Hey, the Internet is a big wide place and is in some ways similar to the wild west. If you say something, it’s public, and anyone in the world can view that and then comment upon it, if not on the same page then somewhere else where they have control. Nothing you can do about that. Nothing you SHOULD do about that other than understand that if you talk about someone publicly (or their work, which is the same thing and if you think it isn’t you don’t understand authors) there’s a very large chance that person is going to hear about it and pop their head up. To have some expectation that what you’re having is a private conversation and it’s intrusive for an author – or any other “content provider” – to join the conversation is oblivious to the workings of the Internet and the workings of the human heart. If you’re gonna say something online about an author’s work, another person, a public person, be prepared to have that person knocking on your digital door. To expect anything else is pure idiocy. So if you don’t want uninvited guests, do it on a private forum that’s password protected. Because the Internet is a fucking open party and everyone’s invited.
The Internet was created to do two things: first, it’s there to keep you from writing. Indeed, Tim Berners Lee hated novelists SO much he created this thing back in 1968 to keep you from writing because he caught Kurt Vonnegut making out with a girl he was sweet on. He would have his revenge. Just not on Kurt Vonnegut.
Second, THE INTERNET WANTS YOU TO SHOW YOUR ASS.
THE INTERNET WANTS YOU TO SHOW YOUR ASS.
Seriously. Everybody loves a tantrum. Everyone wants to see someone lose their shit. You know why? Because we live petty little lives of desperation and any blip on the radar helps us forget our own misery just for a second. (I cribbed that last bit from Jonathan Franzen.)
There is absolutely no reason you should ever – never ever, NEVER EVER EVER – engage with a reviewer unless they’re all up on your jock. If they are all up on your jock, a polite incline of the head is all that is necessary to indicate you acknowledge said all-upness on the jockness. A mild and perfunctory “thank you! my jock appreciates it!” is acceptable.
Thing is, getting up in reviewers and fanfolk’s grills about your work isn’t verboten. You have every right to do so because they’re doing it in a public forum. However, it’s kinda like the first amendment in relation to racism: you have every right to spew hatred. That doesn’t make it acceptable or that you won’t have your ass chewed out afterwards by the known world.
So shut the fuck up and go reread your good reviews.
Remember that time they called you racist? Remember when that one guy made fun of you personally? Remember when ponymagic231 gave you a single star and called you an idiot? Remember when howitzer.50cal said you were the worst author in God’s creation and you should be shot and then went on to specify the gun, the make of gun, the caliber, the penetrating power, the windspeed, and what the shooter should be wearing?
That’s right. Remember.
Here are some far more thoughtful analyses of the issue: