book with glassesThere’s been a flap on the Internet lately over the actions of a certain writer who tracked down a blogger because the blogger gave her a bad review. I’m not going to analyze that incident or the motivations of the people involved, because others have already gone over that territory. What I am going to do is say that book bloggers should always be able to feel safe when they give a review.

I don’t blame any writer for getting upset at a bad review. That’s totally understandable. But you don’t go looking for the blogger, you don’t attack the blogger (not even over the Internet), you don’t go and leave a nasty review of the blogger’s own book, if he/she happens to also be a writer.

We all have the right to express ourselves. This is just as true for book reviewers as it is for authors. And we all have the right to say things that make other people uncomfortable. I know that some of the fiction I write will make some people cringe, but I write it anyway. Those are the stories I have to tell. If people hate what I write, they’re welcome to not read it, just as I avoid reading some people whose work I can’t stand. That’s life, right?

My personal feelings about nasty reviews are strongly negative. I don’t see the need or value in giving ugly reviews and mocking the creative efforts of others. But so what? That doesn’t give me the right or any excuse to go after someone who’s been mean to me. Remember that old kindergarten axiom? Two wrongs don’t make a right.

Take the high road. Let it go. There are so many times in our lives when people are mean, whether intentionally or not, and we can’t have a functional society if everybody’s carrying out vendettas. You can survive a mean review.

Trust me, people have been mean to me before. I was the victim of some significant bullying in elementary school, among other incidents over the course of my life. And guess what? I’m still here.

When you put your work out into the public eye, there are always going to be people who hate it. There are going to be people who hate you simply because you had the nerve to do this creativity thing in public. You’ll never make everyone like you, no matter what you do, so why get all twisted up inside about it?

I’ll say it again: it doesn’t matter what you do and it doesn’t matter what you don’t do. There will always  be people who dislike you. Maybe they’ll hate you because they don’t like your hair color or skin color or the fact that you’re named the same thing as their ex or a boss they hated. Maybe they’ll hate you because they really are jealous that you did something they didn’t have the nerve to try. Maybe they’ll hate you because you’re too nice. People can be really irrational. All of us. Even me. Even you.

So, to all the book bloggers out there: I personally will not get pissed off at you if you give a book or story of mine a bad review. I will not hate you. I will not go after you and I won’t send anyone else after you either. Frankly, I probably won’t know or care what kind of review you gave me because I have a personal policy of not reading reviews.

Reviews are for readers, not authors. I’m fine with this. When I need feedback on a story, I ask my first readers for help. Book bloggers can say whatever they like about my work.