WWIII: Reviewers VS Authors, Part One

The time has come. I can stay silent no longer.

In April of this year, I first posted my most popular rant to date, HOW NOT TO PISS OFF A BOOK BLOGGER, to my author site. At the time, I had been a book blogger/reviewer for at least eight months and had experienced quite a few things that I thought were unacceptable when it came to authors and reviews. It was a fun, harsh, no-holds-barred rant that I wrote with the purpose of pissing off as many people as possible. Because I knew that the ones who were the most offended by my rant were probably the violators of the things I was ranting about.

This post was later syndicated right here on the Masquerade Crew site on August 19, 2013.

And that's when the fun began.

An author contacted me via email expressing their unhappiness with my rant and the Masquerade Crew in general. Today, I will post our first email exchange. The author's quotes are in blue. My email response, in its ENTIRETY, is in red.

(AUGUST 23, 2013)

The original email has been deleted at the request of the author, but below we have posted a paraphrased summary so that we can defend ourselves against this author's accusations which were made public recently. Posting the email was not intended to hurt the author, but we just felt the author's words should be used to convey their message. They have made many false accusations of us in their private emails that we wanted to bring to light, however, it has been removed and we are moving forward.

Okay. So basically, the author tried to dress up the email by calling us "wonderful". Yeah, whatevs.

The author said my rant was a real "take to task" of authors who spoke up about reviews. Immediately, they go into bullying and give me an example of the Lauren Howard Goodreads situation, where she stopped publication of her book because she asked a question about reviews being rated before they were published. Apparently, other Goodreads users went off on her. They don't name the author in their email, but I figured it out with help from Mark.

They go on to express their dismay at my rant being written by an author. (Really? An author? The nerve! Oh, wait. Half the Crew members are authors.) They say authors catch enough grief from bloggers/reviewers, such as the Masquerade Crew according to their accusations, and that we all think we're the right hand of God.

My bad. I thought I was just a mortal who wrote books, read books, and blogged about them. Shows how much I know!

They say one reviewer on Goodreads labeled their book as a menage and they don't write menages. Never have. I'm sure they took that reviewer to task, whatever the hell that means. They also see nothing wrong with correcting reviewers and clarifying things for reviewers, even when they weren't asked to. Basically, unsolicited.

Then the lecture begins. I am told that the Crew needs to "pay more attention to what is happening on Goodreads and Amazon before authors on your staff post scathing posts about the rudeness of authors."

The author assumes that we're just over here in freaking la-la land and we don't know anything because they hadn't told us yet. We are well aware of what happens on Goodreads. I'm on there several times a day, but I neither participate in or condone the bullying tactics that take place on there.

Then....now this is where it gets good, my fellow bloggers...they say that "Many bloggers don't take reviewing seriously. They are trolls who surf Amazon and Goodreads and practically faint over a comment from an author."

WHAT??? I don't know about you guys, but I love what I do, and I take it quite seriously. And last time I looked in the mirror I wasn't a troll. I was actually kind of cute, vanity aside, of course.

Then the author suggests that we take off our rose-colored glasses (which I would NEVER wear, mind you) because there are bloggers out there acting up. I agree with this. Some of you are out of control, but my rant had nothing to do with that. Hence, why I still don't understand why this author even emailed me. There are just as many authors who are out of control.

I have a reviewer friend, Carrie at The Mad Reviewer, who was told to kill herself by an author after she turned down his review request. I saw the email exchange and he indeed told her to take her own life.

So if bloggers AND authors are both behaving badly, why is this author throwing such a hissy fit?

MY RESPONSE (the entire email I sent)

DeeJay here, aka Diantha Jones, author of the article you're talking about. 

As I state at the very beginning of the post, I am an author and an avid blogger, so I'm not speaking on anything that I haven't dealt with.

Your example is bullying at its worst. I never said, not once, to let bloggers bully you. I'm talking about VALID reviews, and I think most people understand that without me having to say it. If the review is valid and you don't like it, so what. TOUGH. But if bloggers are completely unjustified in giving a negative rating, such as in your example, then go right ahead and stand up for yourself. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that. Bloggers are NOT allowed to be bullies either.

However, the name of the rant was "How Not to Piss Off a BOOK BLOGGER". This was from a book blogger's (which I am) point of view, not an author's. It's quite obvious to me that you didn't continue on with the series, because part two posted here: http://www.diantha-jones.com/2013/08/me-monday-rant-37how-not-to-piss-off.html (and also linked to from part one on the Crew site), clearly states that part three will be from the author's point of view. I say, that there are things that I've seen the blogger's do as well that needs to be discussed but I am saving it for the next rant. So have no fears, authors will get their chance to rejoice.

I spend many hours a day online, so I am quite aware of what happens on Goodreads and Amazon. I've read the articles and horror stories. So please do not believe that I am uninformed, or as you said, wearing "rose-colored glasses". 

The situations I've written about in my post are true and have happened many times. Those are the authors that this is targeted towards. If you are not one of these authors, then I would think that you wouldn't be offended. If there weren't authors out here behaving this way, I wouldn't rant about it. Unfortunately, that's not the case. 

I still believe the best policy is to pick your battles and not try to go to war over every negative review. Like I said before, your example is the exception, but I've had authors ask me and several other bloggers I've talked with, to change three star ratings or to sound "less harsh" in our reviews. I am a fair reviewer who writes pretty damn good reviews. I will never entertain such nonsense. My reviews stand as they are written and most bloggers feel the way I do. Sure, there are some asshole bloggers out there who abuse the privilege of reviewing authors' work. But their "RANT" time is coming, believe that.

I do appreciate your email. Don't get me wrong. This is just the kind of discussion I was setting out to ignite. If you don't mind, I'd like to post your email and mine to the Crew site and start up even further discussion on the topic. Maybe if enough of us talk about it, maybe it will be less of a problem from both sides.


First, I'll have you know that NOT ONCE did I ever say in my rant that it was okay to bully authors. NOT ONCE. And it's never okay to bully anyone. What I DO say is that reviewers will defend their LEGITIMATE reviews and defend one another if it comes to that, because book bloggers are a community, we have each other's backs, and we work for FREE. That affords us a few liberties (such as denying a request to change a review or even give a review), whether you like it or not. You can ask, but if you're turned down, MOVE ON. It's really not even worth the battle for one review.

Secondly, I would like to say AGAIN that I don't condone "bullying" at all. People shouldn't get attacked simply for asking a question as the author in the example. But I don't know all the details of the exchange between the author and the "reviewers" in question. Perception is everything in this case and I've heard that it's possible shots were fired from both sides, resulting in the author pulling her book. But those comments and exchanges are no longer accessible, so who's to say for sure.

It is also a well-known fact that Goodreads users often rate books before they're released to express their excitement or anticipation about a book. A lot of traditionally published books are rated before they are released (on Goodreads). Indies are no exception. But now with GR's new rulebook being rolled out, who knows if this will even stand anymore. Probably not.

On the flipside, Goodreads' new policy should appease the author who emailed me. If not, then they never wanted a solution to begin with. They just wanted to whine and complain and no resolution will ever satisfy them.

Another point I didn't make in my responding email was this: If you had 2,000 reviews and 1,000 of those had, as you call it, "errors", would you approach all 1,000 reviewers and ask them to correct their errors? If the answer is YES, then the problem is YOU, honey. If you have enough time to go around chasing down and HOUNDING reviewers, then I would more likely trust the negative reviews being written about your work. You're obviously spending more time getting all defensive and arguing with reviewers, that I can't see how you have any time for writing and perfecting your craft. Just a thought.

Bottomline? I think the author simply didn't like being called out by my rant because they are a violator of the things I ranted about. That's why they sent the email. That's my take on it, at least. And I wonder, if this is the type of email or lecturing correspondence that other reviewers/bloggers are receiving, then no wonder they're going into attack mode.

I received FIVE more emails such as this one, two of which I chose not to respond to. Each one, I felt, was an attempt to FORCE me and the Crew to choose sides, which we NEVER WILL. The Masquerade Crew is a book blog, comprised of bloggers/reviewers, half of which are AUTHORS. So, how could we possibly be against authors when half of us are authors? Makes no sense, right? This is a point I try to stress in the next email exchange, but it doesn't quite seem to get through.

But I'll save that for part two.

What are your opinions so far?

DISCLAIMER: I'd ask that the author referenced in this post, refrain from commenting unless they are willing to own up to their emails and be named publicly. Any comments made in reference to this post, or any posts linked to from this post, will be taken as permission to reveal the identity of the author. If you do not wish for this to happen, do not comment. Thanks.