Beware: Authors Bashing Reviewers

Well, well, well. My, my, my. Where to begin? I was having a favorable Wednesday until I was alerted via Twitter that an author was bashing me- publicly. My first thought was, that can’t be right! Who would do such a thing? I clicked on the lovely link to find a post on the blog Authors Helping Authors titled “Authors Beware of Unprofessional Reviewers.” Again I thought to myself, Am I unprofessional? That can’t be right! Who would do such a thing? If you haven’t read the post yet, I suggest you do, and let me know what you think. I didn’t want to write anything in response to such a massacre of character, but watching this whole thing blow up online…well, I have to.

Sylvia Massara contacted me and asked me to review The Other Boyfriend. She contacted me, not the other way around, just so we’re all clear. I agreed, read the book, and gave my review. If anyone thinks my review is inappropriate it, let me know. I have been blogging for close to two years now, and I never once have gotten a response like this to a review. I have written reviews before for books that I didn’t like, I don’t like every book I’ve read. But I have never, nor will I ever, bash an author on a personal level. I don’t name call them, demoralize their character, or put them down in any way. I read something I don’t like, I will always add something positive to the review, which I did in Sylvia Massara’s case. Also, when I write these critiques, they are my hope that the author will read them and take something away from what I am saying. I have received many emails back from authors thanking me for taking the time to read and review their work. Thanking me for putting critiques in my review, and noting that they will keep that in mind for the next novel they write. I work as a freelance editor, and have received multiple job requests from authors who read my reviews and understand what I am trying to say, and how I am trying to help them.

As for the name calling Sylvia so kindly added to her post. Calling book bloggers, myself in particular, a “smartass” “unprofessional” and “trashy.” Again, let me point to my review of The Other Boyfriend. I never said anything to this manner about Sylvia, I even said I would look forward to reading her next novel. Putting me down by saying I’ve probably never wrote anything but “a grocery list.” Why does she think I’m a book blogger? I started Chick Lit Plus because of my passion for reading and writing. I love getting the opportunity to read books and write my own articles on topics that interest me. I love working with authors and other readers to promote books. I will point out here the obvious- I am not paid to be a book blogger. Sure I can hope I receive a measly $10 in commission from Amazon each month- by promoting author’s books. I have to take time out of my day to read the countless number of books I receive. I have to take time out of my day to write the reviews, profile the authors, come up with interview questions. I have to take the time out of my day to post to my blog, to keep my posts fresh and new. I work full time at a hospital, receive many freelancing jobs on the side, and still need to have somewhat of a life. I have family, friends, and a boyfriend who constantly tries to get me to shut down my computer at a decent time at night so I can get some sleep and stop working. Who am I working for? Authors. For free.

And about me never writing more than a grocery list. First, I hardly ever write grocery lists. I prefer to wander up and down every aisle so I don’t miss anything. Second, if you took a look at my blog, you could see I write a bit more. I have many articles that I’ve written for Chick Lit Plus, and for other sites as well. Third, I am in the process of writing my own book. I can’t spend quite as much time each day that I would like to on my manuscript because I am too busy reading, writing reviews, and maintaining my blog. Did I mention that I pay a yearly fee to keep my blog running? Is any author going to pay me for that? I didn’t think so.

To wrap this up, I am horrified by Sylvia Massara’s post. The blatant unprofessionalism, the name calling, and the finger pointing at myself and the lovely Rowena with Book Binge. If you didn’t like my review, send me an email letting me know. Give me a chance to explain myself before you try to discredit me from the book blogging world and basically call me a fraud. Sylvia- did you happen to see the Mailbox post I put out just this morning? It has your novel Like Casablanca in it. More promoting, just for you. You can believe that will be taken down and your novel deleted from my Kindle. Thank you for warning me to stay away from you and your tainted words. And by “laughing your way to the bank with your huge royalty checks” makes all your readers sound like your minions, doing nothing more but paying your bills. A huge thank you to all the fabulous people who have been supporting me throughout today. A special shout out to all the book bloggers, who work so hard and don’t receive enough credit for what they do. I feel truly special to have joined your world and can proudly say that I am an avid reader and a book blogger.

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46 Comments

  1. anon
    February 10, 2011 / 12:19 am

    I applaud you for responding to this. Even though to be honest I think that she should of directed all of her complaints more to Book Binge than to you. Book Binge’s review was harsh but for that web site she is very to the point and does speak her mind. I honestly think that Sylvia was so rash to make a point on her blog that she got the two web sites mixed up. But honestly for her to say anything about how someone reviews her book is just crazy and insecure. Her book was only 96 pages first off so not much can be gathered from such a short book but I personally have read this book as well and I applaud you for even giving her 2 stars because honestly she should of gotten no stars!

  2. February 10, 2011 / 12:32 am

    It makes me sad that this discussion topic had to ever come up. To be labeling a post as Unprofessional Bloggers and then proceed to be unprofessional in her blog post is just hypocritical. Kudos to all the time and effort you do put into your blog, your followers appreciate all the time you put into your work. If her statements would have been handled in a more professional way instead of name calling, or even saying a specific name at all, this could have all been handled better. I hope everybody reading this takes the time to comment on that author’s article with their opinions as well. I think everybody should be respectful and maybe that article should be removed, or re-written more appropriately.

  3. February 10, 2011 / 12:34 am

    Samantha, you do an incredible job as a book blogger! You will never please everyone and I hope you can let this one slide right off your back. Keep up the good work.

  4. February 10, 2011 / 12:41 am

    I am still dumbfounded by the audacity of this author! Completely disrespectful and unprofessional. She needs to get her head out of the clouds. Criticism is entrenched in her profession. As my mom always said, “If you can’t stand the heat, get the hell away from the flame!”

    Keep doing what you do!

  5. February 10, 2011 / 12:59 am

    Wow. I just read your review, and her response. I think she’s just a wee bit bitter. And, I agree with Krista, she’s very hypocritcal – calling you guys unprofessional and then being so incredibly unprofessional herself! Calling your reviews “trashy”? That’s awful. I see her point about these kinds of books being predictable but – and this is a huge but – it’s all about the journey to the end that makes the book seem like it’s not the same old kind of book (actually, I just mentioned that kind of thing in my last post on my blog, “Currently Reading – Happy Ever After”). If she doesn’t make it exciting to read, well, then it’s really going to seem by the book. Also, you’re not going to elaborate too much on why you think it’s predictable (or anything for that matter) because you want people to read the book and form their own opinion, as well as not giving anything away. I think your review was fair and she got worked up because she wasn’t liked. Have some cake (or ice cream, or chocolate, or whatever it is that makes you feel better) and relax. Your followers are all here for you!

  6. Kim
    February 10, 2011 / 1:11 am

    Wow. I read the review in question the day it was posted. There was still a possibility that I would have read the book anyway. I just would have known what I was getting in advance. However, I will definitely not ever read anything by this author now. Your review was not unprofessional, nor is this response to her attack unprofessional. I was going to comment on her blog, but am not even going to waste my time. Keep on reviewing! I find the reviews on this site useful and very professional. I appreciate your opinions and information. Ignore the hater.

  7. February 10, 2011 / 1:24 am

    I’m sorry to hear about this. You know, we have blogs and there should not be a name tag called unprofessional bloggers because we create them and the contents are solely up to us. If we like a book we read, then, we will blog it as well as if we don’t…I mean it’s up to us, right? Oh well…

  8. Heather Wardell
    February 10, 2011 / 1:59 am

    Wow. I read your review, and her response. Someone is indeed unprofessional. It’s just not you.

    I have been fortunate to have many book bloggers review my books. I always keep in mind that you are VOLUNTEERING to do this for authors and for readers, and frankly not in that order. It’s about the readers. You do a huge service by helping people see what books they might like and which to avoid.

    I’m sorry this author chose to attack you. Please know the vast majority of authors don’t share her viewpoint.

  9. February 10, 2011 / 2:40 am

    I stand behind you, girlfriend. I am amazed and so proud of how well you are handling this. I would surely have crashed into a deep depression and questioned every review I had ever written. The book blog community is tight, we support each other. This has surely made you stronger. <3 ya! xoxo

    Stephanie
    Book Love Blog

  10. February 10, 2011 / 2:47 am

    The author’s reaction was absolutely classless and foolish. I think she fails to see that her success comes mostly from the so-called “unprofessional reviewers”, unprofessional readers even.

    I’m sorry that you had to be on the receiving end of some pretty nasty comments. I happen to appreciate your blog very much, and I find the articles to be helpful!

  11. February 10, 2011 / 2:59 am

    I couldn’t have said it better myself. Way to stand up for yourself, your blog and what you believe in. Kudos for being mature enough to handle this is the manner that it should be handled. I can say that I’ve put Sylvia Massara on my “Do Not Read” list, which is sad because I would probably have given her book a chance. Not now and not ever.
    Keep on reviewing and keep your head held high! You’re doing an awesome job!

  12. February 10, 2011 / 3:08 am

    And here’s the horrible part about authors having blogs. There are NUMEROUS articles out there about author blogs and what NOT to do. Clearly – this author didn’t do her research, about this as well as any other form of etiquette.

    But – let’s take a step back, shall we? This author is licking her wounds. Bad reviews sting. This business takes tough skin. Her blog post was uncalled for. *and ask I said in my tweet to you earlier-I like smartasses!

    Your response was measured and not unprofessional. But ladies – let us take off the boxing gloves. We depend on each other to keep this bus moving. I’ve seen other authors arguing regarding another blog (sorry – not taking you there,) about a list of books for YA and then they redacted books off that list. Authors were pissed about censorship then it was like angry monkeys throwing feces at each other. It got wayyyyy out of hand.

    I sincerely hope that doesn’t happen here.

    I do have a question – was her book self-published or published through vanity press? I run across a lot of those books that lack editing/prose/etc. I myself published one through vanity press years ago and my only saving grace is that my name has changed….snafoos galore!

    Do keep up what you’re doing. There are those of us out there that appreciate you…

    Of one thing I’m absolutely certain – she didn’t submit her query for SHARK BITE!

  13. February 10, 2011 / 3:52 am

    So sorry that happened to you! I never quite understand when authors don’t take rejection or criticism well-it is such a huge part of being a writer! And I agree, I don’t think people have any idea how much work it takes to run a successful book blog. Don’t let her get you down-clearly she has issues!!! xo

  14. February 10, 2011 / 4:10 am

    I just read the other blog entry, and as both an indie author and a reviewer, I’m highly offended. Sorry that you had to deal with this–I think authors sometimes forget that book blogs are written BY readers FOR readers; helping authors out is a perquisite, not a requisite.

    Chin up, Samantha. Best of luck with your next review.

  15. Heather Wardell
    February 10, 2011 / 4:12 am

    It appears she is self-published. Great, another piece of evidence for those who think all self-published authors are unprofessional. Most of us aren’t, of course, but stuff like this gives us a bad name.

    I can’t stop thinking about all this. Your review was in no way unprofessional, and even if it HAD been her response is way out of line.

  16. February 10, 2011 / 4:32 am

    Wow! this is truly an angry unprofessional author who just doesn’t get it. Book reviewers write their reviews subjectively because to be objective would just be re-writing the book synopsis. I had never heard of her, not my genre anyway, but to say the blogger knew no more about writing than the ability to write a grocery list, Ouch! well, I guess she feels that that blogger should just roll over and die. LOL! Some of us have blogs and an education. This author is certainly no John Steinbeck. He continually beat himself up over his writing that it was never good enough, and yet, his novel, Grapes of Wrath, is still selling today. It really is sad when you bite the hand that could help you sell books.

  17. February 10, 2011 / 5:09 am

    As an author who has previously requested and been reviewed by Samantha, I wanted to offer her my support. Samantha didn’t *love* my book either, but she gave it a fair and thoughtful review and found positive things to say about the book and about my writing, and the bottom line is: she took the time out of her busy day to do me a huge favor! Just as she did with Ms. Massara.

    I won’t waste space repeating what others here have already said, but the short answer is that bashing a reviewer is just plain childish and yes, unprofessional.

    Shake it off, Samantha, and just keep doing what you’re doing!

    🙂 Maria

  18. February 10, 2011 / 5:26 am

    I haven’t read the author’s post. I can only speak for myself. As an author, when I see a negative review, my soul feels like it shrivels inside. =) However, I honestly do appreciate the time taken for the reviews, and have even worked on addressing issues in my next book that were brought up in my first. So while reviews may sometimes be hurtful, I appreciate them for helping me to become a better writer. Some of the nicest people I’ve met online have been book reviewers/bloggers. My thanks to you for helping and supporting us!

  19. February 10, 2011 / 7:15 am

    I read the author’s original post yesterday and was showing it to a friend today only to discover that the blog post had been drastically edited. I say “drastically” because all of her statements (and links to the “terrible” reviewers) have been removed.

  20. Monica
    February 10, 2011 / 9:48 am

    I’m such a fan of your reviews, Samantha. Your writing voice is so professional. Your review of the book in question was balanced and fair. Please don’t let this experience bring you down. And if it helps, I will not be reading anything by that author. I’m just not interested.

  21. February 10, 2011 / 12:48 pm

    Sorry you had to go through this. As an author that appreciates reviews and honest professional opinions, it hurts to see people doing when it is not deserved.
    Worse, the author has now shot herself in the foot. Once on the internet, always on the internet. This will most likely haunt her forever, even if she comes to the realization she’s made a horrible mistake.

  22. Ninfa
    February 10, 2011 / 1:37 pm

    As a fellow “unprofessional” reviewer I stand by you 100%. Chin up. If our passion for reading and writing doesn’t qualify us for reviewing then I guess we got it all wrong…I always thought reading and writing were about being creative and using our immagination to grow and become better people,and to help us express our opinions in a more articulate way.
    I suppose this accusatory Blog has just proved me wrong,after all,what do I know?
    *Queue sarcasm here*
    In all seriousness,I think it is disgraceful that you have been treated this way after you provided a service,free of charge,to this author. Sending a free book to someone doesn’t grant a writer a good review.
    All opinions should be respected if shared in a polite manner. Professionalism does not,after all,apply only to the paid reviewers. It’s about ethic and morality and about being honest,truthful and accurate in our reviews,so that readers like us can get interested (whether we as reviewers like the product or not,I might add),and the author can get more exposure.
    As a reader,I will then make up my own mind on a book anyway,but if a fellow blogger/reviewer has taken the time to read it,then it’ll probably catch my eye as I don’t read newspapers and don’t particularly go on Amazon or other websites that provide reviews.
    I’m more likely to find out about new and old titles through other bloggers/Facebook users and am grateful and proud of being part of this community.
    Ninfa from Bookaholics Book Club on Facebook xxx

  23. Jeanine
    February 10, 2011 / 1:45 pm

    I had no idea what had happened until I read my book related twitter list this morning and saw you thanking people for support. You know you have my support 100%, no doubt about that. I love reading your reviews and other posts that you put up. If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t have been introduced to certain authors, books and other blogs.

    Keep up the great work!

  24. February 10, 2011 / 4:19 pm

    This is craziness! Your review was well put together. This woman has shot herself in the foot on this (non)issue. How terribly unprofessional and petulant.

    You rock and have my support!

  25. February 10, 2011 / 5:44 pm

    Jesus, thanks for pointing this out. Will not be reading anything of Sylvia’s. Why ask people to review your book if you can’t take critique? >.>

  26. Melissa
    February 10, 2011 / 8:46 pm

    I’m excited to find two new review sites because of this crazy fiasco. As a reader, I very much appreciate the work you do. I use reviews as a way to find new authors that I otherwise probably woulndn’t read. In this case, I also found an author that I will never choose to support as she not only insulted you & the book binge, but everyone who reads her book.

  27. February 10, 2011 / 8:51 pm

    Stumbled across the controversy and am so sorry you’ve had to deal with this. Ms. Massara proved herself to be entirely unprofessional; your review was nothing but courteous and respectful. If she didn’t want someone to review her book, she shouldn’t have offered it to you. And if authors want sheep to review their books and blindly talk about how awesome they are, they shouldn’t send us their books, either.

    We all talk about the experience of writing and how, out of necessity, we must all develop thick skins when we put our work out in the public sphere. That’s certainly true for her, an author who certainly must want people to read her novel(s)… isn’t that the point? But you did nothing to invite her malicious response. Hope you can shake this off soon!

  28. February 10, 2011 / 10:09 pm

    I feel so much for you that this has happened to you but l just hope you can put it behind you and carry on with your amazing blog!
    l can’t imagine she will get any support from people who have read this and mentioning about laughing her way to the bank was one of the worst things to say!

  29. Nina
    February 11, 2011 / 2:32 am

    There is no justification for the insults issued to the blogger who wrote about this author’s book. The author sent the book freely to the blogger who read and gave her opinion. But the problem is that there’s a difference between reviewing and giving an opinion. When you review a book there are standards and directions from the review site to which the reviewers adhere to – this helps the reviewer to create an impartial and impersonal review, one that is professional because it is all about the book. In other words, the book might be personal to the author, but not to the reviewer. The problem has been that with everyone giving opinions on books, especially with snarky comments the books gets lost because it is all about popularity for the blogger and blog – and that’s just wrong. And this is my opinion because I’m tired of snarky reviews which give me nothing on which to base my purchase or not. Incidentally, the only thing I have written is my grocery list (sometimes), but I am a heavy reader and used to be a good reviewer when reviewing meant something.

  30. February 11, 2011 / 6:12 am

    Wow, I am really stunned at this sort of behavior. Getting a negative review is a total bummer, but authors (or anyone putting their work forth to the public) must expect that not everyone is going to love it. No book is beloved by 100% of its readers no matter what.

    I read Chick Lit Plus all the time and value your fair reviews because I know you are so thoughtful about the powerful role you play in a book’s life. Don’t let this lone, ill-mannered author get your spirits down. The rest of us truly appreciate your time and effort!

  31. February 11, 2011 / 5:31 pm

    I have seen a number of posts about this subject and the more I read the more angry I get! I just recently started a book blog and had no idea what an incredible community there is out there! I love that there are so many people out there that I can connect with and talk about books. I also find all kinds of books that I otherwise would never have read. So, instead of some authors trashing bloggers they should be thanking all of you for helping to sell their books! (And of course I know most authors do.)

    The other whole part of this that makes me furious is saying that bloggers don’t know how to write. Well, first of all, we are READERS not the WRITERS so get over it. And second, I know that many of the bloggers I read have a lot of experience WRITING. Many are librarians or editors or aspiring authors themselves. I myself studied English for 4 years in college and have worked as a professional technical WRITER for the last 5. Though we all are not novelists, we still have the right to express ourselves no matter what our writing level is.
    (OK, I’m done ranting! But thanks for your post! You were very professional IMO)

  32. February 11, 2011 / 5:49 pm

    I just saw a tweet by author Catherine Ryan Hyde about this, and read Sylvia’s post and then this. I am not strictly a book blogger, but I do occasionally review books on my blog. I also write, and know exactly how a bad review feels.

    But to say that Sylvia’s scathing attack left me stunned is an understatement. It was 100% unfair, and insulting to all of us who, as you pointed out, review books on our blogs for free only because we love writers, books and reading and what to share great reads we’ve come across. (The irony is of course that it’s only HER post that does the things she’s accusing you of.)

    And until fifteen minutes ago, I’d never heard of Sylvia. Now that I have, I know I’ll never be reading any of her books. That is just no way for an author – or anyone – to behave.

    Well done for responding and keep up the good (and professional!) work! 🙂

  33. February 11, 2011 / 6:03 pm

    Her post, even it what is apparently its “cleaned up” version, is shockingly unprofessional. I’ve left a comment there; we’ll see if she allows it or blocks it.

  34. February 11, 2011 / 8:18 pm

    Samantha- This post has simply proven that you are a woman of strong character and class. I applaud you for standing up for yourself and continuing to speak gracefully about a person who obviously does not understand the value of contructive criticism. I hope that, in the future, Ms. Massara will understand that she has done nothing more than act like a spoiled child who didn’t get her way…and it’s not going to help her with the people who matter most: the readers.

  35. February 12, 2011 / 12:31 am

    I love your reviews and I think you are completely professional and always try to find redeeming qualities in a book that you don’t like. You are obviously beyond dedicated to your blog as anyone can tell.

    I had not read the author’s post until just now, and I must say. She’s kind of talking in circles. Especially, when she kind of paraphrases a paraphrase of a quote by Stephen King, where she says that he says you can’t write to please everyone. I think that if she truly believed that quote she should not have written that post, or if wrote something that not only criticized you but other bloggers (her intended audience) as well.

    How is that professional behavior?

  36. February 12, 2011 / 2:44 am

    Kudos for taking the high road and posting a professional response! The author has shot herself in the foot by behaving like a child and insulting potential readers. Who does she think bloggers are if not passionate readers? The comment about writing nothing more than a grocery list was infuriating!

  37. February 15, 2011 / 2:01 am

    Well, I read your “horrible” review and for the life of me I cannot understand the author’s outrage…I thought you were pretty kind. I think, in the long run, her rant probably helped you and the other blogger, while ending HER career. I can’t imagine any blogger every wanting to read and review another of her books. I know I won’t.

    By the way, I didn’t know about your blog until now – and it is great. Keep up the good work!

  38. Delilah
    August 25, 2011 / 7:52 am

    One word for that author: bitter. You should forget it. That author is not worth your time. A good author must accept reviews, good or bad.

  39. Samantha
    August 30, 2011 / 5:39 pm

    Thanks Delilah, appreciate the support!

  40. noela
    August 31, 2011 / 1:18 pm

    How could she ever write a book but never learn how to read between the lines and don’t know how to take in criticism? She is too self centered not to able to take in well thought out analysis..she need to say goodbye to her writing career or if she still wants to write, she needs to do it under a different pen name to ever recover in this bad mess she has made herself..

  41. Samantha
    September 2, 2011 / 2:25 am

    Thanks for the support Noela!

  42. Sarah Kennedy
    October 2, 2011 / 1:08 am

    This Massara woman has some serious issues that go beyond her sensitivity to reviews. Writing about her ex she says:

    “I mean, he’s not a Nazi, but he did to me what the Nazis did to the Jews. The Nazis violated the Jews’ trust, their person, their feelings, and their very existence. I would have to say that betrayal is the worst kind of pain–and as the Nazis betrayed the Jews, my ex betrayed me”

    Yeah, lady, it’s the exact same thing.

    I commented on that post pointing out how offensive it is, and what do you know, she deleted it.

    http://www.sylviamassara.com/5/category/nazis/1.html

  43. Samantha
    October 2, 2011 / 6:06 pm

    Wow, that is pretty disturbing Sarah. I understand freedom of speech and having an opinion, but think about how others will feel when reading those insensitive remarks. Yikes.

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