Saturday, April 02, 2011

Responding to Criticism: Brad Meltzer Shows Us The Proper Way

by Jamie Freveletti

There's been a link circulating on Facebook that leads to a heated debate between an author and her reviewer. Authors responding inappropriately to poor reviews happens, some famous authors have fallen into this trap, and inevitably the author takes the fall for the both response and the review.

As with most conflicts, the argument on the link devolved into everyone getting caught up in arguing and no one actually solving the problem. As a litigator who spent her life dealing with two angry people/corporate CEOs/ or governmental bodies lunging at each other across tables, I was frustrated to see this argument play out. I could think of several ways both the reviewer and the author could have solved the problem without the vitriol that ended on the page for all to see.

Bad reviews exist, inappropriate author responses to them exist, and poor manners on the part of reviewers exists also. I also think many people forget their manners in an online setting. The medium is a bit disassociative. You're in another's presence, but don't really feel that connection and you're not looking them in the eye. Nevertheless, what you say will reach them as if you were facing them. For example: On the recent facebook string of a New York Times bestselling author someone wrote: "Read the book and liked it. Not great literature, but good."

Now, really, if this person were invited to a cook's home for dinner would he leave saying "Ate the food and liked it. Not gourmet quality, but good?" Of course not. At least I hope he wouldn't. I would hope that, even if the pork was shoe leather and the beans overcooked, he'd find a way to compliment something and leave the other part out. Or say nothing. This person wanted to say something nice, actually took the time to go to the author's page to say it, but couldn't control himself or perhaps hadn't thought out how that sentence would read once on the page. That whole disconnect thing took over. Maybe later he realized his error and deleted the comment. I think he meant well overall.

Which brings me to Brad Meltzer. Mr. Meltzer is well known, a great writer, and I've enjoyed his books immensely. Like most writers that have been in the game for a while, he has received his share of bad reviews. But Mr. Meltzer's response to them is priceless, funny, and puts everything into perspective. The man has a wicked funny sense of humor. It's called "Reviews of the Book of Lies." I loved it. You can watch it here.








19 comments:

John Purcell said...

Link bad.

Try this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=svvoh66s2F0

Jamie Freveletti said...

Thanks John! Fixed the link.
Best, Jamie

Bryan Gruley said...

Nice piece, Jamie. Could you provide a link to the author/reviewer debate?

The only thing that really frosts me in negative reviews is when a reviewer who doesn't know me from Adam gets personal. Like the guy who said I obviously got my first book published only because I'm with The Wall Street Journal. On the contrary, a number of my 26 rejections used my profession as an excuse to turn me away ("He writes like a journalist," etc).

Jamie Freveletti said...

Hi Bryan! Never realized that you got stereotyped by being a journalist! Sent you the link!

hponsi said...

Thought provoking and amusing. Thanks for sharing this with me Jamie. Fondly, Helena

Jamie Freveletti said...

Helena-you're welcome! (And isn't that Meltzer video funny? I'll buy anything he writes!)

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