Shortly after my first book, The Point of it All, was released, I received a 1-star review, after being duped into complacency by a couple of 5-stars. The reviewer went on and on about the spanking element of the book, and then ended on this inspirational note:
“It was misogynistic bullcrap and the author should take some classes on the evils of domestic violence and and maybe a class on normal male female interaction. (sic)”
And then another, which read, in part,
“…what a message to teach/convey/endorse as a female writer! i will never purchase/borrow/recommend a jade cary book again given her bent! how truly disgusting and insulting to all women…particularly those who truly experience the horror of male control to the extent of physical abuse. jade cary should be ashamed of herself! (sic)”
Ouch. Now, I could defend myself, and my writing ‘bent’, by explaining to all who will listen that I, indeed, love women, and that I am not promoting abuse. Truth be told, I did it already. I licked my wounds while my contemporaries came to my defense on Amazon, and then I got involved—something experts and laymen alike advise an author never to do. I did it politely, of course, using rational thought and very clear reasons behind why I wrote what I wrote. I tried to explain myself, tried to defend my writing, tried to change a mind already firm in its path toward righteousness. I did it because the negative comments hurt.
Waaaaaah! It hurt. Waaaaaah!
Yes, they hurt. I’m a big baby, and I’m being petulant. I was hurt by the comments then, and I bristle a bit when I read them now—me, the pro, the expert, the thick-skinned warrior, now that I have TWO books out. Uh huh, yeah. Sure.
I took the comments personally. Every word was a fist to the gut, every accusation of misogyny cut like a knife, every implication that I wasn’t sensitive to abused women brought tears to my eyes. And there wasn’t a damn thing I could do about it. Oh, I’d done all the right things: I wrote a book that was interesting in subject, and well-written in form, I collaborated with professional people who liked both of those things well enough to offer a publishing contract, I offered up an accurate product blurb with appropriate warnings that the book contained scenes with spanking, and I introduced myself to other writers in the genre, whom I have read and admired for years, wishing to surround myself with like-minded creative types. What I did not do was prepare for the very real fact that some readers would not like the book. It happens. Some can’t get past the idea that the heroine is spanked. Some hate the hero, thinking he’s much too heavy-handed. Others despise the ending. That I was the one who decided on all of those scenarios and ideas makes the criticism that much more personal—no ghostwriter for me. I did this all by myself. It’s beside the point. The reviews are not about me—even when they are. I sounded petulant when I defended myself on my own blog, and I suppose I’m sounding a bit petulant now. I’m human. Any artist who claims to be unaffected by harsh, negative criticism is
lying—or he is Simon Cowell. Is there any defense for authors who feel that a reviewer has treated them in an unethical or abusive manner? Of course. I sent a private message to a reader who reviewed The Point of it All on Goodreads, and gave away the ending. I was very polite, but I questioned her reasoning. She apologized immediately, and removed that portion of the review. Amazon will review any complaint lodged, and remove an abusive or offensive review at their discretion.
Is there recourse for the misunderstood and maligned? Sure. If you’re really curious about how to become a thorn in a bad reviewer’s side, check out the threads on Amazon’s Forum where readers ‘out’ Badly Behaved Authors, and you’ll get an idea of how it’s done. It isn’t pretty, and good luck with your sales after you’ve been blasted in an Amazon Forum. I don’t want to be that person, and so I have had to grow a thicker skin. I’ve had to set my babies free, to stand alone and defend themselves, while I watch proudly from the sidelines and cheer them on. I learned a valuable lesson here, and I’m going to credit Ricky Nelson with the words of wisdom I have now chosen to live by: You can’t please everyone, so ya got to please yourself.
One online blog reviewed my latest book, To Love a Woman, recently:
“…Ms. Cary has given us a neat twist on the whole Mrs. Robinson/cougar scenario by making Marissa initially appalled by the idea of a fling with a younger man. She has also highlighted her family conflicts in a realistic way which will feel familiar to anyone who has ever been in that situation.” (TWOLIPSREVIEWS.COM http://www.twolipsreviews.com/content/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=7602&Itemid=36)
I liked that the reviewer got something out of it that was somewhat out of the norm. That the reviewer was a dude was icing on the cake. It is reviews like this that I choose to spend my energy thinking about now. I’ve learned my lesson. I have taken the above negative reviewers advice, and I have taken myself to task, not for writing about the banality of a woman getting her ass spanked—and maybe on some level liking it—but for taking it all so seriously. I got into this writing gig for fun. That I get a wee paycheck every now and again is the bomb. That a few people have said they like what I do pleases me most. Defending the undefendable is a fool’s game, and the next time I do it, will someone please spank me?