What a dust up in the blogosphere this week! We've seen these train wrecks before, but never on the scale of this.
For those of you who want the Cliff Notes version, Big Al reviews books available on Kindle. Many books available on Kindle are self-pubs, or e-pubs. I imagine in the world of self-pubs, there are good books and bad books, just as there are in print form. His review of Jacqueline Howlett's The Greek Seaman, caused the author to appear on his comment thread. She spewed expletives, and while 1. this is the Internet, and 2. I have no sound on my computer, I could hear her screeching.
We've seen this before: authors getting worked up and ornery over reviews. While I understand the burning desire to defend oneself and the work of art (i.e. baby) they have created, starting an online flame war is not likely to win many friends and influence people. At least, not toward the positive.
It took an hour for me to read the comments, many of which were entertaining. I did not comment. What else is there to say?
Like Big Al, I sometimes write book reviews and I sometimes receive free copies of books from publishing houses. Unlike Big Al, my mantra is, if I can't write a gushingly positive review, I'll write no review at all. Not that Big Al's review of Ms. Howlett's work was all that scathing. A review is a subjective thing, as are books. There are books I've read and wondered "How the hell did this get on the New York Times bestseller list?" There are others that I tweet and review and push on my friends and employees, because those books are great and seem to get no press at all.
Big Al pointed out the flaws in Ms. Howlett's books, and he did so without malice. It seemed a rather tame review. Even in subsequent comments, he maintained a level of professionalism he should be congratulated for.
On the other hand... Jacqueline Howlett has caused an Internet splash and held tenaciously to more than 15 minutes of fame, but nothing good will come from it. If she ever approaches an agent or publishing house, the first thing the respondent will do is Google her name. (Don't you? I do all the time.) Nothing is ever erased from the Internet, no matter how you back-pedal or delete. Unless she changes her name, this eruption of bad behavior will likely follow her for the rest of her life.