trail. You can't erase it all, e-tread carefully.

Janet said...

I can sympathize with the frustration with a reviewer who writes spoilers. But there is no justification for that kind of behaviour. She says in her apology that she thinks her reaction has been blown out of proportion.

Not.

Anonymous said...

There is such a thing as class. Anna Hoffman doesn't have it.

She should be ashamed. Really, I read the review and it wasn't awful.

spoild brat.

Buffra said...

Yeesh....

Completely unimpressed. And, while I've read some of her stuff and might someday read more, this does more to discourage me than the reviewer's mediocre review.

Juliana Stone said...

I'm not sure when authors are going to get, that when you open your mouth in public, in whatever forum, and behave badly, people notice, potential buyers of your books will notice.

Be smart. Be gracious, gawd when you get a bad review, have a glass of wine and get over it.

gringo said...

Wait. You mean that blogging while drunk can actually have an effect on my reputation as a writer?

Holy crap!

I'm in deep trouble here...

robp said...

If you don't respect a critic, wouldn't you want a negative critique from that person? I mean, this is someone who's been getting published since 1977. Did she miss the ad campaign for the first Ramones album, a full-page ad of both the extremely positive and extremely negative reviews? Choose your enemies wisely and they'll work as well for you as your friends.

And speaking of 1977 - Aimee, that is an absolutely fabulous avatar. Are you sure you're not Amii Stewart?

cindy said...

double yikes!

Michael Reynolds said...

Far be it from me to defend Hoffman -- and I'm sure she'd choose a different defender -- but creatives are sometimes weird people. Sometimes difficult people. There's a long, long history of literary feuds, many involving writers we all admire.

So everyone climb down off her back. She's no nuttier than a lot of writers. You want to meet normal people, hang out with accountants.

Emily Cross said...

i keep thinking of that saying:

Never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrell. You'll never win lol.

Lisa said...

Over the last couple of years I've seen three of these incidents (that I can recall) where authors who are upset about a review decide to publicly respond. I don't think it's possible to respond to a negative review in any fashion and come out looking better for it. I can't even imagine a scenario where a public response could ever make the author look good. Two words come to mind: Don't engage.

Whirlochre said...

I remember hearing a story — probably made up, but who cares — about a guy trapped behind enemy lines in WWII Germany.

Donald Pleasence has been captured, so this guy has to go looking for someone else to forge him some papers.

One night in a bar (it is made up, isn't it?...), he gets into an argument with some bloke and ends up beating him to death.

In the morning, when he sneaks down the stormtrooper-festooned street looking for a sign saying "Forged Papers Sold Here", he realises the bloke he bludgeoned to death was his passport to freedom. The Germans capture him (and probably turn into werewolves).

Anyhow, the moral is that you never know who you're going to need.

Ruth said...

That's...just stupid.

Ruth said...

(Hoffman's reaction, not Whirlochre's story, which was kinda funny. :)

Juliana Stone said...

Michael, you can still be creative and have some class.

Robin S. said...

Holy crap.

silentsgirl said...

As I said at the site, if you're going to put your work out in public, you have to don your big person pants and prepare for the fact that not everyone will love it. Gripe privately to your best friend/partner/pet if a bad review bugs you, but it is extremely unwise to go public with anything less than gracious acknowledgment that attention has been paid, if you feel you must say anything at all. Given how benign this "negative" review was, the ugliness of the reaction is even more glaring. Spoilers are a separate issue and I would have a problem with that, but I don't buy that this was Hoffman's issue.

I'm reminded of a negative review I wrote once, to which the author responded, publicly, that he wished I were dead. Responses such as this and the one mentioned in the article above don't sell books; they only cause readers to say "I don't think I want to give money to this person." Hoffman's a big enough "name" that she won't lose her house over this, but she will lose readers.

moonrat said...

So there's this YA author, AS King. Someone reviewed her on thebookbook, and the review was mostly positive, with some small "I wish the book..." kind of details, too.

AS King came on thebookbook and left a little note positively acknowledging the review. That was it, a one-line note. It's up here if you want to see:

http://thebookbook.blogspot.com/2009/04/s-kingthe-dust-of-100-dogs.html

I actually bumped into AS King at BEA (I hadn't read anything by her and knew nothing about her except this comment chain on thebookbook). I brought it up with her, saying I thought her reaction was great, and she said she does that for all her reviews, regardless of what they say. Because in the end, you inspired someone to go out and take the time to write something about your work--they thought about your book, and deserve thanks, even if they didn't think what you might have hoped they thought.

I think that attitude is great. It must take strength, but in the end, I don't think anyone expects (or maybe even wants) EVERYONE to love their book. So when your book gets into the hands of someone you maybe didn't intend to like it, thanking them for their time is a erally nice, cordial gesture.

Michael Reynolds said...

Oh my God, you're all being so boring. What is wrong with a lovely feud? It's interesting. It's fun. It's entertaining.

I wouldn't have gone as far as Hoffman, but this tug your forelock, please sir can I have some more attitude is sad. Someone takes a shot at you, you have a right to take a shot back. People who don't want a little push-back probably shouldn't be writing reviews.

And it won't cost Hoffman a single reader net. She got a lot of publicity, she pushed back against the suggestion that she was past her prime, and she reminded future reviewers that they aren't speaking from Mount Olympus.

robp said...

Michael,

So if I disagree with you and I have a national forum, you think it would be okay to post your email address and encourage people to send you negative comments?

Probably not that hard to get your email if that's really what you want.

It's not a question of disagreement or fun feuds. Writers should have an avenue for defending themselves, but critics have to be allowed to criticize.

In this instance it's the writer who's put herself on Mount Olympus. All the critic did was critique. If you have evidence to the contrary, please offer it.

Andromeda Romano-Lax said...

Roberta Silman, if you're reading this: Please feel free to review anything I've written. I will accept fawning reviews, mixed reviews, and even negative reviews, particularly if they are interesting and you spell at least some of my characters' names correctly. There is nothing critical you can say or write, Roberta, that I have not already said or thought myself. Isn't a writer always her own worst critic?

P.S. In all seriousness, we need every reviewer and every reader who respects us enough to read us.