Bad reviews and worse behavior

Galleycat* just posted an interesting little piece on Wednesday about an author behaving badly, namely Deborah MacGillivray, a Highland Press co-publisher and Kensington romance author who “uses yahoogroups and author groups to encourage, browbeat, or by other means, individuals into taking down negative reviews by reporting that the review is a) not helpful and b) abuse” and even purports to have hired a private investigator to find out personal information about a certain Amazon reviewer gave one of her novels three stars (not the worst rating possible on Amazon by far). Which is, like, the craziest thing I’ve ever heard.

I know how hard it must be to hear negative, or even mediocre, reviews of your work. And I know how sketchy the Amazon reviews can be–I once knew an author who wanted help convincing Amazon to take down a couple one- and two-star reviews, but we ultimately cautioned her not to do so. It made sense to me that she should want them down–they had been posted by people who had never posted a review before, they were vague and not nearly as carefully considered as the several positive reviews on the site, and they hurt her feelings. Some Amazon reviewers are notoriously cruel, and I don’t know of any author who hasn’t felt the sting of an extremely nasty (undeservedly so–I think reviews should be calm and thoughtful, even if they are bad) review. But, in the end, if someone has an opinion about the book it isn’t really fair to deny them the right to express that on Amazon, even if you think that it is invalid.

Of course, this MacGillivray person has crossed the line between hurt feelings and vengeful insanity. To harass an Amazon reviewer (or any reviewer, for that matter) for not loving your book and being willing to say something about it is an obviously insane move, one that ought to carry severe repercussions for the author but ultimately ended up hurting the reviewer, who hadn’t done anything wrong. Romance review site Dear Author has a petition going to convince Amazon to turn a critical eye on their current reviewing process. Hopefully one day they can come up with a solution that is fair to both authors AND reviewers.

*Is it just me, or does Galleycat do weird things to your computer? It makes my mouse flicker on and off, and it always stops after I close Galleycat. Odd!

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