Part II of a series that started with THIS.
Instead of coming to me with her concerns she has written an online review that is more of a personal attack on me than a review of my book.
She has accused me of “viciously attacking” her, of “not being over my jealousy of her”, and “needing counseling.”
None of this is true. I used to feel jealous of her, but the jealousy my fictional character has is much exaggerated from what I actually felt.
How can I convey to her that while this fictional character shares many of her attributes, it is not her?
My editor says that I shouldn’t have to defend my work and that I should not respond and risk my reputation as a writer…
There’s your answer, Sweetheart.
As writers, we are going to get bad reviews. For my 1983 computer game Eagles, I remember getting a ripper. Back then, there was no counter for it (just as well, given my indignant temper). As writers, not everyone is going to get us (especially the people we use as uncomplimentary models for our characters). Not everyone is going to chirp of our skill as wordsmiths, our clever plots and our dynamic characters. A certain percentage of people are going to think we suck.
And they will probably review us.
The thing is, this is a real glass house. The reviewer has all the high ground here. If we respond, we are, well, responding. We are confirming that we saw the piece abd that it rankled enough to respond to. That very act of responding can look immature, defensive and petty.
Worse, if they respond to our response, now it’s ratcheted up. As it escalates, the language will become harsher, more foul. Now it’s a flame war, one we walked into. And the only way a flame war ends is when someone finally gives up.
Is that what you want – taking ownership of this long line of charred comments? Of getting mad and lowbrow, of cussing and snarling, all out in the open where our public (and potential new readers) might see it? And how long will this be available? Months? Years? Given the nature of Google searches, it’s likely that readers over the next decade will notice you at your most uncontrolled. Even when you are older, grayer, calmer and successful, even when you are accepting book publisher awards, any researcher with a browser is going to come across your whiny, hot, defensive words.
Let it go. Trust me.
Hey, with all the book reviews I do, it’s always likely that an author will find them. One did a while ago and he took offense at my observations. First off, I didn’t think that was a good move. And while I had home court advantage (and could respond as I wished and delete anything I couldn’t counter), I let it go. Better to allow it to echo in the emptiness than get into a tussle.
Nobody comes out looking good in a flamewar.
So write well, do your best, and remember that you did these things when the inevitable bad reviews come in.