Last week was a great week for most writers. Alice Hoffman had a Twittersode where she invited fans to email and telephone a reviewer she felt had done her wrong; an interesting twist given that Hoffman herself fell victim to such author-over-the-topness years ago when Richard Ford, displeased with a revew Hoffman had written of one of his books, took Hoffman's latest book out in his back yard and shot it to death before mailing it to her. And to round out the week, Alain de Botton went off on a NYT reviewer, claiming that the poor review had effectively killed the book in the U.S. and vowing, "I will hate you till the day I die." I felt like I was watching The Princess Bride all over again: "My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die."
Like I say, it was a good week for most of us writers. We got to Schadenfreude our pants, secure in the notion that whatever stupid things we'd ever done, at least we'd never done that.
Here's a little bad poem I wrote, representing Utopia for writers:
If I could sit on your shoulder,
and tell you what to think,
I'd tell you how wonderful I am,
you'd never tell me I stink.
Unfortunately, no such Utopia exists, and in the absence of that, the rule authors need to live by is: Never complain, never explain.
Or, you can learn to have fun with it as Alexa Young has done with her fabulous blog The Worst Review Ever.
I don't know that I've had a single worst review although I've certainly had my share of bad ones. It is frustrating when a reviewer gets the facts wrong or is clearly not the right reviewer for your book, someone not capable of "getting" the book on the level which it's been written. This happens all the time with YA and children's books, where the reviewers are by necessity almost always not the target audience.
I've also done my share of stupid-author things, probably the worst of which was making an online author enemy who spent a few years determinedly trying to make my life a living hell. I also made the mistake one time, after Google Alert turned up a blog where someone had posted some errors about my work, of writing the blog host what I thought was a polite letter, receiving a polite response, only to have GoogleAlert turn up from the same person the next day something about how you'd think Lauren Baratz-Logsted would have better things to do with her time; and the next day the musing, "I wonder if Lauren Baratz-Logsted is reading this?"; and the next day, a blog post with just "Lauren Baratz-Logsted" written about 150 times. I had to admire her determination and the fact that anyone could spell my name correctly 150 times.
Never complain, never explain.
It's such a hard lesson to learn, but I am trying, doing my best here.
And in the meantime, at least I've never shot up a reviewer's book, published a reviewer's email and telephone number, or vowed to hate any human being until the day I die. Still, there's always tomorrow!
QUESTION OF THE DAY: WHAT'S THE WORST REVIEW YOU'VE EVER RECEIVED AND/OR WHAT'S THE STUPIDEST STUPID-AUTHOR THING YOU'VE EVER DONE?
Be well. Don'r forget to write.