Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Public Displays of Whinery

There's been a lot of public whining by generally well-known authors lately. Patricia Cornwell ring any bells? Jacqueline Frank and now Adele Ashworth are being added to the mix. Read the whole story here, then come back and tell me what you think.

Should authors shut it and man up? Or do they have a right to spout off on the web (where everything becomes a permanent record) about this stuff? Would you do it? If so, why? If not, why?

Personally, I think it must be very tempting for the big bad author to take on the lowly reader, royalty statements in hand, waving like some strange proof of authority. However, I hope that I would never do it. The authors just end up looking sad and petty in my opinion. It's a lot like Miss Piggy and Kermit. She was always karate chopping him for not loving her, but who knew better than Kermit how he felt? If a reader doesn't like your book, beating them up isn't going to change their minds.
Seriously though, talk to me. What do you think?


  1. I think authors can spout off wherever and say whatever they want to. I just think we should all remember that sometimes the words we leave on message boards, blogs and comment chains could come back to bite us. If a reader doesn't like something you've written, that could negatively effect sales, true, but if you come back and rail against that reader, how much more damage could your own words do? I've never read Cornwall. I thought about it, but I haven't had the time. Now, I'm just not interested in anything she has to say. *shrug* I've never heard of the other two gals, but the one who got uptight about the bookstore not knowing who she is? She's not going to be someone I'll seek out at the store next time.

    I accept that some people aren't going to like what I write. It's their choice, after all. I'm counting on the ones who will, and they're the important ones because they'll be ones paying to read my work. =o)

    Take a page from PT Barnum: "You can please some of the people some of the time, but you can't please all of the people all of the time." And then get over yourself. Sheesh.

  2. And by 'yourself', I do not mean you, Kristen. You're awesome. I was talking to the workers at the whinery. ;o)

  3. I hate the public stringing up of authors for mocking with a thousand burning suns. Any of it. Do some people deserve it? Absolutely-but if we all got what we deserved there'd be no one left. Casting stones and all that.

    Should authors whine? Depends on what the subject is. Historical accuracy? You'll never please everybody. Don't bother. I'm in the fanatically accurate camp, but I'd never rail against an author for bending rules.

    I've gotten bad reviews, and I've never ever called the reviewer out on the mat. And I hope that I never will. But I get really upset when writers are jabbed at by anyone with a keyboard and a platform and made a laughing stock. I'm sure no one would want to be in their shoes and I would bet that the 'lesson' such sites are trying to impart is lost in anger and hurt. It all really is nothing more that pointing and laughing.

    Should writers whine at all? I would like to say no, but I'm human and I'm sure I've said things online that I regret.

  4. Well, first off, I don't know if I can grant any premise that's at all negative about Miss Piggy, who is and always has a cherished role model for me. Kermit was a waffler and a tease, and he deserved every karate chop he ever got.

    That said, I think there's a big difference between Patricia Cornwell's possibly-justified suspicions that the right wing has mobilized against her because of her political stance in a recent book, and whining over a bad review. Bad reviews are part of the business, and mean little or nothing in the grand scheme. Often books with universally gushing reviews sell poorly, while books that are panned by critics are eaten up by readers. And most books are somewhere in between, liked by some reviewers and disliked by others. I guess I feel like, authors can moan about whatever they want, but for sure, everything they say in a public forum contributes to my impression of them. And with so many wonderful books on the shelves, why would I buy something written by an author who leaves a bad taste in my mouth?

  5. It's funny how readers and unpub writers can complain publicly - vent all their frustrations about editors and publishers and whine about how this or that editor, agent or publisher did this or that in all kinds of public forums -, yet those published can't. They have opinions too. They're entitled to express them. That won't make me buy or not their books. *shrugs*

  6. My feeling is that reviews are just one person's opinion of something. And who knows what outside influences affected their interpetation of the book.

    When I read a book, it isn't because a reviewer told me to or not to, it's because after looking the book over, I make the decision.

    Do I think authors have the right to have their say? You bet. But sometimes the wisest thing to do is to bite the bullet and move on.

    It's easy for us to say what they should or should not do, but if it were me...I guess I'm glad I don't have to make the decision.

  7. I think it would be better all the way around if authors stayed off the reader forums. It's one thing to see what readers are saying about your books but don't comment. If an author wants to interact with readers, she(he) should do it in a venue like MySpace but not on a forum where it seems that there are always people itching for an argument.

  8. Um, wait a minute...
    Does Patricia Cornwall actually blame the Pentagon or officials at the Pentagon for her recent bad reviews?
    Hey, she can say whatever makes her sleep better at night.
    But I hope I don't become a public whiner.

  9. Louisa - I never realized it, I was always thinking "Poor Kermit" but you are a 100% right. He was a waffler AND a tease!