I found an interesting piece regarding an over the top reaction to an online book review at the excellent Killed In Cars blog .
Killed in Cars is dedicated to independent / experimental music but the author rightly saw the issue of negative reviews as being one that is equally applicable to music reviewers.
As an unpaid writer for Whisperin’ & Hollerin’, I have more than once been tempted to put a gloss on a CD rather than posting a more scathing write-up. However, on reflection, I decided it would be misleading to give a positive report on something I just didn’t like.
What I try to do is to be as constructive as possible when my opinion is not favourable and explain my reasons clearly and honestly.
Any intelligent reader should know that opinions are entirely relative and one man’s future of rock and roll is another’s derivative crap.
To date, I’ve only had one artist who took exception to what he saw as a pompous and needlessly sarcastic piece.
In a brief e-mail exchange I reaffirmed my opinion and sought to clarify my point of view. In the end, we agreed to differ and he was quite civilised about it.
The same dignity is not shared by now infamous Jacqueline Howett who responded in rabid style to a less than glowing review on Big Al’s Books and Pals to her novel The Greek Seaman.
Big Al describes himself as “an avid reader for more decades than he wants to admit” and he set up his blog to cover the surge of independent (“indie”) authors available for e-readers, primarily Amazon’s Kindle, but also the Nook from Barnes and Noble.
You can read his review and the storm that followed here.
Ironically, the review he submitted is by no means entirely negative. The main criticism was the sloppy grammar, exemplified in two sample sentences :
- “She carried her stocky build carefully back down the stairs.”
- “Don and Katy watched hypnotically Gino place more coffees out at another table with supreme balance.”
Revealingly, Howett fails to see the problem with the wording here and when others come to the defence of Big Al she tells them to ‘fuck off’ and mind their own business. Not exactly a charm offensive.
This extended exchange has gone viral as you can see the related links below.
The whole sorry affair prompted Big Al to make a well reasoned statement about negative reviews in general.
Ultimately, it is a bit of storm in a tea-cup, but a likely consequence is that the book in question will doubtless gain more readers than it deserves. Howett acknowledges as much herself when she posted the comment “ Amazing actually, as I am getting lots of sales suddenly. …so thanks for your promotions”.
I, for one , will not be ordering a copy!!
- Self-Published Author Can’t Handle A Bad Review (blogs.forbes.com)
- The e-book that launched a thousand flame wars (Salon.com)
- An Author’s Meltdown (morbium.wordpress.com)
- The Jacqueline Howett Guide to Becoming a Better Buzzard (unsanityfiles.wordpress.com)
- What Not To Do If You’re An Author (presurfer.blogspot.com)
- How NOT to React to a Bad Review (selfpubauthors.wordpress.com)
- How not to handle bad reviews (guardian.co.uk)