It’s Not All Nice

April 23, 2019

I grew up in a small town, where words like “yous” and “heyna” are part of everyday conversation. I like off-beat humor and cult classic movies. In fact, if a movie won an Oscar, chances are, I wouldn’t like it.

My point? I’m a simple person with simple tastes. I care less about what I “should” like than what I “do” like.

That includes reading. I was an avid reader long before I started publishing, with a penchant for mystery, suspense, and romance. As long as it’s a good story and it’s got an HEA, I’m willing to read it. I love losing myself in a book that captures my interest and holds it captive.

However, I also know that not everyone likes what I like, and that’s okay. What’s not okay is bashing someone else because their tastes are different.

Hence, this post.

I’m pretty active on social media, and for the most part, I enjoy it. It lets me connect with people from around the world, fellow word lovers, kindred spirits, writers and readers alike. The indie community is, on the whole, a wonderful world of diversity and ideas and knowledge. However, lately I’m seeing a frightening and disturbing trend, one that’s moving away from kindness and support and toward more criticism and meanness.

Case in point, I came across a feed where people were bashing another author’s new release. What’s the big deal, you ask? Some of these people were authors themselves.

Authors, bashing other authors for what they wrote. And they hadn’t even read the book.

I don’t understand that at all.

I tend to skulk on the sidelines in most things. Partly because I’m an introvert, but mostly because I find listening far more productive than talking.

As I was reading through the comments, all I could think of was, if someone said these things about me, about my writing, I’d be devastated. I’d crawl into a hole and never publish again.

In a rare moment, I spoke up, questioning what motivated them to say such things.

Read the reviews, they said. They’re so horrible.

I did, despite the fact that I don’t typically look at reviews before reading a book, because I don’t want my reading experience colored by the opinions of others. I like to make up my own mind. And the criticisms I read in those reviews were the same ones I’d read about her previous releases, all of which made more money than I’ll ever see in my lifetime and spawned movie deals.

So I said so.

Read the sample, they said. It’s so horrible.

So I did that, too. And you know what? I didn’t think it was horrible. In fact, I liked it.

I went out and bought the book, spending far more than I usually would for an ebook. I wanted to read it, yes, but even more, I wanted to quietly show my support for a woman who, like me, had poured her heart and soul out into a book and had likely spent hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars trying to create something people would like to read.

FYI – I’m reading it now, having pushed it to the top of my lengthy TBR. I’m 20% through it so far, stealing a few minutes here and there when I can. And you know what? I’m still liking it.

I’ll say that again. Despite the horrible reviews and nasty comments, I LIKE IT. And, despite the horrible reviews and nasty comments, that book is a #1 best seller, which means other people – lots of other people – must like it, too.

Talk about a teachable moment.

I will say this, though. My self-confidence has taken a hit. A tiny piece of my heart is darker today than it was just a few days ago. I can’t help but think, if people could say those things about her and her works, then what must they really think of me and mine?

So … be kind with your words. Words can lift up as easily as they can destroy. Don’t judge what you haven’t read yourself. Be thoughtful with your criticism. Because someone is always listening.