I think we bloggers all worry about this situation. Some don’t mind. Or others believe criticism from authors is a right of passage. I haven’t hit that mark yet. And I don’t know when it’ll occur or what I’ll do. But one incident I saw on Twitter simply hit a nerve with me.
Because of my journalism education, I’ve witnessed and read truly horrible things online. But I’ve mainly felt comfortable in the book community. Yes, I stay away from certain fandoms and readers who love to rip them apart. I don’t see the point. Nor do I involve myself in that kind of negativity or obsessiveness. But I never expected to see an author of colour attack two bloggers who gave a low-rating review. I won’t name names since I promised Satou and Santiago from Inkish Kingdoms. But the way the author handled the situation didn’t sit right with me.
So how do we confront authors who criticize our reviews and possibly even attack us directly or indirectly? Do we address the issue or the author? Or does ignoring the problem help? Perhaps, both choices are viable options, depending on the issue. But here are some tips if you run into an online spat:
Don’t Comment Immediately
Always replying right after a negative comment will not resolve anything. Instead, it will more than likely escalate the problem. Trust me. I know several online trolls who thrive in conflict. Look at the situation at hand and ask why the authors have commented, see through their eyes, even if that step is difficult to pull off.
Even if their complaints have merit, this step is to protect you and your blog, especially if you’ve agreed to work with them on a blog tour or to accept an ARC for an honest review. Unfortunately, I’ve had to do this so I could protect myself at a former job. Online platforms definitely assist you with this task. You can simply screenshot their comments, like Inkish Kingdoms has done, and keep a record of your interactions.
If you Feel Uncomfortable or Threatened or Feel the Need to Warn Other Bloggers, Don’t Keep Quiet
Never allow authors to make you feel anything but welcomed. Report them on whatever website they’re using. You can always reach out to their publicists as well if they’re traditionally published. Now, in other cases, you may have to reach out to NetGalley or the ARC/review company you’ve used.
What I love about the book community is how we rally around each other for support and guidance. So don’t be afraid to talk with other bloggers. They may know how to calm down the situation or point you to the right person. Or better yet, you can talk to them. And Twitter can be used as a way to warn other bloggers. I’d suggest blocking out the name of the authors so you don’t run into legal problems.
This Platform Is Yours, Not Theirs, So Stand Up for It and Defend Yourself
Pretty self-explanatory, right? However, this tip is just as important though. You have agreed to receive a review or finished copy of the book for an honest unbiased review. You do not owe authors or publishers a fake one. This blog is yours. It isn’t their free marketing website they get to dictate. You are the blogger. You are the creator. You are the damn master, and no one will convince you otherwise.
Explain to them that your review reflects your opinion, and sending you a review copy to you doesn’t sway your rating. If they demand that you take your review down, simply say no. Even if they’ve given you a free (small or large), that doesn’t mean you’ll write a 5-star review. But in your review, which you can point out, give examples as to why you don’t like their work. And repeat those points in the email or comment. And if you wish not to have this kind of heated conversation in public, ask for them to email you.
Publishing is a balancing act for authors and houses. I work for a small Canadian press, so I see the struggles first hand. I also see the struggles bloggers face as well. We may feel obligated to give a better review since we’ve received something for free. But don’t think this way. Any review, whether good or bad, will support the book, author, and publisher. Someone is talking about the book. Once publishers ship out or email an ARC or finished copy, then it’s out of their hands.
Yes, a bad review is always hard to accept, authors. But directly attacking bloggers will kill your work. We protect our own, we support your work, and sometimes we even love it. But you must realize that most of us do not get compensated for our time. Some bloggers do, but that fee doesn’t reflect our time or our effort in what we accomplish.