Hissy Fit

Image by smysnbrg via Flickr

We’ve all been there. We get a really nasty review of our store, our blog, our book. Maybe a buyer left us totally unfair feedback and we want to tell them off while defending ourselves.

As tempting as it is to let them have it, behaving anything but completely professional is never going to be a positive for you or your reputation.

The following story has been passed along to death amongst writers and self-published authors but I wanted to address your attention to it because there is an important lesson here about your reputation and your business.

In short, self-published author Jacqueline Howett received a mostly positive review from BigAl’s Books and Pals, a small review site. He praises her storytelling but goes on to caution that there are many spelling and grammar issues in the text. You can see his review here but the fireworks really get started down in the comments. The author begins to dispute the review, demanding it be removed, throwing personal insults at the reviewer including several posts of simply “f- you!” (except she didn’t censor hers). Even as others warned her that she was committing career suicide, she only got angrier and dug herself in deeper. Now, for all eternity, anyone that Googles her name will find hundreds of results about her public hissy fit. At the time that I’m writing this, her book (which had had mostly positive reviews) is down to 1 star on Amazon from all the gawkers. Unless she can successfully relaunch under a pen name, her career is effectively over.

Have we all felt like telling a bad reviewer or buyer that left us negative feedback off or “f- you!”? Of course we have! But professionalism is all about how you react in the face of adversity and the internet has a long memory. The silly thing about all of this is that the original review site was pretty small, if it hadn’t gone viral the way it did, likely no one would have ever seen either the original review or her objections. But by the extent of her freakout, the story started to get increased exposure whereas just ignoring it would have made the review get buried where it wouldn’t have had much effect. She basically made this have as much attention as it did by behaving the way she did.

Going right along with our discussion of the stigma of self-publishing, there are also many people on these threads taking this “See, this is why all self-published authors are terrible writers and people” stance which is annoying for those of us that would never, ever do this. But it just goes to show how one person’s unprofessional behavior can have far reaching effects on everyone in their industry. We’ve seen this before where another seller’s bad business practices can effect how our customers see us just because we both sell online. It isn’t fair but it’s important to remember that your behavior speaks for more than just you.

If you want more on this story as it develops, I have three news articles on it for you below. But I want to ask you, have you ever seen a case where someone got themselves in trouble for replying to negative feedback or a negative review? Have you been in that situation (when you were young and naive, obviously ;-))? How did you handle it?

More info