On Monday, The Guardian’s   published a post about the most recent Internet drama: Young Adult readers, authors and agents bickering via Goodreads. The “flame war” spread to Twitter, “sparked by writers and agents who seemed to be stamping on negative reviews.”

It seems that critical reviews of Tempest by Julie Cross, irked some industry insiders and a “sarcastic response and put-downs of reader views on the Goodreads site by Cross’s author friends, and comments by her agent, caused outrage. While Cross responded gracefully, other YA authors and agents took the fight to Twitter in a spectacularly misjudged bout of reader-bashing, ‘sneering at the people who make their ****ing books reach the NYT bestseller list’, The Bookwurrm judged.

Then came the accusations from authors and agents of “ratings rigging” on Goodreads and Amazon, in an effort to “push up the visibility of good reviews and ‘hide’ bad ones.”

The result is the disillusionment of some book bloggers:

I’ve seen way more readers turned off books by author behavior 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.’

This drama isn’t the first incidence of industry types taking their beefs with reviewers to the court of Twitterdom. Back in 2009, Alice Hoffman, upset over Roberta Silman’s review of her novel, The Story Sisters, vented her frustrations on Twitter.  In multiple tweets, Hoffman called Silman a “moron,” then stated, “now any idiot can be a critic.” Hoffman went on to provide Silman’s email address and phone number, encouraging readers to “tell her what u think of snarky critics.”

Eventually, Hoffman deleted her Twitter account and released a statement via her representation that her actions were conducted “in the heat of the moment” and that she, “responded strongly and I wish I hadn’t. I’m sorry if I offended anyone. Reviewers are entitled to their opinions and that’s the name of the game in publishing.”

Bertagna is of the opinion that once a book is in the reader’s hands, it no longer belongs to the writer:

Whose book is it anyway? The hardest thing a writer has to learn is that once you publish a book, it’s no longer truly yours – even though it’s got your name on the front and it lives inside you. It belongs to the readers now. All you can do is steel yourself as you push it out into the world, stay gracious, and get busy with the next one.

And if you can’t stand the heat of the blogosphere – don’t Google yourself.

What do you think, LitStackers? Should writers ignore critical reviews and keep their reactions to themselves? We want to hear from you!

7 thoughts on “Oh, Drama: YA Readers Clash with Publishing Establishment”

  1. I thinking they probably should. Well, I've had authors comment on reviews, but most don't. I agree that a book belongs to the readers after it's been published.

  2. I really like Maggie Stiefvater's blog post she did on this. Those critical reviews, she said, aren't reviews, but mini blog posts on Goodreads.

    I thought Julie Cross handled it well but the author that stepped up in her defense and I believe her agent and editor as well- I don't agree with what their actions. And it didn't put them in a favorable light at all. We can't and shouldn't ignore constructive reviews. But the rants? Yes, we should politely ignore.

    I honestly don't think that episode will hurt sales for The Tempest. I loved it!

  3. Oh, I don't either, Laura. In fact, this does nothing but drum up pr for the book, which makes readers go out to buy just to see what the fuss is about. But I do agree that once the book is in the readers' hands, it's theirs and as writers, we can do little about feedback. I certainly don't think ganging up on a reviewer is productive at all and, at worse, alienates them for anything else you might read. Thanks so much for your comment, Laura.

  4. I agree that the book belongs to the reader after it is published. However, I do feel that bloggers and reviewers shouldn't be ugly about their reviews. They can calmly point out what they didn't like, and why they didn't enjoy the book. After all, we are all adults. We should conduct ourselves as such.

  5. There you go, Jenny_O. We should be able to post an honest opinion, tactfully and in good taste, without fear of backlash. Not all of the bestsellers are worthy of the honor. Many are placed there by aggressive marketing by the publisher, while other, fabulous books are left to languish in the midlists, due to lack of money, backing, or marketing know-how on the part of the author. Let the readers have their say, I say.

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