Saturday, May 2, 2009

Target Practice

I read this article over the weekend in the New York Times about an online real estate gossip site. Basically, current listings are posted, people attend open houses or showings, then they log on to add their comments, (i.e., rip them apart.) Gems like "The bathroom looks like a Chinese bordello" and "If this apartment isn't ugly, I don't know what is" come up, for starters. Thank God we aren't selling right now. 

Those of you outside the city may or may not know how *obssesed* New Yorkers can be when it comes to real estate. It's one of the city's favorite topics. I know of many people who frequent just to see what their money would buy in Duluth or Darien or Des Moines. They call it "real estate porn" and it comes from living life in a box in the sky. 

But online jerkitude in general has been on my mind lately, especially when it comes to books. If I'm lucky enough to get published, will I have the mettle to deal with the critics? And by "critics" I don't mean "people who don't like the book." That's fine. Some won't. Maybe many. It's the bullies who make personal jabs--sometimes witty, but more often than not, racist, misogynistic, or just plain mean. Just read some Amazon reviews. Many times they are either over-the-top effusive or over-the-top venomous. I've gotten to the point where I never trust them.

It's said that writers need to develop a thick skin. I have it. I can face rejections and criticisms about my writing without taking it personally. But I think personal jabs cross the line. I've read comments that insinuate (or outright state) that the author is a bad mother, or has mental problems, or is a pedophile, based on a work of fiction. Come on.
So what do you think? If you are trying to get published, will you be able to hack it? What do you think of these types of "reviews?"


Amy said...

I often think the real nasty reviews come from those who've attempted publication themselves and lost (prior to their getting the reviewing job). Frustrated writers who are envious and angry deep down inside. I think you have to take everything with a grain of salt. I've often fantasized about how I'll handle reviews when (notice the positive take) I'm published. I thought I could have my husband sift through the reviews until he comes across a nice one (or two) and just show me that one. :o) Why pay any attention to naysayers? That being said, I'm sure you'll get nothing but good reviews!!

Melanie Hooyenga said...


People say bad things? EEK!!

Kidding... :) I toughened my skin in advertising (as I'm sure you did too) but I was able to do that by not looking at my work as anything personal. I was designing for a client, not myself, and it's easy to distance yourself from that.

As for my writing, I just hope that if I ever am published, the fact that some people believe in my story enough to put it out there will balance out all the meanies.

Janna Leadbetter said...

When you mention the kinds of things some people blindly rant about, I question my own personal responses. It would be hard, for certain. I'd like to think, though, that I've surrounded myself with enough truly supportive people, that I could get through it and not feel as though I'd been run over by a bus. I guess I won't truly know unless it happens, though.

And I know you're just trying to be realistic, but what's with this "if"? Think positive, lady! It's WHEN you get published. ;)

WendyCinNYC said...

It's always been around, but it used to be called "hate mail" and was sent directly to the author, but now it's typed on the internet for all to see. Here's a few of my favorites:

"People in Berkeley love their children and you hate your children, and your children should be taken away from you"

"Could you do the rest of humanity the favor of, like, throwing yourself in front of a bus or something?"

"Keep him away from my children."

Oy. I don't know if my skin is that tough. I guess it will have to be.

Spy Scribbler said...

Well, I've been very lucky, LOL. But part of it is that once I'm done, that story is completely out of my mind. I've started emails to readers, saying, "I didn't write that book." When I go to research who did write that book, I discover I DID, LOL!

So responding to readers becomes talking about something that is so far from you, it's not even in your memory. It's like working customer service for a product you didn't design.

Although, one review said that my story I was "sick" because I put sex in my story, LOL. That just gives me something to joke about. :-) But I keep bringing it up, so it must be stuck in my craw, LOL.

Anonymous said...

Bring em' on!

No worries, I like to take on trolls so if they come a knocking, just give me a call. Of course it is easy to ignore them when you realize how small and pathetic these people are. I mean, what kind of human being are you that gets his or her kicks from abusing people by exploiting your anonymity online.

So no worries. You can even wear the insults as a badge of honor. It means that people have taken noticed. And if you do get a good fan based going (and treat them well) they will back you up a 110%.

WendyCinNYC said...

Spy- I'm expecting some "sick" comments, for sure.

ralfast-Ha! Thanks. I'm sure you can take them on!

Allie said...

Years ago, I had a very nasty, very insecure person go off on me in a writing group. I was heartbroken at the time, but wow, it did me a favor. I don't think anything anyone could write about my work would hurt as much as someone spewing that kind of negativity to my face. But, even with my thickened skin, I'm hope everyone will just be nice. I love Amy's idea of having my husband read things first and act as a filter. Or maybe the trick is to just keep writing and ignore it all completely.

Debra Lynn Shelton said...

Wendy, I imagine it will be similar to how I respond to query rejections - some days it doesn't bother me in the least, and other days it takes me an hour or two to shake it off. People are always envious of success. To all the negative reviews that may come my way, I have a profound and distinguished comeback at the ready: Suck it! (Said with thumb on nose, fingers waving in air.)

Anonymous said...

The snarkiest, nastiest people I've met online are the unhappiest people I've met online, and also the least truthful.
Hey, that is the same as IRL. Which is why they are easy to identify & ignore. It is about them(because they secretly feel EVERYTHING is about them), not you.

Alexander Field said...

Getting bad reviews would certainly be tough, but after all the rejections that is the norm for a writer, what is a bad review? More motivation to get better. Love your comment on "real estate porn". I'm in so cal so I do the very same thing.