Taming the Haters: How to Handle Malicious Online Comments About Your Work

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From Writer Unboxed:

The day I signed the publishing contract for my second novel, I wrote a post about it on LinkedIn. I tagged the book’s soon-to-be publisher in the text, and included an image of their logo. The small press publishes just ten books a year. The fact that my book would be one of them was tremendously validating. I was delighted to share my good news.

Within minutes of the post going live I received a comment from a writer I was connected with on the platform but didn’t know very well. “That’s a vanity press!” he wrote. “Don’t publish your book with them. You’ll ruin your credibility. Everything you’ve worked for will go down the drain!”

Thinking this person was simply misinformed, I replied. “You must be confusing them with another publisher,” I wrote. “These guys are the real deal.” As proof, I added the link to my new publisher’s website. Believing I had settled the matter, I logged off.

When I looked at the post again later, I was horrified to discover that the same person had gone on an all-out digital tirade, posting multiple comments about how the publisher I had signed with wasn’t legitimate, and that as an author, neither was I. I realized then that, for some reason I still don’t understand, this complete stranger was trying to publicly discredit me and my work. I reported his comments to the site’s admin, removed him from my connections, and deleted the post.

The feeling of accomplishment I’d had that morning evaporated. I was sad and confused. I’d worked on that book for years. Why would a person who knew nothing about me or my work put so much effort into casting doubt on my achievement? Why would anyone be so mean to someone they don’t even know?

Some people get their sustenance from tearing apart others’ creative work. Over time, I’ve learned not to let these jerks get to me. I ignore their comments, or delete them in cases where they may be spreading falsehoods. Like most bullies, they lose interest pretty quickly if I refuse to acknowledge their cause.

. . . .

Liz Michalski, whose second novel, Darling Girl, was published last May, has had multiple adverse, unhelpful comments posted about the book—a dark retelling of Peter Pan—on a variety of platforms.

“My book is out there in the world, and everybody gets to have an opinion on it,” Michalski says. “Their opinion is none of my business, so I never respond to negative comments or reviews. In fact, I’ve pretty much given up reading reviews unless a friend sends me a particularly good or funny one.

“I’m also more careful which social media pools I swim in. I’ve had some really lovely fans on TikTok, but that’s also where the really meanspirited comments have been, so I tend to just not hang out there.”

Author Tara Lynn Masih’s book, My Real Name is Hanna, is a young adult historical novel about a Jewish teenager in Lithuania set during the Holocaust. Although the book has enjoyed critical praise, or perhaps because of it, the novel was singled out by a group of Holocaust deniers online seeking to discredit it.

“My recent Holocaust novel became the target of an organized two-star [rating] campaign,” Masih says. “Very inappropriate reviews that excoriated me personally were left on one site, which refused to take them down, even though some other sites would have. I even got worried for my safety when some angry emails started coming in, and someone attempted to get my cell phone number. For a few months, it affected me mentally and physically, and I did consider giving up writing. Is it really worth it, you have to ask yourself, when you are the subject of this kind of hate campaign?”

But eventually, Masih says, the trolls moved on to some other writer.

“The dirty dust settles, and you have hopefully reinforced your passion for creating stories, understanding that your writing has power and no one should ever be allowed to silence your voice.”

Link to the rest at Writer Unboxed