First of all, I believe nobody is entitled to call someone more or less entitled to express their opinions and thoughts on anything. We, as human beings, tend to think in absolutes and set our personal opinions as these immovable rules. Everyone has the same right to comment on everything, as long as they behave like sensible adults.
I was truly disappointed to see all sorts of authors expressing such narrow-minded opinions as “[book bloggers] their opinion is too public, they shouldn’t be expressing their thoughts because they affect the books” and such. I will also add these reactions seem to sprout if someone has a case of less then raving fangirlism about that author’s book. Somehow, positive opinions are always reviews probably, while less then enchanted opinions aren’t and are awful and should be banned. That’s just appalling thinking, sorry. Grow up.
Writing a book is freaking hard work – trust me, I know, I’m doing it too. Taking the time to be rejected for months, maybe for hundreds of times before an agent or publisher says “Hmmm, this is cool, let’s give it a try!” is freaking hard and sort of heartbreaking – again, believe me, I know, I’m going through it too. Working to publish it on your own, coordinating all the stuff by yourself and being your entire publishing team in one person is freaking hard as well – I know that too. But remember why you’re going through all this aggravation – you want your work to reach the public. That’s your goal.
If after all these obstacles and trials you haven’t developed the infamous thick skin, you seriously need to develop it before your book sees the light of day. Because agents and publishers will give your work a thumbs down for whatever reason but be gracious about it – they get paid to work with you and others like you, they take the time to do the right thing by you most often then not even if they’re passing on your project – but readers, and book bloggers for that matter, don’t have to, don’t get paid to, and sometimes don’t even care about you. They just wanna spend their $ on something that entertains them, and through your blurb and cover and everything else you’re saying “Pick me, pick my book, I guarantee it will entertain!” – some get pretty crabby when that proves to have been false advertising for them. They’ll feel somewhat cheated, sort of disappointed. They’ll express that opinion as their character dictates them to.
I think we should all be gracious of course, book bloggers / reviewers, all readers alike, just because saying something cultivated such as “This book sucks!”, “This just blows!” or “Feed it to the fire, it’s so bad even the flames might run screaming though…” is ridiculous and sort of rude, but that’s just my own education and sensible attitude, others say much worse about books, people, whatever. I’m not a fan of snarky comments meant to make the one commenting the star either, the star in this show should always be the book. You heard me, authors, the star should be the book, not you or your feelings either. If we all keep our eyes on the ball – book, in our case – I think a lot of the drama would simply go away.
I have personally seen writer’s reactions to the extent of not agreeing with my thoughts or energetically opposing them – but that opinion was not expressed in a rude way by any means. I actually like to see reactions to my thoughts, I like to debate, and I like to do it in a civil tone and with proper manners through and through. Debate is healthy, it keeps the mind alert. That shouldn’t turn into bickering though, that keeps nothing alert, lol. It brings the sleep of the mind, in fact.
I have also seen a writer comment on their own book on Goodreads saying “This is a fabulous book, with this and that and that other, amazing work!” and giving themselves a 5 stars rating too – this, guys, comes off as desperate and seriously, soundly, thoroughly lame. It’s yuch factor, you don’t want to be yuch factor in the public eye, I should hope. Don’t do it. It’s even lamer then bickering with someone over the fact they didn’t like your book. Seriously lame. You have the book blurb area to make your book look sparkly to potential readers, do it there and there only. Don’t sing your praises, I just find that disturbing.
The moment you do something meant for the public you assume the public will a – learn about it, b – have an opinion about it and c – have a reaction to it. If you’re anything but a stardazed 5 year old, you know some people might like your stuff, many might not, or vice versa. Regardless of anyone’s reaction, the more public their thoughts can become the more exposure your book gets, even when the opinion expressed is not favorable. Of course, in a perfect world everyone loves whatever sprouts from your mind and all your stuff does fabulous. When you feel you’ve reached that perfect world, let me know – you’re the only one that’ll be there anyways, so you’ll have to let us all know the new zip code. Anyways.
Readers have the basic right to express their thoughts about merchandise marketed to them. They can do so through their connections, through online platforms or social networks, they can do a blog about it and they have the basic human right to express themselves freely. So do the authors. This, in my opinion, should by no means become a contest of who’s more entitled to have an opinion and express it and where – everyone has the same basic rights and liberties.
We all share the absolute responsibility to be rational and reasonable, though. We all need to remember basic manners and rules of proper debate, and not take the discussions into the gutter. If you can’t keep out of the gutter anyways, I for one am totally not interested in your thoughts, or books for that matter.
So, regardless of the tone of a review, I believe an author has the same right as the reviewer to have and express an opinion. If the review was mean and petty, I believe the best thing you can do as an author is to ignore it unless you know for sure you can be gracious in your reply. If the review contained thought out points and pertinent suggestions or observations, but the tone of the reviewer is mean because that’s just how they are, then say thanks. Make a positive out of it by showing real character and maturity.
Trust me, if you can’t be a lady or a gentleman, then you’re better off not making an appearance. The worst thing you can do is be a b!tch or an a$$hole. I don’t want to read anything written by one, be it opinion or books. You know what happens to the books of every single author I’ve read an interview with or comment by that’s mean, intolerant, rude? I don’t ever read their books, not even if I’d bought them already and I was itching to read them just a day before. This is not fair, your work shouldn’t be dependent on your character…alas, it just might be. So as much as you can, as soon as you become a public figure (and a writer is one, in case you’re wondering) you want to give off the impression of having some admirable character. Better yet, you could actually have it, but if you don’t, you want to leave people the impression you do.
Don’t get me wrong, a reviewer, book blogger or whatever you wanna call us, needs to give the same measure of character. Those that don’t aren’t on my reading list, that’s for sure. That point stands for bloggers and authors alike.
So if someone read your work, took it seriously and expressed some thoughts about it, I think it would be nice of you to react to that. It could be a comment, a quick Twitter RT or a message (got a couple of those and I loved the sentiment!), a Facebook mention, whatever – you have so many options nowadays. If you feel the reviewer didn’t get something or is unjust, or if they made a great point or said a beautiful thing, they took the time to read your book, then they took the time to write a post about it, probably mentioned it on their Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or many other networks – they did you a favor, small or huge as the case may be. They brought your title in the attention of other people that may or may not have had the knowledge or impulse to give it a try before that mention. If you have the time and the inclination to be gracious, say thanks, make a point, leave the readers of that blogger with a good impression. It’s gonna work wonders for you in the long run, that’s my honest opinion.