The First Rule of Writer’s Club…

Good morning!

I hope that you all enjoyed the weekend and had a bit of fun on Hallowe’en, if that’s your thing! I used to enjoy an annual popcorn fest watching the Scream Trilogy/ Hallowe’en movies but instead found myself watching a completely idiotic movie called ‘Angel‘ because it happened to be on Netflix. It lured me in because the description touted a nineteenth century female writer making her way in the world and billed Michael Fassbender, Romola Garai and Sam Neill (three favourites). I also don’t mind a good period drama (Andrew Davies’ 1996 version of Pride and Prejudice, is a good example). But, I’m just going to have to blurt this out quickly: the film I watched was rubbish. I mean, I can see that the production team had attempted to create a comic-book, tongue-in-cheek movie rather than a serious drama, but…just, no. Must have been a lean year, that’s all I can think!

Rant aside, I find myself once again sitting in front of my computer, notebook on the one hand, Heavenfield draft ready and waiting on the other. Thought I’d drop you folks a line, first! Recently owing to the volume of messages from other aspiring writers out there, I’ve tried to tailor these blog postings to include snippets on the world of indie authoring, as I have experienced it. Today, I thought I would focus on the shut-off valve between the brain and the mouth (or the typing fingers, as the case may be).

Specifically, I had an e-mail from a writer the other day who, having released a couple of self-published books, really struggled to cope with negative responses from readers and in a couple of instances from people we would class as ‘trolls’. Now, I’ve been lucky not to have experienced the latter (so far) but I’ve heard the horror stories. I read an article recently about a woman who responded to a troll review then experienced the catastrophic backlash and it sounded awful. I should say that this is vastly removed from ordinary readers and reviewers who are fully entitled to their opinion, whatever that may be. Genuinely-held views add to the fabric of life and just because they don’t feed into your book sales, doesn’t mean they’re wrong. To these writers, I would say that if you find a consistent complaint amongst readers of your book(s), perhaps take note of it because this will guard against complacency and will make your work stronger in future.

However, back to the trolls. There is only one rule here:

First rule of Writer’s Club: DO NOT RESPOND TO NASTY BASTARDS

What can I add to this cardinal piece of advice? Oh, it’s so tempting sometimes, to correct what looks like a misunderstanding, to argue your corner in the face of injustice, or simply to try to convince someone to see the world differently. To be clear, I’m not talking about everyday readers who read your book and it’s just not their cup of tea. No problemo! That’s freedom of thought, baby. No, I’m talking about those people who make it their life’s work to isolate people for digital fighting, ruining reputations and commercial sales with Machiavellian precision. Once again:

First rule of Writer’s Club: DO NOT RESPOND TO NASTY BASTARDS

It’s still true, because once somebody has committed to their point of view and has taken the trouble to write and upload that view for the world to see, they are not going to alter their perspective. It’s Human Nature 101: they would lose face, and this is the real world. I like to think the best of human nature; I like to think that people are capable of adapting themselves, of admitting wrongdoing, of becoming the best they can be. But, simple life experience has taught me that I know only a handful of people who are genuinely capable of doing any of these things. I have known a greater number who doggedly persist in their course of action, whether their perception is distorted or not. I’m an optimist, at heart, so that’s coming from someone who actively seeks to find the best in people!

First rule of Writer’s Club: DO NOT RESPOND TO NASTY BASTARDS

Yes, I am going to keep saying it. Writing an angry retort will not help you in the long run. It will only act as ammunition, providing the troll with the fuel for their fire. Why shoot yourself in the foot? It won’t end well. They won’t back away deferentially, having seen the error of their ways! This leads me to the next point:

Second rule of Writer’s Club: IT’S NOT PERSONAL

Yes, I know it looks, feels and sounds personal, but just suck it up and turn off the computer. Yes, some of the things a troll might say will boil your piss, to coin a classy phrase, but go away and cool off somewhere with a stiff drink (oh God, the trolls will think I’m inciting people to drink…better make that lemonade!). I realise that this is all easy advice to dole out from someone who has never actually been on the receiving end of a troll, but I think it’s common sense, isn’t it? In the real world, you don’t reach your thirties, or forties or whatever you may be, without having come across a nasty bastard in some form or another. You deal with them, tell them to jog on, whatever. Just think of it this way: at least the ones in the real world have the balls to face you – the trolls hide behind a computer screen, so what does that make them?

Now, for any of you reading this and feeling the negative effects of a troll (or indeed the school bully, the office bully, the neighbour from hell), here are a few scenarios and corresponding insults which you can silently savour in future…

  1. “Your book is a steaming pile of horse shit, I hate you, I hate your face, I hate your family, I hate your gene pool all the way back to Adam and Eve…”

Tempting response: “What? How can you even say that? You don’t know me or my family…have you even read my book? Wait- you hate my face? Harsh!”

Thought to savour: This troll probably cannot read and has paid an impecunious neighbour to come and type out his insults on a weekly basis. Therefore, you should pity the troll, not only for his illiteracy but for the simple fact that he has clearly mistaken your family name as belonging to that of a famous murderer, or perhaps a dictator or media mogul. In fact, since the troll is paying his poor neighbour, he is adding to his local economy, so you should thank him, really. Finally, he hates your face because you forgot to take off the face paint from Hallowe’en.

2. “You wouldn’t know good writing if it came and slapped you in the face! The characters are weak, the dialogue pathetic, in fact I only read the whole book for the laughs!!”

Tempting response: “Seems a bit extreme! Maybe it just wasn’t your thing? Perhaps if you tried a genre you enjoy..?”

Thought to savour: No refunds, bell end. Besides, my book obviously hooked you if you read all the way through – result!

3. “You’re a *$!* hateful *@!** *** and a *$@** ***!*!”

Tempting response: “That level of profanity was completely unacceptable. I’m reporting this to Amazon. Your review contained nothing in the way of critique, only a personal attack.”

Thought to savour: They mis-spelled ‘fuck’. Clearly a rookie.

On which note, I shall leave you to return to your scribbling or whatever you have planned for the rest of the day!

Catch you later x

One thought on “The First Rule of Writer’s Club…

  1. A good blog, I have on occasions written a poor review probably less than a dozen from the hundreds of reviews written. I had an occasion when the author came back to tell me I was wrong, this resulted in a short back and forth and then she accused me of harassment. I try never to write a bad review, an author writes and publishes what they believe to be a good work, and they do deserve respect for that. I also know I on occasion believe a book to be poor and several million other reviews say the book is great.


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