Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Decide for Yourself Giveaway

(Posting this early as I'm going to be buried in work tomorrow)

One of you anonymous lurkers suggested having a giveaway, and since so many people are now interested in Touched by Venom by Janine Cross, I say let's do one for her book. Maybe we can cook up some new ideas on how to handle situations like these in a positive fashion, too.

In comments to this post, answer this question: Besides ignoring them, what do you think authors should do about snitfests over them and/or their work?

Post your comment before midnight EST on Friday, November 18, 2005. I'll draw ten names from everyone who participates*, and send the winners an unsigned copy of Janine Cross's Touched by Venom PLUS a surprise for being open-minded enough to give it a try. Names of the winners will be posted here at PBW by noon EST on Saturday, November 19, 2005.

*Add-on: Giveaway open to everyone on the planet; doesn't matter if you've won something before here at PBW.

57 comments:

  1. What to do? What to do?

    That's a tough one. Ignoring it and moving on looks like the best solution, but it has a big down side. If you surrender to the character assassins by default, you come off looking either arrogant or guilty. If you fight back, you open yourself up to even more and harsher attacks.

    I vote for judicious restraint. Posting rational statements like the one Ms. Cross sent you is the best way to go. While those kinds of statements won't calm the storm, they will serve to give thoughtful people pause. The people having hissy fits are not going to buy her books anyway. It's the open-minded who are willing to stretch their horizons a little who are her audience. I think she will reach a lot of those through blogs like this one, whcih encourage real rational discussion rather than flame wars.

    It's a damn shame any author has to defend her work this way, but I guess it's the price we pay for sending our words out into public.

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  2. There's the "never apologize, never explain" school and then there's "clearing up mis-understandings" school.
    Seems to me it depends on the type of snitfest. If it's clearly instigated by someone who just wants blog traffic, produced by someone who's just stupid or one of those teen-age bully-mob things, perhaps the best thing would be to ignore it.
    If it's based on mis-understanding/exaggerated gossip and such, a courteous explanation may be in order.
    Must be very hard to live through.

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  3. Personally, I would make one concise statement to all the drama, and ignore any responses to said statement afterwards.

    PS: The keyword for this post is amenljw.

    AMEN LJ? AMEN LIVEJOURNAL?

    I sense a conspiracy is afoot!

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  4. I think *if* the snitfest is done by the readers--i.e. those who have read the work in question--and as long as they are simply talking about the book and not, for example, about the author's sex life...the author should leave them alone. Because, the next time the author in question reads a book she absolutely hates/ finds offensive / ridiculous / whatever and wants to share her opinion, she might find herself cornered by her own say-only-nice-things attitude and called a hypocrite.
    In short--I'm an author, too, so I can relate--let people bitch about my books in peace. Because I want to have a right and a freedom to bitch about some other books too! :-) And this is, well, not nice. But honest.

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  5. Anonymous11:58 AM

    Have PBW write about it! (g)

    Lynda H. in San D.

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  6. The author could invite questions about the book in a section on their web site, with the offer to respond to, say, 30 questions posted within a particular time frame. The exact questions to be answered would be chosen from all submitted by a public vote, so that no claims of moderation could be made.

    The answers that the author gives would be based on their own feelings about what they want to share with the world about their writing.

    Sophia

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  7. Print out every comment, pin it up on the wall above my computer, and use it to goad me on and write more.

    That'll show 'em.

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  8. I think Deuz M.A. is right on with "I would make one concise statement to all the drama, and ignore any responses to said statement afterwards."

    That way you get to clear up any misunderstandings and if anyone wants to try and change your words, everyone else will see what you really said and the person in question will look like the horse's ass that they are.

    -- F

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  9. The best plan I think would be to correct any erroneous statements (i.e. people who haven't read enough or get the facts wrong), make a simple statement (as the author did) about the intent, then just let it go. You will NEVER please those who love a good bitch-fest, so why try.
    Oh, and don't read too many of the snits, as one needs a clear head for volume 2, as getting it done ASAP to ride the publicity wave is crucial! :-)

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  11. Be absolutely tickled that my name is out there. Enough people would be curious about it to buy the book. Also, I'd read as little as possible of the snitting. :)

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  12. I think she should use it as
    fodder for a good plot. From her response to your email, she's already putting a positive spin on it. Good for her!

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  13. Create a diversion. Offer something to keep those minds busy elsewhere like this:

    http://planarity.net/#

    or this:


    http://imaginationcubed.com/LaunchPage

    It worked (sometimes) when my sons were preschool.

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  14. If the people have read the work and are slamming the quality of the writing or the plot, there is no good response. They're entitled to their opinion and to express it in any fashion they please.

    If the people are making factual mistatements, the best response is to state facts simply and quickly on your own blog space. And you should adopt a tone of bemused indifference. A cool, slightly amused tone plays very well on the blogosphere.

    One thing you should not do is claim that the bad reviews (or whatever) are coming from people who are misinformed when in fact they are completely informed. Don't make factual statements if you haven't already checked them out.

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  15. I think you can confront the single source of any bias, inaccuracies or misunderstandings on your turf, but confronting readers on their turf for any reason isn't good and will backfire. I never respond when being personally attacked on blogs or lists.

    Example: I brought up the broad and general instance of romance genre black racial segregation in general and some fairly prominent white reader blogs delinked from me. I'm condemned for being attacking white readers in a racist way for merely bringing up easily observed facts that effect every black romance author.

    So backlash from certain readers for any sort of confrontation, especially bothering to defend your own work, would be a given, I think.

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  16. If I chose to respond at all, I would state clearly my stand, my reasons for it, and walk away.

    I've not heard of the book until now, but I can only say that there's no call to rip a book to pieces simply because there are elements in it you find distasteful or despicable.

    I plan to track this book down, assuming that a local bookstore's brought it in. Helps that I like dragons, of course. :)

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  17. Just smile -- it makes them wonder what you're up to. =)

    Seriously, I would probably do what others have said -- make one calm, cool and collected statement about whatever facts I felt needed clearing up (if any), then let them snit away to their hearts' content. I have other stories to write.

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  18. One of the many things I appreciate about you, PBW, and most of the folks who post here -- you're fair, open minded, and generous to other writers.

    I'll have to check out this book, now. No publicity is bad publicity, eh?

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  19. Sarah Trick2:58 PM

    I'd go for the one rational statement on your website about any factual errors. Going into other people's blogs and insulting their taste will just make you look classless. As it is...publicity. I myself admit to being intrigued by the book, otherwise I wouldn't have commented here. :)

    -Sarah Trick

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  20. I'd make one comment about any factual errors and then move on.

    I've had this book on my wishlist for awhile, though I don't remember where I heard about it. Probably just from one of my rambling journeys through the underbelly of Amazon.

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  21. Anonymous4:01 PM

    If there was a snitfest, first of all I would feel very flattered because I was important enough to have a snit over. Then I would try to maintain a cool, level head about the whole thing. I was in a debate society for years, and I like to think I would be able to hold my own in an interesting and amusing way... I hope I could, anyway.

    Yay contest!
    Rachel A.

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  22. I like Michelangelo's solution. In his painting "The Judgment", in the lower right corner is a naked man wrapped in a snake who represents Satan's right-hand man. (I forget his name.) This snake draped character has the face of the man who was overseeing the painting and gave Michelangelo a lot of grief for taking so long. The man, when he saw his face in the painting, went to the Pope, who told him, "My realm is Heaven; I have no control over Hell."

    Having said that, the antagonist in my NaNo novel this year is every psychobitch I've ever worked with rolled into one character. I'm not above just changing names to protect the snitful.

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  23. I'd like to think I could be so clever as to work the snitfest, midly disguised, mostly identifiable, into the plot of my next book, or at least into one crucial and humorous scene.

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  24. Briana N.4:54 PM

    Snitfests, well, the best method to utilize is the one that you both seem to have mastered - keeping out of it. It's like a school yard fight. If you retaliate against the bully, not only do you get in trouble, but the bully doesn't go away, he just gets meaner and sticks around longer because he likes the reaction. A good method to stand up would be to get a website with a blog or something similar and post what the novel is about. In addition, to invite other authors who oppose the snitfest to copy that post and post it on their sites. That way it isn't retaliation but it is clearing up some issues and educating the uneducated snitty ones who initiated the snitfest in the first place.

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  25. I'll try to keep out of it. Everyone has the right to express their opinion.... even if I don't like it.

    And it's publicity (how many people have bought the book only to have an opinion?)

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  26. I think it was Oscar Wilde who said: "There is only one thing worse than being talked about, and that's not being talked about."

    Interest in this book will garner Ms Cross new fans and new critics, it's the way of the world.

    I'm the kind of author who would get hot under the collar at unfair criticism, but I am learning patience and control in that arena. Personal attacks, however, will incur the Wrath of Jaye. Oops. What was I saying about learning control?

    While a statement about the work would soothe some people, others are going to snipe no matter what you say; those you ignore and eventually, they'll embarrass themselves.

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  27. I think a rational, concise post logically refuting the bulk of the snarks made is probably the best way to go. Yes, this opens you to the very real possibility of just adding fuel to the fire, but with the option of ignoring the children, there aren't very many other ways to reply to that drama while at the same time maintaining your cool.

    And just for the record, after reading about this whole snitfest in the past week, the only thing that I could do was sake my head and sigh. The SF 'literati' always seem to need someone to snark about and it looks like Ms. Cross was unlucky enough to tickle their fancy. I think if these people spent more time writing and less time snarking like high schoolers, their time would be spent a bit more productively.

    I think honest, valid criticism is a great thing and I've been aching to read this book just to be able to give an honest, valid opinion on it, but there is a big difference between criticism and snarking.

    Personally, I think they're probably all up in arms because she used the work 'cock'. Oh no!

    Crista

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  28. If it was just a matter of opinion, I'd ignore it and move on, just like so many others have said. However, if it was something factually incorrect, I'd contact the blogger in question, set him or her straight, and post the same information in my blog. After that, I'd ignore it.

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  29. Anyone so self righteous, will always assume that they couldn't possibly be wrong. Smile sweetly, tell them aren't you just special in a syrupy voice, and ignore them from then on. Normal people don't buy their line of bull anyway. Truth always wins out

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  30. In case you have decent sales (which might be possible if there's a big enough snitfest going on) post your royalty statement.

    For myself, I think I'll stay away from Google and Technorati should I ever publish a novel. ;-)

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  31. I would just ignore it. People start snitfests to get a reaction. Ignoring it takes the motive away.

    But, a F.A.Q. page/post has some merits, too. Potential readers can glean some extra tidbits, while drama queens participating in a snitfest don't have a way to further that snitfest on the author's site.

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  32. If you don't ignore it, maybe something like Janine's response to you (a post saying something like: "I'm glad there's so much discussion about my book, Anacondas of the Northwoods. For those of you who haven't read it yet, here's an excerpt of one of the areas being discussed. I hope you find it interesting enough to get the entire book and decide for yourself.") then pick an excerpt of the book that seems related to the negative discussion (presuming you don't feel it's a warranted negative discussion) and post it on your site.

    Of course, if you did goof up, a straightforward, "I don't know how I managed to misspell "anacondas" throughout the entire book without catching it anywhere in the publishing process" might suffice.

    Probably ludicrous, but it seems like a positive way to address it head-on, recognizing some people won't like it anyway, but that's a given.

    Off to read the other suggestions... and I haven't been following the "venom" discussion, so I may be completely off my rocker--won't be the first time.

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  33. Ignore it.

    Aside from ignoring it, make some vague philosophical statement to the effect of:

    Doing things badly is good for the soul. It keeps us humble and reminds us that we can't be good at everything; it teaches us to value the work for its own sake and not for the praise and adulation in garners, or fails to garner. So, whatever the objective aesthetic value of what I've written, I am entirely unashamed of it; and you have the right to dislike it and make fun of it as much as you want.

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  35. I think one well considered statement then let it go. Some people thrive on stirring the pot, and so long as they can, they will continue to do so, just to see what turns up. One statement acknowledges it, then don't feed the pot stirrers.

    There are pot stirrers everywhere. They do not exist only on the Internet or in the blogsphere. Tney do not exist only in the publishing world. I do not even believe they always pot stir conciously: sometimes I think it is such an ingrained part of their personality that they don't even realize they are doing it. Pot stirrers are different from cooks in the kitchen: cooks are contributing and putting forth effort... pot stirrers are simply stirring what is already there to see what comes up and how people will react to it...If nothing happens with the first stir, they stir again until something happens... sometimes they have to stir a lot and awfully hard to get what they seek. What they seek is not necessarily improvement in the stew; it is the reaction of the people around the stew.

    One well thought out and considered statement then leave it alone no matter how hard the pot stirrers stir. After a while, even they will get tired.

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  36. I would give the comments points.

    10 for snarkiness and wit, down to 1 for total lack of imagination.

    I would post daily totals on my blog.

    I would then give the winner a signed copy of my book and tell them they may burn it in effigy.

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  37. I've never been the subject of a snitfest. Should I feel overlooked? *g* The closest was last year when my debut novel's cover was nominated for year's worst on AAR. Friends were more upset on my behalf than I was. My publisher invited visitors to go look and comment yay or nay as they saw fit - and invited them to enter a contest for a signed copy of All Keyed Up. I was delighted.

    If a snitfest ever brews over one of my books, I'd be most likely to post one comment acknowledging the discussion and inviting anyone who had not previously read the book to visit my website for an excerpt.

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  38. I think the best thing to do is wait until you can be fairly level-headed about it, then post a single response acknowledging the drama and explaining (as non-defensively as possible) why you did what you did in the book.

    Then get back to working on your next book. :)

    I read the excerpt everyone was laughing at, by the way, and I didn't see a problem with it. And I probably wouldn't even have heard of the book if it weren't for this snitfest, but now I want to read it.

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  39. 1. Refuse utterly to acknowledge the existence of the kerfuffle in public.

    2. Have hysterical tears all over your ten closest friends. Be sure said friends can be trusted not to (A) forward your mail (B) defend you in public.

    3. Remind yourself that karma catches up with everybody sooner or later.

    4. (Only for the spiritually advanced): Consider whether you in some way deserved some portion of the criticism.

    5. Write the next book.

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  40. Besides ignoring them, which really is the best thing?

    Hmm, how about tough it out and smile. There are still enough people out there who have to decide their own opinions and don't blindly follow those of others. Those people won't be blindly led by the insult mongers and may actually buy the work in question to decide for themselves. Maybe they wouldn't have otherwise.

    Sometimes just believe that there is a good side to it.

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  41. I love Briana's idea.

    In case I ever get one of my novels published and end up victim of a snarkfest, may I borrow that one? :-)

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  42. In my opinion, a response posted similar to what Janice wrote to you in the email, would be perfect. I would ignore the opinions and correct the facts. After reading all the blog posts, it does make you want to read the book. Good for Janine is what I say. I hope she sells a ton of copies.

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  43. Apart from using criticism, kind or not, to improve my work, I'd likely take hard copies of any particularly offensive material and use it to wipe up the poopy puppy accidents in the kitchen - nasty is as nasty does!

    And, to quote another:

    "To avoid criticism do nothing, say nothing, be nothing."
    --Elbert Hubbard
    US author (1856 - 1915)

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  44. I'd make sure that the snit-ter got a copy of my book. and the next one. and the next one after that. :)

    I don't remember who said this, but I thought this quote was great... I'd just go and cry in my big bag of money :)

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  45. Anonymous3:33 AM

    Eat the good part of an apple and throw away the rest!

    Best,
    Pencilone from Edinburgh

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  46. TeresaH3:55 AM

    I say make fun of it - there's no point in taking it seriously because most of the time all the snits are stupid or pointless or jealousy-driven or all three(unless they are pointing out a genuine problem with your writing that you can fix for next time).

    So do something silly with it - make a collage and sell it on ebay and donate the money to a writer organisation. Or alternatively just print out all the snits and have a big bonfire.

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  47. Ignore it.

    Be glad for the publicity.

    And most importantly, make a dartboard with the other person's face on it and hang it in my office.

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  48. Anonymous7:57 AM

    If I had the talent of PBW I would write a one of her hughly entertaining farcical pieces with a pointed message but would first, as always, would consider the source - before taking any action.

    Marie

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  49. What would I do? What I did just recently when I was the subject of a teensy, tiny snitfest myself--correct the factual errors politely and move on. The advantage of taking the high road is there's not much traffic and you can make great time. Oh yeah, and then I made gingerbread people for the worst offenders and ate them!

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  50. I liked that in Janine's email to you she touched on what sparks people's outrage. I think when a snitfest occurs, it can be a really interesting opportunity to talk about the core issues which set people off.

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  51. I only have one suggestion : ignore the hate-mongering and focus only on gripes which truly issue some fault in your writing.

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  52. Hmmm, ignoring does seem the best tactic, but I would also suggest a polite e-mail to anyone who posts a particularly juvenile and vicious attack -- better yet, post an incredibly mature, incredibly polite response in the comments section if you can. Then everyone who reads the post will have a basis for comparison!

    Reasoned response may not convince the petty, but it will impress the many who are watching the train wreck!

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  53. Anytime Gabriele!
    Just make sure you tell me when the party is. I want to stand in the corner laughing with drink in hand. :P

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  54. Sure I will, Briana.

    One of my three Roman Empire books contains some kinky gay sex that IS relevant for charcters and plot development, but should that one get published, I bet there'll be a snitfest somewhere on the net, ;-)

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  55. A someone who enjoys quietly watching the train wrecks from the sidelines, I'd have to say that the thing that most impresses me is when the target of the snitfest posts a calm, reasonable reply to any legitimate criticisms, and ignores all the pot-stirrers.

    Personally, if I was ever the target of a snitfest, I'd probably pour my frustration out on my characters. (Poor characters!) I'd get more writing done, and you can't go wrong by tossing a few more rocks at your protagonists! :)

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  56. It's a difficult question to answer. It's the sort of thing that happens in any community. Most workplaces have rules and a defined hierarchy, partly to prevent such things from happening.

    I think the only answer is to take the high road. As the old saw has it, wrestling with a pig is a mug's game: you'll both get dirty, and the pig likes it. Take the high road, use the energy to write a better book. Living well really is the best revenge, the moreso because it's no revenge at all.

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  57. Ohhh a salacious snitfest! They are the best!

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