You’ve written a book and it has now become made available for public consumption through some manner of dissemination. Congratulations!
A Comprehensive List of What You’re Now Entitled to:
- You May Tell People You’ve Written/Published a Book. Or not, depending on your preference. It's up to you, you can use a pseudonym and conceal your real name, use a pseudonym and freely share your real name, or use your real name. Up. To. You. And whatever your safety requirements are.
- Claim the Occupation of Writer or Author. Although publication is not a necessary pre-req to claim those titles.
What you are NOT ENTITLED to
- Not Entitled to Reviews. There is no right to have your book reviewed by anyone. If you get reviews—good, bad, or ugly—Be Grateful Anyone Made the Effort.
- Not Entitled to Have People Buy Your Book. Except family. Feel free to whine over holiday dinners and send passive aggressive birthday &/or Christmas cards to people who may share a surname, genetics, or whatever else makes them family... and who haven't bought your darned book(at least your debut. YMMV on later titles).
- Not Entitled to the Right to Appear on Anyone Else’s Blog for publicity and praise because of your general awesomeness. Further: Bloggers are not your employees, if they have read and reviewed your book, they're doing you a FAVOR. The only acceptable response is: Thank You.
- Not Entitled to Know the RL Identity of Your Reviewer. If you have more than one 1-star review, the correct and sane conclusion is that more than one person hated your book. This is not a case of ONE person with multiple accounts leaving 1star reviews designed specifically to ruin you.
Hallmarks of an actual Troll Reviewer: Newly created account, generic name, only has one(or maybe a couple if they're high-achieving trolls) review. If there are many or hundreds or reviews? Not a troll.
And what does it matter who they are, it's a person who has these specific thoughts. Not a robot. Not a maniacal monkey demon sent from the fiery pits to ruin you, or a rogue AI program who hates the name of your heroine. A person disliked your book for whatever reasons they listed, and it does not matter if they've a real-sounding name or go by GrignrTheManly. A PERSON WROTE THOSE WORDS. That's all you need to know.
The only reason someone would leave a negative review(that actually pertains to your book) under a fake ID is for the freedom to safely say what their current emotion is screaming at them to say in the way they need to say it. It isn't so they can lie about how they feel.
Permissible Reactions to a Bad Review
- Cry. This is best done alone in your home. But the good news: It's Pants Optional!
- Vent to your friends in private. Rant. Complain until they're sick of you. But for god's sake, keep it off the internet. No Public Displays of Immature Dickishness
- Fantasize about your misunderstood genius and take comfort in the fact that one day, probably long after you're dead, you--trail blazer that you are--will be lauded for your mad, avant-garde storytelling skills.
- Confide in your dog, who may bring you a stick to cheer you up and remind you of the long held doggie wisdom: Sticks and stones may break your bones...but they're also really good for chewing on when life's got you down.
- Confide in your cat, who will magnanimously allow you to sit in her presence, possibly allow you to pet her, feed her, or run a red laser pointer dot around the room for her amusement.
- Eat or Drink Your Feelings. Possibly not the healthiest reaction, but have some chocolate and some wine. Just don't use them as a facilitator to Public Displays of Dickiness. Or other dangerous/inappropriate actions.
Side-side Note: Book Bloggers are often the best promo available to 21stCen author. Negative reviews won't ruin your career or your book, but your response to negative reviews could. In summary: don't be a dick.
Tips for Bloggers & Reviewers
You all know how to conduct yourselves with regard to your reviews, so instead...
- Be aware that just because someone had the brain power to write and publish a book doesn't mean that they're stable individuals. I don't care who asks you for your address, if you don't feel comfortable giving it or your real name, then don't! Have them send the package to your local post office. In the US, we have an option for General Delivery, and I'm sure that there are comparable setups in other countries. In the US, it works like this:Mail addressed General Delivery is held at the post office and you go there to pick it up. You don't have to have a post office box to protect your home address, mail does not have to be delivered to your home. Addresses look something like this:
United States Post Office
NAME OF RECIPIENT
City, State Zipcode
- If you feel threatened by someone--anyone--author or schmo on the street--Call The Police. Contact a lawyer. Tell your family and friends. Say something online even. Keeping quiet will not help you. Embarrassment is one of the stalker's biggest weapons, it keeps people quiet and conceals abuse. Quiet helps them, not You.
- You have rights, and the biggest, most important one is that you should feel safe in your home, at work, when you go to your favorite restaurant, etc.
Finally: To the authors who are crying out, 'But we're the ones being punished, we're innocent!'
First, that kind of sentiment implies that those being harassed over reviews deserve it. They don't.
Writers should have some connection to their empathy skills, and now's the time to activate that connection. This isn't about you or your butthurt about not getting your book reviewed for a couple more weeks... It's people using what meager power they have to stand as a community for something important.
Keeping Quiet helps the Abuser, not the abused.