Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

Bookstore Etiquette

In a comment over at Alison Kent’s blog, Julie Leto posted something that surprised me:

In my mind, writing reviews like this one (not a bad review–a TRASH review) is the same as going to Walmart and standing in front of the romance section and telling people to put that book down. If you didn't like a book, say so–but you don't have to insult everyone while saying it.

Um, I have done this before. I have struck up conversations with readers browsing the romance aisles. I have offered up opinions to other readers at the bookstore to say, “I didn’t like this book but I really liked this one.” I didn’t realize that was insulting to the author. I mean, I guess it means one less sale, but I didn’t know it is a reader’s duty to not offer an opinion. Is it different if the person asks for your opinion? I’ve had that happen before. Reader stands in the aisle, contemplates a book, looks over at you and says “what do you think.” But now, I can’t respond lest I break some bookstore etiquette?

I know that I am rather new to blogging and there are certain etiquette rules that I am learning about. I have been buying romances for going on 18 years, and I didn’t realize that I wasn’t supposed to engage in conversation with other readers at a bookstore. I guess that is one more thing my momma never taught me (along with the whole “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all” mantra). That momma of mine, she’s got a lot of ‘xplaining to do.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

62 Comments

  1. Keishon
    Jul 18, 2006 @ 16:22:56

    That’s just a poor analogy, methinks, by Ms. Leto just to make a point now that I’ve read the whole thread. I’ve struck up various discourses in bookstores with fellow readers and mostly we talked about the A-list and rarely the D-list authors. It’s completely ridiculous on it’s face that readers should avoid trashing books to other readers in bookstores. I am not that easily influenced by other reader’s opinions unless they match my own. Same can be said for many other readers as well.

  2. jmc
    Jul 18, 2006 @ 16:24:30

    I thought bookstore etiquette started with “put books back where you found them, not on any random shelf at hand when you decide you don’t want the one you’ve been carrying around” and ended with “don’t handle books while eating in the cafe — it marks them and makes other readers less likely to buy that copy.” [What a run on sentence!]

    Is sharing your opinion while browsing inappropriate or insulting? I don’t think so, unless the speaker somehow personalizes the opinion.

    When I read Julie Leto’s statement excerpted above, I imagined a woman standing in the aisle, body thrown in front of a particular book display, arms waving, loudly proclaiming to anyone passing by that no one should that book. [If I saw someone like that in a store, I would have to immediately grab a copy, just because.] That kind of behavior does strike me as juvenile and rude…although I’m not sure where the insult may be. But it is a world away from chatting about books with other readers while in the store. Comparing the two, discussion/advice vs. blockage, seems like apples and oranges to me.

  3. Jordan
    Jul 18, 2006 @ 16:28:44

    I actually don’t think that’s what Julie meant when she made that comment. I’m going to use a recent example that happened to me. I went to see Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest right after it opened. I sat through the movie thoroughly enjoying myself. When the lights came up, I listened to the comments around me, which ranged from ‘That sucked’ to ‘What a total waste of money’. I admit it made me wonder if we’d watched the same film, but in the end I understood why they didn’t like the movie. If I’d heard their opinions beforehand and took their advice, I would’ve missed out on what I consider a good movie. I may be wrong, but I think that’s what Julie was talking about. You may think that the book you’re steering the reader away from is the worst dreck on the planet, but it could turn out to be their favorite book. Thank goodness everyone’s taste is different. :)

  4. Bev (BB)
    Jul 18, 2006 @ 17:05:29

    Well, taking the logic of that analogy at face value, we also couldn’t pimp books we liked in the bookstore either . . .

    Just saying, I do believe she’s talking about extremes are to be avoided but I’m not entirely sure that comes through in what she actually said.

    Yeah, I know, I know, I said I was going to some work done.

  5. Jane
    Jul 18, 2006 @ 17:35:10

    I am much more apt to give a positive recommendation, but if I’m asked, about a book I don’t like, I am not going to lie. It’s the same thing as movies. My neighbor goes to a movie and says she doesn’t like it, I may skip that movie and go to a different one. These types of conversations take place all over, in bookstores, in backyards, everywhere.

  6. JulieLeto
    Jul 18, 2006 @ 18:59:14

    Let me clarify. I don’t mean that if someone asks your opinion, you shouldn’t say what you think.

    This is what I had in my mind: woman sitting in a folding chair borrowed from the summer display, sitting with her cool drink and her big brimmed hat, waiting for anyone to DARE approach the book that you so loathed. “No! Release that book! It will corrupt you! It is trash! Put it down and no one gets hurt.”

    Re-read the review I was referring to. That’s the image that came to my mind as an equivalent of posting such a hateful review on Amazon. Not a bad review. A HATEFUL review. There’s a difference, IMO. (Not to mention a review that makes a big huge deal out of nothing, IMO.)

    It’s one thing to hate a book. It’s quite another to get personal with the author, the editor and the publisher. And that’s what happened.

    Oh! I just read the comment thread! Yes, Jordan…you totally understood my point and JMC I’m glad my visual came across to you. That’s precisely what I meant!

  7. Jane
    Jul 18, 2006 @ 19:22:34

    [quote comment="2314"]That’s the image that came to my mind as an equivalent of posting such a hateful review on Amazon. Not a bad review. A HATEFUL review. There’s a difference, IMO. (Not to mention a review that makes a big huge deal out of nothing, IMO.)[/quote]

    It just goes to show how different opinions are. Alot of readers today have not seen how the review was hateful and alot of readers today have said that the mistreatment of animals is never funny along with another reader who pointed out that the “joke” was in poor taste as it encourages the idea that homosexuality is a perversion.

  8. JulieLeto
    Jul 18, 2006 @ 19:57:48

    Clearly, a lot of people don’t have a sense of humor and take things a little too seriously, in my opinion.

    The joke Jen used to open her book is an OLD urban legend. Old, old, old. If people didn’t get it, then maybe the book wasn’t their cup of tea. That doesn’t mean that the author and the editor and the publisher didn’t think it was hilarious.

    I read it. I thought it was funny. I also donate huge amounts to the humane society and I’m not homophobic. I guess because I knew the story wasn’t true, the joke was funny.

    Humor is subjective. You say tomato, I say tomahto. I saw the review as spewing hate. You didn’t. That’s the way of the world.

  9. NicoletteRivers
    Jul 18, 2006 @ 20:13:36

    I didn’t read the blog in question, or know the exact comments which led to it, but I do think I get there Julie is coming from. Sometimes I read reviews, and the person asks like the writer maliciously chose to write a bad book, or took the plot in a direction the review disliked just to be rotten. It’s like they are seeking retribution against the writer, and make their reviews personal attacks.

    I’ve also seen reviews where people have disliked a book, but say so with class and humor — they keep their dignity while not seeking to take away the dignity of the writer.

    I do think there is a difference between a blog/website and a comment at a bookstore though. The former can be used as tools to hurt in a way that a one-on-one comment cannot.

    There are too many writers out there to logically be able to speak for most of them, but my experience shows me that most writers are striving hard to create a good story. The nature of writing involves revealing pieces of one’s self. That’s a very vulnerable position to be in to have people inflict deliberate cruelties.

    This is not to say that books and writers should not be criticized, just that with that choice to criticize comes a responsibility to not be mean for no good reason. I say people have every right to not like a book, and to say so, but that making it a vendetta is over the line.

    I adore that people are enpowered by the internet to share their views, even the negative ones. When this is done right it gives a voice to the reader, and important feedback to the writer. And sometimes a reader/reviewer thinks a book is Just That Bad, and that’s more than fair as long as this is articulated in the service of giving an opinion that might help someone else. It’s pathetic when it just exists to be mean.

    Sometimes I get the feeling that people choose between eviserating a writer or kicking the cat, and sometimes the writer loses in the coin toss. I suppose it’s better than kicking the writer or eviserating the cat — at least the cat thinks so.

  10. Stacy ~
    Jul 18, 2006 @ 21:08:18

    One issue that I have that I have yet to see addressed clearly (unless I skimmed too quickly through the posts) was the context of negative reviews, whether it’s at Amazon or by someone walking by me in the bookstore. I anyone said to me “that book sucked”, it’s not going to be enough to make me form an opinion. Why did it suck? What really bothered you about it? GIve me valid reasons on why you disliked/hated the book so much? No one should fear giving a negative review – that’s NOT the point. The point is that the review has to give me valid reasons as to why it doesn’t work. I have never based my decision on someone saying “that sucked”. That response is not going to influence me, whether it’s from my best friend, my mom, or my co-worker. Unless you can tell me why, chances are I might give said book, movie, t.v. show a fighting chance if to me the premise sounds interesting. And I have a friend of mine who read a really nasty review of one of Stephen King’s books, (i.e. this guy is a hack, a loser, should never write again, etc) and being contrary, she actually bought that book because of the bad review and loved it. So sometimes those mean reviews backfire.

    Btw, I truly believe that some people are getting negative reviews and hateful reviews mixed up. There is a difference. I’m going to refer to Nicolette’s explanation on that because she says it rather well.

    The interesting thing is that now along with reviewing books, people are reviewing reviews. I’m going to go start my copy of Lover Eternal…any opinions?

  11. Jane
    Jul 18, 2006 @ 22:21:29

    Stacy, you are right. I found the sentence in question to not be very articulate. It’s obvious that was a hot button issue with the reader and it probably would have little effect on one’s buying decisions. It’s much ado about nothing. And Lover Eternal? Good, but not great.

    Some of the negative reviews that I have read, I understand, in that you feel so much affection for the series and the characters that you are so angry about what the author did to them. I felt that way about Charlaine Harris’ book Fool and His Honey. What she did to the characters crushed me and ruined the series for me. I was very angry toward her, probably irrationally so.

    I never wrote a review about it on amazon but I shared my feelings with friends of mine both offline and online about how unhappy I was with the author and whenever someone would bring up a new book by her, I would say – beware, she does horrible things to her characters. Don’t get attached.

  12. Robin
    Jul 19, 2006 @ 00:31:58

    Re-read the review I was referring to. That’s the image that came to my mind as an equivalent of posting such a hateful review on Amazon. Not a bad review. A HATEFUL review. There’s a difference, IMO. (Not to mention a review that makes a big huge deal out of nothing, IMO.)

    I have re-read that review a number of times, and I just can’t grasp what makes that review “hateful”? Is Wallace disgusted with what you find to be just a new use of an old urban legensd? Yes, and unfortunately, her disgust bleeds through the whole review. But I’ve grown accustomed to people being personally disgusted by things in Romance, because IMO the readership can be quite opinionated, in both conservative and liberal ways. I bought the book in question because I don’t want to comment on it until I’ve read it, but reading that opening scene, and reading the comments of various readers about their perception of using that particular urban legend, with all of the connotations it has had over time, I understand why some readers might find that scene offensive (and interestingly, the reasons are quite diverse on that score). I find that often things of importance to one group of readers are seen as no big deal to another, and lobbed charges of over-reaction and insensitivity quickly follow. And while the scene didn’t push any of my buttons, when an author employs an anecdote that has lots of baggage associated with it (i.e. gay sex as a perversion via the sexual use of a small animal), I don’t think she should be surprised if some readers don’t find it funny or classy or clever or whatever. IMO she wrote the scene to have some shock value to begin with, and to say it’s so ridiculous for readers to get huffy over it strikes me as, well, a little disingenous, actually.

    Do I think Wallace’s review announced her general respect for the community of authors she is hoping one day to join? No. Do I think Wallace’s review demonstrated the kind of clever writing and crisp voice I’d hope to see in her fiction? Nooooo. Do I think her review demonstrated little respect for the acquring editor and or publisher? Yes to that one. But what I read most of all in her review is outrage, not hateration. The scene in question didn’t outrage me, but other things in Romance do, and I find it belittling when others tell me I’m _______________(insert appropriate negative adjective here). Do I think that if Wallace were just “another reader” her comments would have served to make her an example of the “be careful who you piss off if you ever want to be published in this town” barely veiled threat? No. I understand why Wallace’s comments would irk LaBrecque and you and other authors who know and respect her (and those who wish for more professionalism within the Romance community, a hope I remember your recent comments on RTB expressing), but I think the greatest “sin” of Wallace’s review was its lack of cogent analysis, clear expression, and wit.

  13. JulieLeto
    Jul 19, 2006 @ 07:01:46

    “be careful who you piss off if you ever want to be published in this town" barely veiled threat?

    First, Robin, I totally agree with you. As I said in an earlier comment, it’s a tomato, tomahto thing.

    But I had to comment on the above…this is NOT a threat. I have no power over how gets published. Neither does Jen. Neither do any of the other authors who have made comments along this line. We can’t control what our editors buy and I would never want that power. I don’t stick my nose in other people’s careers.

    HOWEVER…what we are all saying is that editors, agents and publishers read blogs, reviews, etc. They can Google with the best of us. And they remember who has dissed their author or the book they edited and loved. Now, if someone has a reasoned critique, that’s no biggie. No one minds honest critique, as we’ve all said. But I think we all pretty much agree that Ms. Wallace crossed the line and could potentially hurt her chances of selling to that publisher.

    I said it on Alison Kent’s blog–there are articles all over the business section right now about how employers regularly Google job applicants. They find blogs that actually mention job interviews with their company where the applicant makes snarky remarks about the interviewer, etc. Guess what? Those people don’t get hired! Or they blog about their drug use, party antics, etc, and other bad behavior that makes them undesirable as employees. What Ms. Wallace did in a public forum by not chosing her words more carefully is make herself an undesirable (sp?) potential employee. THAT’s what all of us mean.

    Just wanted to clarify that it is not a threat to say you don’t bite the hand that could potentially feed you. It’s just common sense–and good business sense.

  14. Tara Marie
    Jul 19, 2006 @ 10:18:50

    I’m one of those people who talk in bookstores. Gladly recommending books, but rarely say anything negative, I’d only say something negative to a friend, usually a “don’t waste your time.”

    I have to admit I’ve wanted to stop a fellow reader, when looking at a particularly bad book and say…

    “Wallbanger Alert, Wallbanger Alert put down the book, now walk away from the book. Wallbanger Alert, Wallbanger Alert.”

    Of course, my momma’s “If you have nothing good to say” lessons kick in, and I manage to control myself.

  15. Keishon
    Jul 19, 2006 @ 10:33:10

    Completely understand where Leto is coming from because she’s right, it is good business sense not to discuss your business on the Internet. Period. I find it amazing what people are willing to share on the Internet these days….on Karen S’s blog, a woman a posted picture of herself wearing f. diaper.

    If your gonna diss your job, your husband, your who-ever, can you make it private? I saw the same special that talked of employers googling the Internet of their potential employees and they find all kinds of shit.

    Just use some common sense, people. If your using alias, yap away but if your spouting all kinds of stuff on the Internet that might in some way affect your job, your life – big mistake. My mom said she could find my name all over the Internet and I never thought she’d google me.

    You just never know who is reading. You don’t.

  16. Jolie
    Jul 19, 2006 @ 12:05:43

    As someone who works in a bookstore, you can’t stop people from asking others’ opinions on books. In fact, I would encourage them. Readers will ask other readers and they will ask us booksellers. It’s the natural shape of things — we dedicated readers are ALL waiting for the next best read! (Someone please tell ME what it is — I’m rereading my Kenyon books waiting for it!)

    We also would like to skip the dreaded bad book. It takes away precious time and money that could have been spent on something else — like a second copy of Lover Eternal! Yes, I liked it so well, that I bought a second copy because my first one is wearing out! But listen to Jane, too. She didn’t like it as well as I did. I’m sure she doesn’t own two copies! ;-) Sometimes too much hype makes for a disappointing read. I have a great theory about that . . .

    But that’s my point, everyone has an opinion and everyone’s tastes are different. There is a romance reader at my store that when she likes a book, I know I won’t and vice versa. We’re just that different.

    Now, as for the book that sparked this debate — I have it, haven’t read it yet. But let’s just say that it’s moved up to the top of *my* tbr pile! I’m a fan of Jennifer LaBrecque, she writes good stories. Who can resist a paranormal Blaze??? Or a good controversy?

    Jane, continue to tell readers your opinion — it’ll sell books whether you liked it or hated it.

    Julie Leto, continue to be opposed to reviews like the one at Amazon. But keep in mind that no publicity is bad publicity! I bet if Ms. LaBrecque checked her sales they might have spiked a bit. A review that bad can only do good. Just ask James Frey!

    By the way, did anyone check out the rest of her reviews? My mind kept going to the song, “One of these is not like the others . .” LOL!! While, I’m sure that Blaze is normally not her style, she has a right to her opinion. I just now happen to think that I’ll *love* LaBrecque’s book!!!

    Now if you really want to hear what good bookstore etiquette is . . . don’t even get me started . . .

  17. lurker1
    Jul 19, 2006 @ 12:14:25

    Question: what IS the incident at the beginning of this book? I’ve read about the controversy and would now love to know what that controversy is….put “spoiler” at the top of your post so you don’t ruin anyone’s read.

    In the meantime, I will tell you that as one who has been labeled a lot of nasty things because I always list specific reasons for disliking a book, I’m a tad confounded by the fine line between an acceptable critique and a hateful one. Some of the discussions I’ve had with authors and their fans stand out clearly in my memory, and while I pointed out repeatedly that I was talking about a book not a person, the fan base and the authors persisted in their personal attacks and outrage as if I’d slammed their child or mugged a little old lady in the park.

    As far as the original Amazon review goes though, I am really confounded by how it, in and of itself, could cause such a furor. I’ve read many such reviews and this one seemed mild. For example, spend an hour or two reading the reviews for The Flame and The Flower. Now that’s truly trash talk at its very finest.

    Oh yes. I discuss books all the time in the bookstore and am not the least bit shy about recommending a book or dissing it—and, again, I give specific reasons for my opinion. I’ve sent many a reader home with their first Loretta Chase, Judith Ivory, Linda Howard and SEP. And I’m also looking for recommendations all the time, so I’m picking fellow readers’ brains while I’m at it.

  18. Jane
    Jul 19, 2006 @ 12:23:24

    Sorry, lurker1, I don’t know why I didn’t post to the controversy. It started at Jennifer Lebrecque’s blog where she posted the “mean and scathing” reviews, was continued at Alison Kent’s blog. Brought to attention at Smart Bitches. Also blogging on the topic are readers Fiona and Sybil.

    It’s come down to authors saying that the amazon review was offensive to every part of the industry: readers, authors and editors. and readers going “what the hell is this fuss all about?” and a general piling on of a j wallace by authors who googled the hell out of the name of the reviewer.

  19. Jane
    Jul 19, 2006 @ 12:38:25

    Frankly, Jolie, I didn’t even know there was such an animal as the paranormal Blaze. But then, I don’t read alot of Blazes having been burned early on in the series. The controversy is doing LaBrecque a ton of good. I am trying to figure out a name for this type of blogging where an author picks a negative amazon review, rallies the crowd and stirs up controversy. LaBrecque knew what she was doing. She named her post “I didn’t pay her to do this.” I suggested over at the Smart Bitches that it reminds me of dumpster diving a bit, by taking the trash and turning it into cash. Trash in the Attic?

  20. Robin
    Jul 19, 2006 @ 13:05:17

    HOWEVER-what we are all saying is that editors, agents and publishers read blogs, reviews, etc. They can Google with the best of us. And they remember who has dissed their author or the book they edited and loved. Now, if someone has a reasoned critique, that’s no biggie. No one minds honest critique, as we’ve all said. But I think we all pretty much agree that Ms. Wallace crossed the line and could potentially hurt her chances of selling to that publisher.

    IMO, a threat doesn’t have to be made by the person who will actually carry it out (The Sopranos, anyone? or Big Love, for that matter). But how about I rephrase and call it a warning, or better yet, an admonition, because that’s what it looks like to me (if you do A you won’t get B). And I totally understand how offering such a warning would be very helpful to aspiring authors. Like I said, I understand personally (on a friend to friend level) why Wallace’s comment upset a number of you (uncredentialed upstart unapologetically criticizes the work of well-established author), but I find all sorts of things problematic with equating the writing/publishing industry with the gas and electric company (isn’t that the example Alison Kent used?). I happen to come from an environment where independent opinions are valued and solicited, and where a certain segment of the employees are hired ONLY for their talent and the quality of their individual work, regardless of personality and criticizing comments (academia — another relatively small community where word gets around and people can bitch with the best of them, meta-bitch even). That’s not to say that there aren’t professional standards and ideals of collegiality, but some of the biggest and most highly rewarded talents can also be the biggest SOB’s.

    In a writing community, I’d like to think that the bottom line for editors is the quality of a MS, because for publishers it’s certainly the sales numbers a book will generate (James Frey, anyone?). If instead, an aspiring author who dares to make an ill-timed comment that some published authors perceive as a grave insult has prematurely tanked her career, well, I find that problematic in all sorts of ways. Heck, we readers hear all the time how childish it is to snub an author’s books just because we didn’t like something she said online. And then there are the myriad debates about what actually constitutes bad behavior (the line shifts so many times an hour it makes me dizzy to think about it). While I agree with you that it doesn’t show the best business savvy to offer a comment that you reasonably think would alienate a potential agent, editor, or publisher, if Wallace’s comment is going to be the gold standard, I think it might be time to start questioning the so-called business rules. Obviously I’m not suggesting a free for all of insults and personal attacks (I’m personally uncomfortable with name calling and passive-aggressive strikes), but I’m also wary of privileging so-called good behavior over good work in the decision to publish. Because if the judgment regarding writing quality is subjective, the judgment regarding personality is even more so, IMO.

    My bottom line: you authors obviously aren’t stupid and we readers obviously aren’t stupid, and if we can find stuff here to debate in earnest, we’re way way past good business sense and black/white, right/wrong issues.

  21. Jolie
    Jul 19, 2006 @ 13:06:30

    [quote comment="2340"]I suggested over at the Smart Bitches that it reminds me of dumpster diving a bit, by taking the trash and turning it into cash. Trash in the Attic?[/quote]

    Oooo, I like that Jane! Trash in the Attic, every author has some! While it makes LaBrecque feel better to blog about it and it will sell more of her books, I’m just not a mean spirited person. Unless you’re Mary Janice Davidson or any other author who decides that readers are unimportant and stupid, then all bets are off! As I said before everyone is entitled to an opinion and you can say what you want. But don’t expect much sympathy if you’re going to whine about the reaction later.

    As for Blaze, editor Brenda Chin, is taking Blaze where ever it wants to go. There’s a new sub-line called Extreme that as she puts it — nothing is too extreme. Oh serious coincidence here — trust me, I’m not promoting Ms. Leto — but I beleive she has the first Blaze Extreme due on shelves any day now.

    Watch out for Sihlouette Nocture, more paranormals are on the way. Jury is still out on these, I have a couple, but certainly nothing that has struck me as great. And I’m a huge fan of paranormal.

  22. Robin
    Jul 19, 2006 @ 13:25:18

    I am trying to figure out a name for this type of blogging where an author picks a negative amazon review, rallies the crowd and stirs up controversy.

    I refer to those types of reviews as “drive-by’s,” (you make the shot and let everything fly) and it seems that it might apply to the type of blogging you’re talking about, as well. I also loved the reference to Julia Quinn’s “guerilla marketing” that Fiona used in the RT article you referenced a couple of weeks ago (the one with MJD, etc.). How about guerilla blogging?

    I’m a tad confounded by the fine line between an acceptable critique and a hateful one.

    I don’t think there’s a collective line and I think that’s part of the problem. I have been blasted most vehemently when I’ve offered multiple (and what IMO are logical) reasons for my opinion of a book, and I’ve seen some readers blasted for passing remarks they obviously made relatively thoughtlessly. Sometimes it’s more difficult to dismiss a lengthy review, so the opposition has to play a little rougher. And while it might be easier to intellectually dismiss a drive-by review, the visceral hurt of what appears a thoughtless comment can invite massive crossfire, too. IMO it depends on the reader and the author and whatever factors happen to momentarily merge (btw, I have to express my love for the split infinitive!).

  23. lurker1
    Jul 19, 2006 @ 13:33:02

    Jane,

    Thanks for the background and the links. I’m just learning about all these reader blogs and am loving the commentary…Fiona, I think, has the right of it in terms of authors banning together to vie for the author loyalty award. And sybil? Does she post with that name at AAR? If so, I think she called me a troll or a toad stool or something one time (and, no, I wasn’t upset—I just kept wondering how the heck she knew what I looked like). I do agree with those who think Ms Wallace’s commentary was a long way from scathing and she certainly didn’t diss the publishing industry. I’ve done that, so I know what a true, heart-felt diss is. In the meantime, what truly bothers me, and I mean bothers me at the level where my principles reside, is the not-so-subtle threats that the publishing world is small and that someone had best march to the tune of the sisterhood or else. Thought/speech police give me the willies.

    Back to my original question, though: tell me about the repulsive (to Ms. Wallace) incident in the book. What Urban Legend? Is it the missing kidney’s one? I don’t want to buy the book, but I’d really, really like to know what the heck made a reader so disgusted that authormania broke out.

  24. Jane
    Jul 19, 2006 @ 13:36:49

    [quote comment="2344"] mean bothers me at the level where my principles reside, is the not-so-subtle threats that the publishing world is small and that someone had best march to the tune of the sisterhood or else. Thought/speech police give me the willies.[/quote]

    Yep, that’s what bothered me more than all the rest.

    [quote]What Urban Legend? [/quote]

    It’s the Kevin Costner hamster/gerbil/small rodent of your choice up the asshole joke.

  25. Keishon
    Jul 19, 2006 @ 13:49:30

    Thanks to someone for explaining the gist of this controversy. I had no clue as it seems to be about a whole shit load of things. I’m outta here.

  26. lurker1
    Jul 19, 2006 @ 15:11:30

    Very punny, Keishon, and talking about gaging a magot. I can see why Ms. Wallace found it so very distasteful. I’m also curious why Gay Rights organizations haven’t joined in her “scathing” commentary (probably because they don’t know about it). Please don’t get me wrong. LaBrecque has every right to write any disgusting thing she wants (as long as it’s not advocating kiddie porn or rape) and her publisher has every right to publish same, but even I who’s not always PC about all PC, find myself cringing. I wonder if Ms. LaBrecque has any notion of the attention she may garner if this particular bon mot comes to the attention of Gay Rights advocates.

  27. Jane
    Jul 19, 2006 @ 15:21:13

    [quote comment="2347"]I wonder if Ms. LaBrecque has any notion of the attention she may garner if this particular bon mot comes to the attention of Gay Rights advocates.[/quote]

    Oh, please I hope not. It just rewards her with more publicity for inclusion of a distasteful scene. Then we’ll have authors blog-bashing reviewers, readers and minority groups in the hopes of more sales.

  28. Tara Marie
    Jul 19, 2006 @ 15:37:18

    I’ve been blog hopping off and on all day, and I find it particularly offensive that now a particular name and websites are being bandied about. This woman is entitled to her opinion and just because she didn’t like a particular book doesn’t mean authors, publishers and readers should be dropping her name and info about as if she has done something wrong.

    This whole thing is completely out of control.

  29. lurker1
    Jul 19, 2006 @ 15:38:16

    Jane (anyone), how do you get that blog quote thingie to work? I’ll just cut and paste:

    “Then we’ll have authors blog-bashing reviewers, readers and minority groups in the hopes of more sales.”

    Which says something not very admirable doesn’t it? I’m reminded of that line from “Man for All Seasons” where Richie Rich has just perjured himself and Thomas More stops him on the way out to look at his new badge of office. “Why Richie, the Lord tells us what good does it do to gain the whole world but lose your own soul. But for Wales. For Wales.”

    It’s strange, but do you know my very, very favorite authors either never, ever take their case to the internet or if they do show up it’s in a gracious capacity? Chase, Ivory, Gaffney, Speas (well, hauntings do count!), Howard, Balogh, Kelly…..you think maybe there’s a provable scientific connection there? Maybe this is worth a federal grant to conduct a study.

  30. Jane
    Jul 19, 2006 @ 15:49:00

    [quote comment="2350"]Jane (anyone), how do you get that blog quote thingie to work? [/quote]

    There’s a couple of ways to do that: using the “B-Quote” button above the comment box (you’ll need to paste in the content, highlight it and then click the button) or you can click the “quote” word on the comment that you want to quote and then delete all but the pertinent commented stuff.

    [quote comment="2349"]I’ve been blog hopping off and on all day, and I find it particularly offensive that now a particular name and websites are being bandied about.[/quote]

    You are right. I shouldn’t have posted that at Fiona’s blog. I did email the blog owner in question and wanted to know if it was a case of mistaken identity.

  31. Fiona
    Jul 19, 2006 @ 16:30:46

    I did email the blog owner in question and wanted to know if it was a case of mistaken identity.

    Have you received a response Jane? I’ve also e-mailed her and haven’t heard back.

    Fiona

  32. JulieLeto
    Jul 19, 2006 @ 16:46:31

    Actually, it was Richard Gere, not Kevin Costner. And no where in Jen’s book does it say the person is gay. In fact, if you go to Snopes.com, you’ll see that this story in many incarnations has been attributed to both heterosexual and homosexual kink practioners, though yes, it did start as a gay story. However, it wasn’t to bash gays, I don’t think (could be wrong) as much as to harm Mr. Gere’s career and then took on a life of its own. This story is at least 20 years old…I remember it from high school/college.

    My next Blaze is an Extreme Blaze, but it’s not the first. The first came out last summer by Susan Kearney, who happens to be my critique partner. I did, however, write the first paranormal Blaze back in 2004.

    Robin, et. al…any author who thinks readers are stupid is well, fill in the blank, but it rhymes with stupid. :) I do NOT think readers are stupid. I don’t even think this reader (Wallace) is stupid. I just think she made a poor business decision. It’s not about being cliquish, though I’m sure my saying so will convince no one. I have always been an advocate at many different places for professional behavior. If you read Jen’s blog originally, you will see that she did not disparage this reviewer. In fact, her whole point was to thank her for starting the controversy and obviously helping the sales of her book.

    I think Jen was making lemonade out of lemons. If you go to her actual blog and read what she actually said (instead of relying on others to tell you…google works for everyone)…and all the comments she made on her blog and you will see that she NEVER ONCE ATTACKED this reviewer. In fact, when she was attacked by someone else (a personal attack, btw) she responded with humor.

    You’ll also see that many of Jen’s READERS agreed that the review was over the top. It’s not writers vs. readers. I don’t see why that implication keeps persisting on the comment thread here, because that’s simply not the case.

  33. KelliJ
    Jul 19, 2006 @ 17:02:11

    I’m going to shoot holes in this whole idea that the editor would have found out who it was. That’s bullshit. There is no way an uninterested third party other than an Amazon employee could have known who wrote that review.

    How did J Wallace’s cover get blown? If it’s the name mentioned on Fi’s blog, then we should look no further than the author’s local RWA group. Some folx who are members of that chapter are in the same chapter as the author who got reviewed. Without these people connecting the dots for her, Brenda Chin never would’ve known who wrote it.

    Vendetta much?

  34. Robin
    Jul 19, 2006 @ 17:06:21

    If you read Jen’s blog originally, you will see that she did not disparage this reviewer. In fact, her whole point was to thank her for starting the controversy and obviously helping the sales of her book.

    Although I can’t speak for anyone else, I actually haven’t included LaBrecque in my comments, but have been more focused on people rushing to her defense. And while I agree with you that she responded with a fair dose of good humor to the thing, I also agree with whoever it was that indicated that when an author responds AT ALL to something like this, it appears as if she’s bothered by it at some level. As for readers supporting LaBrecque on her own blog, no surprise there. I keep thinking of MJD’s blog entry on her run-ins with Karen Scott and Indida and her lament about how reader bloggers always get the support of their fan girls against authors. Well, as soon as MJD posted that, what do you think happened? Wow, what a surprise that was, and I’m sure MJD never ancipated it, either. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen such a posse dynamic as I have in the Romance community (well, beyond school, that is). And posses scare me a little because they can be fickle. Look, while I can see why you and other authors view Wallace’s review as “unprofessional,” IMO it doesn’t take multiple blog entries to point that out, and it certainly doesn’t entail digging as much of this woman’s whole life out of the Google pile as possible to display online. I’m not saying that you are doing any of this, just that it’s happening and no one really seems to be discouraging it. Doesn’t that make you feel uncomfortable as a writer who speaks her mind, too?

  35. Tara Marie
    Jul 19, 2006 @ 18:49:19

    I have absolutely no issue with the author or what she said in her response to the Amazon review. I have problems with the people who come out of the woodwork and start hunting down someone who posted a negative review as if she’s done something wrong in voicing her opinion.

    As to being unprofessional, no one would have known she was a wannabe author if they weren’t actively searching for who she is, it doesn’t matter who originated it a reader, another author, the RWA or publisher.

    And her throw away comment about “convincing the publisher” shouldn’t have caused the response it did.

  36. Suisan
    Jul 19, 2006 @ 19:41:45

    Robin said:

    Look, while I can see why you and other authors view Wallace’s review as “unprofessional," IMO it doesn’t take multiple blog entries to point that out, and it certainly doesn’t entail digging as much of this woman’s whole life out of the Google pile as possible to display online.

    And Tara said:

    As to being unprofessional, no one would have known she was a wannabe author if they weren’t actively searching for who she is, it doesn’t matter who originated it a reader, another author, the RWA or publisher.

    That’s been my problem all along–”real name” on Amazon shows her to be J Wallace. Can we take a guess here as to how many J Wallaces there are? Even in Tennessee?

    I smell a rat.

    And I feel very bad, actually, for the author Wallace, whether or not she wrote the review.

    If she didn’t write it, then she is being accused of sabotaging her own career when indeed she is wholly innocent. And if she did write it, then she is being raked over the coals for having an opinion.

    I’m upset either way.

    Because I have opinions, and I write about them. (One day soon, ask me what I think of romances set at the circus. Go Ahead. I dare you.) ;)

  37. JulieLeto
    Jul 19, 2006 @ 19:47:54

    Who says Brenda Chin knows? No one–NO ONE–has said that anyone at Harlequin knows anything. We just said she COULD know. Trust me, I did the googling myself and it took a minute.

    To use a non-Harlequin example…when I went to Pocket for a meeting with the editorial team, the person from promotion came in with a file of all my reviews she’d culled off the Internet. I didn’t send links or anything–they simply Googled the information. Had something disparaging been written, they COULd have taken one more step to find out more about the person who wrote the review. I’m NOT saying anyone did that, I’m just saying they COULD.

  38. KelliJ
    Jul 19, 2006 @ 20:17:27

    [quote comment="2359"]Who says Brenda Chin knows? No one–NO ONE–has said that anyone at Harlequin knows anything. We just said she COULD know. Trust me, I did the googling myself and it took a minute.[/quote]

    I call bullshit, Julie. Searching simply on a J Wallace in Tennessee will not give you that author’s page. You’ll get hits. Thousands of them. But not her page.

    No, what you googled was the author’s FULL first and last names, passed to you from fellow RWA members. Wasn’t it?

    It’s a fair question to ask how they got it and what inside knowledge they used to track her down.

  39. Jane
    Jul 19, 2006 @ 20:41:01

    [quote comment="2361"]Searching simply on a J Wallace in Tennessee will not give you that author’s page. You’ll get hits. Thousands of them. But not her page.[/quote]

    I think that there had to be some suspicion she was an author because I googled J Wallace Tennesse and author/writer/blog and was able to finally come up with one site that even remotely matched the information at the amazon review. It took me some time and I think I looked at about 10 sites before I came across an author site.

    I also find it improbable that publishers are going to spend the time googling negative reviewers to try and find out their identity. What would be purpose of that?

  40. JulieLeto
    Jul 19, 2006 @ 20:42:58

    Wow, KelliJ, I had no idea you had spy equipment in my office.

    If anyone was given any “inside knowledge” about J Wallace, they didn’t give it to me. Since I wasn’t one of the first few people who heard about this, I can’t say how it went down–I followed links like everyone else. But I can say that in the past, when I read a particularly nasty review, it took me no time and very little effort to find out who that person was and what chapter they were in–with NO inside knowledge whatsoever.

    But if “inside knowledge” was used in this case…well, just goes to show that this industry is as small as many of us have been claiming, isn’t it?

    I have to say, I’m not entirely sure why I’m the one getting attacked here. I’ve tried to be civilized and open-minded, but I don’t like being called a liar one bit. I have not attacked this woman, only her public choice of words. I have not attacked one person on this blog and in fact, I’ve tried very hard to be calm and reasonable. What’s bullshit is trying to have a conversation, trying to offer an opinion that may differ from others and being snarked at. Whatever. You’re entitled to your opinion.

    And by the way, KelliJ, the part you quoted back before responding said NOTHING about how the author’s name was found. I’m just saying there’s a big assumption that Brenda Chin knows about this brouhaha when there is a very good chance she hasn’t a clue. Maybe she does know. Doesn’t mean she’ll do anything with that knowledge, either. She might not give a flip.

    The point is that editors DO find reviews, they DO hear industry gossip and it COULD affect an aspiring author’s chances of breaking in if they’ve been labeled difficult. THAT has been the point I’ve been trying to make…only about professional behavior and smart business choices.

    On the other hand, I know lots of very difficult authors who are selling like hotcakes.

    I have no idea why some aspiring writers don’t want to be told that their public behavior counts. Even the venerable Miss Genoese says over and over again to authors–don’t act stupid in public.

    I suppose it’s the definition of stupid that has everyone with their panties in a twist.

  41. KelliJ
    Jul 19, 2006 @ 21:10:44

    Thanks for answering my question, Julie. By the time the information got to you, others had already figured out who she was. Jane, you also had more information than just the review to go on. If you didn’t know that J Wallace was an author, you never would have had enough details to narrow it down.

    I’m talking about the people who started this. The author and her friends. Can you tell from looking at any of the reviewer’s reviews that she is a writer herself? No.

    The author and her friends are the ones who had inside information from their connections in their local RWA chapters. If you google the people who commented in the author’s post about it, you’ll turn up lots of friendships and chapter affiliations in common.

    Your sources may tell you otherwise, Julie, but all mine say Brenda Chin does know. You can guess how she found out.

    To me the real scandal here is that an author overreacted to a negative review and went on a witch hunt with her friends to track down the person who wrote it. And when they found out it was a person whose career they could threaten they let her have it with both barrels.

  42. Robin
    Jul 19, 2006 @ 21:13:15

    I have not attacked one person on this blog and in fact, I’ve tried very hard to be calm and reasonable.

    I appreciate that, Julie, and I hope you don’t feel that I’m attacking you because that’s not my intention. The fact that you ARE willing to engage in debate over this, though, means that I’m going to take you up on that, because I find so many of the ancillary issues discomfiting. Now, though, since I got LaBrecque’s book in the mail today, I’m going to move out of debate mode and into reading mode, since I don’t want to take any of this out on LaBrecque’s book. Regardless of how LaBrecque has handled this in private, I’m glad she’s kept her remarks to a minimum publically — that, IMO, makes good sense in this situation.

  43. JulieLeto
    Jul 19, 2006 @ 21:54:02

    Robin and KelliJ, I appreciate that both of you are listening to what I have to say. Rest assured that I’m listening to you, too. And Robin, I especially respect that you’re going into Jen’s book with an open mind. That’s all any of we (us?) authors can ask.

    KelliJ, let me tell you something about Brenda Chin–and I can say this because I’ve been working with her for over ten years now. Yes, she is incredibly protective of her authors. She believes in us and our careers and as our advocate within the company, she is protective and supportive. She wasn’t named Editor of the Year last year by PASIC for no reason. But she is–first and foremost–a consummate professional. From what I’ve heard, this woman is NOT submitting to Blaze at all, so Brenda would have no power over her career–but I do know that when Brenda has run across authors who have rubbed her the wrong way, she always passes that authors work on to another editor and recuses herself from the submission process. I just won’t tolerate Brenda being dragged into this mess when she hasn’t posted, hasn’t said a word and likely isn’t completely privvy to all that has gone on. In fact, I think Jen is getting a bad rap since yes, she posted on her blog, but you know what? She had that right just as the reviewer had the right to post her Amazon review. And Jen did not disparage the reviewer at all. She can’t help what she’s been told about the woman.

    And trust me, she didn’t have to “call out” her friends. Those of us who have posted on this topic have done so on our own. Had that review been for anyone else and someone blogged about it, I would have commented. It’s been a topic I’ve covered at other places previously. My opinions on the matter haven’t changed and are no secret.

  44. KelliJ
    Jul 20, 2006 @ 00:07:42

    [quote comment="2368"]And Jen did not disparage the reviewer at all. She can’t help what she’s been told about the woman.[/quote]

    Your last sentence is interesting, and it confirms a few things for me. A nasty picture is emerging here.

    I think you’re right to mention Brenda’s professionalism. I’ve never heard or experienced otherwise. Do I believe she’s been told a version of what is happening with the review? Absolutely. What she may think privately of the situation is anyone’s guess, and we’ll probably never know.

    Robin made an excellent point on Smart Bitches a while ago. What has been done to J Wallace far outstrips the original review. It’s wrong on so many levels that I’m still trying to wrap my mind around it.

    Where Jen erred is by rolling out the red carpet for the pile-on. Surely she knew what would happen next? If Jen didn’t know, you can bet the people feeding her information did. We need look no further than the first ten comments on her post to get a few hints about where all this started.

    Alison was saying this situation was akin to professional suicide, not homicide. From here, it looks like a gangland slaying. Who knew that the Dixie Mafia had an RWA branch?

  45. JulieLeto
    Jul 20, 2006 @ 07:07:36

    KelliJ, I beg to differ…of course. And this will likely be my last post on the topic until I blog about it myself. I’m just wondering on what angle to take. There are so many.

    You seem to be convinced that the authors are vindictive, backstabbing bitches and nothing I’m going to say is going to convince you otherwise. It’s funny (not really) how authors can’t say a BOO about anything that is posted about them PUBLICALLY or they are labeled as difficult, diva-ish, unreasonable, overly sensitive, etc, etc, etc. But readers and aspiring writers, apparently, can say whatever they want. I accept that some authors have acted poorly in the past, but this is not the case here in my opinion and frankly, when readers act poorly, authors have absolutely NO recourse, not even at their own blogs? Is that fair?

    Look, the bottom line is this–if you choose to post anything–review, blog comment, entire blog, etc–then you have to live with the consequences of what you have said in PUBLIC. I’m a strong supporter of the first amendment, but it swings both ways. Jen had EVERY RIGHT to post her response to the review. Her friends had every right to respond. No one threatened anything, though you see it differently. The post was about professionalism. I know Jen. I know Alison. These are friends of mine and I feel confident I understand their intentions as we’ve all been involved in this very discussion before–in fact, we did a three-way blog about acting professionally on bulletin boards and in blogs a few months ago.

    It comes down to a reader post make a few weeks ago…I’m sorry, but I can’t remember if it was at AAR or at Smart Bitches where the readers pretty much said the authors should shut the hell up and just write their damned books. Nice. It’s funny how aspiring authors, particularly, will hang on our every word when we’re telling them how marvelous their work is and the publishers would be fools to let it go unbought, but when we try to give advice that people don’t want to hear, we’re cast as jealous bitches with vindictive streaks a mile wide.

    But I don’t think all readers feel this way. I respect my readers. They can have their opinions, even if they disagree with mine. And if some readers don’t buy my books because they don’t like the opinions I share online, that is their right. It’s the risk that those of us who participate in the Internet community have chosen to take. On the other hand, I try very hard to always be reasonable and measured when I post publically because that’s just good business sense. Maybe it would be better sense to just shut the hell up, but what fun would that be?

    I’m going to say it for the last time–authors have NO power over what is bought and what isn’t–nor should we. I know of one published author who attempted to derail another published author (a rival) back in the 80s. Called her editor. Spewed all kinds of hate. THAT author no longer has a career. The author she tried to screw with? New York Times, baby. (This published author also messed with me as a lowly unpub. I have no idea why…I’d never said two words to her. But I was young and cute at the time and that must have set off her warning lights. I have no idea if that editor rejected me because of it…I suspect not because in retrospect, that first book really sucked.) And this was all before the Internet.

    That’s my last word on the subject. Thanks for listening.

  46. KelliJ
    Jul 20, 2006 @ 07:58:19

    One quick point in response to your post, Julie, if you’re still reading. It may seem to you like the unpublished authors and readers are lining up together against the published authors on this, but that’s not the case. I know this for a fact. The dividing line seems to have more to do with people who are one to two degrees of separation from Jen vs. those who aren’t. Those who know her or who are in her local chapter are more likely to excuse or even applaud her behavior and that of her friends.

    (But even that dividing line doesn’t completely hold water, because I know these people and I obviously do not approve of their behavior. )

    Again, my problem has to do with how they used their RWA knowledge to get revenge on a person who posted a review. It says to me that they’d do that to anybody who wrote a negative review, if they had an angle to work to hurt that person. That’s what I find most alarming about this.

  47. Jane
    Jul 20, 2006 @ 08:09:14

    [quote comment="2371"] It’s funny (not really) how authors can’t say a BOO about anything that is posted about them PUBLICALLY or they are labeled as difficult, diva-ish, unreasonable, overly sensitive, etc, etc, etc. But readers and aspiring writers, apparently, can say whatever they want. [/quote]

    Nope, everyone can say what they want, including Ms Wallace. That’s what we have been arguing for. Author, reader, anyone who does not like a book should be able to say so. Maybe they aren’t articulate enough. Maybe they do so in a mean way. That’s probably more of a reflection on the reviewer than the book.

    By googling Wallace to an inch of her life, reporting her to Brenda Chin or whoever, makes it so that only positive reviews can be written. The problem that readers have had with others (not with Ms Leto here) is that it was taken beyond saying – this was mean and hurt my feelings – to – let’s see how we can crush the reviewer. That was the way it appears to so many of us regardless of what was the intention of the author commenters.

    [quote]I’m going to say it for the last time–authors have NO power over what is bought and what isn’t–nor should we. [/quote]

    Then why would it even be reported to Brenda Chen if not because someone wanted to influence her in the negative. Your motives, Ms. Leto, may have been pure but I question the others.

  48. lurker1
    Jul 20, 2006 @ 08:36:40

    Dear Mr. Faulkner,

    While your manuscript, The Reivers, is no doubt a tour de force and possibly a candidate for a Pulitzer, it has come to our attention that you have said the following about a fellow author, Ernie Hemmingway’s, work:

    “…he has no courage, has never climbed out on a limb … has never used a word where the reader might check his usage by a dictionary"

    The publishing community is small and we don’t accept manuscripts from any hopeful writer who doesn’t know how to conduct themselves as members of our exclusive club. We were willing to overlook your questionable personal history, but a liar, a fired post master and Boy Scout leader are minimal charges compared with your abysmal failure to be a proper sychophant.

    Most sincerely,

    An Editor,
    Representing THE Industry

  49. Tara Marie
    Jul 20, 2006 @ 10:36:47

    I’m still waiting for an explanation as to how all these different authors KNOW this woman was being unprofessional and biting the hand she hopes will eventually feed her.

    A quote from the book’s author… “If Ms. Wallace will stop by my table at RWA’s National Literacy signing (she’ll be there, according to her website), I’ll have $6 in cash with me at my table to reimburse her.”

    How did she know the reviewer had a website? Who tracked the reviewer down?

    Julie Leto… “I will be happy to give her some advice on navigating the publishing community…”

    How does she know the reviewer is looking to “navigate the publishing community”

    This whole thing really sounds like a blackballing, witch hunt and that’s just ugly.

  50. Jane
    Jul 20, 2006 @ 10:46:41

    TM: you forgot this quote by Julie Leto:

    From what I’ve heard, this woman is NOT submitting to Blaze at all,

    It sounds like someone checked with HQN on this topic.

  51. lurker1
    Jul 20, 2006 @ 10:55:51

    Just the facts, please.

    Does anyone have any information that this “controversey” began earlier than July 14th at 7:10 AM when Ms. Lebrecque thanked Ms. Wallace for her review and offered to give her her money back WHEN she met her at the RWA convention.

    The first attack against Ms. Wallace was posted at 7:34 AM and Alison Kent joined the frey at 11:08 AM, .

    While Ms. Lebrecque doesn’t give us the number of e-mails she received, she does say it was sufficient to increase her sales figures (keep in mind, one e-mail would do that). After the “controversey” commenced, the sales did increase according to Amazon.com.

    My unbiased conclusions (she modestly demured):

    1) A mildly skeptical person could possibly deduce that this whole schemole is a marketing ploy. Can anyone remember any other occasion when an author attacks a negative review at Amazon and comes to the table with the reviewers’ name, career hopes and travel/convention plans? Oh, yes, her initial post was very coy. Certainly can’t accuse JL of being in a nasty huff. She remained angelically above the frey while her good buddies wielded the cudgels.

    2) Attempting to prevent an individual from obtaining employment in her/his chosen field is called “backballing”. There are various statutes in most (if not all) states against such a practice and lots and lots of case law to explore in determining exactly what blackballing involves. Most blackballing, however, goes on behind closed doors, not the internet, with the blackballers signing their names to the threats and “advise”.

    3) And then there’s the interesting attacks on a reputation, with possible excursions into outright liable. And before authors pull out the “fairness” card, please check the difference between liable against an average citizen and liable against a public figure.

    4) Finally–and just so there is no misunderstanding–I mean to say something scathing against the publishing industry (I’ll just keep my own manuscript filed under “lost causes”). The “personality” or private views of an author has something–anything–to do with the quality of a book? No amount of specious argument will support this premise, but I’ve suspected for some time that romance publishers are depending on something besides quality to choose all too many manuscripts. Anyone remember that small blizzard at AAR when more than a few unidentified authors showed up to tell us that no one cared about our complaints about the lack of quality in new releases, that business was so good, our money wasn’t needed, and that decisions on content was based on the price of paper? (And yes, I remember the issues and arguments and name calling very well) Seems some authors are handing over a boat-load of evidence that we may have had something there.

    5) Just one more “finally” please. Jayne, your momma didn’t tell you about never saying anything that wasn’t “nice” because she’s a smart momma who didn’t want to raise a stepford child. The principle is very simple. If someone buys your product and if that someone thinks said product stinks, that someone can submit a negative evaluation of same product. I know it messes up one’s marketing strategy, but hey, GM didn’t like Ralph Nader either, much good it did them.

  52. JulieLeto
    Jul 20, 2006 @ 11:22:00

    No, really, this is my last post…no one checked with Harlequin. If you go to the woman’s own website, you can see what she is submitting and to whom.

  53. Bev (BB)
    Jul 20, 2006 @ 11:51:32

    [quote comment="2381"]No, really, this is my last post…no one checked with Harlequin. If you go to the woman’s own website, you can see what she is submitting and to whom.[/quote]

    But how does anyone know it is her website? How did the dots get connected in the first place? Was her website listed along with the review? Just curious.

    Oh, and before I return to sitting innocently by the sidelines, I just have to mention something else that made my eyebrows rise pass my hairline:

    Maybe it would be better sense to just shut the hell up, but what fun would that be?

    You know, it does seem to me that if we all just admitted upfront this was fun and didn’t take ourselves so seriously, there wouldn’t be nearly as many problems. Of course, fun is usually not something associated with careers either. Or is it? Does present its own dilemma, doesn’t it?

  54. Tara Marie
    Jul 20, 2006 @ 11:56:52

    ..If you go to the woman’s own website, you can see what she is submitting and to whom.

    I’ll ask again, how do you know that’s her website??

  55. Robin
    Jul 20, 2006 @ 22:15:20

    The dividing line seems to have more to do with people who are one to two degrees of separation from Jen vs. those who aren’t. Those who know her or who are in her local chapter are more likely to excuse or even applaud her behavior and that of her friends.

    I agree with this and with pretty much everything you said in your last post. Although I haven’t focused on LaBrecque’s role in this, since I had her book to read and didn’t want to get too involved in where she stood, I think the public humiliation of Wallace really started on LaBrecque’s blog. If Brenda Chin is the professional everyone says she is, I would hope that she’s morified by what folks did to Wallace, especially if any of her authors are involved. From my lowly reader perspective (one more reason I’m so glad I don’t want to write Romance), what happened to Wallace feels perilously close to stalking. It’s rare, actually, for me to have an opinion not characterized by a certain ambivalence, but I think what was done to Wallace is just plain wrong.

  56. lurker1
    Jul 21, 2006 @ 09:40:30

    I bought it. For $.75 from half.com (pretty good deal for a book that came out just 20 days ago). I’ll be back.

  57. Bev (BB)
    Jul 21, 2006 @ 11:22:03

    [quote comment="2426"]I bought it. For $.75 from half.com (pretty good deal for a book that came out just 20 days ago). I’ll be back.[/quote]

    Ow.

    Danger, Will Robinson. Danger!

    Second controversy alert in progress!!!!

    Just saying. ;p

    Ahem, seriously though, I’ve been debating for the last two days whether to blog about how ridiculous this has all become. One thing that’s stayed my hand is not wanting to give any of this more notice than it’s worth, but still . . .

    It’s not the only thing because I will also say that I have no idea what I’d be blogging about. Just that I feel the need to say something. Cause, you know, sometimes it’s not about watching a train wreck in action. Or riding the roller coaster. Or participating in a soap opera. Whatever one wants to call it. Sometimes there really is a principle at stake.

    The problem is figuring out what the heck that principle is at its very basic before wading in with an opinion.

  58. Fiona
    Jul 21, 2006 @ 11:40:35

    I bought it. For $.75 from half.com (pretty good deal for a book that came out just 20 days ago). I’ll be back.

    I’m sorry lurker1, really, I am.

    I e-mailed Ms. Wallace and have yet to hear from her. At first I gave her the benefit of the doubt of being out of town and not reading her e-mail, but then she updated her site and blog yesterday so she blew a hole in that theory. Originally, I thought her silence admitted guilt. Then I thought she was right, this fiasco didn’t deserve a response. And now I see how brilliant she truly is. Without responding to any of this we will always be left wondering if it truly was J. Wallace the author, without every really knowing. And while keeping herself away from the pig pen and out of the muck, she comes out as the cleanest of them all.

    Fiona

  59. lurker1
    Jul 21, 2006 @ 14:28:35

    Bev (BB),

    Now why would you say that? I luv The Outlander. Time travel, the highlands, a scene that makes me cringe. Now why wouldn’t I enjoy a book with such an abundant similarities? I’ll promise not to say one word about the gerbil joke, although it still might be a problem for PETA….

    And Fiona, whether Ms. Wallace was legitimately outted or not, the threats, the rather sly marketing technique, the group think stuff, the search to unmask the “perpetrator” all bother me. It’s that principle thing Bev speaks of. Whether the hangmen have the right victim or not, the issues which are at the center of this mess remain the same.

    It’s, indeed, a merky mess. And I’m sorry I don’t have a more saintly character, but it’s really hard not to be a rubber-necker (and commentator).

  60. Tuesday Midday Links: Bad Sex Award given to an author maligning the nipple | Dear Author
    Nov 30, 2010 @ 12:08:56

    [...] bigger name author will go about trying to get lesser name author blackballed ala the infamous Dixieland Mafia episode? A reviewer on Amazon wrote a negative review of a Harlequin Blaze that had been edited by Brenda [...]

  61. On Bloggers, Reviewers, and Reader. #Ivegotyourback | Dear Author
    Mar 05, 2011 @ 14:02:04

    [...] around the internet. Regular readers of Dear Author should be very familiar with this given the past history in romance. It’s almost a relief to see the “be nice” mantra being preached [...]

  62. LC
    Jul 07, 2011 @ 07:45:08

    Honest to goodness, there are just some strange d@mned people lurking on the Amazon forums and the book reviews. I’m convinced a good percentage of the weirder ones are jailbirds looking to kill some time and feel important, or cause flaming controversy. One of the stranger ones followed me back to my email address and tried to strike up personal conversations with me. (I hadn’t realised until then that my email was viewable, but I changed it quick) When I mentioned that a heroine in a bodice ripper story I had recommended to the forums reminded me of my mildly autistic child a bit, in most of their physical habits, conversations, and general view of the world, this person had to get VERY personal in their opinions. This person WAS STRANGE. I never once invited a conversation with them, never contacted them, and did nothing more than suggest books to them when they contacted me. I was just always trying to be polite to them. Well, I’d had enough, and made fun of them trying to butt in on a very personal subject to me, which they clearly by their words knew nothing about, were just trying to fish personal information from me. This person got very angry, (had the nerve to tell me “I’m THROUGH with you” ???? yeah. A perfect stranger I had never once approached. WEIRD.) then they went and gave this book I had recommended one of the worst reviews I’ve ever read in Amazon… when everyone else had given it five stars. Seriously. Reading that review made me want to vomit. When I went off about it, and pointed out all their baloney on my own review, even apologizing to the author, because I KNEW it was an attack personally directed at me, this person went back, CHANGED their initial SICK (I mean SICK) (I can’t even TELL YOU how sick) review, than posted the whole thing in the amazon forums, begging for ‘help’. Course, they never bothered to mention that the whole thing was personal, instigated by them, NOT related to the book, that they’d already CHANGED their first review (toned it WAY down) and that they had more or less followed me ‘home’, aggravated the crap out of me, than picked an argument with me over a very personal topic, THAN got mad at me cuz I LAUGHED at them. YES. The whole thing was sparked BECAUSE I LAUGHED AT THEM. Needless to say, I spent MONTHS amusing myself reading the forum responses to this reviewers plea for help (people are SO willing to be led by the nose). Amazon banned that account of mine from posting reviews (I think I’d done a total of six over the years, so it was no biggie, I never bothered with reviews), and this person (I’m convinced IS A MAN) is no doubt haunting the forums and book reviews, trying to finagle their way into some kind of weird, twisted drama with other readers, spying on them, following them about. This person SPECIALISED in bodice rippers… BUT ALWAYS gave horrific reviews. ALWAYS. It would be like me reading sports stories, than giving reviews, when I am NOT into sports what-so-ever. Like I said. There are some STRANGE people lurking in Amazon.

%d bloggers like this: