About this week’s literary dustup

There’s been some online verbal boxing between readers, authors and agents in the last week or so. Publishers Weekly reports.

Should Authors and Agents Weigh In on Citizen Reviews?

Is it time for a Miss Manners intervention? These days it’s tricky to keep up with the name-calling surrounding citizen reviews on Goodreads, Amazon, and Twitter.

In other words, this isn’t powerhouse publishers sniping at reviewers from Publishers Weekly or the New York Times. It’s authors venting at readers who failed to rave about their books.

In the biggest recent dustup, over a one-star January 13 Goodreads review of Kiera Cass’s The Selection – a YA novel about a lottery that allowed 35 teenage girls to compete, a la The Bachelor, for a handsome prince – the war of words got heated enough that one commenter referred to a citizen reviewer as “that bitch.”

My thoughts:

1. Writers: Rise above. Unless a malicious troll is deliberately trying to destroy a book or its author with diatribes and libel, leave it alone. Resist the urge to slash back. No matter how infuriating it can be to read a lousy review, don’t yell and call names. To the outside world, it comes off like a forty-something engaging in a screaming match with a six-year-old. Everybody who sees it thinks: Who’s the adult here?

Clue: Be the adult.

2. In the annals of reviewer-bashing, this dustup is small potatoes. For raging, out-of-control writer vitriol, nobody can top Aaron Sorkin, who not only waded into the comment forums on Television Without Pity but then wrote an entire episode of The West Wing that ripped apart online discussion groups. (Search for the phrase “sitting in a muu-muu and smoking Parliament Lights.”)

3. Remember what an actual, serious problem looks like: Salman Rushdie has pulled out of the Jaipur Literary Festival because intelligence sources warned him that underworld figures were sending assassins to kill him.

One response to “About this week’s literary dustup

  1. There’s an awful lot of preciousssnesss in the world. Look what it did for gollum.

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