These are dangerous times to be a writer. The internet makes spreading information waaaaay too easy sometimes. Not when you want to, of course. Try to make your book trailer go viral, and you start to feel like Sisyphus. But say something mean about someone, and you can step back and watch the wildfire grow.
I know for a fact that authors love to witness the public meltdowns of other authors (I have the emails to prove it!). And I totally understand. There’s something really comforting about being able to stand back and look at someone’s breakdown over bad reviews, losing an award, not getting enough money, etc., and just think, “Thank God it isn’t me.” It’s not pure schadenfreude. I suspect that each of us possesses the ability to turn into a shrieking harpy on the internet, so each time we see someone else do it instead, there’s a degree of real comfort.
One piece of advice I share (too often) is simple: Don’t be an asshole. It’s advice I need to remind myself of sometimes when someone gets mean and all I can think is, “I can take care of this with a delicate combination of cutting wit and pure rage.” It’s just a bad idea. You always end up looking worse.
The easiest way to prevent yourself from looking like a tool on the interwebs is just to have someone trustworthy who you can run responses by. Someone who will be able to respond to your saying, “Really, I just think I have some perfectly rational explanations for why this reviewer is a toad, and I’d like to share them,” by telling you, “Shut up, or you’ll look like a moron.” I’m happy to report that there are several people in DGLM’s employ who are happy to tell me when I’m being an idiot. All. Too. Happy. Everyone needs one of these people that they can trust. A yes-man is lovely, but an honest opinion is vastly more useful.
The point is: publishing is a teeny tiny world and connections matter. People will forget that you got a bad review on your debut novel. They are much more likely to remember that you threw a hissy fit and threatened to TP the reviewer’s home.