So why am I writing about this? I’d never heard of any of the people involved before yesterday. This is just more Internet Drama, all forgotten by tomorrow. Why am I piling on?
Well, you’ve seen the various particles and sidelights and parahelia: They’re all visible in the sidebar right this minute.
Why not call out trolling—bullying—when I see it?
The author is Phil Torcivia. Let’s look at our guy. His thesis is, “When you forgive, you encourage bad behavior.” So, therefore, by his lights I shouldn’t forgive him for his bad behavior.
This is a fellow who fantasizes about committing murder:
I’m not allowed to euthanize him, oh, but I fantasize about it—sliding that needle into a vein while he sniffs and whimpers. One final gurgle, then off to the glue factory for Mr. Boogers.
But that isn’t the main thrust of his blog post. Oh, no. It’s the lead-up to the main event. Someone has dared to dislike his book:
A fellow author has left a nasty review on one of my books. (See Rachel’s review here.) If I forgive her, she’ll do this to others. Instead, I’m going to read one of her books (already started and it is god-awful, as expected) and trash the shit out of her in a public forum by posting a one-star review. I also have a social media army I can enlist to assist me in the defensive assault. I hope she learns that her bad behavior must cease.
What was this horrible review, the one that leaves this woman liable to destruction by Phil Torcivia’s “social media army”?
I love a good parody - and parts of this are actually funny. I found the story started smack bang in the middle of all the action and it was a bit daunting working out who everyone was and even who was talking at any given time since there is a lot of talking brackets and not so many ‘Bea said’ and ’ Mormon said’ etc. Once I’d settled into the style, there were a few laugh out loud moments - most of these occurring when the actual Fifty Shades characters were sliced into the story line. This books does show some potential.
Heck, that’s a good review. It states what the reviewer liked, didn’t like, and gives examples. It ends on an encouraging note.
Phil apparently doesn’t know what reviews are, what they’re for, and who they’re for. Reviews are a reader’s reaction to the book. Reviews are not for the author. They aren’t for marketing the book. Reviews are meant for other readers, to help them decide whether to read a book. Private feedback to the author (such as Phil Torcivia claims is appropriate) won’t do that.
Reviews aren’t meant to help the author improve his art. If the author wants help he can get his writing group or beta readers or his editor to make suggestions.
We’ve talked about The Author’s Big Mistake here before. The Author’s Big Mistake is replying in any way whatsoever to a bad review. The term seems to have been coined by Paul Fussell. And really-o, truly-o, pay attention to this. Do not make the Author’s Big Mistake. Because you know the proverb, “When you set on the path of revenge, first dig two graves”? You can watch that get played out every time someone commits the ABM.
Here’s a post that authors who plan revenge for negative reviews ought to read: How to respond to negative reviews.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which is funny and insightful and a classic, has 11,212 one-star reviews. Eleven thousand, two hundred, and twelve.
Phil ends his screed with this:
So, the next time someone offends you, pause to see if the offense was accidental. If it was intentional, don’t forgive—punish.
So who does he attack? The reviewer he attacks—threatens with a revenge-review, then carries out that threat—is a woman. In the comment thread following the “bad” review Phil only replies to people with obviously feminine names—and then only to browbeat. One of those women felt threatened enough to remove her comment, and to remove her comments on other boards lest he track her down.
Moving on, with jaw-dropping lack of self-awareness, while all this was happening, Phil tweeted: “If you’re an avid reader and will post honest reviews on Amazon in exchange for free books, join here. [URL]” The irony, it burnsssss us, my Precious. One can only wonder what might happen if one of those “honest reviews” was less than five stars.
Since Phil says, more than once, that “authors need to eat,” and “I’m trying to sell books and put food on my table,” maybe he ought to pay attention to this:
“I’ve seen way more readers turned off books by author behaviour than by bad reviews,” claims one of the Book Lantern bloggers, a group of young readers from all over the world, citing recent incidents of “authors and editors muscling in on reviews, being very aggressive or judgmental of bloggers”.
Forgiving, heck, not caring about, bad reviews is in his own self-interest.
[UPDATE 1] All comments on Rachael’s review have been deleted from Amazon.
[UPDATE 2] Phil’s revenge-review has been deleted at Amazon.
[UPDATE 3] Rachael’s review of Phil’s book is gone now too.