Saturday, February 8, 2014

Thick Skin

I have been mulling over this blog post for several years now. A review of a review (yes, such a thing exists) has prompted me to finally put my thoughts into words. I am sorry that it's so long. Anyone who knows me, knows I can't say anything quickly. =)
Authors are a group of people that I love working for. They are amazing, talented, wonderful people. But every once in a while an author comes along that makes me grit my teeth and roll my eyes. People like these tend to be the apple that spoils things for the whole bunch.
When I first started reviewing I received an email from an author that just warmed my heart. She has agreed to let me share a bit with you.
There is no possible way I can adequately express my thanks and appreciation for your time and attentions to my novel.  I can tell you for certain that you are a dream reader for any author! Not only in light of your stellar review, but your super prompt reading and then sharing your thoughts at lightening speed -- well, no question, you're positively awesome!!  You must know that I am both humbled and thrilled by your review and thank you, thank you for taking the time and trouble to put it out there. 

I am not a writer. And yet this lady was so sweet and gracious about my first fumbling attempts to write about her book. It was a great book, I certainly didn't lie. But my writing such as it is now, was even more feeble then. SHE was a dream to work with. I have since worked with other authors who I would love, love, love to meet. If they are as nice in person as they are in print then I know I'd love to be friends with them. I might have even gotten a bit giddy to get a friend request from them. =)
But there have been a couple of bad apples and this is my frustration now. I will be very careful to make sure that their names are not revealed. But I have to vent my frustrations. And lucky you, you get to hear about them. =)
 I received some books a while back from an author. She was very difficult from the very beginning. I'd been promised a hard copy by the publicist. And yet weeks later, no book. Finally the author emailed me with a request to send an ebook. I replied "no thank you" to which I never received a response. Another week goes by and I get a message on my phone. She'd gotten my phone number from the publicist and had called to try to persuade me to take an ebook. Apparently part of her contract was she be the one to mail the books to reviewers. And she didn't want to swing for the postage. I told her my kindle was not working properly and I wanted my hard copy. She reluctantly agreed to send the book. She ended up sending 2 books, one of which I did not request from the publicist. It was THIS book that I wrote the review for.
I hated the book, and felt it to be poorly written. But I know that an author puts their heart and soul into a book and I knew several of my reading friends would overlook the issues I had and might even enjoy it. So I very carefully wrote the review and gave it 3 stars. Here is the review. The only changes (italicized) are made so as to make the book anonymous.
The story jumps right in and gives the reader a view into their personalities. But after arriving at the location it seems to lag a bit. She has a forceful personality that might annoy some readers. Towards the middle/end of the story it picks up and gives some conflict and drama. The story ends with all of the loose ends neatly tied up. I appreciated the Christian way that several of the issues in the book were handled. While probably not my favorite style of writing, I can definitely see why this story will appeal to Christian fiction readers.
Here is the email that she sent me.

Thanks for your review of *, but what I'd like you to consider is that I personally pay for the books I send to readers (unlike the books published by the big publishers), I tried to e-mail you and then spoke with you personally on the phone. While I can certainly understand not everyone will like my characters and my stories, I'm disappointed and very hurt not to mention feel slapped in the face. Because this is a case where I personally invested myself in it, I wish you simply would not have reviewed it. I wish you the best, but feel free not to read or review any more of my books. 

  When I didn't respond (I was floored since I thought I'd done a decent job of stating my opinion without being mean), she sent this email.

 You should consider removing your reviews for *. I won't write to you again, and believe me, I've never had to write to a reader like this. But it's so upsetting and unbelievable to me that you soundly trashed one of them. If you didn't like it, then simply don't review it. I won't bother you again, and I'm sorry you obviously feel I wasted your time. In spite of it all, I wish you the best and thanks for reading Christian fiction.

I do wish you God's richest blessings but please prayerfully consider my request. It HURTS small published authors such as myself -- professionally and personally -- to have such low-rated reviews, and especially in this particular case because of the reasons previously stated.  

 I wasn't sure how to respond. I asked several friends of mine, including some authors and they all felt I was dealing with a crazy author and to just leave everything as it was. About a month later I get this comment on my review.

 this person did not have to trash the authors book, she could of been nicer in her veview, i hope its taken down 
This person used their real name and it took me about 10 seconds to trace them back to the author. Ironically enough, it was an another author who was friends with this particular author. Ugh! What is wrong with these people? Can't you take constructive criticism? The book was, honestly, very poorly written. I've read everything the author wrote and she just doesn't have the gift. I didn't want to hurt her feelings, but in reality I felt the book deserved a 2 star at best.
Fast forward to tonight. Amazon shoots me an email every time someone comments on my reviews. They also let me know if I get a "helpful" or "not helpful" vote on my review. I received two emails. Both of them say the EXACT same thing. One is by a person with the name of Jane Eyre. The other is the author. I go to Amazon and see the comment by Jane. The author one has been deleted. Clearly the author is writing under another name to slam reviews on her book. I then receive an email that these two people have have given my review "non helpful" votes. Seriously lady?!
Her book was a * self-help book. It was clear by her writing that she felt her way of doing things was the one and only way. The people who did not follow her plan were stupid and unfit to be *. I disagreed with quite a few things she said, but was able to find several redeeming thoughts as well. So I wrote the review accordingly. I know of several people that would agree wholeheartedly with what she wrote, so I couldn't diss the book. It wasn't the writing style, it was the topic that I didn't like. So I gave the book 4 stars and moved on. The author, in an argumentative tone, wrote a snarky review of my review. She basically said my review was worthless unless I said exactly what I disagreed with. Maybe she's right. But why hide that it was the author? Why give me 2 negative votes? It's clearly the same person, so that was cheating in my book. I'll be honest - I thought long and hard about saying why I disagreed with the book. But the tone of the book made it very clear that the author was the type to start an argument with anyone who didn't agree with her and I thought to hold off such childishness by not being specific. Turns out I was right about the argumentative, but my methods didn't work. 

Despite the ugliness of some people, I feel like I can't leave you with a bad taste in your mouth. So here is some more from another special author.
I  have the awesome privilege of being on her launch team. This was a post she wrote a couple of weeks ago. Such a beautiful person, inside and out!
I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. ~Philippians 1:3-6 

For my launch teamers this Sunday - I hope you know how much I appreciate each and every one of you! I know we're not sharing the Gospel in the sense that Paul is talking about in these verses, but I do believe we are ministering together. My prayer is that as a team, we can reach out to readers who are hurting and broken, and point them to the only One who can bring healing and wholeness! Love to you all!

So in conclusion - even though I have had some negative issues with authors and am still unsure how to proceed when they act juvenile and childish, I love my authors. They provide me entertainment, different views of the world, vacations from reality, inspiration to do/be better, and the chance to meet amazing people. 
Thank you authors! You guys are the best!

No comments: