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January 26, 2012

What Is the Goal of Ranting?

xkcd's Comic: Duty Calls: "Someone is WRONG on the internet."

*sigh*  It’s happened again.  An author has insulted other authors and a huge percentage of readers.  Why do people do this?

Between social media, the interrelationships of the publishing industry, and the permanent nature of the internet, news of negativity travels far and wide.  Sure, we can’t spout unicorns and rainbows all the time, but I question someone’s goals when they fling insults.

If we act unprofessionally, we (surprise, surprise!) won’t be seen as professional.  If we put down the majority of readers, we limit our readership.  If we put down other authors, we negatively affect our ability to work with them—and all those associated with them.

Let’s not kid ourselves.  No matter what publishing path we take, we need to work with others in the industry.

It’s shortsighted to put down authors who might be our agency-mates, share our publisher, use the same freelance editor (and by putting down an author’s work, doesn’t that reflect on their editor?), have the power to veto letting us into a “tribe” of indie/self-published authors, or any other of a hundred ways we’re all connected.

Yet people fail to learn the lesson from the last ten times this internal sniping went badly and want to discover the consequences for themselves.

An odd dichotomy exists within the internet, as it possesses both a short attention span and a long-term memory.  This current issue will blow over, as it always does, but the next time someone makes a similar mistake, the details of this incident will be brought up again as an example.  Maybe the example will point out how people don’t learn from the past, or how these arguments have been rehashed a billion times.  The point is, the internet remembers, and this author will forever be held up as an example of “what not to do.”

One YA author insulted a genre years ago, and the co-author of a popular book review blog, while referencing a current issue, tweeted a link just last week to a several-year-old post exposing the author’s attitude.  The blogger admitted that she still holds a grudge against the author for that behavior.  Years later.

We might be able to understand someone’s negativity if they’re venting about a perceived wrong.  We all do that.  We all need to vent sometimes.

But in most of these cases, the insults come from nowhere.  There’s no trigger, no revenge motivation, nothing.  Just plain, “I’m going to put you down because it makes me feel superior.”

We know that behavior by another word: Bully.

I don’t care how jealous we are of other authors, other blogs, or other books.  Someone will always receive more attention than we do.  We cannot build ourselves up by tearing others down.

In this case, the author insulted…wait for it…the romance genre.  *insert shocked face here*  He states his opinion that romance authors shouldn’t be treated as well as other authors—and he states this as fact.  He states as fact that romance novels are meant to be inferior.

In his twisted argument, any romance novels that are any good aren’t, in fact, romance novels, but love stories.  Try telling the authors that.

But that’s how he justifies his insults.  In his definition, good books can’t be romance novels because if they’re any good, he calls them something else.  (Um, yeah, don’t try to make sense of that circular logic.)

Let’s skip over the insanity of that argument, let’s ignore the fact that the romance genre is ten times broader than the category romance stories he assumes it to consist of, and let’s gloss over the detail that he writes genre science fiction and thus can’t even use literary elitism as an excuse for his behavior.

Let’s just look at what could possibly motivate him to insult the largest percentage of genre readers.  *think, think, think*  Nope, I got nothing.

Romance readers read broadly.  They read historical, literary, and yes, his genre of science fiction.  *raises hand*  Unlike his assumption of romance readers, I’m qualify-for-Mensa intelligent, I’ve read from Douglas Adams to Isaac Asimov (and that’s just in the “A” section of science fiction authors), and I care deeply about the quality of writing in books.  Ask anyone I’ve beta read for.  *smile*

And unlike his assumption that all romance readers are stuck in their thirteen-year-old minds, I was reading science fiction as a teen and starting reading romance novels only a few years ago—when I was a multiple of thirteen.  And hey, let’s knock down another stereotype while I’m at it.  I’m very happy and satisfied in all aspects of my life, thank you very much.

I honestly can’t understand behavior like this.  Why would an author risk losing readers and support to insult all the authors and readers of a genre, when there was no trigger, no need to answer a question, no motivation for revenge?

I’m left with the conclusion I stated above: Some will try to tear others down to make themselves feel superior.  And I can only feel sad for this author.

I haven’t mentioned the author by name or linked to his post here because I don’t want to encourage him.  However, in the interest of full disclosure, here are the instructions for finding the article (which I’m spelling out so my blog doesn’t upset the search results).  In Google:

  • Type his first name, spelled C, a, l, e
  • Followed by his last name, spelled M, c, C, a, s, k, e, y
  • Next type the word “loves”
  • Then the word “romance”
  • And finally the word “novels”.

In a lovely twist of fate, the aforementioned blog post is currently the top search result to that five-word phrase.  (Why yes, I do hope he sees that full message in his Google Search Terms.  Google bombing for the win in an amusing-but-non-insulting way.  *snicker*)

Author Carolyn Jewel has a post with a historical take on his illogical approach to logic.  And the text of one of his now-deleted comments can be found at the bottom of this post by author/publisher Magdalen Braden.

I hope we all learn the lesson this time.  Before we rant, make sure we know our goal.  Is it to start a conversation?  Leave the insults off the page, like I’ve tried to do here.  Is it for venting?  Maybe a conversation with a critique partner would be safer.  Is it to lob insults?  Definitely keep it in private.

Do you rant in public, and if so, what’s your goal?  What do you think of someone when they rant?  Do you think “bully” is an appropriate description for unprovoked insults?  Do you have tips for how to rant in a positive way?  Did you follow the directions for the Google search? *smile*

Image copyright: xkcd webcomic

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Jill Kemerer

I’m so glad I stopped by today, Jami. I hadn’t read or heard of this rant. (I’ve been hopped up on sugar trying to finish the first draft of my latest ROMANCE novel–*gasp*)

I don’t rant in public, unless it’s declaring Russell Brand has crazy eyes or something. Elitism irritates me. Taking sides irritates me. Reckless put-downs flat out annoy me.

I’m soooo with you on this.

Angela Quarles

I was reading his post yesterday and his comments and was just dumbfounded. And then I came across this sentence of his in a comment, that Pride and Prejudice was a trashy novel. That he blames Jane Austen for the romance genre. When I saw that, I was like why argue with someone who doesn’t even get the pure genius of Austen? I can’t understand his reasoning either, unless he’s trying to generate blog hits? But regardless, he’s definitely shown his ignorance…

Christy

Oh Jami, all I can say is a thousand thank you’s for taking the high road here and for the laugh 🙂

Carradee

I did the search, started commenting to the guy—and deleted my comment about halfway through writing it. I might go back later and comment, when I’m out of the “My GOSH, you have no clue what you’re talking about!” stage and more into the “I used to believe the same… when I was a TEENAGER,” stage.

I admit, I used to be amazingly dismissive of cartoons, anime, manga, comic books, romance novels, etc. Then I had a friend ask, “Have you ever actually read manga?”

Me: O.O

She handed me a two-book manga series, I read them and apologized, and I’ve made sure to actually read a genre before I assume it’s all beneath me.

And so far, I’ve been able to find some quality titles in every genre I’ve tried. There’s one genre in particular where I have a hard time finding stories that match my definition of “quality,” but the good titles exist.

Kristin Nador

Good post, Jami. I think writer-bloggers need to be proactive on the subject of rants. If you haven’t already thought about it ahead of time and decided you will always take the high road, when emotions run high it’s easy to bang them out on the keys. I think rants are good in the here’s-a-universal-gripe-that-everyone-can-relate-to-way, we all relate and can commiserate together, but when you go into personal attacks or attack a subject with uneducated bias and stereotype, it’s bad karma that’s going to come back and bite you in your large ego. 🙂

I just talked about this in a post about the golden rule for bloggers this week. You-know-who should have read it, but I’m sure I wouldn’t qualify for his level of reading since I write historical fiction with strong women characters. (sticking out tongue at you-know-who) 😉

Bluestocking

I hate seeing this kind of writing bigotry. Writing is hard, no matter what genre or literary story you are telling. The romance genre has been knocked around for years, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised but still. Thanks for sharing — this sf author is now on my do not read list.

Buffy Armstrong

I’m just curious as to who this guy is. I can’t find him on Amazon or Goodreads so I’m assuming he isn’t published, not that that matters. He’s entitled to have an opinion whether he’s published or not, but you know what the say about opinions…

I can only assume one thing after reading this post – like a kid in junior high, he’s trying to get a rise out of people. More specifically, he’s looking to up his blog stats and increase the amount of comments it receives (which was next to nil.) He’s succeeded. Bravo, Mr. McC. Now hundreds of people know who you are and don’t like you.

Unlike this kid I punched in the face in the sixth grade for teasing me, I’m just going to ignore him. He’ll go away. They always do. But thanks to Jami for waking me up this morning and getting my blood pumping! I needed that.

Kiersten

Ugh. I made the mistake of going back and re-reading the updated comments. When I got to his defense of The Screwtape Letters & Till We Have Faces (extraordinary books) being sci fi/fantasy I had to mentally chant “do not engage. do not engage”. What a jackhole.

Carradee

…Okay, now I’m glad that I didn’t read those comments, because I would’ve said something.

Talk about knowing nothing of which he speaks.

Laurie London

Great post, Jami! I’d heard about this guy on Twitter but I never investigated or clicked because I didn’t want to inflate his SEO ranking. I didn’t even know his name. But when I saw you tweet your blog post and realized this guy was a fellow author, I got to thinking. I want to know his name so that I don’t accidentally ever buy one of his books. Which leads me to a reason he may have ignited this debate (other than or in addition to the reason you stated) in the first place. Negative publicity is often just as good as positive publicity. Sure, maybe today, we won’t buy his books. But what about tomorrow or next year? We might not actually remember what it is about him that’s familiar, only that his name is familiar. Last year, there was a Christian book author who went off on romance readers/authors and stirred up quite a kerfuffle. (I’ve always wanted to use that word.) And you know what? For the life of me, I can’t remember his name. If I recall, he deleted his blog post with the zillion comments and I haven’t bothered to Google who it was. If I was in the market for the kind of book he writes and saw his name, I might not remember that he was the guy who said all those nasty things. I’d only remember that his name sounds familiar. I probably should Google and try to figure out who…  — Read More »

Laurie London

Haha I just did. Thank you! Just read the bio on his blog sidebar (didn’t bother to read his post). Um, ick.

Also, his site is monetized. Maybe that’s another reason for him stirring the pot like this. He’s hoping a few people will hit the donate button.

Clearly, the guy is desperate. In more ways than one.

Kait Nolan

Oh wow. I went to look with just that kind of train wreck compulsion. And damn. Had to close the browser before I started spewing in response to his narrow-minded foolishness. Some people just shouldn’t be allowed on the internet or to ever open their mouths… Clearly he never was taught the whole “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all” rule.

Amanda

Oh, brilliant. I LOVE it.

My BF loves to mock that I read frequently read romance novels (he calls them “porn”) but he’s been nothing but supportive in my pursuit of WRITING romance novels. Odd, but it works. He was super-surprised when I told him romance novels make up half of all mass market sales. Then he brought me a glass of wine and told me to get back to work on my current WIP 🙂

I have, on occasion, written posts on topics that could anger some people, and I’ve insulted a particular YA author in a somewhat off-hand way a few times in other posts. I guess I ought to stop doing that.

Helen McMullin

I’ve been browsing blogs, and after reading yours I’d like to nominate you for The Versatile Blogger award. Check out my blog post http://www.conantstation.com/ to see the award and read some instructions that go with it. Happy Blogging! Helen

Nancy S. Thompson

I’m beginning to think this was just some kind of publicity stunt on his part, to draw attention to his blog and his name perhaps??? He’s been blogging for nearly a year but has practically no following, which tells me he’s not interested in what others have to say, just himself.

And he tries to couch his opinion within information he believes is factual when it’s just plain wrong. For example, the US has a 99% literacy rate, not 50%, but I don’t think he even bothered to check his facts. I mean, come on, he calls himself sexy? Really? I guess that was one of those lies he was talking about in his header. Perhaps I should send him a mirror.

I seriously doubt he’s even read a romance novel. And he says sci-fi is his thing and that he dabbles in fantasy, yet he’s only written a detective novel. Sounds like he can’t even write his own resume.

So this bullying act can only be a well-organized stunt to draw attention. How else would he get so many people to read his blog? He must jumping up and down every time he checks his Blogger stats. I say we all just keep away. Don’t tune in. He is not relevant. No one should care.

Addy Rae
Addy Rae

It’s kind of like arguing with your spouse, venting. If you state things as an attack, they’ll get defensive and angry. If you state things as ‘I feel this emotion or that opinion’ and then follow up with why, you get further. If you open the conversation after your emotion statement by asking how they feel… you’ve gone from a disaster to a conversation.

Roxanne Skelly
Roxanne Skelly

I imagine people like that are quite unhappy. Angry all the time. Few ‘friends,’ and any friends tend to be the same and may turn on one at any time.

I think you’re right. Bullies attack to feel superior. They define their identity based on other people. That simply can’t be healthy. I suspect bullies simply don’t try to improve themselves as they don’t need to. All they need to do is put down others.

Me, well, I compare myself to myself.

I am amused that the author is a sci-fi author. The world of science, of numbers and facts, still hasn’t been able to comprehend the human mind. Romance, love, hate, and all of the other emotions are simply too complex. The only way to comprehend such things is to have emotional and social intelligence, something quite important in this world of 7 billion people.

Melinda S. Collins

Hmmm…. yeah, I agree with some of the comments here, Jami: this had to be a publicity stunt, period. Why on earth would one author do such a thing to other authors. And to insult Jane Austen?!? Really?!?

I mainly read romance, and you’re right: romance readers (and authors) have a broad interest level when it comes to books. Sometimes we’re in the mood for a hot romance, sometimes not, and we’re not, we’re looking towards other genres such as sci-fi – and I will not be buying any of his books, that’s for dang sure! For fear of sounding like I may be ranting myself, I will leave it at that. 🙂

Thank you for bringing this topic up on your blog, Jami! 😀

Renee Schuls-Jacobson

I love this article so much. And I will show my son that that adults can be doojies too! You are so plugged in! All this stuff goes right past me. I’m like a one woman Jamaican Bobsled Team. Head down and hang on. 😉

Heather
Heather

So funny you posted this. In one of my blogposts, I felt compelled to give kind of a heads-up on Christian romance…how I didn’t feel it really supported the idea of REAL husbands w/all their foibles. Then I was totally forced to eat my words when I actually started reading a (NON-Amish, mind you) Christian romance. I got sucked right into it and had to do a blogpost on my mistake of lumping all Christian romance together. I actually let the author know of my mostly favorable review and she commented on my post a couple of times (and was so sweet!) I’m always happy to support other writers, but I understand the inability to “get” the appeal of certain genres. Best not to bash though, b/c your words can certainly come back around!

Here’s a link to my humble-pie post.
http://bookinamonthmom.blogspot.com/2012/01/follow-up-on-christian-romance-in.html

Gene Lempp

This person needs to write more and stop worrying about what other people are doing. I’ve always found it curiously sad when an established author vents their bile for no reason other than to cause harm for their own satisfaction. If someone really needs attention that badly they should strip naked and run through their neighborhood barking like a dog. Someone will be along to give them all the attention they require.

Jemi Fraser

I missed this whole fuss (it’s a busy week and I usually try to miss these kinds of fusses! :)).

I don’t get it either. So many people have a hate on or a disdain for the romance genre. I love it. Life is tough and when I’m relaxing with a read, it’s nice to know I’ve got a HEA in store 🙂 We all need more of those!

Sonia Lal

Someone in my stream retweeted that article yesterday and I thought it was utterly silly. I mean, really!!!! What nonsense. It’s a waste of a blog post ( maybe he just didn’t have any ideas?) I wonder if he even realizes people use the same arguments against science fiction? If it is good, it can’t be science fiction.

Debra Eve

I’m pretty sure he’s link-baiting — trying to get links to his blog to raise its Google page rank. Skillful circumvention, Jami! I’m really wondering why he advertises being sexy and single, having just alienated a huge sector of his target market.

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[…] a troll on the internet!  I know, we’re all so shocked by this.  In response to Jami Gold’s post yesterday, I happened to go look up said troll because, hey, I admit that Author Behaving Badly stories are […]

Catie Rhodes

Oh, Jami. I was feeling like such a dummy as I read your post because I didn’t know the skinny. Thanks so much for telling me how to find the whole story.

As for internet trolls/bullies, I think one the internet people feel safe to bully and troll. The internet has a screen of safety that is not present in face-to-face interaction.

I unfortunately don’t have tips on how to rant in a positive way. I just try not to do it–even though sometimes I’d really, really like to.

As for your beta reads–you made some of the best suggestions I’ve ever gotten, which led to me doing an overhaul of some other elements. I will always appreciate your help.

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