Saturday, March 20, 2010

About authors/publishers loosing their "cool"

This is something I can't help but feel compelled to comment about.

Though most ordinary review sites and bloggers try to distance themselves from the "snarkier" ones fact remains that on many occasions, we all wish we could sayez it as we seez it. I don't have a problem admitting this, and especially not after looking at the circus acts we witness every week if we dare take a closer look at blogs and forums. Also, the bits of gossip sometimes end up proving to be correct. On the other hand, and as much fun as a snark may be to read and even participate in, fact remains that sometimes they are insulting just because the snarky bloggers feel like being insulting in the name of “honesty” and “free speech.” Frankly, it really is not my thing, even when at times I have agreed with some of what has been said. Simply put, this is all a matter of style and personal preferences. Neither style is right or wrong and that is the gist of it.

Though many seem to believe that we all have to play "nice," fact remains that not playing nice only affects authors and publishers. The rest of us, pffft ... if you are just a reader you can pretty much do whatever you want online. You can get away with essentially anything with zero consequences, unless you are doing something outright illegal that is. An author or a publisher has a lot more to lose than a reader that can just come and go as she pleases and say whatever pops to her mind without a second thought and who doesn't have to answer to anyone but him or herself. A reader's career is not at stake nor is her company, right?

Like in most industries, appearances are everything, and whilst readers in general can pretty much do whatever, an author or publisher should always do their best to appear professional in all dealings with the public … even if a sector of the public seems to do nothing but try and egg people on. That is the nature of the beast, and the sooner authors and publishers understand this, the better it will be for them. I have to admit I have a morbid fascination over the “drama of the week/month”, as it seems we have an incident involving an author and/or publisher every other week … and most times the incident is something that could have died relatively quickly, if people had tried to keep their cool.

Now, as much as it may irk some authors/publishers how some snarks literally blast and crucify and in a very humiliating way in the name of “honesty” and the right to free expression, fact remains that, in the end, and in most cases, the one that is going to end up in a bad spot if he or she reacts is the author or the publisher that becomes the “flavor of the week”. Why? Because author/publisher gets involved, author/publisher is bogged down by emotion, author/publisher replies leaving him or herself open to further snarking nee attack, which in turn becomes the perfect recipe for disaster and gives the muchly hated snarks the fodder they need to become even more popular. See what I am trying to say here? The only thing that would shut a snark blog would be if people outright stopped reading it ... and well, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out when is that going to happen ... can we say when Hell freezes over?

Going to a snarky blog or site in a self-righteous frenzy accomplishes nothing. Bringing in a mob accomplishes even less. In the best case scenario you and your friends risk being banned, some or all of the post may end up disappearing after they are "shared" and very much ridiculed and with added comments to make them juicier. Other tactics that only make the author/publisher look ridiculous: opening counterattack blogs – all anything counterattack does is make people laugh or in the best case scenario, have people shake their heads and wonder “what are these people on”. Others have complained about it in their PUBLIC forums including brandishing insults about the readers in general (that is the ultimate symptom of complete and utter online cluelesness), or emailing about it to people they don't really know with the emails ending up uploaded in very public sites further escalating the situation (a sign of sheer naivete or stupidity, depending on how you look at it). Sad thing is that the only one standing to lose here, and I know I am repeating myself, is the author/publisher. The snarker has absolutely NOTHING to lose. Au contraire, the snarks thrive on this, it’s entertainment after all.

Is this a lose/lose situation? Not necessarily. Learn to sit on your hands and wait it out. When no reaction is forthcoming, they will look for a different “flavor”. The solution can be that simple. If you feel like you can have a calm discussion though, you could try to email the snarker directly and enter into a dialogue with him/her. Who knows, you could even end up starting a cordial relationship with the person in question. They may be snarky, but that does not mean they would not listen, as long as you remain reasonable. Bottomline: going into aggressive counterattack mode backfires more often than not and the more you say in your defense, the more you leave yourself open to further attack.

Bottomline here is that as much as it may hurt to keep quiet when you feel that you are under attack, if you have anything at stake here (your writing/editing/whatever career or your company) the more you try to defend yourself the worse it is bound to get... and the longer it will take for things to calm down. Even if your friends tell you “oh yeah you should defend yourself yadda yadda yadda” … stop and chill out… and more importantly, THINK before you act. If what you want is exposure, and damn the consequences, then by all means, go ahead and do it ... I'll get a seat and bring in my popcorn and a soft drink.