Why Should Authors Read Your Bad Reviews?

From The Guardian:

History has yet to find the book that is universally adored – or the author who enjoys reading bad reviews. While Angie Thomas has topped the charts and scooped up armloads of awards for her two young adult novels, The Hate U Give and On the Come Up, her recent request that book bloggers stop sending her their negative reviews saw her on the receiving end of a wave of vitriol.

Thomas wasn’t asking reviewers to stop writing bad reviews. She was just asking that they didn’t give her a prod on Twitter or Instagram to tell her about it.

“Guess what? WE ARE PEOPLE WITH FEELINGS. What’s the point of tagging an author in a negative review? Really?” she wrote on Twitter. “We have to protect our mental space. Too many opinions, good or bad, can affect that … Getting feedback from too many sources can harm your writing process. I have a group of people whose feedback I value – my editor, my agent, other authors who act as beta readers. With the position I’m in, social media is for interacting with readers, not for getting critiques.”

. . . .

Authors have been saying for years that they would prefer not to be tagged in bad reviews on social media. In November, Lauren Groff wrote that “tweeting it [a review] to a writer is like grabbing their cheeks and shouting it into their face”. It even happened before the social media era, such as when Alain de Botton was told about Caleb Crain’s review of The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work (“I will hate you till the day I die and wish you nothing but ill will in every career move you make,” wrote de Botton on Crain’s website). And perhaps, Martin Amis’s publishers should have kept him in the dark about Tibor Fischer’s write up of Yellow Dog. (“A creep and a wretch. Oh yeah: and a fat-arse,” said Amis of Fischer.)

But the blowback against Thomas is disproportionate when compared to how reviewers have reacted to this request in the past. As she herself points out: “Plenty of white authors have said the same thing about reviews without getting the same kind of attacks that I’ve received.”

Link to the rest at The Guardian

7 thoughts on “Why Should Authors Read Your Bad Reviews?”

  1. Really, you cannot state definitely that the comments are written by anti-Black haters; too many times, a controversy like this is propelled by a “fake” hate crime.

    I guess I’m like the townspeople who’ve been punked by the Boy Who Cried Wolf – automatic belief is no longer given. I’ll wait for proof, if possible.

    In my limited experience, the actual racists are too few, and not inclined to make the effort to bother PoCs.

    • Actual experience from last night at dinner in the retirement community:

      When I commented on certain behaviors of the staff being patronizing, AS a disabled person, my husband and our dinner companions TOLD me I was wrong.

      I finally realized that standing up for yourself is different from not bothering other people with your needs, and I pointed out that they were NOT in a position to judge, being NOT disabled themselves.

      And that they were gaslighting me when I dared to speak up!

      The actual racists – whoever they are – may be few, but the people who think they are NOT racist are many. And irritated when their inherent racism is pointed out. Instead of learning something about themselves and changing.

      For additional points: it doesn’t matter if the staff think they are NOT being patronizing – what matters is how the recipients of their benevolence FEEL about it (and of course how it fits into the pattern).

      • So you are always right in your criticisms, and the targets of your ire are always wrong?

        How you’feel’ is your problem toots, not mine.

        (and for the record my wife is 100% disabled, and she never complains about it)

      • The actual racists – whoever they are – may be few, but the people who think they are NOT racist are many.

        There are indeed many. Is there some reason to think they are wrong?

      • I’ve seen that happen in many different situations, and I never knew how to characterize what was going on. Your comment made me start thinking about the problem again, and I have been mulling over this post. Then I read an article today that gives me a clue on what is happening. This is going into my Story folders.

        Now you see it
        Our brains predict the outcomes of our actions, shaping reality into what we expect. That’s why we see what we believe

        This comes back to your comment the other day about the Dunning–Kruger effect.

        – Basically, we see what we expect to see.

        When that doesn’t match, we filter it out rather than be jarred by the discontinuity between expectation and reality. We “perceive” only what fits our model of reality.

        – When the people at the table were disagreeing with you, they were not trying to “gaslight” you, they simply could not perceive your world view.

        You were experiencing a perfect example of the Dunning–Kruger effect in action.

        I’ve been able to use the perception that others have of me to sit invisible at lunch at a restaurant, while a business meeting is going on at the table right beside me. They are literally so focused on their conversation, that they cannot see me. As long as I stay within the parameters set by the context I am invisible. I have learned an incredible number of things that I otherwise would never have had access to.

        I have a bunch of stories planned that make use of this. A great story example of this is:

        – Miss Marple, Nemesis, with Joan Hickson.

        Miss Marple stays within how people perceive she is, not knowing that she is seeing everything. At the end of the episode, when she confronts the killer, she briefly removes her mask, and we see Nemesis revealed.

        Each time I watch the episode, she scares the hell out of me. HA!

        Major insight. Thanks…

  2. Given that Thomas is a YA author, and the online YA community is a giant toxic dumpster fire of entitlement complexes and NPD that could keep every psychiatrist in North America employed for years, I think that is more to blame than racism.

Comments are closed.