Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Being Switzerland: Bad Behavior of Book Bloggers vs Authors

Okay, I don't know how people will take this blog, authors or bloggers, but I'm taking the chance in writing it anyway.

You know I'm an author, right? Okay, well, I don't know if you know I'm also a Vine reviewer for Amazon. In fact, I was a Vine reviewer before I was published. I've also blogged and vlogged reviews on blogger and YouTube. That's how I get to be Switzerland. I have been on both sides of the coin. I have given reviews and had the author not be so happy with me. I have received reviews which I thought were a little harsh.

Disclaimer: I believe there is a difference between receiving a low review for your work that is an honest and thought out critique versus receiving a review that is just plain cruel and mean spirited.

Before I get into this discussion, I'm going to say, I love authors, I love book bloggers. There are a few bad apples among us, as in every other walk of life and they can give a bad name to the rest. Disgruntled self pubbed writers that can't handle bad reviews. Carpetbagger troll bloggers that bully authors. There is bad behavior on both sides.

I am okay with bad reviews on my books. Even though I don't like them, the harsh and mean spirited reviews make me laugh now. When I was first published the very first bad review I got stung. Plus, I did think it was kind of mean spirited. I'm over it. I'm over reviews. Yes, I am probably one of the few that still read their bad reviews. Why? Because there may be some validity in them and it will make me a better writer. It will help my skin become even thicker. And if I find no merit in it, it usually gives me a good laugh.

Last thing, I'm not going to use names. The badly behaved have received enough attention and the innocent victims need no more.

Okay, this is actually lastly, as I was writing this, I realized how long it was taking and how long a post it was, so dividing in two. Today, bloggers. Thursday will be authors. 


  • Let's start with this term carpetbagging. This is when a reviewer will go to Goodreads and one star a bounty of books in a day. These are authors they feel are Badly Behaving Authors (BBA) And when I say a bounty, I mean about 500.  I'll note, carpetbagging with 5 star reviews isn't good behavior either.
  • Gang mentality. Many times if book bloggers feel an author has behaved badly, they will form a gang to harass and carpetbag the author. Some of them have said it's not bullying. I think it is. It has gone to the point in which authors have quit or taken their accounts off of Goodreads, and these gangs are proud and happy with the results. Shame on them.
  •  I read a comment on a site about reviews that basically said that some people will hate you on a personal level for writing a book they hate and you can't control or stop it so writers should just accept it. Um, I can't say I agree with this. If a reviewer can't separate the book from the person, perhaps they are disturbed on some level and book reviewing isn't for them. 
  •  This relates to the above. Dissing the writer for anything except the writing and/or getting personal. Or as some call it, giving a non-review. One author who quit writing because of bullying was given a review basically saying she didn't deserve to breathe the same air as the blogger, much less be born. 
    •  Another blogger on Goodreads had a review hidden because (and was told so very eloquently) the review she gave was of the author and not the book itself.
    • I'll add this same reviewer subsequently had many book reviews removed from Goodreads for the same reason, as well as shelves named things such as "bratty authors to avoid" and "authors who gave themselves 5 stars" The reviewer was warned to cease and desist from similar behavior in the future.
    • Yet another Goodreads reviewer put a book she hadn't even read on 3 trashy shelves, one simply titled "Shit" because someone (the author insists it wasn't him) spammed her for a review. If that wasn't bad enough, her followers followed suit, and then when the author asked that she remove it (yeah, I know, but really, is that fair?) she bashed him as well for "stalking" her, even though she admitted he was probably just looking at his own book on GR when he came upon her shelves. And I am sorry, this one is just a bitch. This guy even offered to sent her the book to read and then be happy if she chose to keep it on her "Shit list."
  • Reviewers that give 1 star without reading a book. If you don't read the book, don't review it. I'm not talking about it being so horrible in your opinion you can't finish it, but judging it on anything but the quality of the product, say not liking the description, or the cover or because the genre is overdone, or the author, etc etc...not fair.
  • I'm also not really a fan of the 1 star rating, no review. Meaning, giving a book 1 star but not saying why. However,  I have been guilty of that myself, so I can't be too critical of it.
I took a break from this again. I can't write any more. Not today. The research I've done to write this is making me want to barf. And believe me, not just because of the bloggers, it's authors too. There are just mean, vile people in the world. Not a lot, but some. 

As a Vine reviewer, blogger, vlogger, here is my only experience with an author that I thought was inappropriate: I read a book. I found it actually pretty intriguing until the very end. The end left me hollow. It felt rushed and like a cop out, as if the author just wanted to get the book over with, and I hated it. That said, I touted how I thought the writer was talented, how I enjoyed most of the book but found some flaws, and I still gave him 3 stars.

The author commented on my review on Amazon (which is no longer there along with a couple other of my very earlier reviews for what reasons I'm not sure). He was displeased. I did not engage back.

I had also vlogged the review and received a response, not from the author, but from someone else. He basically called my review a satire of critics and said I was the worse kind of reviewer for the type of book it was, which was based on the blog of a female young adult. Um...I'm female, I was a young adult, I'm a blogger, er...the author is a middle aged man. Wasn't really understanding that. The commenter even commented on the angles I used in my video. Er. So what who cares?

I clicked on his name and went to his YouTube page and could easily see he was connected with the author, though I didn't know how (was and am still hoping it wasn't the author using a fake name). I thanked him for watching the review and nicely, again, explained that I thought the author was clearly talented and why I disliked the ending.

So as review bloggers, when their friends engage with us, we don't have to turn thug and go full on bitch on them. We can still read their plights and be respectful. If an author engages, I suppose it would be a case to case basis. If they were polite, I would be polite back. If they were rude, I'd simply ignore them. If you engage in rudeness with more rudeness, you're sure to cause a flame war.

I don't do as many book reviews for Amazon as I used to for a few reasons.
  1. I don't have as much time as I once did and it takes me awhile to read a book and get a review out so I'd rather review other kinds of products.
  2.  If I do read a book for review, it's mostly non-fiction, business, cookbook, or something along those lines. Either that or it has to be a book I REALLY want to read, such as I picked up Andrew Smith's Grasshopper Jungle off Vine earlier this year.
  3. Yes, retaliation is a real thing and now that I'm published, I don't need a disgruntled writer ganging up on me (which I will talk about on Thursday's blog because it's happened to bloggers before and can get UGLY).
When I do review fiction, I will rarely review a book I don't deem worthy of 3 + stars.  I know what it feels like to be on the other side of that. Like I said, they don't bother me anymore, but many authors have not developed a thick skin and cannot take it.

However if I do give low stars, even 3 because authors still get bent out of shape about those as I've shown above, I try to be respectful as possible. I think bloggers who think it's funny to trash a book in a cruel or extremely sarcastic way are just mean. Are they wrong? No. It's their prerogative to handle their reviews in that way. But no matter how much I hate a book, I always try to find something redeeming in it, always try to think of someone who might enjoy the book and try to make it as painless as I can for the author.

I really don't understand how someone feels good about trashing someone, going out of their way to embarrass them and at times causing an all out flame war. It's just a book. We are people. Be nice. Both sides should get over it and move on.

Tomorrow: Announcing the winner of the Dissected ginormous price pack.
Thursday: Authors behaving badly from trashing to stalking to physically attacking book reviewers. Bad author!

PS. Don't forget Dissected is free for Kindle tomorrow, 11.12.14.


  1. It really is amazing to me how mean people can get with reviews. I got one of these one-star, no review things on Goodreads when I hadn't even sold any books (just had a few I'd personally given, and not to that woman)--I looked and she had maybe 20 reviews, all posted same day and all but one with only one star. What IS that?

    I blogged a bit ago on 'everyone behaving badly' about this battle and I'm totally with you. I try to just not engage, as I've gotten the message the author isn't welcome in the review discussion.

  2. I had a one star review before my book was published too and I actually did write him and asked why he reviewed the book before it had even been release. I mean, not even arcs were out. He said it was a mistake and took it down. I'm not sure I would do that again. That was the first time go round. But it worked out in that case.


My Dad. He's awesome.

John Messina, Personal Injury Attorney

Total Pageviews