When someone’s writing makes you angry


I have a book I was planning on reviewing. It was a short, self-published piece, mostly anecdotal but with some references and information. It was recommended by a few non-profit organizations and it available for free on Kindle. I downloaded it and a few weeks later sat down and read it.

And it made me very, very angry.

It made the writer in me angry because it was terribly written and didn’t even look like it had been proof-read once. Twice she wrote that paper was lamented instead of laminated. That writer is angry that it’s getting 4 and 5 star reviews on Amazon and my book hasn’t even gotten a review (yes, there’s a little jealousy in there, too). It made the self-publisher in me angry because it rubs a thick smear of shit over what we do giving the reading public a reason to overlook our hard work because some incompetent thought writing was easy. It made the parent in me angry because the resources were inaccurate and incomplete and twice she failed to capitalize her son’s name. Pair that up with the constant contradiction of statements (including the title) and I fly into a rage at the mere thought of the book. It made the Autistic mother in me pissed for those same inaccuracies, biased opinions and dreadful lack of detail and not researched *resources* spouted in blurbs as “resources, techniques and other different advice” and promoted by what should be reliable organizations.

Every single time I sit down to write this review the anger boils up from deep inside and I want to meet the author so I can throw my ebook at her head.

And she has plans to write a sequel in a few years. God help us all.

I have NEVER been this angry over a book I’ve read. I try to always see the positives in whatever I read because I feel empathy for the writer, to have the dedication to sit down and write a story and the balls to put it out there in the scrutinizing public’s eye. Even if I do not like the story, the writing, the style, the characters, even if it’s chock full of writing errors, I try to be kind. I give myself a few days to sit with the story, to give my brain a chance to pick out the things I enjoyed and I always, ALWAYS, find something however remotely positive to say about it.

Because us writers are in this together and I prefer constructive criticism to emotion filled destruction.

It’s been over a week and I’m still fuming. I’ve vented to my husband (who literally listened to every single problem I ranted over in just about every single sentence as I read it). I’ve vented to a fellow writer. And I am just as mad now as I was the first time my eyes rolled over the disjointed words, contradictions and egregious use of the semi-colon.

Should I wait until I can sit down, detached from my feelings and write a prettier, nicer review than the torrential downpour of anger that is sitting on the tip of my fingertips ready to pound fury into the keys? Or should I go ahead and let it come out? Or maybe just not even write the review at all?

Ideas and constructive criticism are always welcomed here.

12 responses »

  1. Annoyed would be more my reaction. I don’t tend to get angry unless it’s an ongoing exchange where I’m treated with disrespect. If there isn’t something that will amuse me or teach me in poor writing or fallacious argument, I can stop reading and just give up on it. If this author is getting published and receiving comments then they must be doing something right from a promotional standpoint.

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  2. I would cool off a bit before you write that review. Being a professional writer means being.. well, you know, professional. If it makes you feel better, write a review for yourself. Get it all out. Then wait a little bit and once you’re more calm, see if you really feel the same. Do a real review after that. If grammar and copyedits are truly that bad, speak to it in the review. Just be professional.

  3. I agree with Ryan. Ranting and raving on a review will make you look bad. It will make you look like you have some vendetta against the author. I’ve thought those very things when I’ve seen that kind of review. Wait until you can think logically and your thoughts are in order. Then write the review if you feel you need to.

  4. Measured tact. Often I’m forced to peer critique things I hate/can’t even deal with how bad it is. But I have to. One way to think about how to make the torrential storm of rightly-justified anger into something constructive, but still barbed is to think of how you would phrase it if you had to sit down with the author. I’m pretty non-confrontational-bad, bad fights cause me to literally vomit from the anxiety of it all. But sometimes, no matter how bad something is, you can’t find something very nice to say.

  5. I would say never to be outright nasty in a review but I would certainly allow the number of stars you give the book to reflect the way you felt. I would be dissapointed if I bought a book everyone had given 5 stars and found out it was a load of… well you know! Generally, if I am not able to think of something positive to say about a book I simply don’t write a review at all. Like you mentioned in your post – the worst part is that it brings all the self-publishing authors down when people can’t be bothered editing their work before they publish. ps. someone who doesn’t even bother to capitalize a proper noun doesn’t really deserve a positive review!

  6. Pingback: February 22 check-in Dreams of Animate Boxes « Leavekeeping

  7. I’ve been thinking about this more since we spoke about it. It’s hard to say something along the lines of “your book would have been so much better if you had proofread it, had it critiqued for factual inconsistencies and errors, and so on”; when you have the feeling the author is not going to fix things.

    However, if you can manage to keep the reader, hungry for information (as you put it so well), in mind, and just say, “Here are several reasons to take this text with a grain of salt, (or a salt block), then you have served future readers well.

  8. I lean toward the comments of Elizabeth Anne Mitchell and Jody Moller, as I think you should write the review. If nothing else, a few short sentences (again, in the spirit that your friend Elizabeth suggests) with a one star and be done. Sometimes, that kind of brevity shouts volumes. This was my first visit to your blog but I’ll be back.


  9. This is a difficult conundrum; having said that, I’m more inclined to say constructive criticism is the way to go. You have a professional image to uphold; but you also have your credibility to sustain. A good balance is needed to come out of this on tops and with a blinding review. Channel that anger and create something positive which will reflect what you stand for -afterall our reputation is all we’ve got.


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