Word of mouth is a bitch: an opinionated response.

If this is Massara reading the paper, guess which side I'm on. 😛

There’s a bit of a debate raging in the book blogosphere.

Independent author Sylvia Massara wrote a blog post urging authors to beware “the unprofessional reviewer.” However, Massara took what could have been a professional, diplomatically written blog post and turned it into a whining rant stemmed from reading a bad review about one of her books.

Massara’s blog post is objective for all of three paragraphs. In the fourth paragaph, it becomes blaringly clear that Massara is writing from anger. Not only does call the reviewers of her work unprofessional, she claims they were not objective in their reviews and then she states who these bloggers are and links to their respective websites.

It’s one thing to claim a book review website is being unprofessional, it’s another thing entirely to name who they are. At this point, Massara’s just pointing fingers at the people who gave her a bad review.

As a book blogger, I’ve written my share of good and bad reviews. I’ve even written a review on a book I did not finish. I stated that I did not finish that book and I even told readers to take my review with a grain of salt because of that.

Regardless of whether my reviews are glowing or scathing, one thing remains the same: all of my reviews are subjective.

It’s almost impossible to write an objective review. It’s a review. It’s commentary on what I liked or did not like about something. And while I agree with Massara when she says that reviewers should back up their comments with facts (provided that it does not ruin the book), I do not agree with Massara on several other things she comments about in her blog post.

In her post, Massara writes, “Oftentimes, the people who set up these [book review] blogs have never written a thing in their lives, except maybe a grocery list. Most are avid readers who think they are qualified to review someone else’s work.”

Ouch, Massara, ouch.

You basically  just called readers/book reviewers idiots.

Unless you know every reader/book reviewer on the net personally, don’t insult them.

I’m a writer. I write fiction and I write articles. I’m also a wife. I write grocery lists and I write to-do lists.

I’m also a public relations major, so let me give you some free public relations advice: issue an apology. Apologize to those book bloggers you bashed in your post. Apologize to the readers/reviewers who came to your blog today. Apologize via Facebook. Apologize on Twitter. APOLOGIZE.

You’ve already ruined your reputation, but don’t be a bitch about it. Apologize.

The only people unqualified to review a book are people who have not read the book.

Whether a person reads one book a year or 20 books a month, they are qualified to review someone else’s work. That’s how it works. A person reads a book and forms an opinion. They either enjoyed the book or they didn’t.

That opinion is subjective. I may read a book and think the world of it. I’ll recommend that book to a friend. My friend may read the book and think it was OK, but nothing great. Another friend may read it and think, “What a load of crap.”

I know writers usually aren’t big for math lessons, but let’s try a simple one.

If reviews = opinions, and opinions = subjective, then it’s safe to say that reviews are subjective.

It’s really that simple.

“It’s very sad when [book reviewers] go about damaging the image of upcoming small press and indie authors with the rubbish they write,” Massara states in her blog.

No, Massara.

What’s sad is an indie author ruining her own career with a single, badly-written, unprofessional blog post.

You know what else is sad? An eleven year old shaming you on your own blog post.

Eleven-year-old book blogger Melina comments, “It is kind of mean to link to their blogs and say what you said. They were just blogging their feelings about your book. You are blogging about their blogs and about them as people. It’s different.”


Other comments to Massara’s post come from other authors. An anonymous author writes, “Please, please, please, do yourself a favor and remove this post before it gets out of hand and damages your career.”

Oops. Too late.

The book blogosphere is buzzing about your whining rant, Massara.

And this time, you have no one to blame but yourself.

Edit: Apparently, Massara has edited her post. She has taken down the links of the review blogs she bashed and added a tidbit at the end of her post about commenting. Sorry, Massara. It’s too late. Google has cached your original post, and the damage has already been done.

Edit Part Deux: Checking back with Massara, she’s now deleted all the comments to the post. Still no apology.

22 responses

  1. Cid

    It’s unfortunate it got to that.

    February 9, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    • Alice

      It is, but she did it to herself. It’s too late for her to remove the post now and her career is being damaged each time some one reads that post or a post about that post.

      She should shut down the comments on that post and issue apologies ASAP.

      February 9, 2011 at 12:57 pm

  2. It’s a classic example of why you should not click “Submit” before you calm down and give yourself a chance to rethink and revise.

    I received a bad review before and let me tell you I went through many stages.

    As one commentor states, “As an author it is so important to bear things like this with dignity and grace.”

    February 9, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    • Alice

      A lot of people, including authors, reminded her that not everyone is going to like your work.

      What’s funnier, is that she begins the post by saying that very same thing.

      February 9, 2011 at 1:13 pm

  3. Yeah, I’m totally reading Melina’s blog now. She’s very articulate for her age. I’d say she rivals most adults.

    So, thank you, Sylvia Massara, for letting me discover a few new book blogs to follow. And helping me save money. Because I’ll never buy your books. Ever.

    February 9, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    • Alice

      She’s helped a lot of people save money, I’d wager.

      February 9, 2011 at 1:14 pm

  4. Carolyn

    Wise words, and much to take note of. Good post, Alice.

    It also helps–if you have something you want to rant about, take the time to show it to a friend. Or two. Or four. Sometimes, I am boiling-mad about something, but talking to someone else gives the chance for common-sense to emerge, and that is a good thing.

    February 9, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    • Alice

      The other thing she does poorly that I didn’t address in my post is the fact that she comments anonymously. I mean, you put your name on an idiot post, you may as well attach it to idiot comments too.

      February 9, 2011 at 3:50 pm

  5. One thing subbing my MS to agents and publisher is that I learned to take rejection. You have no place to vent it (professionally speaking). You can’t message the agent or publisher who rejected your MS and call them idiots. You can’t rant about them personally on your blog.

    You swallow it and move one.

    I’ve learned the hard way that if you have a rant, rant to your family. They love you. They’ll keep it private. The internet is forever.

    February 9, 2011 at 10:43 pm

    • Alice

      “The internet is forever.”

      So very true. Especially in this day and age, no matter what you do — what you put on the internet, whether it’s on FB, Twitter or a blog, is forever. People have got to be more careful about what they put out there.

      February 11, 2011 at 11:32 pm

  6. Susie

    Found the link to this through the hot mess! Unfortunately, I came across her blog only after she edited and can’t seem to locate the cached version.

    February 10, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    • Alice

      I’ll have to see if I can find it and link it on this post. The biggest difference between the edited post and the original was the inclusion of the book bloggers she was bashing.

      February 11, 2011 at 11:27 pm

    • My friend Vera over at Luxury Reading posted about this train wreck and included a link that still navigates to the cached version; in fact, I was confused when I started reading about edits because I didn’t see them!


      March 3, 2011 at 9:51 am

  7. As a a newbie to the book blogosphere, I can’t get over this whole fiasco! I was recently asked to review a book and I sought the wise and knowledgeable council of Samantha at Chick Lit Plus because I got nervous about how things could go down if my review is unfavorable.

    Clearly this is a worst case scenario and a book blogger review is by no means at fault here.

    Anyway, I was just reading through the comments on Massara’s post and picking up new bloggers to follow and get to know.

    And thank goodness I got through all the comments early because now they have all been deleted. *sigh*

    February 10, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    • Alice

      Well, I’m happy to have been found. I review books with three others over at http://www.Book-Addicts.com (or @BookAddicts on Twitter). I’ve done some bad reviews and even a DNF review, and some of the other girls have given bad reviews, and we’ve never dealt with anything like this.

      Though usually, if we didn’t like a book, we tend to not review it on the site — esp if it’s an indie author. With four of us though, usually one of us can be nice to the book. 🙂

      February 11, 2011 at 11:26 pm

  8. I’m sad that she took down the comments. They were pretty entertaining – in a sad way. It was like watching a train wreck that kept happening and happening. I agree with others – the whole post needs to come down and an apology issued.

    Just my 2 cents – I’ll go back to my grocery list now 😉

    February 10, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    • Alice

      Personally, I think taking down the comments was an even worse move on her part. It’s out, a lot of people know what was in the comments more or less and it just serves to make her look like even more of an ass for deleting all the comments and editing the original post.

      At this point, it’s too late for an apology (though she should still do it). She’s ruined her own career, and I have a feeling if she wants an audience again, she’ll need a pseudonym and a pseudo-picture..

      February 11, 2011 at 11:24 pm

  9. Barb is right, it was like watching a train wreck! Haven’t seen Sylvia apologize yet. Maybe she’s in hiding? I was inspired by all of the support the two attacked blogs received, even Sylvia’s fellow authors took her to task. I wanted to feel sorry for her, but she shot herself in the foot all by herself. Lesson #1: never post an angry rant!

    February 11, 2011 at 10:36 pm

    • Alice

      I think the better lesson would be: If you post an angry rant, do not attack people specifically. Keep it general.

      The biggest no-no she did in that post was to name/link the book bloggers.

      February 11, 2011 at 11:22 pm

  10. Ems

    It really is too bad that it went this far and that the only thing left is damage control. I do wonder if it’s even possible to rectify this mess.

    Sure, write the angry post. And then delete it. There’s a reason that a cooling-off period is recommended in therapy sessions. Get the hate out and then move on.

    The thing I’m glad about is that most authors are not like this. I’ve worked with some absolute gems. Even when I haven’t liked their books, they’ve been fantastic.

    February 12, 2011 at 10:05 pm

  11. This author is a few different levels of ridiculous. What makes it even worse is she’s a self-pub. She takes a rambling stand on how professional she is, how horrible these bloggers are, how she’s helping other authors, and she’s self-published. Any person with a word processor and internet access can self-publish a book and call themselves an author. But one thing is very clear: self-pubbed authors are not in the same realm as traditionally published authors. That’s a fact. Self-pubbed books did not go through the same editing and vetting process as traditionally published books. The author circumvented that path and did it themselves, reasons varying.

    Not all self-pubbed authors act like rabid badgers but holy crap are those that do known for going off the deep end and acting unprofessional. Every self-pubbed author I’ve come in contact with has been grossly unprofessional in their approach to get a book reviewed. I’ve had some even try to force their books on me despite the BIG RED LETTERS in my review policy indicating I won’t review self pubs or vanity presses. And oh shock. Another self-pub has gone off her rocker and exploded.

    It’s a shame because I know the off the wall self-pubs are few and far between. The majority of them are civil and professional and are just seeking alternative means to have their books published. I have no qualms with them. I take issue with the self-pubs like this that have blown up their own ego to crazy extremes that makes them look downright insane.

    Just like it sucks that the few book bloggers out there that do actually bash the hell out of books (and it’s actual bashing, not a constructive negative review) give the rest of us a bad name, self pubs like this author give the rest of the normal self-pub authors a bad name.

    Get your shit straight, lady. And chill the fuck out. The bridges are on fire and crumbling to ash right now.

    February 15, 2011 at 11:08 am

  12. I should amend my statement: not every single self-pub I’ve come across has been a trainwreck. But 99% of them were.

    February 15, 2011 at 11:15 am

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