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Being Burned in Effigy

January 10, 2010

This week one of my fellow writers on Wicked Writers, Gregory M Smith, wrote about being burned in effigy at his last journalist job in Texas.  I asked Supriya what it meant because it sounded bad to me and I felt for Greg.

She explained that no, being burned was a good thing.  If you are able to write something as a journalist that prompts hate mail you are doing something right.  To be able to stir such strong opinions with your work is what the best journalists aspire to.  You’re never going to be able to write a piece that will appeal to everyone and the haters do as much to spread the word about you as the ones who agree.

I’m trying to take that attitude with a recent review on Goodreads for my book.  Let me start by saying I entered my own unpublished book under the unique authors program at Goodreads (which allows for unknowns like me to do so) and then joined some groups to see if anyone on there who reviews the UF genre would like to give V V a shot.  I found all the reviewers to be nice, approachable and unfailingly honest.

Imagine my surprise when yesterday someone who read an edited version of the first seven chapters (less than 20% of my book) on decided to post a one star review on Goodreads.  The reviewer stated that my book was not finished when she read it and not worthy of following (as in do not follow, or DNF) – and even referenced the Dorchester contest I’m in.

Why is this so startling to me?  After all, people will not like my work and I know that.  I’ve already had so many people not like my work I think (and hope) I can laugh off just about any bad review that comes in.  What really bothered me on this review is that the reviewer is friends with one of the Dorchester finalists and it’s the last week of the contest.

I tried to email the reviewer and point out that what she did lacked integrity and that caused a flurry of emails between her, myself and my fellow contestant.  Both of us (the two final contestants) backed out of making comments on the review and agreed to leave the review alone.

No – the point here is ethics.  It is ethically wrong for this reviewer who is a friend and co-blogger of someone I’m competing against to rate and review my unpublished book (which she admits she hasn’t read all the way) when I am currently in a contest with her buddy and to then post that review on the very day the top two in the contest are announced.

I asked for the review to be removed and re-posted when the book comes out in print.  I’d never ask a reviewer to change an opinion of my book – like I said, people will hate it.  And even though I know the writer I’m competing against had nothing to do with the review, or her friend posting it, it just looks bad.

Not many people read my blog (but they sure as hell have been lately) – more people read Goodreads reviews and that’s okay. I know this reviewer may not have intended any of this – and it’s fine to attack me and say I have no class for responding to a negative review or I need to get a thicker skin (because if you seriously think this is about a one star review you’re missing the point entirely).

 You’re entitled to your opinion and I’m entitled to mine – I don’t mind a bad review but I’m not going to turn the other check on what appears on the surface to be an interestingly timed review from a competitor’s co-blogger. The writer I’m up against doesn’t deserve to have a friend “support” her this way. She’s been supportive of me and professional throughout the entire contest.

The V V followers online helped me to rise above this mess and see the light. Thanks for that kick in the pants everyone, I needed it. And a HUGE thanks to Bertena from Vampire Examiner and JjAdair – your responses on Goodreads renewed my faith in sincere reviewers.

People can only insult me if I let them, as Nicole Hadaway recently reminded me of with a famous quote in a comment on my blog. The review makes the reviewer and her incredibly coincidental timing, not me, look bad in light of all these facts, and that is what I need to focus on. I’m proud to say that no one I’m associated with or blog with has rated my competitors unpublished work publicly yesterday – because I can only imagine the backlash if the shoe was on the other foot.

Off to work on the blog post for Wicked Writers for tomorrow.  Wishing you all a better weekend than I’ve had! 😉

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