Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Curious Case of Mike Kearby

Here's a potential "author behaving badly" for you: Mike Kearby. For those of you unfamiliar with what's going on, here's the summary:

Last year several bloggers were solicited to participate in a blog tour. Like most blog tours, blogger/reviewers can opt to either post a review or a book promo of some sort. One reviewer, Lizzy Lessard, didn't much care for the book and chose to post a book promo. Months later, she decided to go through her list of books she'd read and rate them on Goodreads. Her review was a very brief one star review where she basically said that she didn't like it and couldn't finish it. The review was finished off with a statement about how only a few blogs opined to post reviews. The author, Mike Kearby, read the review and made a comment and that's where it essentially all went to you know where in a handbasket.

What Kearby posted is as follows:

"A perfect example of a reviewer from the Simon Cowell generation. Lizzy: yes - you have the right to be critical of editing, wordbuilding, transitioning, etc...what you do not have a right to do is lie to enhance your review. Your last sentences, - where you pronounce that only two FMB bloggers opted to give reviews, seems on the surface to make your review universal in acceptance - except for the fact that your statement is not only inaccurate but a lie. You know that more than ten reviews came from the tour, most 4 and 5 Stars - and if you didn't know this, then you shouldn't have indicated that you did. It might be wise to get your facts straight next time."

Lessard then removed the last few sentences from her review and apologized for making the generalization. This didn't stop here, as Kearby continued to comment, making further posts such as "Thank you. But remember You are dealing with people's lives and how they make a living. You should always be respectful of that. it isn't a game or a joke to those of us that write." and accusing Lessard of outright lying. From there Lessard posted a blog of her own with screencaps (see here) and Kearby took to every social media site he could possibly find to decry what he saw as a "drive by reviewer", among other things.

Now here's my take: Kearby did have a right to ask that Lessard remove the comments about the book only getting a few reviews from other blogs. It was supposedly inaccurate and even if it had been accurate, there's really no reason to make comments like that. There's no way of knowing the reasons why other reviewers wouldn't have posted reviews, some of which wouldn't have anything to do with disliking the book. Other than that I think that Kearby was out of line when it came to several different statements.

Accusing Lessard of lying is definitely over the top. She made a generalization that was wrong and when informed of this, she removed the comment. There was no reason to imply that she did this on purpose by saying she lied. Also saying that she was being deliberately disrespectful is also over the top and doesn't really do anything to make him look better. As far as the comments in various social media sites go, that's another thing that's fairly inexcusable. If Lessard had been equally indignant when replying and done anything other than remove the final part of the review, then that might justify a tiny bit of further anger. But going onto every social media site you have an account with merely to blast her to the hills for what's ultimately a small review is overkill. In his blog post Kearby wrote that Lessard was a frustrated author, implying that this was revenge against him for having a publisher. Note that I say imply. He didn't outright state this, but the implication is there. This is why you try to be as careful as possible when writing rants. It's entirely possible that your words will make you appear not as a wronged author, but as someone getting mad over what's ultimately small potatoes.

Her review probably would have been largely ignored by readers at large. Commenting and overreacting to the situation just ensured that not only would hundreds of eyes discover this review, but it'd put a lot of readers off of your work. Case in point, myself. Without knowing about the review and the comments, I'd probably have read this book at some point in time. It has a fun cover and a B-movie vibe that I tend to enjoy with some of my reads. But now? I'm not sure if I'll read it. I've had more than one promising book get ruined by author shenanigans.

This is pretty much a classic case of someone getting more upset over something than they should have. It probably wasn't good for Lessard to make a blanket statement like that, but it's even worse to go onto her review and make catty comments, then go onto the internet and blast her over every single social media site you're a member of. If anything, this called for a short e-mail to Lessard requesting that she remove her comments about the blog tour. If she refused then you should probably go through Goodreads, but if you're concerned in the meantime then it's better to leave a polite comment correcting her. Getting affronted over the comment only makes you, the author, look bad.

There will probably be some rallying cries of "totally bullying" from various websites such as Stop the Goodreads Bullies or such, but the cold hard fact is that this is ultimately one author overreacting to what was a flippant remark on a largely insignificant review. I don't mean that as an insult to Lessard, just the fact that unless your review is printed in the New York Times or put on Good Morning America, our reviews don't really affect large scores of readers. Most of the larger bloggers only get about a few hundred or thousand hits on a review. Some of those readers still buy the books afterwards. Lessard has a decent fanbase, but nowhere near as big as someone along the lines of Oprah Winfrey. Her panning a book or making a generalization isn't likely to completely kill your sales. Overreacting probably will.

Further reading:

*The review
*Lessard's blog post
*Kearby's blog post


Kearby's comments have been removed and his account appears to be inactive. He's still complaining on his blog, but the more he talks, the worse he's sounding. He's sticking to the claim that Lessard was absolutely lying in a hurtful manner as opposed to her making a mistake or exaggerating. I'm saying mistake and exaggerating, as lying implies intent. I didn't really see intent in the review, just her trying to make a generalized statement to show that she wasn't the only reviewer who disliked it.

What has really surprised me is that for once, Stop the Goodreads Bullies isn't jumping on the "defend the author" bandwagon with this one. They actually defended Lessard rather than Kearby. That has to really say something, that a site that is known for twisting situations to defend authors under pretty much any stance is agreeing that Kearby's attack was too much. I'm rather glad they aren't defending him.

I just have one thing to say to Kearby: Stop. Just stop. You said your piece. You said more than your piece really warranted. Now it's just getting into personal attacks and you're making yourself look bad. If the good people at Damnation Press haven't e-mailed you to tell you to hush up, it's only because they haven't seen your comments yet. There's a difference between "setting the record straight" and getting angry over what's ultimately nothing. You're getting angry over nothing and you're pushing reviewers away. Kearby has stated that he has a small core of readers. That's nice, but publishing your work is also about gaining new ones and this isn't how you do it. I might have read his book if he'd walked away after the first few comments. Maybe even after the blog. But at this point? I don't think that I could distance his work from his tantrum, no matter how hard I tried.

Further further reading:
*Authors, Please Dont Do This (Stop the Goodreads Bullies)

1 comment:

  1. Well you know my take on publicity: None of it is bad. For everyone turned off by the tantrum, there is at least 4 people who finally know that there's a product to investigate. And if it's true that this was an anomalous 1 star review, then there's a good chance that while he was acting badly that people will still give the book a read because for them it's the art, not the artist that matters.

    I have sympathy for the "I hated it and so did everyone else on the blog tour" being seen as a personal attack. It doesn't add anything to the review. But to go so far as to flame up a storm? Save it. That's just noise to make it.