Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Some Writers Need a Time Out

Recently, the blogosphere has been abuzz with the antics of a self-published writer who had a very public, very vicious meltdown on a reviewer's site over what she deemed to be a less-than-satisfactory review.

The crazy thing is that the review wasn't really bad! Yes, the reviewer pointed out her grammatical and spelling errors, but he said he liked her story, which to me is the most important thing.

I'm the first to admit to losing my temper from time to time. It happens to all of us. We're all human, we all have responsibilities that weigh on our shoulders, and periodically something happens that causes a meltdown. Maybe it was the guy who cut you off on the freeway. Maybe it was rude check-out clerk who slammed your eggs into the bag and broke half-a-dozen. Maybe it was a relative who changed his address to your living room sofa. Or maybe it was someone who wrote a less-than-stellar review of your book. Sometimes shit happens, and when it happens on our last nerve, we break down.

The thing is, when I reach this point I make sure I'm behind closed doors before I give vent to my anger. I scream at the laptop (please, tell me there isn't a Laptop Humane Society out there somewhere taking notes), and mumble strings of curses that could wilt steel, and afterward settle into a nice, comfy blue funk. That's when I initiate my support system, namely the hubs, who stoically lets me dump my writer-crap all over him, then calmly tells me why I shouldn't let things like this get to me.

Maybe this writer doesn't have a support system. Maybe she was never taught how to remain gracious in the face of adversity. Maybe she never learned how to behave like a professional.

Maybe she just needs better meds.

In any case, publicly vilifying a reviewer because they didn't fawn over your book is no excuse to go weapons hot on the reviewer's site. Reading what she wrote, I could practically hear her teeth gnashing. Her reaction was so middle-school, I wanted to send her a report card. Oh yeah, by the failed. Summer school for you, hon.

Some folks say - me, included - that the entire thing was too over-the-top to be real, that it had to be calculated, staged by the author to achieve exactly what she wanted. Publicity. Well, she succeeded there - the whole mess went viral. I still don't believe she accomplished anything except to put the kibosh on any career under her current pen name.

What the writer did accomplish was to focus everyone's attention on just how horrible her writing skills are (her responses were littered with errors and terrible grammar, much as her book was reported to be), and blemish the entire self-publishing world in one fell stroke. Do you think anyone's going to remember her name six months from now? Hell, no. What they will remember was that she was self-published.

Even if a New York publisher were to put her under contract (which I highly doubt), it would be a one-book-wonder. People might buy it just to see if it's as bad as everyone said, but no one would spend their hard earned money on a second book.

There's a lesson to be learned here, folks. What Mama used to say is true - if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all.

Scream at the laptop. It's strong. It can take it.


  1. Attention Mrs. Kelly. This is the laptop humane society. You are wrong to scream at your laptop. it did nothing to you. haha

    The writer in question lost it and will forever go down in flames. Even I couldn't spin that to a win.

  2. Its a shame she reacted that way. Yep, a most likely promising career in shambles!