Authors continuing to behave badly …

It seems to be time – again! – to remind some “authors” out there how they should be conducting themselves in the world of promoting their books. Not everyone has bad manners, but there are enough who make it difficult for the rest of us who DO abide by those guidelines and rules and maintain decent behaviour.

This need to reiterate what I’ve railed on about before here came about after a reviewer posted this poem to her own blog – a poem that was actually a cry for help and an oblique explanation of how she’d been treated recently by indie authors she had set herself up to help promote. I reblogged her poem here then wrote to the reviewer directly to tell her I understood what she was going through.

Fortunately, this reviewer’s experience has had a happy (!) ending, or at least her problem has been resolved somewhat, to the point that she posted a follow-up poem this morning on her own blog.

I knew I’d addressed this subject of “Authors Behaving Badly” before, so I typed those words into my blog’s search thingie and found the following two posts written one after the other in Dec. 2014.

So here, for the benefit of Happymeerkatreviews and those authors who continue to behave badly when approaching reviewers and other promoters, are the two posts:

How NOT to get promotion for yourself and your book …


HOW to get promotion for yourself and your book …

Please read and heed. And share this blog if you know authors who could benefit from my advice.

Unfortunately, there are enough authors out there who do behave badly that reviewers and promoters have had to steel themselves from abuse by creating seemingly impenetrable guidelines for submissions, and that just ruins it for the rest of the authors who do approach their own writing, publishing, and promotion in a professional manner. I’ve essentially had to close my Reading Recommendations submissions to anything unsolicited, but I also outline how authors may have their work considered for inclusion. As I say, it’s really as simple as 1-2-3!


36 responses

  1. […] Some are still biting the hand that feeds all of our promotion and publicity needs … This ongoing problem of bullying reviewers has to stop RIGHT NOW!! (See as well my blog post of a few days ago, Authors continuing to behave badly …) […]

  2. Great action re-posting some of those older posts. I for one am an author, never do I or have disrespected a reviewer for any reason. I feel bad for all reviewers who had to deal with this, it is a shame it even happens. I couldn’t deal with it if it was me, I would have tossed their book out and blocked them.

    1. It does show a lack of respect within the business. I had kind of hoped we were above all of that.

  3. Reblogged this on Don Massenzio's Blog and commented:
    Susan Toy has some great advice for the conduct that leads to you the promotion of your book. Check out her post on the Island Editions blog.

  4. Urgh, believe me, the kind of behaviour you describe is also incredibly annoying to others. What you say is absolutely true: ” and that just ruins it for the rest of the authors who do approach their own writing, publishing, and promotion in a professional manner.”

    1. Thanks for your comment, Jenny!

  5. I think I’ve only had one bad one. Asked me for a review and complained when I said it was dreadful. Actually, I didn’t write dreadful, I was kinder. It was poor though. He text me. Uh? He sent me a text, or he texted me. Some of the spelling/grammar/punctuation wouldn’t have passed the eleven plus (selective uk exam for senior school). That’s before I even get into the non-existent plot and weak characters.

    However, we could equally write about the shysters who masquerade as editors. College students wanting to make a few dollars, authors who don’t sell books so think they can edit, people who do it for free to build up a portfolio of grateful customers …

    1. Thank you, roughseasinthemed! As I’ve said before you are the most exactingly brutal, honest, thoughtful, insightful, discerning and experienced editor/reviewer I’ve met online! You’re everything an author needs in a reviewer – because you really care that we produce the very best work we can write. And you champion those authors who meet your standards. To my mind, a 4-star review from you is like receiving 10-out-of-10-stars from almost anyone else.

      And you are correct about those editors. We need a separate blog post about that issue …

      1. Good grief! Can I post that on my blog?!

        Although, you aren’t the first to say that. Someone was thrilled recently to get four stars from me, and admitted to being nervous about me reading their books. If the books had received a tighter edit, they would have got five stars. But yes, a four from me is a good review indeed. And three is perfectly respectable. Two means ‘it really merits one but I’m feeling charitable today’.

        When I did my books of 2016 summary on my last post I included books I have rated at four stars (Lyz Russo, Tim, and Jon Zelig from memory). Stars are so annoyingly arbitrary.

        I don’t see the point of sycophantic reviews. It serves neither the reader or the author and damages the reputation (if they have one) of the reviewer.

        I think you read my recent GR review of 100% Love Guaranteed by Roger Keays. The author manages to like his four and five star reviews but hasn’t seem to have got round to liking mine … even though you and three other people have. How petty is that? I pointed out good and bad points (spelling errors in Spanish is always a no with me – Tim’s Camino was perfect), and said it should have been four but it was somewhat sloppily edited, in terms of prose, content, and basic proofing. Not very bad, but ‘could do better’. I intended it to be constructive. Was it? Who knows. Perhaps calling him arrogant and selfish didn’t help!

        I’ve just read five chapters for someone for a quote. Gave her my price, and she said she was budgeting for €200! Really? For a heavy edit cutting away the dross? I. Think. Not. There were at least three bizarre descriptions of exactly which seat someone was sitting in on the L-shaped pale green leather sofa. I was tearing my hair out reading this nonsense. Apparently a beta reader had asked her to add the detail because they couldn’t picture the scene. If you have no imagination, don’t beta read. Sometimes they do more harm than good!

        Much rich material for blog posts: cantankerous rude authors, charlatans setting up as editors, and useless beta readers thinking they are little gods and goddesses. Oh, and opinionated reviewers too 😉

      2. I have ALWAYS learned something from your reviews that helps me to improve my own writing and the production of my books (cover design, especially)! That, to me, is the sign of a good reviewer. And you, to my mind, are the best reader – engaged, educated, and editorially astute. (There you are! The 3-Es of being a good reader! And reviewer.) Canadian author, Aritha van Herk, told us in a workshop that she always writes for the best reader she knows. Not that she expects that reader to actually read or comment on what she has written when finished, but she keeps that ideal reader in mind, and writes to please him. In her case, Aritha says she writes for Alberto Maguel. I think, in the back of my mind, when I’m writing now, I write for you, roughseas. You are my ideal reader!

      3. Thank you so much for your very generous comments Susan. I’ll be honest (when am I not?) I got a real kick out of reading them.

        Authors who don’t ask eds to look at covers are missing a trick. But, maybe I’m different because I worked a lot with graphic design.

        It’s good if my reviews of other books help. About 80% of my reviews are objective/analytical, with the other 20% based on personal. So, whether I like something or not, if it’s well written, that takes priority. Because, to me, the quality of writing should be what we review, rather than ‘I (don’t) like this’.

        Love the 3-Es concept. ©Susan M Toy!!

        I think I am probably many people’s night are reader, so good to know I suit at least one person 😀

      4. Perhaps I gushed too much publicly and others reading my “Love-In for Roughseas” will get the impression that, now, I have guaranteed all your future reviews of my work will be suspect in lacking objectivity. But I know the true roughseas and I do value your opinions. I don’t say all of this about you to curry favour, but to point out that there are professional reviewers and editors out there who CAN and DO make a difference in the quality of the books we all read. Writers and readers both may learn a lot from people such as yourself, roughseas.

        So I will continue to ask when I write, “What would roughseas say/do about this?” because I know you always have the book’s best interest at heart.

      5. LOL! nightmare not night are. I don’t hit the ipad hard enough.

        Doubt that re currying favour. You’ve had good four star reviews from me but not five. I think I wrote ages ago on my blog that you get five if you are comparable with Dosteovsky or Wilde. If an author thinks they are, justify it.

        I’m always happy to get recs from you to review as you have a discerning eye. My reviews though, are what they are …

        You in the sun right now? Freezing (well in med terms ie single figures) here right now. But, I have peas growing 🙂

      6. Sun/cloud today, with coolish temps. (coolish for us!). We don’t have peas in our garden, but there are ripening tomoatoes, bell peppers, jalapenos … and Dennis recently harvested and roasted coffee beans and peanuts! Next up, he’ll be planting a cocoa tree. Yes, I am bragging here. What could be better than having your own source of chocolate? 🙂

  6. I have a confession. I recently behaved badly. After years of being the most polite and thankful author imaginable, I lost it one evening. I’m writing to apologize to the world and to tell you what triggered me.

    I received an email from a book reviewer that the review of my novel had been posted. I thanked her first and then went to the blog. I was disappointed that the review was only two stars, and that the reviewer had misrepresented the content of my story, but it was no big deal. An earlier version of the novel had been awarded Gold Medals by two major book review organizations, was picked along with “The Martian” by Andy Weir and “Revival” by Stephen King as one of the five best books of 2015 by a Bulgarian book critic, received twenty-six five star and forty-three four star reviews on Amazon by independent book bloggers. There was a serious formatting problem in the first version that was corrected. So, some prior reviews might be upgraded if book reviewers are willing to take a second look. Three have already, including a five star review that was published yesterday. A week before this disappointing review, a book reviewer had posted about the new edition: “…Brilliant satires such as this are genius works of literature in the same class as Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm.’ I can picture American Lit professors sometime in the distant future placing this masterpiece on their reading list.” So, I certainly did not feel threatened by this blogger’s bad review.

    Initially, I blamed myself for submitting a pitch that must not have been clear enough about comfort zones. (My pitch has since been revised.)

    Then, I went to Amazon. What I found flabbergasted me. The title of this blogger’s review made it sound like my protagonist was naked in the story! Lacy Dawn begins the story as an eleven year old victim of child maltreatment. Half of author proceeds are donated to child abuse prevention. Nobody was naked in the novel, especially not my protagonist.

    I wrote to the blogger. At first she didn’t reply. I kept thinking about that review sitting on Amazon doing all kinds of damage. Finally, when the reviewer wrote back, she acted like she was offended that I didn’t like her book review, that she had posted her honest opinion. I lost it. I tweeted negatives about her review.

    I then wrote to her again. It was defensive. I felt like a victim. I felt like I was defending a defenseless child, a protagonist that represented maltreated children. I explained that there were no sex scenes in the story, nothing erotic or even close, and that it was one of the few stories having been recently published that the protagonist decides not to have sex for the first time until after she is married — stuff like that.

    It turned out that what had happened was that the blogger had not titled her review and that Amazon had automatically picked up a line from the review for a title. I don’t know why it took the two of us so long to communicate effectively enough to diagnose and correct the problem. I do take part of the blame. She retitled the review. I deleted the tweets.

    This review still sucks, in my opinion, especially a line that Lacy Dawn “can’t wait to give him (an android) her panties.” I haven’t the slightest idea where the reviewer came up with this line, but “them’s the breaks.” My only guess is that the reviewer was triggered early in the story outside of her comfort zones and then made presumptions about the story. She said that she read it in its entirety, so….

    Anyway, again, I sincerely apologize for behaving badly. I hope that book reviewers read my post and always title their own reviews on Amazon. Thanks for the opportunity to vent. I expect no recurrence of my bad behavior.

    1. Thank you for your detailed explanation, Robert! I think there are lessons to be learned from your experience for all sides in this discussion. But also you have uncovered a problem in dealing with reviews on Amazon that had never occurred to me before. Good news that you were able to resolve the issue with the reviewer.

  7. I admire bloggers, one can learn much from a good blog post. Good article. I concur with the poem. My beef? Authors who insist they should have been given a five star review, or complain that the reviewer ‘doesn’t get their book.’ Never mind their bad writing, typos and horrible story. They can be like little stalkers, lurking and bad-mouthing on forums. Since one can usually edit a review, I edit down. 🙂 Why do people put themselves out there if they can’t accept honest criticism?

    1. If a reader doesn’t “get” what an author has written then that’s generally the author’s fault for not having made themselves clear enough. Authors need to stop blaming everyone else and start learning how to write a better book. And they definitely have to stop bullying reviewers into giving 5-star reviews when those reviews are not deserved. Thanks for your comment, Janice. As you say, if authors can’t stand the heat – or accept the truth – then they should stop putting themselves out there.

  8. It definitely has to be a two way street. And authors should be respectful of anyone who takes the time to read and review their work.

    1. Janice J. Richardson

      Colline, could not have said it better myself.

  9. […] Source: Authors continuing to behave badly … […]

  10. Thank you for highlighting this topic again, and for sharing my posts :). It amazes me how so many people continue to get it wrong. I’ve been called Kent and had people write submissions that basically expect me to accept. And those were the easy-to-deal with author issues. The two posts you showed really sound a bit like my respect the reviewer 2 article I posted up some months back, hope you enjoyed reading that. Good authors ‘get’ it but so many still fail to understand. It doesn’t take much to check out a blog or read a submissions page properly. Am going to reblog this :).

    1. Thank YOU, Hmkr, for being the inspiration to dust off and reblog these old posts. Sorry you had to go through all you did, but hope that everyone sees you are not alone in having to deal with badly behaving authors. Here’s the link to your own blog post you mention for my readers’ benefit.

      1. Thank you :). Appreciate it and hope some people like it too. We may have to re-highlight this again in future if it is still an issue which it probably (unfortunately) will be.

  11. sage advice as ever Susan..

  12. You may have to say this on a regular basis – maybe every couple of months or so! 🙂

    1. I already sound like a broken record, but I’m afraid you may be correct, Mary. I hope not …

  13. This reviewer’s two posts touched me. I imagine her job is not easy. Although authors may feel touchy and defensive about their writing, good and honest reviews are essential to honing our craft. No one’s writing is perfect and it takes outside, critical eyes to point out flaws and ways that our writing could be better. If we all just want a pat on the back, then let our friends and family “review” our work. They will want to be kind and not hurt our feelings. But that won’t make our work the best it can be and we could well be in for a shock when our work gets published. If readers that don’t know and love us give honest and scathing reviews, we will be left devastated and wondering how this could possibly be. So let’s please set egos aside – and truly listen to these honest reviews. It may hurt at first – but get over it, learn from it and let’s truly improve our writing.

    1. You are absolutely correct, Sharon! Thanks for adding your comment.

  14. Reblogged this on Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog and commented:
    Please read, understand and share this message from my good friend, author and avid supporter of other authors, Susan M. Toy 🐵

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