Writing is a masochistic art: essentially, you put the (ouch!) most sensitive parts of your anatomy on an anvil... and hand out hammers. It's a risky business, indeed.
Alice Hoffman recently felt the sledge-hammer strokes --in, we're told, a "mildly negative review"-- and decided to swing back... by asking her legions of fans to take up the pitchforks and torches. (See news story below)
Two points for all writers to remember:
1) While we all know there's no such thing as a "mildly" negative review --those are our babies they're savaging!-- if one writes for any audience aside from one's self, be prepared for the ensuing anvil chorus. Axiom: there will always be at least one reader eager for the sound of metal hitting metal, muffled only slightly by a squishy sound.
2) Feel free to complain (loudly and widely) about a bad review, but don't ask your readers to do your wet-work for you. Most of us would rather hear what a reviewer actually feels about a book (yes, even my own books) than get the watered-down version from a reviewer who is terrified that a popular author can mobilize a lynch mob. Sure: negative reviews impact sales, but trying to intimidate reviewers into "good" reviews simply devaluates the literary currency we all depend on, as writers AND as readers.
Sorry, Alice: this was an impulse you should have resisted.
Besides, we don't read you for the plot; we read you for the beautiful way you use the English language.
Author Snipes Critic on Twitter Over Negative Review
by Leila Brillson — Jun 30th 2009
There's nothing quite like using Twitter to rally your supporters in a time of crisis -- just ask the Mythbusters -- but author Alice Hoffman seems to have gone a bit too far.
The writer took her grievances to Twitter after Boston Globe reviewer Roberta Silman issued a mildly negative review of her new book 'The Story Sisters.'
According to Popwatch.EW.com, the aggrieved writer tweeted, "Now any idiot can be a critic. Writers used to review writers. My second novel was reviewed by Ann Tyler. So who is Roberta Silman?" and "Roberta Silman in the Boston Globe is a moron. How do some people get to review books? And give the plot away."
While voicing an opinion is one thing, Hoffman crossed the line by urging fans to contact Silman, even posting her home phone number and e-mail address. Gawker updates the duel, explaining that Hoffman deleted her Twitter account and posted a half-hearted apology for insulting, and harassing, the lit-critic.
A word of advice -- if a writer wants people to read her work, maybe she should thicken her skin to any response. [From: Popwatch.EW.com and Gawker]