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Author’s Big Mistake (or is it?)

Way back in the misty dawn of 2010, the denizens of the Absolute Write fora (which is still an ongoing concern, but without me, because busy) folks used to talk about the ABM: the Author’s Big Mistake. What was it?

Responding to reviews.

Supposedly, arguing with readers who left reviews was one of the worst things an author could do, because no one ever changed their minds, no one was ever impressed, and it made the author look like a slow-motion train wreck. So much drama over one unhappy opinion!

Also:

Also, this guy and this guy.

Which leads to this review on the MilSF novella by [asshole author who self-Googles], called Big Boys Don’t Cry. Dude gets a negative review, dares the reader to lower it to one-star (which, if you have a bunch of five-stars, is better than the “meh” of a three-star review) and later goes all troll apoplectic on the reviewer.

Normally, I’d think the guy was being a fool, but in this case? Nope. [Asshole author who self-Googles] is busy marketing himself as an anti-feminist culture warrior; what better way to rally the troops than to have a public argument with someone on the other side? What better way to bring attention to his work than with a big, public stink?

(And yes, I know I’m “helping” him get more attention, but whatever. the author himself seems like a real creep, but maybe there are readers out there who would like it? Who knows.)

With books, you don’t need a huge readership to be a success. Even if badmouthing lefties drives away some potential readers, it will probably bring in even more on his side (plus, the ones he brings in are likely to be in his target audience). “So-and-so is being an asshole… for our side!

Controversy! It’s not always a bad thing.

Mirrored from Harry Connolly. You can comment here but not there.

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
seawasp
May. 22nd, 2015 02:03 pm (UTC)
You have a point, although the problem is that by becoming "That Guy" you are automatically limiting your audience.

I have found that I can respond to negative reviews and get positive results, by being first thankful that they read the book at all, sorry it didn't work for them, and offering some non-combative comments. Sure, often this is ignored, but equally often I have found myself in an actual dialogue with the reviewer; sometimes they've even ended up trying other works by me and liking them.

But ARGUING with a reviewer is a good way to be labeled "TOTAL JERK". If, like the author in question, being a jerk to people of X persuasion is part of your public persona, well, maybe that'll work for you. But it will make sure that people who just don't like jerks -- which is a pretty large segment of the population -- will avoid you.
burger_eater
May. 22nd, 2015 03:25 pm (UTC)
A large portion of the population will always avoid you. Most people will never even learn our names.

But by taking a prominent role in the culture war, Author can get a lot of attention from the pool of people most likely to be his fans. The people he alienates don't matter because most weren't going to read him anyway. I sure wasn't.

He doesn't need that many of them to be doing quite well.
seawasp
May. 22nd, 2015 03:38 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I guess so. I can't play that game, which is financially unfortunate, but allows me to look at myself in the mirror with a reasonably positive attitude.
resonant
May. 23rd, 2015 02:08 am (UTC)
I once gave an interesting (if flawed and disturbing) book a four-star review.

The author social-engineered the Smashwords support team, and I got a demand sent to my (non-public) e-mail (which reveals my real name) requiring me to justify why it did not deserve five stars.

It didn't make me label him "TOTAL JERK", but it did unnerve me. Partially because his book had characters using social engineering to get personal information about people who interfered with their goals, before the characters tortured and killed them.

I am ashamed to say I did give the author a five-star review as a result.
burger_eater
May. 23rd, 2015 04:33 am (UTC)
Wow. That's a giant pile of shit right there. I'm sorry.
seawasp
May. 23rd, 2015 12:33 pm (UTC)
That stuff I can't understand; four stars is a perfectly good review, and in fact I don't want a string of perfect five-stars because that looks fake. I've had people complain about my reviews once or twice, but I've never changed them.
martianmooncrab
May. 22nd, 2015 08:08 pm (UTC)
I just no longer buy that eediot(s) books, and wont buy them for anyone else if I take them book shopping.

burger_eater
May. 22nd, 2015 10:10 pm (UTC)
This guy isn't getting any of my time or money, either, but I don't think he was expecting to.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )