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Lakeshore
An author of no particular popularity

Jay Lake
Date: 2007-09-07 06:59
Subject: [process] Reviews, rejections and the dynamics of the high school
Security: Public
Tags:process, writing
Someone on my f-list recently commented that they'd received an angry email from the author of a book they'd published a poor-but-honest review of. I have to say as a former reviewer, and a frequent reviewee, that's nuts. (On the part of the author, I mean.) The most response I've ever given to a review is a polite thank you note.

Working with mme_publisher, we've seen some strange responses to rejections. (nihilistic_kid talks about that a lot with Clarkesworld as well.) When a writer posted to a chat board that Polyphony had rejected his story because it was too ployglot and European in its sensibility, and we obviously didn't understand it, she and I knew about that right away. It was obviously ridiculous defensiveness, and we had a good laugh over it, but if the writer had been a bit nastier about it, their name would have been noted. I had another writer go ballistic on a mailing list when my rejection to them suggested they might not want to use the editor's name as a character name, simply because it's very distracting to read and subtracts from the editor's chances to be submerged in the story. Again, I found out about it in fairly short order.

It's a small Internet, people, and very well indexed. People know when you bust out the insecurity. If you're nasty enough, people remember it. Every editor has a kill file, usually reserved for the sorts who write threatening cover letters (and yes, that really happens). Right now mine is one name long, the gentleman who made a threatening comment on this LJ last year. And believe me, you don't want your name featured in a kill file story told in a bar at a Con.

My recent high school metaphor received a very mixed reception. Here's another place it applies. Not tribalism or cliquishness, but the fact that just about everybody working professionally in the field knows each other, or are at most one degree of separation apart. If your temper gets the better of you on receiving a rejection or reading a bad review, for the love of Piet, don't blather about it on the Internet. At best you'll look like an idiot. It goes downhill from there.
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Jess Nevins
User: ratmmjess
Date: 2007-09-07 14:44 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
The "Five Fan Social Fallacies" thing that went around a while back prompted me to write a Pro Social Fallacy somewhat along the same lines. The SF/F community isn't a big one, either, and bad behavior will be noticed and commented upon.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2007-09-07 14:55 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I have a number of times given serious thought to offering a class in Social Networking For Writers, which is sort of in line with your comments.
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Jess Nevins
User: ratmmjess
Date: 2007-09-07 15:34 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
It'd be a great idea. Unfortunately, I think the Pros most in need of such a class wouldn't be the ones who'd take it--they'd think "Oh, that doesn't apply to *me*."
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2007-09-07 15:35 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
You have alit on the heart of my reasoning in never bothering to follow through.
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Damon Kaswell
User: gooddamon
Date: 2007-09-07 17:25 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
But... But what if it really doesn't apply to you? Does that mean the only people who shouldn't take the class are the ones who want to? Can there be an alternate class for the people who it doesn't apply to, so they can attend it, since they think it does apply to them? And maybe have the real class labeled something completely different, to attract the ones who really need it, but don't think it applies?

Ow, my melon...
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Jess Nevins
User: ratmmjess
Date: 2007-09-08 02:23 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Honestly? I think most people could use the class. (I count myself in that category).
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Damon Kaswell: SmilingDamon
User: gooddamon
Date: 2007-09-08 04:41 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:SmilingDamon
Well yeah, but that goes without saying, and it doesn't make nearly as good a joke.
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biomekanic: Kachiko
User: biomekanic
Date: 2007-09-07 16:07 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Kachiko
Hmmm... if you had documents of such, I'd be happy to read it.
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REudaly: thoughtful
User: reudaly
Date: 2007-09-07 14:46 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:thoughtful
This is why I keep my rejection tirades mental voice and no more than 60 seconds long... occasionally I post an interestingly worded one to my LJ but not with a tirade attached or names for that matter.

As for the bad reviews... I had an author end a friendship with me because -- no matter how carefully I said it -- he thought I hated his book, when it was the e-publisher (and lack of editing) I disagreed with and not his content. He hasn't spoken to me since. Sad really.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2007-09-07 14:56 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Sad to say, it couldn't have been much of a friendship from their end if it was so easily lost. I really, really don't understand people who react that way. (I mean, intellectually I understand the psychopathology, but personally/emotionally I don't grok it in the slightest.)
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REudaly: thoughtful
User: reudaly
Date: 2007-09-07 15:00 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:thoughtful
No kidding. But taught me the very valuable lesson of never *ever* offering to review a book *before* I've read it. And you know, with some basic editing, it could've been very successful -- but he had a e-publisher one step above PA.
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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2007-09-07 14:58 (UTC)
Subject: Re: It's a small world after all...
Heh. Ya, you know what sparked it.
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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2007-09-07 15:06 (UTC)
Subject: Re: It's a small world after all...
Thank you. She's been having some post-event stress issues, but really she's just marvelous.
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User: (Anonymous)
Date: 2007-09-07 15:24 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
In all the years of running Emerald City I only ever got one angry email from a writer. And even that was a gruff sentence or two, not a rant. I had lots and lots of people (a few of them writers but mostly fans) get very angry with me on behalf of other writers, and the occasional angry response from a self-published author whose work I declined to review, but the people I reviewed were all very professional about it.

- Cheryl
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2007-09-07 15:26 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
In all truth, I can count the number of times I ran into this problem on both the editorial and reviewing sides on the fingers of one hand. But it is a spectacular way to screw up if one is so inclined.
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Leah Bobet
User: leahbobet
Date: 2007-09-07 16:13 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I've had the occasional cranky e-mail replying to a rejection. I don't actually remember most of the names of those who've done it -- none bothered me enough. What I do remember is the group of fans/friends of an author whose book I reviewed (again, not entirely positively, but thoroughly and honestly) accusing me of only doing so because I'd traded a few crits with her once and was therefore screamingly jealous of her career, one book long at that point. They could not be budged on this matter.

I don't review or handsell her books anymore, and in our store, that's the only way anyone's going to buy them. Life is too short to deal with her damn friends.
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Bibbit: WTF?
User: bridget_coila
Date: 2007-09-07 16:22 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:WTF?
Topics like this always remind me of the story I heard once about the complete opposite kind of rejection response...

a young female intern at a particular small press told me she once rejected a manuscript from a hopeful novelist. The author proceeded to write back to her telling her that her rejection was kind and that she "sounded cute" and "would she like to go out sometime?"

I suppose it was better than the ranting nasty rejection responses...

B
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Damon Kaswell: WTF?
User: gooddamon
Date: 2007-09-07 17:27 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:WTF?
Yeah, that's more of a "creepy stalker" rejection response.
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Coffee Shop Whore: Bono
User: skidspoppe
Date: 2007-09-07 16:26 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Bono
As a film reviewer, I recently received an e-mail from the writer of a film I didn't like (and blamed a fair bit of it on the writer).

His response was to tell me I knew nothing about filmmaking, writing or reviewing. When I wrote back, explaining my position as well as my credentials, he backed down and explained they had taken the script away from him and given it to some hack to rewrite and he felt very similarly about the end product.

It was a very odd situation.
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russ: watchmen
User: goulo
Date: 2007-09-07 20:27 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:watchmen
"the gentleman who made a threatening comment on this LJ last year."

Link, damn you! Link!
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