Reviews gone sour

Looks like the full moon came late this month. Seems that a bit of madness has hit the internet over authors reacting to reviews. A quick scan of the blogosphere in recent days shows that a US author/editor has been hit with a death threat over writing a pretty tame review. Ticonderoga Online’s latest incarnation Ticon4 has also had some authors get uppity about their reviews, one of whom is a successful paranormal fiction author blowing one sentence out of proportion.

From my experiences as a reviewer (with HorrorScope and elsewhere), I can sympathise with the reviewers. With the arts such a magnet for temperamental people and with writing, especially, a lonely profession, the whole attack-the-reviewer thing appears to be more visible (another yay for the internet!). It may always have been this prevalent, but it’s certainly more visible these days.

There are good reviews, there are bad reviews, and there are reviews somewhere in the middle. Reviews vary, and in my opinion, most of the Australian SF reviews could be more polished and insightful, but that’s not really the point. Published writers create work for the public domain, for better or worse. Your readers will praise or criticise, and as I’ve discovered from reading negative reviews of work I’ve loved or when selecting awards shortlists and disagreeing quite wildly with fellow judges, people’s opinions just can’t be fathomed, at times. It’s what makes life interesting.

But here’s the thing, and writers take note: if you allow your personal neuroses to spill out into a hissy fit/flame war against a reviewer, then editors will not want to work with you and reviewers will no longer wish to review your work. Editors and reviewers have long memories. Writers might think, “fuck ’em, it’s just one editor/market” but it’s more than that. Editors talk, editors remember. Editors have friends and colleagues and they all talk.

Authors exist on the currency of reputation. Mention or link to reviews, both good and bad, if you like, but keep your inner fucktard in check. You lose currency big-time if you don’t. Case in point: it’s interesting to note the opportunities drying up for some of the more vocal/head-fucked authors going around. Give ’em enough rope…
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