Hate-Fueled Rants

I recently had the displeasure of reading some comments left by a disgruntled person on a fellow author’s blog following a celebratory moment of success.  The comments left were so harsh, I was shocked that such hate could come about from another’s success.

Before we continue, I totally stand behind the freedom of speech, but there is a fine line between expressing your educated opinion and personally attacking someone.

Let’s put this in perspective. 

If a reader posts, “I have no clue why this book is so successful. I found the dialog stilted and the plot lacking substance,” I can presume that the reader did not connect with the material.  Got it.  Everyone has different experiences from reading the same paragraph.  Even now, you as a reader, are forming interpretations of what I’m writing here because that is how adults process new material. We equate and compare new input to past knowledge, experiences, and situations. And no, I’m not just pulling that out of the air; I have read and studied tons of material on how adults learn because I used to be a corporate trainer, training adults, so my statement comes from years of psychological study.  It is why many book reviews refer to and compare to other published material that the reader has read prior.  “This book is a rip-off of Twilight.”  Sound familiar?

Back to point.  If a reader posts, “There is no way this book is worthy of 5 stars. You must have paid for all of those reviews and tricked the publisher into buying this load of crap, you fat bitch.  Your writing sucks. My dog can crap better work,” well, to me, that is way beyond a product review. 

So I’m left wondering – when did we as a population of consumers get so harshly opinionated? Can I presume or assume that the reviewer who felt compelled to “tell us how they really felt” is a disgruntled consumer or can he/she be a frustrated writer whose own work is not as successful? 

I don’t know about the type of home you grew up in, but my mother (and many others) reinforced the principle, “If you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all.”  But then again, I, as a consumer, have the full rights to be vocal and to rate a product any way I choose if it didn’t meet my expectations.

So let’s talk about expectations.  Books, novels, are a work of art.  Like a painting, movie, or a song, they are left to be interpreted by YOU.  Years ago, when I started reading, I never once had the desire or urge to write to an author to tell him how much his/her work sucked or may have offended me.  I often refer back to one of my first experiences reading “adult” material, which was “Flowers in the Attic” by V.C. Andrews.  It was brilliantly written, compelling, but dealt with very controversial topics for the time.  I’m sure she received a ton of flack back when her novel first published, but no matter how much negative press she received, the book took off and was loved by millions.  I couldn’t put the paperback down either (And Fran, if you’re reading this, I still have your paperback. I know it’s been like 30 years since you lent it to me. You can kick my butt for it next time I see you.  The book is on my bookshelf in the loft. I dust it often.)

When you buy a book, you are expected to be entertained for X amount of pages.  Let’s face it; that’s what reading IS.  It is entertainment. As a novelist, it is my job to entertain you.  Some may find me funny, some may find me annoying.  You are entitled to form your own opinion.

But when you reach out and post your opinion in a personal space, like on the artist’s very own blog, you are now directly infringing on the artist’s rights to have a blemish-free marketing tool.  As the owner of the marketing tool, you shouldn’t feel pressured or guilty if you decide to remove the hate-fueled rant left on your platform.

I think out of most of the “artists” out there, authors have made themselves the most accessible and available to interacting with their following.   If you wrote to Channing Tatum to tell him how hot he was in “Magic Mike” would he send you back an “aw, thanks so much! Hugs!” message to you?

Maybe he would.  I haven’t written to Channing so I honestly don’t know.  Would I send a message to Channing Tatum?  Hell no. If you’ve read my novels, you know where I stand on reaching out to movie stars.

Do I respond to everyone who writes to me?  Hell yes.  (Disclaimer – I don’t really answer mail on Goodreads or Twitter. I’m a Facebooker to the core. Hook up with me there and you’re guaranteed to get a reply.)

The point to all of this is this:  If you want to reach out and connect, do so positively.  If you didn’t like a novel, rate the work without resorting to name calling and being offensive.  (No, we as authors don’t have that many well-connected family members, family with tons of Amazon accounts to leave fake reviews, and most of us have been on a diet at least 5 times in our lifetimes so pointing out the size of our asses is truly pointless.)

If you feel so compelled to look up my website and leave me a hate-fueled rant on how much I suck, know that this is my zone and stuff like that has no place in my zone.  I would never come to your house and pee on your carpets so don’t expect me to tolerate if you come to mine and try to squat.

And the final point:  without readers, we, as novelists, are just words on a page.  A story that was in our heads that we had to put into a Word document.  We don’t start our days thinking about how we can effectively piss people off with shoddy writing.

All we did was try to entertain you.

Be kind.  Make the world a kinder place. Be an example to our future generations.

Thanks for listening.  HUGS.

  • Heather Johnson

    Wow. I can’t believe how hateful people can be. Talk about “Drinking the hatorade”… Geesh. That is so totally messed up that people would actually resort to name calling and hateful accusations. I’m amazed.

  • Sebella Blue

    I am so embarrassed as a reader, no as a human, when I hear about something like this. Not everyone likes everything. That being said, I think people who use the anonymity of bashing writers have a more severe issue than just being rude and tactless. It’s like road rage, the majority of the offenders would never dare react in such a way in a face to face circumstance. It’s a relatively safe way to vent their general dissatisfaction with their lives. So sorry this happened.

  • Bravo, and well said. Reviews and critiques should always, always be from the motive of helping, wanting the best for the author/writer, or at least to give an opinion from a position of intelligence and maturity. There is no place in this process for personal attacks, at all.
    Very good article. Thank you.

  • Hey Tina,

    Well said. You are my teacher and I will happily learn from you how to develop a tough skin. I am a fan first, love you and your writing. Second I am a brand new newbie in this writing world and I am finally trying to accomplish this dream of mine and publish my first book. Having said all that, I understand I am putting myself out there for the world to see and sadly judge. I know I want an honest review for my work, but also I don’t want to be pulled apart and dissected because a reader doesn’t like what I wrote. Why do that to an author? I don’t pretend to understand it, but I am learning, and at the end of the day, it’s an opinion, and I can’t let it define me. I love to write and hope to be doing it for many years to come. You always respond when I post on your page, you have heart and you always take time to talk to your fans, this is one of the many reasons why you are one of the best. Love ya Tina, thank you for inspiring me:)

    Soon to be, Author Mary A. Wasowski

  • Brooke

    Thank you so much for writing this. I could not agree more. I would like to add, that as a reader, I get so frustrated when other people attack certain books and authors, because in doing so, they are also insulting those readers who DO enjoy the book(s), in effect saying they are foolish and wouldn’t know what a good book was. Everyone is not going to like every book in every genre — and that is okay, to each their own. But just because you didn’t like it, doesn’t mean that someone else didn’t find it enjoyable or meaningful and there is noting wrong in that at all.

  • Tonya K

    Well said! I agree, one might not (and most likely doesn’t) like EVERYTHING they read, which is fine. And if one doesn’t like it, and feels compelled to put that in text, so be it. But to attack one’s person or abilities and integrity is offensive. Unfortunately, social media, email, and every other impersonal method of communication out there has made it incredibly easy for people to say ANYTHING they want without a filter for decency or conscience. Because that same small-minded person is probably not likely to go up to the same person they sent a message to and say the exact rant to their face. You don’t have to like the artwork, but you have to at least respect the artist. It takes courage, heart and soul to do what you do.

  • Dena Kendig

    Well said! I always think that if you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face, don’t put it in print! Seems passive aggressive and cowardly! And if you didn’t like the book, sorry! I don’t like every song on the radio, so I change the station!
    I agree! Try to build up your fellow human beings, not find another reason to bring more pain. Haven’t we had enough of that?

  • Nicole Devin

    I am deeply disturbed by almost every comment section, anywhere at all. I think the potential anonymity of it makes people feel like they can say anything, with no repercussions.

  • Michelle

    I appreciate and agree with your thoughts on negative feedback and such. I have noticed that since we have become so much more internet based, it is so much easier to get on your high horse and criticize without worry of hurting feelings. I have felt this way for a while now, with other aspects of internet, such as Facebook and internet chatting. People assume a sense of anonymity and can say what they want without others knowing who they are. Makes me sad. And I am sad that there are so many people who have had to take this approach, that means that the problem is getting worse. I’m sorry no matter who gets the insults, and no matter what the area.

  • I, of course, have read this & A)I’m glad you enjoyed the book, honored that you remember it was me, B) people are addicted to anger & negative feelings & have this great technology to hide behind which makes them the worst kind of cowards C) I remember your ass just always being a hero to me, when I cried like an idiot on one of our first horse lessons together, when I broke the key in the lock, when we….let’s face it I could go on forever, you’re a stand up gal in a sit & bitch world. Write on T, write on.

  • Lisa

    “Applause” thank you for putting this out there! An avid reader and I read to s of different kinds of books but it bugs me when I see someone rip apart an authors work. I love readj g and wish I possessed the talent it takes to tell the stories you all do. Have I read books I haven’t cared for? Of course. Have I been honest in my reviews of these books yes. But these reviews are only my opinion and I try to put it out three that way! So again bravo to you for saying this!
    Ps… I love your books;-)

  • Lisa

    It’s disappointing how hateful some people can be. There really is no need to be rude, especially on an author’s personal space. When I see comments like that on Amazon, Goodreads, or wherever it is I’m reading reviews, I just skip over them. For me at least, it is the thoughtfully given reviews that stick out in my mind when considering my next book to read. I hope others take that approach as well, it hasn’t steered me wrong so far.

  • Has anyone told you how awesome you are today??? I’m sure they have, but if not….you’re freaking awesome.

    What happened to the time when people were happy for other people? When we celebrated each other’s success? Writing a novel is difficult and brave, it takes a lot of guts to put your “baby” out there for others to read and review! Regardless if everyone likes it or not, it is an accomplishment. We should be proud of each other!!

  • Joanna Sickels

    I am so sorry to hear that you were attacked. I agree with everyone here. Opinions are opinions- not facts and shouldn’t be shoved down peoples’ throats. Not everyone loves the same thing… people should be mature enough to respect that and move along to something they DO enjoy. I personally LOVE your authentic, original material. I fell in love with your characters immediately. You are a beautiful, wonderful person- inside AND out. Don’t EVER let anyone tell you differently. I wish you all the very best in all of your writing endeavors. 🙂