Can of Worms

So apparently I opened a can of worms the other day with my comment on the (spoiler review alert!) review of The Painted Man by Ana from The Book Smugglers. Not because of what I said or how I said it, but because of the very fact that I, wearing my author hat, said anything at all.

Jessica at Racy Book Reviews wrote an interesting post this morning where she posits that authors posting comments on reviews of their work, even (or perhaps especially) on blogs, has a chilling effect on comments, causing other comments to censor themselves, get starstruck, or simply choose not to comment, killing what might otherwise have continued to be a vibrant discussion thread.

She cites my example as the primary reason why she wrote the post, and there is some circumstantial evidence to support her. Once I left my comment, the conversation effectively ended.

I think she makes a fairly good point. I don’t think it’s good form for authors to respond to reviews too often.  I have read literally hundreds of reviews of The Painted/Warded Man, and I think I’ve left a total of 4 comments. Less than one percent.

Wow, you must be thinking. These must have been VERY bad reviews!

Actually, no. One was spreading misinformation that the content of The Painted Man was significantly different from that of The Warded Man. Because of the problems inherent to having the book have two separate titles in the US and UK markets, I am very vigilant for things like that, and felt I needed to stomp the rumour out as a bud. I don’t want people buying the same book twice thinking there would ne more or less story or whatever.

The other three are due to the reviewers interpreting a certain scene in the book in a way that I think casts a negative aspersion on my character, even though the reviews in question were not necessarily negative overall. In all those situations, I did my best to keep it short, polite, informative, and to stick to the one topic that I wanted to give my thoughts on, rather than addressing the review as a whole.

Did I need to comment? No, of course not. But no one needs to comment on things. That’s the whole point of enabled comments on blogs. Everyone has the option to say something if they have something to say. It is the power of the internet in it’s purest form, laid bare in all its ugly beauty. Everyone gets to be heard, and no one does.

The comments on the post have been nonstop all day, I think there have been about 40, with authors and readers alike chiming in (myself included). It’s an interesting thread; well worth reading. I don’t think it’s going to change anything, though, or even that it necessarily should. Authors are still going to read any reviews of their work posted in public forum, and some of them, including me, are going to comment when they have something to say. It’s one of those things, like friends posting unflattering pictures of us on facebook and illegal file-sharing, that we’re all just going to have to get used to.


If you’re a New Yorker, pick up a copy of the New York Daily News tomorrow (Wednesday, April 22), and look for the article about yours truly!

Posted on April 21, 2009 at 7:27 pm by PeatB
Filed under Musings, Reviews, Writing

6 responses to “Can of Worms”

  1. I noticed how those threads where you commented shifted tone so abrubtly after your post. It is funny, really, and not at all your (or any author/creator’s) problem. It’s put up or shut up for the bloggers and commentors, when it is revealed that the target of their ire (or affection, I guess) is actually paying attention.

    That’s part of the reason I’ve lost so much of my own snark on Twitter, Facebook, etc … You never know who is reading, so you need to be willing to stand by whatever it is you post.

    Posted by Matt, on April 22nd, 2009 at 11:57 am
  2. Yeah, I’m wrestling with how I want to address this issue when my book hits the stands in (hopefully, fingers crossed) about a year. I think your approach is the best compromise: correct factual misapprehensions, otherwise stay quiet. I too have noticed the “chilling effect” and would prefer to avoid it.

    Right now I lurk and am very occasionally active on a couple of SF/F message boards, but I use a sock-puppet name so I can be “just a fan” and snark or squee to my heart’s content without worrying that anyone will be influenced by the messenger rather than the message. Not that this is really a concern right now, but hey, one can hope that’ll change someday, right?

    Posted by Liane Merciel, on April 22nd, 2009 at 1:15 pm
  3. To Be honest I appreciated your comment at: review of The Painted Man by Ana from The Book Smugglers.
    And from my point of view you didn’t kill the discussion.

    I think everybody has the right to post a comment as long as he/she follows the netiquette. It is the problem of blogger and their reader when they can’t cope with a comment from an author.

    Posted by edifanob, on April 22nd, 2009 at 5:40 pm
  4. I’m with Matt. If a blogger stops a conversation simply because they realize that the author being discussed is now engaged, then that is the responsibility of the blogger, not the author. If you believe in what you’re saying and being respectful, then it shouldn’t matter who is listening.

    Posted by Myke, on April 22nd, 2009 at 8:17 pm
  5. The discussion is still going strong in both posts. We got an amazing comment from Liane Merciel (thank you Liane) in the review of The Painted Man and Jessica’s post has over 40 comments now from both authors and readers. I agree that it is an interesting thread: I have been following it closely.

    Posted by Ana, on April 23rd, 2009 at 3:02 am
  6. Ik heb een nieuw huis gekocht en daarvoor had ik een nieuwe keuken nodig.

    Het is een een hele mooie Amerikaanse keuken geworden, met een kookeiland,
    een grote koelkast en een kookeiland waar we ook kunnen eten en ontbijten.
    Mijn trost zijn de mooie design eetkamerstoelen die daaraan staan. Ik heb ze in een goede eetkamerstoelen webshop gehaald, waarna de stoelen al snel werden bezorgd!

    Posted by eetkamerstoelen, on December 1st, 2016 at 9:13 pm