Saturday, August 22, 2009

Watch What You Say Online - Or Pay the Consequences

Watch What You Say Online - Or Pay the Consequences
By Angela Wilson

Alice Hoffman acted like an idiot when she Tweeted nasty comments about a book reviewer who was just not that into her latest, The Story Sisters.

For those who didn't see it, the author of Practical Magic called the reviewer a "moron" and urged fans to call and email the reviewer to tell her the same thing. Hoffman even went so far as to print the reviewer's telephone number and email address. The author apparently didn't realize the reviewer only echoed things said by readers who commented on the book at Amazon.

Hoffman's chaotic, viscous comments ended up on sites like, and the L.A. Times did a story on her erratic, unprofessional behavior.

(Read more in Alice Hoffman Goes Ballistic on Twitter:

Soon after, Hoffman's Twitter account was deleted. However, her comments live in virtual infamy thanks to technology that allows us to grab screenshots to share with the masses.

The Hoffman episode is part of a growing trend of virtual social media rage, where someone who is insulted uses sites like Facebook, Twitter and MySpace to get back at those who wounded them.

More and more, I see authors responding hatefully to bad reviews on Amazon, or sending snarky messages with their contempt for reviewers at Pop Syndicate who just didn't like their work.

Face cold, hard facts: Not everyone is going to love your work. Only your parents are going to fawn over every drag of the pencil you make while cultivating the next bestseller.

Hoffman's been around long enough that this may not have an impact on book sales. In the virtual universe, things happen quickly - and are forgotten just as quickly. Devoted fans may not feel the need to stop reading her for being stupid about one lukewarm review; however, some book reviewers tired of getting trampled on by ego-maniac authors have already said they won't bother requesting Hoffman's future works.

Newbie authors who pull a stunt like this could very well derail a promising career in publishing. If you do not have a proven track record with reviewers or fans, your attitude could easily crush any future interest in your work. People are pretty forgiving if you have a bad day and blog about it; they are not nearly as forgiving if you single out one individual and attempt to slaughter them in chat rooms, forums and social networks.

Before you sound off about a lukewarm or bad review, take a deep breath. Call a friend to vent. Write up a text file - NOT in your e-mail compose feature - about how you feel. Journal about it. If you must blog about it, be sure not to mention any specifics about the reviewer or site or publication, but share your feelings with your fans.

Then let it go. Don't waste time getting mad enough to get even. Focus your energies on networking with reviewers and fans that truly enjoyed your work. Build on this positive network to develop a devoted fan base that helps sell books - and keep you swimming in contracts.

Angela Wilson is a social media consultant who blogs about author marketing at Market My Novel ( She is the editor of Pop Syndicate's Book Addict Blog ( and pens dark paranormal romance when she's not catering to her 27-year old cat.

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