Thursday, April 01, 2010

Miss Manners vs. AnimeJune

Truly, folks, there's nothing like waking up in the morning, having a cup of tea, and discovering that someone with only the very best of intentions has left a helpful, polite, and thoroughly wrong-headed and patronizing post on your blog. Aaaaaaah, I love the smell of veiled contempt in the morning
The lovely Miss Manners chose to comment on a certain D+ review on my blog, and not even a recent one - Erica Ridley's Too Wicked To Kiss. Now, I've posted before on how inappropriate responses to negative reviews tend to fall within a certain pattern, and this example is no exception.

Ball's in my court now, Miss Manners. Let's go over your response piece by piece.
I wish you great success in your publishing endeavors and wanted to drop you a quick note in hopes of helping you better your future-self. It would be really easy for me to say that I hope someone treats you as you have treated other writers that you trash in your blog every day.
Um, well, first of all I should say that I don't trash authors in my blog every day. I don't even post every day. In fact, I don't trash authors at all. This part of your post is a perfect violation of my first rule of the Author's Attitude:

I do not trash authors on my blog, Miss Manners, and I never have. I trash books, bad ones, ones that are poorly written and give me headaches and portray men and women and vampires and Dukes and circus performers in an unrealistic and offensive manner. If you will read my review of Too Wicked To Kiss, not once do I make personal reference to Erica Ridley herself except in the context of the book she has written.

Actually, no, I stand corrected - I personally mentioned Erica Ridley once, and I shall quote the exact passage because this also applies to your concerns about how I treat authors (as opposed to their books):

First of all, I would like to thank Erica Ridley, who offered me a free ARC of her debut novel, Too Wicked to Kiss . To return the favour, I would like to advise that she not read this review. I didn't enjoy your novel, Ms. Ridley, but I'm sure other people will.That being said, unless you're in the mind for some constructive (and some not-so-constructive) criticism, this review might not send you to your happy place.
Wow, I'm such a bitch, aren't I? The nerve of me, offering polite thanks and letting her know that my opinion, while negative, is subjective.
Continuing with Miss Manners:
I would never wish for your work to be torn apart as you do to others, and the thought barely enters my mind. That's mainly because I can imagine the amount of work you've put into it, and the hours you’ve spent plotting, editing, revising and making your work the best it can be.
Hey! Another Rule!

Sorry, Miss Manners, but the amount of work put into a novel has absolutely nothing to do with a review. It's completely irrelevant. Every author puts an enormous amount of work into a book, myself included. My task as a reviewer isn't to evaluate the amount of work put into a book. My task as a reviewer is to review the finished product. As I mentioned in my Author's Attitude post - I'm sure the caterers and sound crew and lighting technicians worked their asses off to make Gigli, but that doesn't mean the movie didn't suck.
Continuing on:
With that in mind, I wish you nothing but success in the future but would like to make a suggestion to you, in an effort to further your personal growth. You’re twenty-four years old. You’re old enough to know right from wrong. And what you’re doing with your reviews is wrong. Children learn early on why it’s bad to ridicule others. Evidently, your education in that area was lacking. I hope, for your sake, that you can find a way to show your dislike for a book without belittling authors who worked just as hard on their book as you did on your prospective book.
You're right, I am twenty-four years old. Twenty-four young, desperately hot and nubile years old. Pardon me while I go dance in my white underwear in the rain and look awesome doing it.
Ahem. Back on topic - you are once again taking my reviews personally. I do not ridicule authors. I ridicule the books, the non-thinking, non-feeling, inanimate artistic creations that are separate from their authors. Nowhere in my review of Too Wicked To Kiss do I ridicule Erica Ridley. What I do ridicule are the elements of the narrative that I found lacking. I ridiculed the characterization. I ridiculed the pacing. I ridiculed the complete lack of paranormal development or realism. I did not ridicule Erica Ridley. I ridiculed the specific aspects of the specific book.

Why? Because that's what reviewers do - their job is to evaluate specific, independent books and articulately express the reasons why they like or dislike them. I like to think I'm articulate. I use turns of phrase and metaphors and pop culture references. I get creative. You evidently take issue with that, but the fact remains that I have said nothing whatsoever negative against Erica Ridley herself. Other people (like the Romance Dish) absolutely loved her book, so feel free to click there and get a second opinion.

There have been incidents on my blog where other commenters have made inappropriate comments that personally insult authors and I have always taken them down because that is wrong.
Oh, but Miss Manners only gets better:
The key there is “prospective.” You’ve not sold a novel. When you have a few best-sellers under your belt, you might have enough “street cred” to offer your opinion and have it be taken seriously.
Ah, that old saw. A staple in the Response to a Negative Review, violating yet another rule of the Author's Attitude:

Yes, of course, the old "oh, you're good enough to buy my novel and send me royalties but not good enough to tell other people you didn't like it" excuse.

Opinions are like fantasies of Hugh Jackman on a unicorn, Miss Manners - every gal has one. Let me introduce you to the Internet, the Roman Colosseum for gladiatorial bloggers, commentators, armchair pundits and columnists to duke it out for the attention of the wandering websurfer's eye. On this magical Net of the Inter, street cred comes from two aspects: how easy your website is to find and how easy it is to read.

The only difference between a good critic and a bad critic is their command of the English language. Readers take me seriously because I make sure that my reviews are well-written, my points are clearly established, and that some goofball humour is squeezed in for good measure. I have street-cred because I care deeply about what I do and what I read and I put that across in my writing. Not to toot my horn - who am I kidding? I love my horn! *toot! toot!* - but my readers respond to the passion I put forward in my writing and in return, keep reading. Do I always agree with all the opinions of my other awesome blogger friends like Wendy the SuperLibrarian or Katiebabs? No - but I still respect their opinions because they express them in an articulate manner.

To continue:
I sincerely hope that when you begin to submit the 120K word fantasy novel you just finished to editors and/or agents, that they don’t see each of your pithy comments and realize what a risk you could be as a client. Being media-genic is a large portion of marketing one’s self as a writer and your history of negativity could hamper those efforts, particularly since it’s so easy to match your writer-self ... to this animated character of AnimeJune who spews negativity like a fountain.

History of negativity? I have a history of negativity? Let's do some math, shall we?
I shall count my positive reviews as anything meriting a B- or higher. C+ or lower are my negative reviews.

Positive Reviews: 102 - 72%
Negative Reviews: 39 - 28%

In the words of Oscar Wilde, "Epic Math FAIL." So it turns out I'm not a spewing fountain of negativity so much as a leaky drainpipe of negativity. Tomato-Tomahto, I guess.

Anyhow, when or if agents, publishers, or editors choose to come to my blog, it's entirely possible they might miss the obvious fact that I'm a festering pustule on the ass of literary commentary and instead notice that I make an obvious effort to make my reviews elucidating, witty, and fun to read (~*toot! toot!*~).

But thank you for taking the time out of your day to rap my e-knuckles with your little e-ruler.



  1. Hey, SB Sarah is charging for her snark now...

    I'm going to tackle this one from the perspective of a writer, albeit a writer who, at this point, has had neither good or bad reviews, since my books are yet to be released. But the thing is, they will be. Some people will love them, some people won't. I can't please everyone, and that's fine.

    And I would much rather read a well thought out, entertaining review, then one that says simply: haaaaaated it. (this said in the style of Perez Hilton)

    Yeah, it has to suck to have a negative review, but everyone is entitled to an opinion. if a reviewer gives ONLY positive reviews, what's the point? Their opinion cannot be trusted.

    And when I get a negative review, I'll remember that I too am a nubile twenty four year old who can dance in the rain in my underwear, albeit with stretchmarks, and look reasonably good doing so. And then I'll thank the reviewer for reading the book, and move on.

    And then I'll keep writing. And I'll do the best I can every time. Sometimes it won't work for people, but that's life, baby.

    Keep reviewing, you entertain me greatly. But...warn me if you do one of my books...kthnx. :-)

  2. Anonymous12:49 PM

    *slow clap building to deafening roar* once again, you've nailed it, although between this post and your rant against monster mash ups i officially dont want to get on your bad side!

    what comments like that always make me think is HAVENT YOU EVER READ ANYTHING ON THE INTERNET BEFORE? its like that commenter thought you were the only one writing these types of reviews (IMO your reviews are some of the best in romancelandia btw) and this person was the first to ever write such a comment.

    what a waste to get all riled up over your old, negative review! my favorite one on mine was when i dared say i didn't like a Meg Cabot book and someone simply wrote "you don't deserve to be able to read if you can't appreciate such awesemeness"

  3. Does anyone else find it semi creepy that they know how old AnimeJune is and information on her un-pubbed WIP? It's like they really stewed on this comment for a while.

  4. Vorkosigrrl1:16 PM

    Oh, AnimeJune. I do truly love you.

    First of all, whoever this Imposter is, I hope you realize she's not the REAL Miss Manners, who is more sensible AND a better writer. (I know, I know, *everybody's* a critic!)

    Second of all . . . well, you've said everything else that needed to be said.

    I got my husband to read your "Immortal Warriors" review 'cause it was so darn funny, and he said it was hard to believe you weren't a professional writer. Which he is.

    Just keep on keepin' on, m'dear.

  5. Elizabeth, rock on with your bad self.

    Going from an reviewer to a published author may have consequences, but regardless of whether I publish or not, I'm going to tell it like it is.

    Miss Manners really needs to take a step back and think. Seriously, reviews can only do so much in helping or not helping with sales. I had a few people buy a book based on my negative reviews. One person said they decided not to buy a book based on a positive reviews! LOL

  6. @AnimeJune -- I'm 24 too can I dance in my underwear? :)

    @Maisey is right. SB and DA are charging for snark. Maybe you should make an Etsy page too!

    @Janicu -- It's creepy that they think they should mention it even if they do know it.

    I completely agree with @lustyreader. Bad reviews are everywhere. Instead of tackling the critics the author of the comment should tackle the ppl at Amazon who review a book at 1 stars because the book isn't available in the format they want. That would be more helpful in the long run.

    A lot of blogs are switching to just positive reviews to avoid backlash like this - especially in the YA blogs that I follow. This is really too bad because online BULLYING is not okay. I think negative reviews serve a really good purpose (other than sometimes driving huge amounts of sales due to awesome snark).

    Negative reviews help blog readers understand the mindset and likes/dislikes of the blogger.

    Negative reviews help build reader trust.

    Negative reviews are not bad reviews.

  7. Your response is just as entertaining & dead-on as your reviews. I'll be honest, I don't often agree with your reviews but love how you've written them and provided a variety of why a book did or didn't work for you. (I also love your tweets while you're reading).

    Seems rather assinine to comment on your review style and almost "threaten" you about becoming published, as if you becoming published was hinging on whether you wrote positive or negative reviews. I don't like ultimatums like that. I wouldn't be surprised if this same person leaves some nasty comments when your book is released.

  8. This is my favorite book blog to read. I find your reviews to be honest, professional and funny. I hope you never stop!

  9. That's it, I'm having your e-babies, I don't care what anyone else says - IT WAS MEANT TO BE.

  10. Amen, Sistah! This is my first visit to your blog, btw, but it won't be my last. So far I find your writing to be sassy, articulate and honest. My type of blogger!

  11. I don't get why a negative review equates with personal hate for the author. It's not possible for everyone to actually like the same book! I also really, really hate it when A Certain Person tries to defend a book by saying how much work/research the author's put into it -- why do they always use the same argument? Here are a few others:

    1. You're just jealous
    2. You don't have a life
    3. You don't have friends
    4. You're not a published author
    5. Because you're not a published author, you don't have the right to criticize a book

    Just to name a few ...

    What I also see happening a lot is an author's friend or family bullying a reviewer. It's so tacky. In fact, I've stopped buying books from a certain author for this very reason.

    So you just keep on trucking :)

  12. Good post Animejune. I agree. More power to your 24 year old elbow.

  13. "You're right, I am twenty-four years old. Twenty-four young, desperately hot and nubile years old. Pardon me while I go dance in my white underwear in the rain and look awesome doing it."

    You go girl!!

    Of course, now I'm going to put my head in the oven because 24 was nearly 20 years ago and I don't think I've ever been described as "desperately hot" (even by me) and I'd get arrested for dancing in the rain in my underwear.... !!! LOL!

    Srsly, Miss Manners should get a life. Your reviews rock.

  14. Anonymous6:02 AM

    You go, girl!

    I don't see why you should be obliged to like a book, just because the author asked you to review it. And your blog is awesome, but you already know that :P:D

  15. I adore your reviews - they are some of the best I've read - even if I disagree with a few(*cough* Dreaming of You *cough* but I still loved the review) And one of the reasons I love your reviews is because you are honest and not all sun shiny light with every book. When a reviewer does that, IMO she loses credibility.
    When we review a book we express AN OPINION and NO ONE is going to have the same opinion on every book.

    Passive Aggressive enough Miss Manners??
    And AnimeJune, just as I love your reviews, I love your response here :-)

  16. Late to the party, but great post. I suspect that the author in question would profit from spending less time on bloggers' writing and more time on her own.

  17. Ah, such perfect riposte. You are a joy to read, AJ.

    It's pretty laughable that you're getting schooled on how to manage your internet presence.

    I wonder where we few (we proud) bloggers who never intend to publish a romance fit in to Miss Manners' world view? maybe we just don't matter?

    Miss Manners, to return the favor of some advice? Concentrate on improving your craft (no matter how good you are) and writing GOOD STORIES and bad reviews won't be a problem.

  18. Just to make sure nobody gets the wrong idea:

    I am NOT the anonymous Miss Manners.

    Thank you!!

  19. SonomaLass --> Thank you!

    Maisey --> Exactly - but I think Miss Manners' problem was my wording style rather than the fact that I said I didn't like the book. I'm "ridiculing" the book because I say what all negative reviewers say, just more creatively.

    LustyReader--> Haha, thank you. And when people give comments like your Meg Cabot one, one has to think, "I'm glad you liked the book so much, but if you liked it, what do you care what I think?"

    Janicu --> Well, my profile says my age and I've mentioned the wordcount of my novel on Twitter (which appears on the side of my blog). So it shows Miss Manners has been paying some attention, I suppose.

    Vorkosigrrl --> Thank you!

    Katiebabs --> Exactly! Some people just have opposite tastes and you can still get along regardless. Hell, I gave Barbara from Happily Ever After a copy of Sophia Nash's THE KISS because I knew that if I hated, she was sure to love it, just the way our styles work out!

    Keira --> naturally. AND, there are examples of bad reviews out there - often by critics who break the same rules as authors do: they make it personal. In one of my reviews, one commentator made a very derogatory insult against an author in an attempt to agree with my review - something about how he thought the author was obviously a 65 year old perverted man or something like that, and I took that comment down, because that's not how to review a book.

    Stacy --> Frankly, it was the condescension in the remark that got to me. The old "you are an adult now, you should behave like one" wagging finger comment.

    BookRants --> Thank you!

    KMont --> LOL!

    Paranormal --> Thank you! Have fun reading my blog!

    Disanthus --> And that's the thing, authors don't look bad if they don't respond. They don't look weak. Every author's received bad reviews at one point or another. Responding only makes it worse, with very few notable exceptions (such as the delightful author of Pregnesia and her response to the Smart Bitches' review).

    Tumperkin --> Thank you!

    Kaetrin --> Also thank you! LOL.

    Antonia --> True - but I sincerely doubt Erica Ridley is Miss Manners. Lots of hatemail can come from fans as easily as it can from authors and fans need to realize how much they are hurting their favourite authors when they act like jackasses.

    Kristie J --> Thank you!

    RRRJessica --> Again, Miss Manners isn't Erica Ridley, I'm pretty sure. I would suggest that if Miss Manners is a true fan of Erica Ridley - she should spread the positivity. Go out and comment on other people's blogs about how good Ridley's writing is and about how much YOU enjoyed Too Wicked to Kiss - that's much more effective than wagging a finger at negative bloggers.

    Nicola O --> Again, I would suggest that Miss Manners would do better by her favourite author to spread the love of her author, rather than sticking it to bloggers.

    Erica Ridley --> No worries! Congrats on the 5-star review from the Romance Dish.

  20. For the record though, I would rather have a reviewer say she didn't like a book and use some humor and style (as you do) than simply have some dry prose listing my faults...boohoo...

    @Erica LOL.

  21. Anonymous8:23 PM

    I think the fact that she/he knows AnimeJune's real (full) name is creepier than knowing her age or word count.

  22. Excellent, I love a well written blog post with some swinging balls in it. The only bad critique is the one that was not written.

  23. Thanks for this post! I've been keeping a tiny book blog for a couple years now and have always been startled by the anonymous rage my (few) negative reviews have inspired. I admit I never know how to handle the hate, so I tend to ignore the comments, but I think your paragraph by paragraph riposte is much more fun (and possibly more productive, though still unlikely to sway the haters)

  24. Anonymous10:59 AM

    You are awesome! Love your blog, love your comments, LOVE THIS RESPONSE!

  25. Well said! I don't have anything intelligent to add, but kudos for taking on Miss Manners..and winning. :)

  26. Anonymous2:47 PM

    good job!!!
    the review is your own opinion.
    so they should be quiet.

  27. My example is Battlefield Earth. I understand it is a work of love for John Travolta, but Lord Almighty it is one godawful movie and I tell it to anyone who will stand still two seconds to listen.

  28. KarLynP8:33 PM

    One of the best blog posts I've read in long time! So many good points. And to say your review is a wrong example for children just made me crack up! As if teaching children the art of constructive honesty is BAD. Oh the horror!