Meltdowns and Ensuing Mayhem

By now I hope I’m sporting my “eh” lingo and fighting off the urge to eat peameal bacon. I’m also hoping we were able to score hockey tickets while in Vancouver, but I’m not holding out too much hope.

A Twitter colleague sent over an interesting link. It’s an Internet-based meltdown of an author over her book’s two-star review. Let me just say it takes a bit to shock me these days, and I was dumbfounded. Give it a read.

It emphasizes exactly why a professional demeanor and response is so essential. I don’t know the young woman in question, nor do I know her book. I will say my opinion of her is forever stained by her response, which I understand is a knee-jerk response and made out of sheer embarrassment. However, that’s exactly when we need to suck it up and say nothing. Just take the lumps, cry over them in private, fire your copy editor (or hey, how about hire one?), and move on. Now her rant has gone viral and it will be tweeted and posted to Facebook until the next scandalous thing happens to bump her off the front page.

Thoughts?

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Comments

  • Devon Ellington May 5, 2011 at 11:40 am

    Wow. I, too, am nearly speechless.

    As you know, I've been going into agonies in my final galleys, for fear I missed something important. If I have, and it gets picked up in a review, it is on me for not catching it. Period. If there are errors, I will have to deal with the consequences. And the reviewer must give an honest respond to both content and structure.

    I know, when I pay for a book, I expect it to be free of typos, errors, etc. It's one thing for a stylistic choice not to work for me, personally, but quite another for something to be filled with errors that should have been caught in editing or copyediting.

    When I'm sent books for review, they are often in ARC, and it clearly states that there may be errors, and to please check with the publisher before quoting anything to make sure it matches the final copy.

    ARCS have errors. Published, sold copies should be error-free.

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  • Cathy May 5, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    OMG!! I stopped reading her responses when I got to her using the "F" word.

    It is so mind-blowing that you almost cannot believe it's real.

    But, then I have always said I don't understand the mentality of treating customers (or potential customers) like dirt. This goes waaay beyond that.

    Devon-I'm totally ignorant in this field-what is ARC? Pardon my ignorance. I promise not to blast you if you tell me it's very basic knowledge. 🙂

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  • Eileen May 5, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    Thanks for sharing this link. It was truly the best entertainment I've seen in a long time. I was laughing so hard tears were running down my cheeks. My kids think I'm insane.

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  • Wendy May 5, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    I think she went from being mad at the low-starred review to acting like a child who wasn't getting her way. I certainly have no desire to ever buy any of her books strictly because of that.

    Cathy, I also quit after she threw out the F-word. There was no call for that, no matter how mad you may be.

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  • Jenn Mattern May 5, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    Oh boy. I remember when that happened. On one hand I felt bad for her because I can't imagine any rational person acting that way. On the other hand, I was extremely amused by the simple "f* off" responses. I'm all for a potty mouth when appropriate, but a response to a book review isn't the time and someone else's blog isn't the place.

    One of the craziest things about this case is that you can see how awful her writing is from her comments, but more importantly from the Amazon description she wrote for her own book. Read it. It's frightening. But also funny.

    The worst part was when I visited her site and saw she's older than my mother. If we were talking about a youngen who didn't know any better, I'd laugh it off and probably just forget about them. But she's been around long enough to know better. She acts 18, but she's closer to 58. No excuses.

    And wow. Her bio on her site sounds kind of nutty in my opinion. Give it a read when you have some time. http://authorjacquelinehowett.weebly.com/bio.html

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  • Cathy May 5, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    Okay, Jenn, now you put a whole other image in my head-I'm old enough to be your mother! LOL!!! 😀

    And this is a good lesson in stereotyping – I was sure she was a Youngen. Shame on me. 🙂

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  • Jake P May 5, 2011 at 3:21 pm

    Bwahahaha! What struck me is that the review's first paragraph is quite complimentary ("compelling and interesting"), and second graf is quite even-handed in its criticism. This lady clearly needs some anger management counseling.

    Jenn is right that her writing is atrocious, in light of which I'd say the review is kinder than it should have been. And you must, must, must read the bio. This was my fave: "She wrote articles and sent them out to the masses, with the money from her own pocket, during the ignorant times of denial, when sexual promiscuity was rampant, and gays were just coming out of the closet." I wonder if it was Euripides or "Edga" Allan Poe who influenced her in that epic prosaic gem…

    Cathy, ARC=Advanced Reading Copy 🙂

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  • Wendy May 5, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    Thanks for the link to the bio, Jenn. Now, I understand…

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  • Cathy May 5, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    Thanks, Jake-I knew it was going to have me showing my ignorance.

    Good thing I recognize my limitations. Too bad the same couldn't be said about the author IMHO. (see-I know acronyms, too). 🙂

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  • JMS May 5, 2011 at 6:15 pm

    Jake, I don't even know what to say about that quote.

    Cathy, I wish more people were aware of their limitations! Not everyone is a natural writer, and that's fine. There must be something this woman is good at, but it is not writing.

    Some of the comments are priceless. I particularly like "You act like a child when told your macaroni painting isn't worthy to sit in the Louvre."

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  • Paula May 5, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    I can only quote 90% of the responses I waded through: Wow…oh, wow.

    The only rational excuse for her behavior that I can come up with is that perhaps she had a nervous breakdown upon reading what was actually a fairly complimentary review of the story itself.

    Thanks a lot Jenn, now I have to go read her bio. There goes the rest of my lunch break!

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  • Anne Wayman May 5, 2011 at 7:48 pm

    Yikes, poor dear… and all in one day too! Could that be right or are the dates funny there.

    This is such an example of a flame war… the reviewer would have been better off responding only once or twice and then letting it go… no one is served by this.

    Sorry Lori, but I hate it when I have to watch people go nuts… she needs help.

    sigh

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  • Devon Ellington May 5, 2011 at 8:17 pm

    Cathy, an ARC is an "Advanced Reading Copy" or "Advanced Reader Copy", depending upon the company. Sometimes it has the cover art; often it just has the book's name, author name, and details we need for the review, like number of pages, imprint info, release date, price, and the all=important ISBN number, along with the PR contact. Even if the book comes out in hardcover, the ARC is paperbound.

    I once had an editor transpose the dates of an historical event that I had correct in my galleys (and had the proof), but the company refused to change it or put in an errata slip. I was mortified. But, you know what? Other than some snarky or puzzled comments, which I dealt with, and feeling like crap for a few weeks, the world did not end.

    Reviews are part of the gig. I don't love everything I'm sent for review (although I try to be as fair and positive as possible, while still being honest), and not everyone's going to love what I write. Part of the deal. You have to learn how to cope. It's part of the business.

    I had a publisher go apes*$t on me when I pointed out that he released a $50 book with 15 typos in the first 45 pages. Not the ARC, but the finished book. That should have been caught, especially at that price. And some of the typos completely changed the meaning (it was a biography of someone whose work I was very familiar with, which is why I'd been assigned the book). When you use "warn" instead of "warm" — that changes the context pretty significantly.

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  • Cathy May 5, 2011 at 9:41 pm

    Thanks for the education, Devon. There is so much to learn. I appreciate it.

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  • Lori May 9, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    Oh. My. Lord. Jen, I had no idea how old she was! Her photo suggests someone much younger, in fact. Sheesh.

    I felt the same way – the reviewer was complimentary except for the errors. The objections came out of nowhere, from what I saw.

    JMS, I agree. Some writers aren't superb spellers. They can weave a story, but can't get it grammatically correct. That's fine. It's why editors exist. I work with a client frequently who understands he/she has limitations and pays me to manage that limitation. Nothing wrong with that. (I liked the macaroni comment, too!)

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