I planned a quiet Sunday editing one of my manuscripts and reading a friend's latest. No sooner had I logged in than I started getting a stream of instant messages (IM) from a fellow writer who loves IMing. I really find it annoying. This time, however, he was walking on the ceiling. Thought I'd better talk him down before he hurt himself.
Fast-backward a few months. Male friend is a professional writing colleague of a female author. I don't know her, haven't read her material and probably won't. It's not that I don't like her: I don't read historical romances. Never have. Don't know anything about the genre. So, I stay away.
Male friend has promoted female author for weeks, blogging about her book, posting good reviews on all the appropriate social media sites, introducing her to many of his colleagues to secure speaking engagements, even though his genre is light-years different from hers.
When female author asked to help with his promotion, he was delighted. He sent her a free advance reader copy (btw, he bought her book), answered her questions and waited.
Her long-delayed review hit yesterday. And that sent him to the ceiling. She gave it one star. I tried to tell male friend that he should ignore her, since his other reviews have been mostly four- and five-stars, with one three-star from me. Hers would eventually get lost in the noise of better reviews. He was having none of this.
"How could she stab me in the back?" Him wailing.
"Do you know if she has any experience with your genre? Maybe it's just not what she understand and likes." Me being reasonable.
"I want to confront her." Him being unreasonable.
"NO!" Me raising my e-voice.
"But how could she do this to me?" Him wailing again.
"Well, your book isn't for everyone. Historical romance readers will never find it, so you don't have to worry about her fan base. It's not yours." Me getting a little annoyed but trying to be supportive.
"How do I remove her review?" Him getting on my nerves.
"You don't. The first amendment gives her the right to voice her opinion. Your other reviews will cancel hers out." Me grinding my teeth.
"I guess, but we are on a panel together next month. What do I do?" Him calming down.
"Greet her as if you never saw her one-star rating. Pretend it never happened. DO NOT bring it up." Me hearing my manuscript whimper that it was being ignored.
"I'll try, but I just want to rip her face off." Him approaching panic again.
"Don't read any more reviews. Don't check for rankings. The book is out. Nothing you can do will change the fact that you're a published author." Me turning away from the terminal.
"But she hurt me so bad." Wail raised to ceiling once more.
"Oh, get real." Me losing patience and turning off the IM feature.
And that, my friends, is why I never look at my book's reviews or ratings. Now, if male author would just get that message...