September 01, 2012

Writers Fucking Writers


Here it is... a rant in progress. But first, here's why. Based on a demoralizing plagiarism issue I was dealt last spring, I now try to do a little background check of writers. You know, to make sure they actually exist somewhere in human form.

One search led me to a blog which featured a cruel review of one of my books. Sure, everyone is entitled to an opinion. But here's the rant: I am astounded, gobsmacked, knocked the fuck over when writers of the same genre tear each other down. And I didn't start to feel this way, like, today. In 2008, I wrote:

I am just a person. I try to be an evolved person, yes. But I can’t help but let feelings color my judgment of stories. If you slam me in public, or trash my products, I’m going to have a difficult time working with you. One author blogged about how much he hated a font in one of our books. Look, I love a good font. But still. Another called me a member of the Right Wing Party because of an edit I requested (the edit involved avoiding an incestuous scenario). A third publicly demolished a title, cover photo, and color cover choice (all of which were out of my hands). At the end of the day, I’m still just a girl who reads a lot of porn and tries to put beautiful books together. I’m not terribly vindictive.

But I am human.


A writer I've worked with multiple times has consistently (and publicly) low-ball reviewed my books. Even books s/he is in. No. Really.

And last week, I stumbled on another nasty review by an author who continually disses my collections — and I don't fucking get it. You're not only tearing me down. You're pissing on my publisher and on the other 20+ outstanding writers in the books.

What. The. Fuck.

Unless you are Hemingway reincarnated, or Anais Nin's ghost, or whoever your writing hero is, you'd better be pretty fucking secure in the fact that your work could withstand the same type of scrutiny. And it's not about ego here—this is what I do for a living. How would you feel if I strolled into your place of work and spewed vitriol over you. (Wow, I think that's the first time I ever used the word "vitriol" in a sentence.)

I love the Dorothy Parker quote: "I don't care what is written about me so long as it isn't true." And Andy Warhol's, "Don't pay attention to what they write about you. Just measure it in inches."

Unfortunately, I haven't yet learned how to live that way.

XXX,
Alison

P.S. Breathtaking ring (which is my size) says LOVER on one side and FIGHTER on the other. I think I need it.

17 comments:

Aisling Weaver said...

Wow.

Writers really do that?

I mean? Really?

Jeez. I am never anything but tickled pink to be in your anthos. Just saying.

~AW

Alison Tyler said...

Yes. Yes, they do.

Usually, I turn the other cheek. But every so often, my neck gets tired.

XXX,
Alison

Annemarie said...

"A writer I've worked with multiple times has consistently (and publicly) low-ball reviewed my books. Even books s/he is in. No. Really."

Not AT ALL surprised. I came across a review for an antho I had been in, written by a fellow contributor: "Liked this story, didn't like this one, HATED this story." Er, right.

bluekaren said...

That is bold. Obviously this person doesn't know you do your homework. Your collections are great, it is probably just plain jealousy.

Sommer Marsden said...

I've been trying to figure out how to put up a similar post but keep ending up foaming at the mouth and shouting obscenities. What I find most amusing is that the people who run around and crap on other writers in their own genre that they have worked with,even, are the first to get all balled up in a knot and threaten to jump off the roof should someone even say a single word about their precious beauty. Good thing is, I believe in Karma. And I do believe she's a bitch. Let's hope. ;)

XOXO
S

t'Sade said...

Some people are just angry. It could personal or could just be that you represent something they used to hate. It is amazing how a little thing (say being spurred by a red-headed girl) that leads into a completely illogical conclusion (there was a red-haired woman on the cover, the author wrote the book with the red-haired woman, therefore must hate author!).

Half the time, I don't think it is possible, but then I watch Fluffy hating a movie because one of the actors was in another bad movie.

I can see how it is hard to turn the cheek all the time. I think it is perfectly fair to also rant; just remember that there are hordes of people who love you enough to comment on your stuff and for everyone who one does, there are probably hundreds out there silently jerking off to your writing. :)

CJ Lemire said...

Wow is right.

I saw this on Sommer's blog first, and followed her link here, and I am speechless that you have both had this experience.

Maybe this is just me, and maybe I'm out to lunch, but I would think most writers in this genre started out as readers, yes? "I enjoy reading smexy fiction. I want to try my hand at writing some too. I enjoy this author's writing. I bought this collection she was in. I bought this other collection put together by the same editor, and enjoyed that too. I want to submit to this editor because I have enjoyed her work." How on earth does one connect the dots from that... to the behavior you describe?

And again, maybe this is just me and maybe I'm out to lunch, but I'd also think it's a relatively small pool of authors writing for publication in this genre? Since when has pissing in a small pool ever been a good idea?

The mind boggles.

ri endo said...

people put down people so much ,
i feel is always to make themselves feel better..
don't worry about it.
in the end we are all fans of
the awesome
Alison Tyler,
who the hell are they?

Cora Zane said...

Wow. How awful for someone to do that. A deep rooted jealousy exists for someone to trash your books, only to keep submitting their own work to you so they are included in your circle.

Very sorry, AT. :(

Red said...

Their comments say nothing about you and everything we need to know about them.

Do what you do best Alison, rise above it and write another gem, perhaps the fucktards can have a cameo part in it ?

The reality is that by flaming you, they generate interest in their posts/blogs/articles. Their talent doesn't attract traffic, their snide snarling does. How sad is that ?

Dayle A. Dermatis said...

Yeah, I don't understand it, either.

On a related note, I hate that Barnes & Noble allows people to leave reviews anonymously, and worse than than, to give a star rating w/o a review at all.

But there are many wonderful people who have written positive reviews for me (and you!), and I think it's best to savor those and ignore the others. :-)

Remittance Girl said...

"Unless you are Hemingway reincarnated, or Anais Nin's ghost, or whoever your writing hero is, you'd better be pretty fucking secure in the fact that your work could withstand the same type of scrutiny."

And, strangely enough, it's hardly ever THOSE sort of writers who do the bitching. Perhaps they're too busy writing?

I'm sorry to hear that you've been kicked about this way.

I'll admit to being something of a shit disturber myself. I took Circlet Press to the wall for their 'tweets from the slush-pile', although I deeply respect and hold a lot of affection for Cecilia. So I don't necessarily subscribe to the rule of 'if you haven't got something nice to say, don't say anything at all.'

However, I'm constantly baffled by how many writers don't have even the smallest clue about how hard it is to edit and anthology - how much work and intellectual effort goes into it.

So, as a complete outsider, I just got a glimpse of your latest anthology and let me offer you my compliments.

It's a truly breathtaking line-up of the best writers in erotica writing today, and the cover is just... just a kick-ass beautiful piece of design, Alison.

Bravo, girl.

K. A. Burton said...

First, I understand the plagarism concerns. When I submit to anyone, I am more than happy to provide my "real" name and information.

I don't really understand the reaction to the reviews. Maybe my skin is thicker, having come from the journalism world. No one is going to like you 100 percent of the time. It is simply not possible.

Also everyone has a right to their personal taste and opinions. That's fine. As long as the attacks stick to why they like or don't like the writing, I am actually okay with that. It means they read it. Cool. If you stuck with it long enough to give it a good critique then there was something there that you responded to whether it was good or bad.

So I don't think that people who review what I write have to be literary geniuses. In fact, I kind of hope they are just everyday people. I hope they like my work, but I am grown-up enough to know they might not.

Alison Tyler said...

Thanks to everyone for the comments — I was in such a rage bubble yesterday. You all (y'all?) helped me pop it!

And thank you, RG, for your note about the latest collection. I think 69 is a beauty, too. I hope my anthologies will steadily improve each time I’m given the opportunity to publish one!

I am right with you, Dayle, on the anonymous, no word 1-stars on B&N. I also despise the 1-stars for "this was a short book" or 1-star because "this was a novella." What? What?!

But I’m not whining about reviews in general. (I've gathered quite a lot of good and bad reviews over the past 20+ years. Some of both have been useful.) I want to make clear that I am not against people having opinions. I'm talking specifically about cuttingly hurtful reviews by writers of other writers. Negative reviews of books the reviewer is *in.*

To me that like going to a potluck for dinner and then telling the hosts and other guests that the food sucked. And then Yelping it.

Sure, you can act that way if you’d like. But I won’t be inviting you over next time.

XXX,
Alison

Sadey Quinn said...

Beautiful points!

I kind of wonder how come some writers, who agree with this idea that we shouldn't bash each other, feel so comfy slamming E.L. James for her work. She's made enough money to take the heat?

Or she didn't write the 'right' version of BDSM? So she can be slammed with the guise of it being a moral issue? Or a BDSM community issue?

shrug. Who knows.

But anyway. Nice post. :)

CJ Lemire said...

I don't believe the point being made was that we should all hold hands, sing Kumbaya, and never utter a bad word. If I understood correctly, it was specifically to do with writers giving bad reviews to anthologies in which they appear, and bashing editors who have worked with them in the past and to whom they hope to submit again in the future.

As for EL James, I have a problem with the intellectual property issues associated with her publishing fan-fic with the serial numbers filed off, and with the quality of the writing in 50SOG. But that's just me.

Alison Tyler said...

I am so bad at Kumbaya. And my hands are sweaty.

But yes, thank you CJ. You pretty much succinctly summed up what I was trying to say within my spew.

The concept is not something I only give lip service to. (If I'm to toot my own horn for a moment.) (Are you enjoying my double-entendres?) I make a point not to tear down other writers. And I do my very best to promote those I respect in the industry—writers, editors, and publishers. To this end, I've kept haphazard blogs like: Trollop Salon and Scruffy Jottings. I'm much more comfortable, actually, promo-ing other people than myself.

I've also pointed out situations with publishers and editors that I thought were wonky or unfair.

I know it's not all rainbows, sunshine, and butterflies out there. But I also would rather reach out a hand than knock someone down.

XXX,
Alison