I do not have any firsthand experience with the sites in question, as I refuse to buy into the drama, but the implied level of maliciousness regularly expressed by followers of such groups leads me to believe that there are personal matters behind those behaviors. Everyone is entitled to his/her opinion. Who hasn’t disliked—or even hated—a book? However, does one person’s dissatisfaction with a particular work merit such cruelty? Might there be a more productive way of offering harsh critique? Moreover, is a novice or self-published writer really the best person to be critically reviewing others’ published works? Just because a person has an opinion on something, does that make the person an authority on the matter? For example, I love to cook, and I cook well, but that does not make me a gourmet food critic. Is anyone who belongs to #romfail or any similar group actually formally educated in literary theory, let alone remotely qualified to do what they are doing? What degrees do these people hold? How many books have they published, beyond vanity presses and self-publishing houses?
Or do they just have opinions—uneducated, demeaning, vicious opinions?
Let’s assume that the works in question do contain good examples of bad writing. No one is perfect, and even the best of writers sometimes have an off day. Even more, no one but the author and his/her editor knows just how much of a particular problem in a book is the result of poor editing. Granted, it is an authors’ responsibility to ensure his/her publishing house employs good editors; for the novice author, this problem is not always as simple to remedy as it would seem. Is it acceptable behavior to treat an author with such disrespect and nastiness, simply for having a book that was poorly edited? Is it the intent to embarrass the author (and/or his/her publisher) out of the industry? If so, do the offending individuals actually believe they are doing anything beyond upsetting and alienating their peers?
On a final note, I would love to know what kinds of reviews these “mean girls” are receiving for their books. I would like to know how these people would feel if it were their books being offered up for sacrifice, and just how much fun it would still be if it were they who suffered the humility and heartache over having one of their beloved books torn apart—with quotes taken out of context—for all the world to see.
Some people need to grow a soul; please don’t feed their emptiness. These people are mean for the sake of being mean and deserved to be ignored. Enough said.
Please check out these blogs, which inspired me to write this post: