Drama in the Lit Blog World

Big-time drama in the lit blog world this morning, folks. Quick version: a book review posted here upset the author of said book, who posted something here. Author feels upset because he gave said reviewer the book for free in a giveaway contest. Author leaves anonymous (and angry) comments at the site of the review and threatens lawsuit over quotes and book cover posted on said review.

EDIT TO UPDATE: The author in question has chosen to remove his post in this matter.

I'm thinking of renaming this blog As the Page Turns. I could post anonymous comments on various blogs and stir up all sorts of trouble and then give great coverage here. Maybe Technorati would then feel my blog was actually worth more than $0.00. I'll think on it. In the meantime.....

My questions for all of you:
  1. Do you write reviews of books you've won in giveaways?
  2. Do you have a contract with publishers/authors in order to retain the right to give a negative review if you feel it's warranted?
  3. Do you shy away from self-published books? If so, why?
  4. Should reviewers be taking legal precautions to protect themselves?
  5. Have you ever had a stalker? (Random non-related question just for the heck of it. I'm thinking of becoming the.effing.librarian's internet stalker since I don't qualify for his job opening posted here.)


  1. I appreciate honest reviews and want to know when a book is not that great. That author was way out of line. He needs to realize that his book won't be loved by everyone.

  2. Thanks for the link to the author's blog. I went and read what he wrote and left a comment.

  3. We all tend to find other bloggers who have tastes similar to our own, and then turn to them for suggestions. If they didn't like a book, I might not like it either. That's not to say *no one* would like it. That's the beauty of blog reviews. You get both sides and authors need to understand that not everyone will like their book. They need to take the good with the bad if they're putting themselves out there. Also, if they're sending out books, they might want to familiarize themselves with the blogger's style, good reviews and bad, and decide if they can handle it no matter which way the blogger goes with his/her book.

    That being said, my general rule if I didn't care for a book is to find *something* that I liked and highlight that. Though I think if people have read a number of my reviews, it becomes obvious which books I genuinely liked and which I wasn't so taken with.


    PS I think your blog is worth waaaayyy more than $0.00. :-)

  4. This guy needs to grow a thicker skin! And when he says he didn't expect anything in return, that's not quite true. He emailed the winner and asked her to review the book. That's not "nothing in return" in my opinion.

    I would love to review books that I win in contests but, in practice, I rarely get to them since my priority goes to books I have been sent by the publisher/author in exchange for my review.

  5. Love the graphics!! I second everything Lezlie said...very nicely put!

    After my last experience with a self-published author I won't be signing up for that again!

    If you put your work out there asking for feedback, don't get your panties in a wad because it isn't the feedback you wanted. And, how will you ever improve yourself without constructive criticism? Guy needs to grow some cojones and grow up!

  6. On the author's blog I quote "She then went to great lengths to trash the book up and down the internet."

    I'm sorry, but posting a review is not great lengths. Great lengths is posting a negative review on your blog, librarything, barnes and noble, facebook's livingsocial, shelfari, or whatever bookish places you go to.

    The author had to know she is a reviewer and should not have behaved the way he did. Someone did not like his book. He behaved quite immaturely. He could have used her criticism to become a better writer!

  7. Well I have to say that agree with everything said so far (especially with Lezlie...re: my blog is worth more than $0.00).

    It sounded to me like the author actually emailed her prior to the review to ask if she'd read/reviewed it yet....so it's clear that he knew a review was coming. Evidently he forgot to stipulate that it was supposed to be a glowing review. Hmmm.

    Amy - and isn't it sad about the self-published authors? I'm afraid I may be missing out on something great by passing on their novels. Especially since in today's publishing market (you know, the one in the toilet these days), you just know some great books might end up going the self-published route.

    Maybe there's a full moon? It's so danged cloudy/rainy here I wouldn't know. But it would explain a lot.

  8. Thanks for the heads up on this one Michele. Very interesting..
    If I've won a book in a giveaway, I don't feel a great pressing need to read/review until the time is right for me.
    I haven't had anything really bad with self published - I just find the writing is generally not that good. I had a stalker stalking a Canadian author all over the Canadian book blog scene and had to moderate comments for awhile as it just descended into name calling.
    I reviewed a book today received through Bostick. It was a children's book. It wasn't that bad at all. i had a few things I thought I mentioned in a constructive manner. The publisher emailed me and thanked me for an honest review. The author thanked me for my time. Then no-reply Vince proceeded to tell me how wrong I was in my one of my opinions.
    Get over it people - that's what makes the world go round. A different viewpoint, opinion and the right to express them in a positive way.

    ( ps Michele - I'm worth $0 too!)

  9. Oops - here's my ps ( wow I'm rambling today) Anyway I had another recently reivewed self published author ask me to post my review on Amazon if it was 4 stars or more. Nervy eh?

  10. That is wild, Luanne....a stalker going after an author? Wow. Guess they didn't like the book, eh?

    I try to find the good in almost all books just because I can't imagine all the work that goes into writing a novel. I tend to be less sympathetic, though, when a publisher lets a book go to press with all sorts of grammatical or spelling error...drives me nuts.

    So, did you post the review on Amazon? LOL!

  11. Great post, Michele! Definitely worth talking about. Maybe my review was too honest...but what's done is done and I'll definitely learn from this experience!

  12. Trish - I hope this experience doesn't prevent you from continuing to post such awesome and honest reviews! I enjoy reading them.

    If you need anything from us, please just ask. I support you 100%!

  13. I should mention the lawsuit hasn't been threatened, but it's been insinuated. I received a "SECOND NOTICE" today to remove the text and cover from my blog, and the email was sent from his law firm email address.

  14. I really wish I could have read his whole post! Looks like he was surprised that the comments weren't going his way. Like I've stated on everybody else's posts (because everybody's writing about this one), I think it helps to have a review policy on your blog. It gives a contract of sorts. Mine clearly states that the review may not be favorable but my honest opinion. This author clearly can't take a little criticism because Trish's post wasn't even that harsh. I think it's important to review the book not the author.

  15. I try to review and post a snippet regarding all books that I read whether I buy them or win them. But if I win a book I don't feel a particular pressure to review it, especially if it was a "snore" or something I couldn't bear to finish.

    But I agree that I won't be silenced by a free book. I am flabbergasted that an author could actually think they would get positive reviews for sending a book. Or that a reviewer would recommend a book that they didn't like.

    There are so many talented writers in blog land that write their reviews in a whimsical humorous way that I sometimes enjoy the critical reviews over some of the actual books. And some of the best reviews are ones where the reviewer were openly honest about their agony during reading. (do I have a sick sense of humor?)

    I've never been stalked. :)

  16. Michele...it was a full moon last night...that must be it.

  17. 1. Yes I write reviews of book won in giveaways but they tend to be on the back burner of books to read because of ARCs and book challenges.
    2. I don't currently have a "contract" with publishers/authors but plan on writing something up about it.
    3. I accept self-published books for review. Although it was a self-published author who was rude and out of line at her blog, what's to stop a none self-published author to do the saem?
    4. God I hope not. If it's going to get that difficult I won't want to review books anymore.
    5. No stalkers thank goodness.

  18. How seriously foolish of the author. Sending a book to a blogger in no way guarantees a good review, and it never should. Bloggers need to be honest, otherwise how will his/her readers trust their future reviews and advice? I cautioned against this in my guest post over at Nathan Bransford's blog. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot!

  19. I agree he was very foolish to post what he did. Especially for a self published author. News of this all gets out and I can't think a lot of people will want to review his books.

    I have read a fair number of self published books recently and reviewed a few. And you know what...most of them are pretty bad.
    Maybe why many were not published.

    BUT...one of my favorite books of the year was also a self published book. A book that truly deserved the support of a good publishing house but for a reason I can not understand has not yet been picked up. So I hate to say I will never accept another self published book and throw the baby out with the bath water.

  20. the.effing.librarian is not stalk-worthy.

  21. the.effing.librarian is now ruining my plans. Besides, everyone knows that a good stalker will bring all sorts of new traffic to your blog.

  22. I have some excellent news. According to http://www.websiteoutlook.com/ your blog is actually worth $2416.3!!!!!

  23. 1. Do you write reviews of books you've won in giveaways?

    If I read the book, then yes. I have too little time and too much blog to read books and then not review them.

    2. Do you have a contract with publishers/authors in order to retain the right to give a negative review if you feel it's warranted?

    Nope. I don't have a contract period. They're not paying me so why would there be a contract involved? Any publisher that I deal with that uses a form for book giveaways has a TOS, but none of them compel me to write a positive review or refrain from posting reviews online because it would damage their reputation to have a clause like that.

    Any publisher or author with more than two neurons firing is well aware that bad reviews happen.

    3. Do you shy away from self-published books? If so, why?

    Yes, I won't touch them with a 10-foot pole. The great majority are self-published because a publisher, quite rightfully, wouldn't touch them with a 10 foot pole. There are a few that aren't published because they are well written but too limited in audience for a publisher to make a profit. I don't have time to find the latter, while slogging through the former.

    Also, self-published authors are often (by no means always) unable to deal with the conventional publishing process, which includes critical reviews. Life is short, and I'd rather be doing things other than worrying about some self-published author going off the deep end.

    4. Should reviewers be taking legal precautions to protect themselves?

    There is already legal protection in place, if you're speaking of the legal right to critique. The other legal protections, in terms of personal safety, are of no use to someone intent on being creepy and harassing.

    5. Have you ever had a stalker?

    No, but I've had a few potential-stalker bad vibe experiences.

  24. Toni - we have a similar sense of humor. ;)

    Natasha - agreed. That's why I don't review authors who I don't care for on a personal level....it would color my review.

    Ann - I can certainly appreciate where you're coming from on the self-published authors stance. I guess it's because every so often I run into a good one and I hold out hope the next one will be, too. (eg - a recent review of mine covered a self-published book called Lion's Pride and it was a great book). But admittedly it doesn't happen too often.

  25. Michele, I know they are out there. I'm just not of the temperament to find them. I reviewed one that was essentially self-pub, though it got off on a technicality, which was nowhere near ready for publication.

    All the reviews I saw on the 'net were, if not glowing, way too generous just based on the technical merits of the writing. I'm afraid I don't trust the opinions of those reviewers anymore, just as I don't trust reviewers who only do positive reviews.

    As a reader I need to know what it takes for a reviewer to dislike a book, so that I can better understand what it takes for the reviewer to like a book. How "easy" are they? It's the same concept as not knowing what beauty is if you can't compare it to ugly.

    Okay, that was a bit of a ramble, but I see I'm not the only one.

  26. Ann - that wasn't a ramble...it was some of the clearest thoughts I've read on the subject (and I can't tell you how much I agree with you on this one.)

    And you're absolutely right regarding "sizing up" a reviewer. (Funny...that's what I do, too).

    And by the way, if you ever need a reminder as to why avoid self-published books, just give me a shout --- I've got a doozy here that will remind you. ;)

  27. Great post! I haven't read all the comments yet, but here's my opinion: You write something for the public, you send it out to the public, you have to live with the reviews. That's the way life is.

    I wouldn't hold back on writing a respectful, negative review. What's the point of writing reviews if every book is fantastic. Your readers and blog friends wouldn't learn a thing.

    Disclaimer (of sorts): I'm too old to have been part of the whole self-esteem thing, so I don't actually expect everyone to love everything I do.


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