I don't recall ever seeing the term literary bully before, and since I may be the first to coin it, let me give you my definition of it. A literary bully is someone who, like most bullies:
- Believes, and wants you to believe, they are superior to you on whatever literary subject it is they are talking down to you about at the moment. They seem to get some sort of sick personal gratification by making you feel small and inferior compared to their vast knowledge of the subject being discussed at the time. They will constantly litter their posts with dry, bored words to let you know just how far down their nose they are having to look just to see you.
- Though a part of the Indie world, they assure you they wouldn't be caught dead reading an Indie book. Kinda gives you the sense that maybe one rejection letter too many from the Big 5 has truly made them bitter, or surely they wouldn't be a part of the industry they so obviously despise.
- They criticize your book(s), or any part of it, in a manner that lets you know they could have done it better. After they rip you in every way possible, they'll then digress a bit once they've accomplished what they set out to do: completely undermine you confidence and enthusiasm. They'll assure that they didn't actually mean it that way, but... Of course, the damage has already been done.
We are Indie authors! We've entered this brave new world known as Indie Publishing and are all eager to make our mark. We will make our mistakes, and do our best to learn from them, but we will never give up!
My advice to any one of you the next time you come across a literary bully? Tell them to piss off and shut them down. Shrinking away from people like this only makes them feel more empowered, but the fact is YOU are the one who has the power. Use it.
Great article Cham and so true. I come across bullies so often. In fact, odd coincidence, I was just talking about this, in the morning, because of a stray comment on a post that I am on. I don't know if I am being oversensitive, but one mean comment screws up my day. I really have to build a harder shell. But except for these few rotten apples, the support from the rest of the indie author community has been fantastic.ReplyDelete
Jan, most Indie authors are actually well known for their eagerness to help other authors. We know too well what a struggle it can be to even get on the right path, much less stay on it. That's why it surprises me so much to find these kinds of people among us. I can't help but wonder what's led to their anger and bitterness.Delete
Great post, Champ; it's time to "recognize" these bullies and draw attention to their behavior. I can tell you that I used to interact on several Amazon forum boards until the bullies there became too much to put up with. I'm not overly sensitive, they weren't "getting to me"; but I simply grew tired of their idiotic vitriol spewing across every thread and aimed at demeaning any and all indie authors.ReplyDelete
Another bully type that I encountered were the "sheriffs" who felt it their divine duty to stomp on any poor indie author who dared try and promote their book on a thread other than those in the "Meet Our Authors" forums. While I think that indie spamming has gotten completely out of control in some places, these bullies have no right to run rampant.
How does that saying go? "Your freedom extends only as far as mine begins"? Something like that...lol.
That's true, Lex. I think most spamming is done because far too many authors just don't know what else to do to get the word out about their book. It's the only "marketing" they know how to do.Delete
Thanks for shining a light on this problem, Cham. Even for someone not a full-fledged bully, there is a tendency to be hyper-critical or to prove that the reviewer knows more. I appreciate well thought out opinions, but to dismiss a work otherwise described as a "good story" because the reviewer thought a few paragraphs were too long is, in my opinion, absurd. All the literary giants occasionally use long paragraphs. How, though, do you think we should fight back?ReplyDelete
Regina, you've actually brought up the subject of my blog post for next week :D Reviewers that seem to have one purpose in life, and that's to litter Amazon and other places with their "expert" opinions. Seriously, most of the posts I've seen that are written by these kinds of reviewers are written so poorly that I can't help but wonder how they even managed to read a book of any quality at all given their command of the written word. Their spelling is usually atrocious, and their grammar is seldom better.Delete
Unfortunately, as Judith said in her post below, there isn't much you can do with a reviewer like this but ignore them. If you respond, you simply incite them further. And it can be argued by just about anyone that if the person bought your book, that makes them a consumer. All consumers have a right to voice their satisfaction, or dissatisfaction , of a product, be it good or bad, even if they are way off their mark.
Fortunately, people who read all the reviews before making their decision to buy your book will easily see that that particular reviewer has a skewed opinion compared to your other reviews and see it for what it is: a post only made to bring you, your book, or the process down without merit.
It's great to see other posting about this. Hope you haven't encountered the nastiness on Goodreads yet. And, really, the best thing to do is not respond in any way. They are looking for a response that will give them something to continue needling you about. If you start something it won't end. Ignore them and truly get them way it hurts. Treat them like what they say isn't won't making a response.ReplyDelete
Judith, I personally haven't, but I do have author friends that have, I'm sad to say. I do suggest people ignore reviewers who comment in ways that make it apparent they are just a bully, or posting out of sheer hatefulness. My post is actually more directed at people who haunt groups on Facebook, and other boards that seem to take particular pleasure in the kind of actions I describe in my blog. These are the people that should be told to bugger off, then simply given the cold shoulder to by the members from that point on. With no air to give their ego fire, they will die off and fade away.Delete
I understand where you're coming from, but as someone who also reviews books on Amazon, I feel an obligation to note when a story could have been written more succinctly or a book is full of typos or incorrect grammar. Reviews are for readers, not author positive reinforcement. Balancing this gets tricky sometimes.ReplyDelete
Loretta, I agree with you completely. Your type of reporting is not what I was referring to in my blog. It is a reviewers unwritten solemn duty to let other potential readers know what they are getting into before they purchase a book. It's the whole reason people write reviews in the first place. But in doing so, you also give the author priceless information. Information that any self-respecting serious author would take eagerly to heart.Delete
Constructive reviews, even if accompanied by a 1 or 2 star rating, are good reviews. But one that simply says "this book sucked, don't buy it" is a waste of breath- or typing, as it were. I don't consider that bullying, though.
As a reviewer you have every right to voice your opinion on a product you've purchased. Whether you do it in a constructive and thoughtful manner, or you choose words that are simply uninformative and ugly, it's still your right as a consumer, but how you say it will reflect as much on you as the product you're reviewing.
Next week I'll be doing a post on reviewing that might interest you, though, it looks like I've already spelled out half the post here already :D
Well said Cham!!ReplyDelete
The bully: a blustering, quarrelsome, overbearing person who habitually badgers and intimidates smaller or weaker people.
With so many people moving forward why do we even have to bother with the bully insights and opinions? And are they superior? Well, because we just do and they sure think so!
What helps is to step back and really gain a perspective of where some of it comes from.
This is a great write up and I for one appreciate it!!
Keeping the eye on the prize over here...thanks for the share!! :)
Christina, thank you (bow). Wise words there, yourself :) I too am keeping my eye on the future. I suspect it will be a zone with little room for any of these bullies- literary or otherwise!Delete
"Those that can't, become critics."ReplyDelete
LOL, Terry, absolutely!Delete
I'm too cowardy custard to tell someone to p off. I might set you on them instead Chameleon Author. You can be our online-bully-chopping-champion!ReplyDelete
I am finding that where any kinds of people groups gather, you get the same problems, online or anywhere else. You can go to a dinner party and meet the blustering critic who bores the soul out of you or the one who knows more about your subject than you. Unfortunately the internet has given them all a deafening voice and they are using it for bad. Reviewers hold the power at the moment and until there are more worthwhile reviewers getting into it, the baddies get free reign.
K.T., well, this blog post is my way of telling them to piss off. I have never personally been plagued with a person like this, personally, but I hear the stories. Just recently, in fact, and that's what prompted this post.Delete
This particular blog post does not apply to reviewers, btw, that's a whole other subject, except perhaps those reviewers that go around blasting books simply as a grudge, or because they can hide behind their screen while doing it.
Great article, thanks for posting it.ReplyDelete
You're welcome, S.A.. The problem seemed big enough to mention it. Hope it helps shed more light on it so people on the receiving end know they aren't alone in this area.Delete
Good Post. And I have seen these types of bullies in every internet media there is. It's the inferiority that causes these bullies. Why are there so many? What is missing in our society? Personally, when I look at reviews, I always look at the lower stared ones first. You can tell if the reviewer is a jerk or not. Hopefully the ordinary consumer can too. Thanks.ReplyDelete
Savvy readers can tell, Sahara. The difference between "This book sucks, the story was dumb!", and "I ended up not caring for this story despite the great blurb. Too many loose ends left the story dangling." are pretty clear. The first review is not necessarily a sign of bullying, just a crappy reviewer. We are all plagued with that, though. Why bother to leave a review at all if that's the best you can say? Reviews are meant to inform. If you post a review about the new freezer you bought, and all you say is "I don't like this freezer", you may as well not have bothered, you basically just wrote half a review. Talk about loose ends and leaving the story dangling, they will have just done it themselves with their review if that's all they have to say, LOL.Delete