A writer’s urban legend?


Over at Read, React, Review last week, I read this:

Now, here’s a story I heard that made me so mad I’ll have to say my mantra a few times after I type it. I wasn’t there, so I can’t verify its validity, but the woman who told me about it attended this author’s speech and I think she’s a trustworthy source.

She said the author she was listening to was a well-known NY Times best seller. What she said was “If you don’t cut your competition down with rotten anonymous reviews, you don’t care about your career.”

Jessica, the blogger, had posted this from another blog.

Now this isn’t the first time I’ve heard something like this.  I’ve actually heard variations of this several times over.

I’d posted in comments that unless I actually here a writer’s name, I basically consider it a writer’s urban legend.  I mentioned:

Everybody who has repeated it to me it’s always been like those things well, my sister knew this ONE guy who had this happen but naturally, the one guy has no name. But in this case, the one guy is an author…with no name.

I just think that if there really was an author out there saying that, we’d hear a name. Unless they made the workshop attendees sign their names in blood or something… ;o)

Then I also called it BS advice-because really, do you see Nora Roberts out there scrawling negative, anonymous reviews for her ‘competition’?  I don’t.  But I also can’t really see that she doesn’t ‘care for her career’.

Am I saying this ‘advice’ was actually never handed out by an author?  I dunno.  I guess it’s possible.  But every time I’ve ever heard this little story, there’s never an author’s name given.  It’s like those emails or twitter alerts that rotate thru:  this child has been kidnapped…she was last seen in a green car, please forward!  If it was YOUR child, you’d want everybody to help, too! But there’s no name attached, no specifics, no car details, no physical details of the child…etc, etc, etc.  Just enough details to make it feel ‘personal’.  If it was “YOUR” child…

In this case?  It’s *YOUR* career.  And some *NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLING AUTHOR* with no name is telling you it’s okay to post anonymous negative reviews, and not only is it okay, if you really care about your career, you must do this.

I have two things to say…

  1. If there are authors who believe this?  Who do this?  Bullshit… If you care about your career, you bust your ass to push it forward-you don’t worry about the careers of others. If your career starts to tank and flounder?  Well… there’s this little thing called karma.  Negativity comes back on you.  Crap like this usually gets found out and these are the types of authors who then ‘whine about how mean everybody is’…ummm… bite me.  Actually, grow up.  Get a clue.  Then, bite me.
  2. Frankly, if there is a NYT bestselling author out there saying this?  I think we would know more details because this right here is a controversy…and there’s nothing the internet loves as much as a controversy.  If this had been said in a workshop, especially in the past two years, somebody would have been posting it on twitter or facebook and we’d have a name.

Since we don’t?  I’m still considering it nothing more than a writer’s urban legend. Although, if I’m wrong and somebody can prove it?  Please, please, please email me… I’m nosier than hell.

6 Replies to “A writer’s urban legend?”

  1. Hi Shiloh
    I’ve heard this one too. I was kind of insulted as a reader. As if a bad review by “anonymous” would have any sway with me anyway. Hopefully it is a myth. My only experiences with writers have been totally generous support of each other & their readers.

  2. This advice is alien to all my experiences. I can’t count how many authors I’ve been turned onto because an author I liked mentioned them on their blog or hosted a giveaway of their book. They’re helping each other up instead of dragging each other down and in the end that is way, way better for their careers.

  3. It’s completely impractical on so many levels. First off, the romance genre is huuuuuge. Just because someone trashes a few other authors doesn’t mean I’m going to read you. Second, a good author has plenty of other reviews that outshine insensibly bitter bs. Reviews are often more telling about whether or not a book is read, not to mention the reviewer.

  4. I totally agree this is idiotic advice, on every level. for the reasons given above. Who would do this? But there are a lot of crazy people out there.

    So, if I was this mystery author, and I was doling out this crazy advice, say, to my pal, I would be like pal o’mine! Don’t tell anybody I said that! Promise me! So then, the pal promises, and eventually tells somebody, but she drops the name from the tale, because crazy writer will know it’s her! and She’s not supposed to tell who said it!

    What do yo think of my theory Shiloh??

  5. Ah-ha! It’s Carolyn Crane doing it…. (just kidding, people…)

    Well, as a one on one, that makes sense, and yeah, things can start small and escalate, I guess.

    But it’s just come from so many places and people have heard it over, and over… I dunno. I just suspect at SOME point, so-called author would have told somebody who wouldn’t have cared if word got back to her… you know? I mean, it’s bullshit, right?

    Although, yeah, that theory does make sense.

  6. Christopher Pike has masqueraded as his editor to post kiss ass reviews of his own books.

    I can see how through a game of telephone things like that get turned into x author trashes someone’s book!

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