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I Didn’t Know It Would Be a War

Please please…go read this post my friend wrote. I’m in the middle of something I don’t want to talk about right now, so if you could please go to my friend’s post and let me know what you think, I’d really appreciate it.

| Tags: , , , 49 comments »

49 Responses to “I Didn’t Know It Would Be a War”

  1. bethany canfield

    God help us all Trish πŸ™‚ Thanks for the warning!!!!!!


  2. veens

    Oh MY GOD! I definitely don’t have the time and energy to fight a lawsuit!

    and this is basically a very serious issue.

    When you send books for reviews, you should be ready to hear an unbiased opinion, if you can’t then don’t send them at all.

    Book bloggers are known for their honest reviews, and this is such shameful thing to do to book bloggers! I think it is perfectly alright to quote [ we do that mostly for all the books ] and put up a pic too.

    This is very very BAD!


  3. Jena

    I would’ve responded that most small publishers have an “any publicity is good publicity,” mantra. Self-published authors should feel the same way.

    I liked your responses to the author, and I think your review seemed fair. Well, the ugly comment probably smarted a lot–but I knew exactly what you meant.

    Besides, he didn’t send you a free book–he sent you a review copy. There’s a difference.

    But I disagree with veens comment about biases–we all bring our own biases to the books we read. I really didn’t like a book called The Hanging Woods–not because it wasn’t well written (it was), but because it I didn’t like the characters at all (any of them), plus it made me terrified at the prospect of raising sons; lots of other reviewers really liked the book.

    I’m very sorry that you had to encounter one of the authors who can’t handle publication of any sort.


  4. Chris@bookarama

    What an asshat!


  5. Chris@bookarama

    Okay that wasn’t constructive but it was my first reaction (you can remove it, if it gets you in trouble πŸ™‚ ).


  6. Devourer of Books

    Absolutely ridiculous. If you don’t want your book criticized, only let your mother read it. Also, if no publisher would take your book, there’s a decent chance that readers will criticize your book. Sure, publishers do miss SOME great books, but they also filter out a whole lot of bad ones.


  7. bermudaonion

    I read about this on Bethany’s blog, too. The author was totally out of line. Maybe he’s trying to generate more publicity with all of this mess he’s stirred up.


  8. mellymel

    Oh good grief. This is so ridiculous – just let me know if I can help. And I’m linking it up on my blog to spread the good word.


  9. Heather J.

    I’m so sorry you’re in this position. Here are some hugs for you!


    I’ve given several negative reviews lately, one of which included a quote (I posted it Monday in case you want to check it out). My policy is to be polite but honest. And now that I think about it, I’m going to add that policy to my blog sidebar – hopefully that will prevent any hurt feelings.

    I hope that this gets cleared up soon!


  10. writemeg

    It’s called integrity — you have it; he does not. And let’s be frank: it sounds like you really went EASY on him! If he can’t take warranted criticism, he’s in the wrong business!

    Keep fighting the good fight!


  11. Rebecca

    I left a hearty AMEN over at Both Eyes, and I’m leaving one here for you as well. I’ve had nasty encounters with authors, too (though not quite this bad), and I’m sending you happy thoughts.


  12. S. Krishna

    Wow, this is unreal! First of all, I’m pretty sure that the legal threats are empty because it would take a lot of time and money, and Fair Use, which allows Google Books to digitize books, including their cover image and about 20 pages of text, applies to us as well. (But I am NOT a lawyer – I have e-mailed my lawyer husband to see if he has any input, I’ll let you know if he does!)

    I’m so sorry you are having to deal with this, let me know if I can do anything to help!


  13. Susan B. Evans

    Trish, this is just so ridiculous! I’m so sorry that you’re having to go through this. I can’t believe you’re being harrassed over your honest opinion – which is what the author suposedly wanted when he sent you his book?! Unbelievable!

    You just keep your head up – and don’t you dare stop giving us (the readers – the target audience for all authors) honest feedback about what you read πŸ™‚


  14. Ti

    This is absolutely ridiculous. However, it does prompt me to consider putting some sort of a disclaimer in my email replies to self-published authors.

    Also, there is probably a reason why he is self published. No one would publish his book and it seems like he is still a bit sensitive over it. I can’t imagine a self-published author having the financial means to take you to court over it. If he did, the case would get tossed.

    Maybe form here on out we all need to put a disclaimer on our blogs.


  15. Lisa

    I’m with Ti, thinking about a disclaimer. This is just stupid crazy on his part. He must have a ton of money to be able to both self- publish AND sue everyone with a bad opinion of his book!

    Headed over to read her post now, and gonna talk about it some on my blog too.


  16. Katherine

    ARGH! Another author acting up (I could give you about a dozen examples of this happening, including one where the author threatened to sic a PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR on someone who just happened to not like her book; I’ve also been harassed by members of another writer’s family for a less-than-stellar review I once wrote). I agree that it takes a thick skin to publish a book, but to threaten someone like this is uncalled-for.


  17. Katherine

    PS–If you want to rubberneck at another Author Behaving Badly, read this article from a few months ago:


  18. Dawn

    The war is uncalled for!

    I’ve reviewed more mainstream books negatively (*Three Cups of Tea* and *The Necklace* come to mind) and haven’t had this kind of backlash; there is no need for him to attack you personally. A review is a -review- not a piece of positive marketing!

    I agree with the comments above, that we should consider putting a disclaimer, or state the parameters that may be included in a review (“my honest opinion”).

    I disagree that we should be gentle or tiptoe around books we don’t like. There may be someone out there who likes this type of book; or someone who buys simply as an example of what NOT to do when writing!

    Take a deep breath. Get through your day. This will settle down in time.


  19. Michele

    Hugs Trish! I know you didn’t want this, but I am so proud of you for sticking with your guns. You did a fair and honest review. You’ve done ‘not great’ reviews before and if the author had truly done his homework, he would know that. And if he didn’t want an honest review, he shouldn’t have asked you to review.

    I’ve struggled with negative or ‘not great’ reviews before myself. It’s hard because you know they worked hard on it. But at the same time, if it doesn’t work for you, it doesn’t work. And your blog is where you are supposed to say that – your readers expect honesty. How are they going to believe the ‘really great’ reviews if those are the only books you share?

    I’m sorry you are having to deal with all of this. This guy is way out of line. Hugs!!!!


  20. Rebecca @ The Book Lady's Blog

    I think it’s really important for us to start a conversation about these issues, and I’ve blogged my take here.


  21. Popin

    Should we really start putting disclaimers on our blogs though? When you are reviewing a book, it’s always going to be your opinion and authors should simply respect that. To put a disclaimer seems almost trivial. If you just want reviews that are good, then ask the reviewer to post good reviews, if he/she liked the book. If they didn’t, then don’t post it.

    At the end of the day, you are doing them a favour, regardless of it being a bad review, or a good one, because either way people will hear about them. I mean, you are not being paid to do the review, you might be working at a 9-5 job, or have to deal with children, therefore, you are taking time out of your busy day to review their book. It’s a favour and one they should respect and deal with. If they are angry over one bad review, then they are in the wrong business.

    ~ Popin


  22. Ramya

    I am sorry you have to go through this! I just wrote a negative review for a review copy I received recently and I have been in a dilemma ever since. Your issue just puts me in more of a fix. I have always felt the necessity to be honest with my posts because well, that is what I have a blog for – my personal space to write my honest views. If this is going to start becoming a problem, i might just start saying “no” to free review copies of books. they are just not worth the hassle.


  23. Amanda

    Hang in there! Honestly though…your review wasn’t that critical. It was more of an “eh” rather than “the worst book ever” kind of review.

    I stumbled upon this and thought it was pretty funny and relevant to this. Maybe the author of the book should learn how to take criticism like a man.


  24. Raych

    You deserve snuggles and cinnamon buns. Clearly, this man has never been ‘stuck it to.’ Your review was even-handed and fair, and the quote was an excellent illustration of why I won’t read that book (and why others should disregard your opinion if they happen to like that sort of choppy, irritating style). Obvs these authors have a thing to learn about bloggers. Write a bad book and we’ll tell others not to read it. Write a mean comment and we’ll drag your name through the mud.


  25. Natasha @ Maw Books

    Well, I left a comment over at Both Eyes but wanted to leave one here as well. The author is out of line asking you to remove your review. I have found that it helps to have a review policy clearly stated on your blog, which I do (but it’s down now – here’s hoping I’ll get it back up). Then that way they clearly know what they are getting into. I think we need to balance criticism with manners and give an honest review that I think we’ll help our readers. I’m not scared to give less than steller reviews even when I know the author is reading it (and with Google Alerts you can guarantee that they are) but it helps to give a recommendation to someone else who may enjoy it. I did give one such review and the author emailed me to please remove part (not the whole) of a comment left from a reader that attacked his personal character (not the book). I was happy to do so because he was polite and respected the opinion of the rest of the review and comments.


  26. Alea

    I don’t even know what to say to all of this, that author is way out of line. I’ll be thinking of you though and please if you can think of a way that we can help you, let us know! πŸ˜€


  27. Bookfool, aka Nancy

    Well, that’s rather horrifying and bracing. I’m sorry you’re going through that and I can truly say I don’t get it at all. If an author sends you a book and asks you to review it, you should be able to say what you think and post an image or a quote as an example. Surely if everyone in Blogland started to give sweet and gooey reviews to everyone, the point would be lost. None of us would trust each other and we’d end up just browsing like we used to and totally missing some really great books.

    I’ve found it’s not unusual for people to read a dramatically negative review and then say, “Hmm, it still sounds good to me. I’m adding it to my wish list.” He should think about that. I get that a lot, at my blog. It’s still publicity.


  28. Debbie

    I wrote this same basic thing on your friend’s blog but I so support you. Book blogs are honest and that is why I read them. If I have to wonder how much an author paid someone to write a good review, I can’t trust that site anymore. That’s why I like book blogs and not major websites. It is like talking to a close friend and getting her unbiased opinion. I hope this doesn’t cause you too much trouble because clearly you are in the right.


  29. MC Halliday

    I am so sorry for the worry this self pubbed lawyer has caused you, Trish. A threat should not go unnoticed, and the rally of support against such horrid manipulation is wonderful!

    No one should be afraid to voice their opinions, particularly when asked for one! Reviews and book bloggers are very important to publishers and authors, even reviews rated very low or bad can create a need to discover, ‘how bad is it’? As Nancy mentioned, “It’s still publicity.”

    I believe most authors feel extremely lucky when a book is accepted for review and also understand any opinions of the reviewer will be expressed, usually accompanied by a grade.

    This author/lawyer/cad is a fool of the lowest order.


  30. Natasha @ Maw Books

    Okay, so I really, really wanted to read this authors post which he removed on his blog. I subscribed to it via Google Reader and it showed up! What he did – sending a book to a reviewer – sounds exactly what hundreds of other authors do. Surely, shouldn’t he realize that a free book isn’t a payoff for a favorable review? We aren’t that easily bought. I’ve received autographed books in the mail before and gave less than steller reviews but have had very favorable communications with the author. I think he’s overreacting to the situation and has brought upon himself more negative publicity than he was bargaining for.


  31. Natasha @ Maw Books

    Another thing – I noticed that he said he didn’t expect anything in return for the book. Obviously he did. And no, you didn’t go to great lengths to trash the book. One review on one blog is not great lengths and it’s not “trashing” it.


  32. Meghan

    He is being truly ridiculous; Trish, I think you’ve done exactly the right thing and it’s unfair that you should be dealing with this. He asked for your opinion in a review and he got your opinion. You are not a positive marketing tool. If that’s what he wanted, he should have put an ad on google.

    And how can he expect anyone to want to read his book if he insists you take the quote down? He must not feel pride in his writing if he’s ashamed of having it posted on the internet. Perhaps instead he should realize his book needs more editing before he lets it out into the world.


  33. J.C. Montgomery

    Here is a snippet from the US CODE: Title 17,107.

    Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.

    In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall includeβ€”

    (1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;

    (2) the nature of the copyrighted work;

    (3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and

    (4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

    The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors.

    Not sure this helps. I hope it does. I got this from Google as some authors were upset over Google Print. This was their justification for what they do, and they post excerpts a lot more than we do.


  34. avisannschild

    I agree with what Nancy (Bookfool) said: I’ve found that some people comment that they are interested in the book even when I give said book a negative review. It’s too bad that this author chose to shoot himself in the foot instead.

    I also don’t think he has a leg to stand on regarding copyright infringement.

    I must admit I’m curious to read his post too, but the fact that he took it down must mean he’s having second thoughts about his behaviour! I truly hope he apologizes to you, Trish!


  35. avisannschild

    Having just read his response on The Book Lady’s Blog here, I guess I hoped in vain…


  36. Chris@bookarama

    Ok, I take back the asshat comment because it wasn’t nice. But I still say no self publishing for me.


  37. Darby Lohrding

    We all love you! Keep in mind that you can’t please all the people all the time ….Joe, that’s for you too. I think perhaps you both had expectations of the other and were thrown into defensive mode when your expectations were not met. ie: felt threatened.
    Lessons here for all of us to learn from!
    Thank you Trish and Joe Blow for sharing,
    darbyscloset at yahoo dot com


  38. Kim L

    Good Lord! I’m sorry you’re being harassed over your review! I appreciate bloggers who are brave enough to post their true opinions when they don’t like a book, and I always enjoy your reviews.

    I’m sure you have nothing to worry about legally, but that is still a bummer. We book bloggers review books for the love of reading, not to start flame wars!

    Anyhow, I’m sending you hugs!


  39. monnibo

    Most people should value an honest review, take it with a grain of salt, and call it a day. I am personally not an author BECAUSE I know I’m not ready to handle the rejection and criticism. Maybe one day, but I will have to learn to take it in stride… and this author needs to too.

    Kudos to you to sticking with your opinions. They matter.

    P.S. I left a different comment on the situation at Bethany’s blog… But just wanted to let oyu know.


  40. Tracy

    Bless your heart for having to go through this. It is not fair at all. Please let me know if I can do anything too.


  41. Heather

    I am a little late in responding to the situation, but I’ve been reading responses on just about everyone’s blogs and the first thing I have to say is – I am SO sorry, Trish, that you are going through this. What we do here in book blogging land is mainly for our entertainment and enjoyment, and also for other readers to get a number of opinions on books (completely free of charge!) that they may be interested in. I do not think we have a responsibility in any way to write positive reviews of books we do not like or even think are so-so.

    I do think, however, that if I were an author I would probably have a difficult time reading negative reviews of my books, so I can understand where they might be coming from in their hurt feelings. But most authors understand that not everyone is going to like every book – what we do here on the blogs is talk about books, give our OPINIONS, and they are not always going to be what the authors would like to hear. That’s just life… there’s no other way to put it. I personally try to always find something positive in every book, even if I detest it, and always try to be kind about my negative thoughts, but I do not think we HAVE to do it this way. If you want to rip apart someone’s writing on your blog, you can. It’s YOUR blog. In this case, you handled the “negative” review amazingly well, pointing out exactly why you did not enjoy the book without being rude at ALL. I still can’t quite figure out why the author had such a problem with what you wrote.

    What upsets me the most about this whole thing is the fact that the author personally attacked you on another blogger’s comment section, stating numerous times how he does not like you as a person. Excuse me, but I’m pretty sure he absolutely does not even know you and therefore would have no WAY of knowing whether or not you are a good person. That really got on my nerves because even though all the rest of us bloggers only know you through cyberspace (well, most of us anyway), we can all clearly see what a fabulous person you are and that you have EVERY good intention when writing reviews. The fact that he would attack your personality and sense of morality is very upsetting and I’m sad for him that he did this as it does not reflect very well upon him.

    The whole thing is just sad, really, because us bloggers are just trying to give fair and balanced reviews for everyone reading the blogs, and for each other and ourselves. If authors start to have issues with us doing this, then what’s the point?

    UGH. πŸ™ Sorry Trish. The whole thing just sucks. (But you’ve totally handled it beautifully, by the way. Much better than I would have, I think.)


  42. Amy @ My Friend Amy

    I’m late to comment over here, but just wanted to say Book Binge has my favorite review policy, it makes me laugh everytime.

    And we know you’ll bounce back Trish! πŸ™‚


  43. stephanie

    Trish, I’m glad to see that you stuck to your guns! As a blogger, you have a right to your opinion. All of us expect to come here and read honest reviews. That’s how I blog. I have a lot of respect for all the book bloggers out here and that’s why I listen to their opinions.

    I’m really sorry you’ve had to go through all of this. But just know we are ALL behind you!!


  44. Wendy

    Sorry you are being harassed, Trish. This guy is a no-name idiot – don’t worry, he’ll eventually crawl back under the rock he came from like all good insects.


  45. Sunday Salon - November 16, 2008

    […] books they did not like; others go ahead and review them but wonder if they should be honest; still others have had to deal with angry authors when they’ve given that author’s book a negative review. I have had only one nasty […]

  46. chartroose

    Damn, Trish, I’m so sorry! I’ve never been lambasted by an author, but I’ve gotten some nasty e-mails about my favorable opinion of “American Psycho.” Let me know if there’s anything I can do.



  47. Sher

    You know… the aftermath of this is uniting us book bloggers and having us discuss a code of ethics. I think that this happened for the a good reason, although you had to suffer for it. This will be long remembered and your class, character and integrity will what be remembered the most!

    Keep up the good work.

    I like your blog!

    anovelmenagerie dot com


  48. A Change of Pace and Policy | She Reads Books

    […] recently about the role that book bloggers do and/or should play in reviewing books, and about authors behaving badly (here too), and such other sundry things. I haven’t been commenting on this much on other […]

  49. The Ethics of Book Reviews, Part 1 « Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin’?

    […] I wanted to go back to address a few things about THIS, aka That Which Will Not Be […]

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