Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Critique Crap-tastrophe

By: Kimberly Hitchens is the founder and owner of Booknook.biz, an ebook production company that has produced more than 2,000 books for over 1,000 Indy authors and imprints.

Hi, Guys!

Sadly, this week I'm not only slammed, but I've managed to aggravate the Dreaded Frozen Shoulder again, so I can't handle a full-blown blog post.  But I've been saved (hallelujah!) through the good auspices of author G.L. Drummond, (not a Booknook.biz client), who blogs at "Feral Intensity."  This week, Gayla (G.L. Drummond) interrupted a multi-part series she was running on book marketing to discuss a particularly disturbing thread that we saw at the KDP Forums.  The thread itself is here:    CLICK HERE TO VIEW THREAD

Here's the thread the author started:

"Happily Annoucing Two Great Books! Opinions Wanted! "

...and this is her first post:

"Take a look and your opinions are welcome! The 1st, Tangled Hearts, is a wonderful romance. The 2nd, Skylark Blues, is a story about Air Force Basic Military Training. Everyone that has been in the military should read.
Waiting to hear your thoughts,"

About 8 or so pages later, when all of us were so gobsmacked by this author's incredibly rude and offensive retorts to the feedback she had requested, Gayla couldn't take it any longer, and decided to blog about it, for the same reason I'm pointing you newcomers to that blog:  Please, please, please:  if you're a new author, and you've posted your first book, sans the benefit of an editor, or beta readers, or a critique group, and the type of feeback that this woman received is the type of feedback that YOU receive:  whatever you do, don't react as this woman didEvery single possible thing she did was wrong, culminating in this doozy to a forum full of authors, some of them top-sellers:

“Well, all of you are a waste of my time. I need to find a more intelligent group of real authors to have a sound discussion with.”
My Book is TOO Wonderful!  Nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah Nyah!

Gayla's blog posting about this is to be found here:   CLICK HERE to read the blog post.  I can't say what she said any better than she did--so I'm simply linking to her blog.  For those of you who are new authors, you may also find her series  on Book Marketing worthwhile.  (For those of you who were fans of the early Anita Blake, Vampire Executioner series, before it became so porn-tastic that it was no longer readable, you might also really like Gayla's book, "Arcane Solutions," which I thought was fun.)

Sorry to be so brief--but that's all the typing I have in me this Monday night, February 18th, 2013.  I hope I'll be far more fascinating next time, but in this instance, I think Gayla said everything I would have said--but better.  ;-)



  1. I recall a time in the "old school" ways of arts when the creator (author, painter, etc.) said NOTHING in public about their art. I'm not saying that's the right or best or only acceptable approach, but this thread's got me feeling sentimental for it.

  2. Waiting until her book was published to get feedback was the author's biggest mistake. Because responding publicly to criticism after the fact never works out well for the author.

  3. Well, there are old pros at the game who say such negative things about readers online, including complaining when fans find typos in their published books, you have to wonder what it is about criticism that makes it so hard for even a professional to swallow. Being publicized is probably one issue, as LJ points out. Certainly there are plenty of less-than-constructive opinions floating around. This author sounds pretty narcissistic to me though - thought her book deserved the highest praise, and was surprised to have it criticized. In art school, we are taught how to give and receive a good group critique. Is there such a lesson for authors and readers? I might think about it and write one.

  4. Reminds me a little of contest judging, where the low score was dropped. Why are the high scores assumed to be the "right" ones? But nobody wants to hear their baby is ugly--even if they ask for it. What they want is affirmation that they've got the best product out there.

  5. What a sad situation. I hope that after a cooling off period, this author re-evaluated what happened and will take some of the advice. I have three rules about public responses to critiques of my published books. 1) Don't respond; 2) Take a deep breath and Don't respond; and 3) No Matter What, Don't respond. :)

    Terry, I agree with you about how dropping the low score in a contest is not right. It is not at all reflective of the real world, AND it doesn't allow the author to get a perspective that may be really important to improving the work. My RWA chapter has always taken all three scores in manuscript judging. They do provide a 4th "discrepancy judge" if the lowest score is more than 50 points below the other two. I have frequently been that 4th judge and more than 90% of the time I've agreed with the lowest score as being the most accurate.

    1. Thanks for sharing it (and the compliment), Kimberly!

      Hi, Maggie. =)

      Actually, this author not only hasn't cooled off, and in spite of us all a "waste of her time", she's continued. She chimed in another thread where some of our members who are vets were reminiscing, and let's just say she hasn't gotten any pleasanter. =(

  6. This person reminds me of a writer who submitted a manuscript to me for consideration. The book just wasn't something that fit into the company focus, so I declined and told the author the story was "off-brand" for this publisher. Her reply was, "apparently either your were never a kid and were birth from aliens or didn't have a real child hood. Either way I know what kids like I have two of my own and I've read my book to several schools and conferences before I decided to get it published with great reviews." I wished her good luck. Hahaha.

  7. This is so sad and self-destructive. She's clearly not a wimp, so I'm hoping that she's one of those people who can, one day, admit they were wrong and grow.

    I'm sort of guessing that 2013 is not going to be a good year for her.

  8. Hey, Gang! (And nice to see you, too, GL aka Gayla):

    Well, the part I scribbled was not one of my finest blog posts, heavens know, but thankfully, GL did the job for me. I've been horrified to see that this woman--who's not a child, which shocked me--has *continued* in this vein, today shrieking something about "I'm reporting all of you if you don't leave me alone!!!!!! This is harrassment [sic] and smearing!!!!!" I felt sorry for her on one hand, but, LORD, that woman brought it down on herself with both hands. And, just in case any o'youse is wondering, yes, "smearing" is what I do when I'm putting the bondo on my face, to hide the cracks. And simply reciting her own behavior hardly warrants a charge of "harassment," which is spelt (yes, that's a deliberate usage) with ONE r, not two. And, lastly: reported to WHOM, exactly? The Internet Schadenfreude Strike Squad?

    I know what it's like to have someone deliberately, maliciously and falsely "smear" you on an Internet site. I've been a victim of defamation, just recently. I want to say to this woman, "trust me, sister: this ain't harassment, and it ain't defamation, and it's not CLOSE to a smear job." But she won't listen. I know the type all too well by now. It's a shame. She might even have a story in there, if she'd put another 1,000 or so hours in, in a CW class or with a REAL critique group, or even an honest writing buddy. {sigh}.

    Who knows, maybe someday I'll start Hitch's School for Beginning Authors, Class 1a: What NOT TO DO. ;-) BWHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

  9. I love it! This lady reminds me of a contestant in my story competition who emailed me thus:

    'My story is far better than any of the winners yet you didn’t give me a prize. You’re all in it together, judges, agents, publishers... Either you’re blind to genuine talent or you have a secret agenda to destroy new authors. That’s why my stories never get published!’

    No, I don’t exaggerate. That's what he wrote.

    I hasten to add that 99% of my contestants are very happy with their comments. (I give a critique on every entry). But now and again, I get 'em.

    Another complaint I occasionally get from new writers is: 'You didn't understand my story'. No, I didn't. And that was the problem :)

  10. LOL, John! Yes, I've had authors write to me when I've written reviews, telling me that I "didn't get it." And yes: that was the problem. Or one author who told me that he understood that I didn't like his novel; that his "bad guy" was "too creepy for some people, too much." I was flabbergasted; my whole issue with the book was that the "bad guy" hardly existed for me at all! This guy never understood that if you don't leave it on the page--it doesn't exist. I don't understand authors who don't understand that very fundamental reality about authoring.


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