Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Reviewer Stephanie vs Leigh Fallon

Reviewer Stephanie wrote a scathing review of Leigh Fallon's Carrier of the Mark, which we found quite entertaining (we have no particular love for Twilight or Twilight clones).

The author is upset by this review and vents privately to a couple of friends in an email. Ouch, it's got some nasty insults in it, and maybe she was having a really bad day. Personally, we have learned over the years to never write anything in an email that you wouldn't to see the light of day...but that's another story. However, the author considered this private correspondence to a couple of friends. See her reply to Stephanie right below the text of that email in the link. What are friends for if not say stupid shit to that you would never ever repeat in public?

Unfortunately, the author's friends are not very good friends, and the email is forwarded to other people. One of those people sends a copy to Stephanie. Then Stephanie posts the private correspondence publicly on her status. We can understand that her feelings might be hurt - although see our post about writing scathing reviews means expecting backlash) - but the posting of private correspondence is not the solution.

The usual reviewer fan-girl flurry ensues. The general consensus seems to be that it was unprofessional for the author to vent in private as well as in public. For example:
This was unprofessional of her...  
This author's antics with regard to a negative review are immature, vindictive, puerile, unethical, and - most of all - unprofessional. Her publisher should know about this. Disgusting. She's now on my "never read" list. 
Authors ...  need to grow a thicker skin and come to the realisation that not every single person who reads their book is going to love it. Pathetic is a bloody understatement
Reviewer Adam Archer - yes, the one from our earlier post - chimes in. We're not quoting his drivel here.

Reviewer Kira also responds, still upset from her own brush with an upset author, and accuses the Leigh Fallon of bullying. Considering that Leigh is not the one who sent the email to Stephanie, this is clearly not author bullying. Using the word "bullying" is, in fact, trivializing real instances of bullying.

But let's look at the other thing that's got the review fan-girls stirred up. In the email, Leigh asks her friends to find others to up-vote the positive reviews on Amazon. This is seen as unethical:
You should MOST CERTAINLY do it, because that's definitely playing the system. Authors should NOT be getting their little minions to do this kind of shit.
I feel like reporting this to Amazon. She's screwing with the system. I can't help it if others felt the same way about her book! 
We're going to apply some common sense here and disagree with knee-jerk reaction. The author didn't ask her friends to mark the negative reviews as unhelpful. That we would have (vehemently!) disapproved of because that's not what the useful yes/no buttons are supposed to be for on Amazon.  Unless of course the negative review was just a "this book sucks" because that's negative and useless. Lots of negative votes on a review can also affect a user's rank, so down-voting reviews that contain useful information but that you don't agree with is, frankly, petty.

However, the author instead asked people to mark the good reviews as helpful.  We know that's a fine distinction, but the author isn't asking her friends to criticize Stephanie or do anything to damage her ranking on Amazon. And to us the author's friends and family have just as much right as anyone else to find the positive reviews helpful as any other reader. They can't have an opinion just because they know the author? What if they've read the book and liked it? Don't they have the right to say so?

And of course in the backlash in all of this, reviewers have done just what we disapprove of an up-voted negative but clearly useless reviews so that they now appear above more detailed positive reviews. For example, these two reviews were posted after the GR brou-haha:
Another sad Twilight remake. Lord, when will this end? Alternatively, if you love Twilight and hate originality - you will LOVE this book! - Posted Jan 5, 2012
I don't read books where the author copies another book. This author to me is sloppy, way too many similarities to twilight. Very lazy! Don't waste your time with this one. If you wanna read it id suggest you just go reread twilight. - Posted Jan 6, 2012
And both of these now show as "more useful" than all of the positive reviews. Yup, who's screwing with the system now? Where is the condemnation from reviewers about these reviews being up-voted? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Anyone?

Too bad a great review had to get marred by the posting of private correspondence. Incidentally, look the email link again. The author apologized to Stephanie even though what Stephanie read was never meant for her to see. If we were the author, we'd be looking for better close personal friends, ones that know better than to forward emails around the Internet.

We won't be reading Carrier of the Mark, but we won't be burning the author in effigy either. We also hope Stephanie keeps writing awesome reviews.


  1. First, it was not private correspondence. This is what she said: "I'd also love if you could maybe get some friends or family to do the same." In other words, "Pass this info around and help me out." She wanted to muck around with the system and someone with a conscience decided to put a stop to it. Second, if she talked like that with her "friends", what's that say about her friends? They're equally as guilty! Last, the big lesson here is, what goes around comes around. This is my opinion.

  2. Yes, it most definitely WAS private correspondence. It was sent to her personal friends, not posted publicly on a blog or web site related to her professional writing. And asking someone to ask others to "like" the positive reviews is NOT the same as asking someone to forward that email.

    Second, your assertion that her speaking like that to her friends says ANYTHING at all about her friends is, frankly, laughable.

  3. Uh, no. Not when the private correspondence requires a public call to action. At that point, all bets are off and the private correspondence becomes public domain.

    Did you say laughable? If a criminal writes his friends an email and tells them that he'd like for them to break into his neighbor's house, sack it, rape the wife and kill the kids, are you saying his friends are trustworthy? What if some of his friends do as he requested, what then? What's to say of those who didn't follow his instructions and didn't say anything? Are they without blame?

    Leigh Fallon tried to work the system and it backfired, simple as that. I admire the person who made her "private correspondence" public. I would want the same thing to happen to the criminal who sent his friends to do his stinking dirty work in the home invasion example. At least in that case, the criminal would get arrested.

  4. Hello, Endowed. Your logic is quite faulty.

    "Not when the private correspondence requires a public call to action. At that point, all bets are off and the private correspondence becomes public domain." -- Err...no. The email was sent to a couple of friends, not posted publicly. That makes if PRIVATE correspondence, regardless of the contents. Your claim that anyone's email becomes "public domain" because of its contents only demonstrates your ignorance of the definition of "public domain".

    "If a criminal writes his friends an email..." -- False analogy. Ms. Fallon is not a criminal and did not ask anyone to do anything immoral or illegal.

    "...are you saying his friends are trustworthy?" -- You apparently need to reread what I wrote. I said that you cannot say anything about her friends simply because the received the email.

    "I admire the person who made her "private correspondence" public." -- I admire people with integrity who keep private correspondence private.

    "I would want the same thing to happen to the criminal who sent his friends to do his stinking dirty work in the home invasion example." - And again, Ms. Fallon did not ask anyone to do anything illegal or immoral, so your analogy fails...again.