Why is it a thing that authors never, ever, ever seem to negatively comment on another author’s books? This hurts my soul.
The one idea I can rationalize is that in the face of outside criticism it’s nice to have your fellow authors to fall back on but that isn’t really a thing. To outsiders, maybe, but it isn’t. There are too many stories whisper behind private messages about authors who don’t like other authors works or the author themselves.
Yet, it’s still a pretty taboo thing for an author to openly say “I don’t like this book.” or say… Anything negative about it. I’m genuinely sitting behind my keyboard trying to think of authors who openly say bad things about other authors.
Now, okay, I can smell the comments coming because there are a group of authors who will take and criticize other authors. But, they’re pretty much the same people every time and the negative things they say are in regards to the books god awful rep which I’m going to talk about.
When it comes to bad rep I feel like there are three kinds of responses from authors. You have the group above who will take up arms and go after the book the way it deserves to be torn after. There’s the group who will allude to the problem and the final group who just goes on their merry way like nothing ever happened.
I have weird feelings about the second group. Those who merely allude to the problem. They’ll make vague threads or tweets stating their feelings about whatever happened but never actually say what happened, when, and where. A lot of times they could be referring to anything it’s just the convenient timing that makes you go “it’s probably that issue”.
My weird feelings stem from a feeling of “I’m glad they’re saying something but are they doing enough?” Because on one hand YAY they’re acknowledging what was done was wrong but they’re doing so without actually stating that what the author did, what was in the book is wrong. It feels a bit like being neutral to an issue which almost equates to allowing an issue to stand. There isn’t much being done from this group to confront it other than vague tweets and hey, they’re also probably trying to better themselves and ensure that they don’t make the same mistake.
But by not stating the actual source of the problem it’s almost like giving them a pass. Like when you’re in class in high school and the teachers are like “hey guys, I really don’t like seeing phones out” and the teacher never has their phone out, but they aren’t directly saying “Hey, Jimmy, put your phone away.” So, we know the behavior is frowned upon but we also know there isn’t an actual consequence for doing it.
That’s why I’ve grown to appreciate those who just blatantly call out wrong doing. That way there is a consequence and the consequence is fix your damn mistake or you won’t be welcome here anymore.
Then, of course, there’s the third group but what can I say for them? Those who just sit by and let this stuff happen? I can’t tell if there’s a lot of them or not but they’re awful either way. Being silent is allowing it to happen. And 80% of the time there is no fucking way they aren’t seeing that something is wrong. Some of these people are on Twitter too much and follow very specific people so, no, I don’t believe they aren’t seeing anything.
Now, there is something in regards to this, I meant to talk about before that I think would make talking about problematic books easier for people who are new to it.
That’s just sharing their opinion. I can seldom think of any time I’ve seen an author just say that they weren’t a fan of the book publicly. There might be a reason for that but I can’t really see what it is.
I feel like I’m always seeing authors reading their fellow author’s work or just a book they picked up and we either hear “THIS BOOK IS AMAZING” or absolute silence and while I understand why they wouldn’t broadcast every time they don’t like a book I’m confused as to why it never happens.
It’s one of the most known aspects of writing that you need to be able to take criticism and know that not everyone will like your book. Some people don’t like certain genres, sometimes writing styles don’t resonate with people, sometimes characters aren’t the best for the reader. It happens to everyone, all the time, and authors are no exceptions. It shouldn’t be taboo for an author to openly admit if asked or it they want, that they just didn’t enjoy a fellow author’s book.
It wouldn’t be the end of the world. Even if they don’t admit to not liking a book in public, they still won’t like it in private so what’s the difference? That they know that that person doesn’t like it? They already should’ve known people didn’t like their book. You’re fine, move on.
If it is genuinely just a personal preference, an opinion, why can’t it be shared? Why are authors treated differently? We are told constantly that they are people, so treat them like people (which is true) but the second it comes to their opinions about certain books or publishing or anything like that, they must be neutral.
It’s silencing them like that which makes it harder for them to speak out when there are issues, real issues that seriously need to be handled.
Now, this is just my conclusion. It isn’t like I’ve extensively discussed this with my imaginary author friends (I feel like there are some I could talk to about this but the idea of talking to an author makes me go numb). This is just a lot of observation and internalized, attempted empathetic rationalization.
Again, I don’t know where this taboo comes from, I don’t know when publishing and the book community decided it was dirty for one author to negatively speak about another’s book (or another author if that author’s behavior is atrocious).
Either way, along with other things we’re working to normalize, I feel like we should work to normalize authors having opinions and speaking out about other books.
That’s all for this post, let me know your thoughts below, if you have any, otherwise thank you for reading and check back later for my content!