First little bit of PR

I don’t have a Google alert set up for myself, and I might never. I’m not the kind of person that relentlessly Googles herself, although I understand the urge. I love writing on the Internet, but I’m not too terribly keen on being reminded that people can actually read this stuff (although by saying this I do not mean to discourage comments on this blog, I love comments), or to hear what people are saying about me (although I can’t imagine too many people are saying too many things at the moment).

For example, I’m not quite sure that I’ll ever get the courage to read reviews unless I know that they are good. When That James McAvoy was asked what actors should never, ever do, he replied, “Read reviews. You just try and do your job and not worry about what people say, because ultimately it can only affect what you do in a negative way. It can only make you a worse actor.” I totally agree with that. Constructive criticism from your agent and editor and even your friends is a good thing, but from disinterested third parties it’s probably in your best interest to avoid it if you can. Basically, I’m a chicken.

I don’t know why I bring this up except to say that for this reason I don’t have a Google alert set up, but Amy Brecount White does and she let all the Tenners know that Kristi over at The Story Siren has listed most of us as New Reads for 2010. That was very sweet of her, considering the books don’t come out for a while. Speaking of the Tenners, you should head over there, we’ve had a grip of new members join since last I mentioned it.

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!