Thursday, May 9, 2013

Authors Don't Do This: Geoffrey Girard

Hoo boy. I take a sabbatical and I come back to more nonsense. Today I'm bringing you a new author to not emulate: Geoffrey Girard.

What did Girard do? He's committed a major faux paux by singling out a negative review (this one by Blythe) and trying to bash it down with his reasons why his book is the antithesis to all of the typical novels in the YA genre. While his blog isn't the worst thing I've ever seen (he's not asking people to downvote it while explicitly calling her an unpublished author, like Kiera Cass's agent did or threatening to call the FBI like Candace Sams did), it's pretty arrogant.

He basically talks about how all of the YA books are cookie cutters of one another, why he wrote everything to be different, how his students liked specific things and he tailored the book to fit those specific things, and how he got an agent and a deal based on his first 40 pages. His blog post doesn't specifically call out Blythe by name, but it's so specifically geared towards her review and comments that there's no mistaking that he doesn't like that someone negatively reviewed his book.

What made this so bad is that he's so arrogant in how he dismisses almost all of the other current YA literature out there. He does say that some of them are good, but in that same sentence he dismisses much of them as inferior clones of one another. Girard's post comes across less as him trying to rationalize why he wrote the way he did as much as he's trying to tell Blythe why her review is wrong and why his book is going to be the next great YA novel because he knows what teenagers want and that practically nobody else is giving it to them except for him. At least, that's how it comes across. He does try to give some lip service to the idea of "everyone will have differing opinions and that's ok", but that's pretty solidly negated by him trying to reinforce why his book is so awesome and indirectly trying to say why the reviewer just doesn't get why this book is so trendsetting.

The book might be good, but it's never a good idea to single out a negative review, especially in a blog post that comes across as fairly condescending in nature. Even if his book comes out and instantly wins a Newbery Medal despite being written for a slightly different age group, it's still never a good idea to call out negative reviewers in this fashion. Rather than come across as the wise sensei that totally knows what everyone wants and is one of the few people who actually "get it", you come across as an arrogant and pompous twit. It's pretty offputting, to say the least. This isn't even mentioning how bad this might appear to your students. You get a bad review and the first thing you do is take to the internet to discredit it rather than just shrugging it off as one of the inevitable negative reviews that every author is going to get, regardless of how well written their books are? What makes all of this worse is that this could have been an interesting blog post about his writing and research process, but he ruins it by using it as an opportunity to slag a negative reviewer.

I'd almost prefer someone along the lines of Sams or Cass's agent. At least they had the balls to come out and say "my book is awesome and your review is totally off course". It doesn't mean that they're right, but it does mean that rather than try to hide it under layers of indirect attack, they at least are up front about their accusations.

I hope for his sake that when the book comes out, it lives up to its claims. There's nothing worse than trying to claim that you're writing something that isn't par for the course, yet is what every YA reader craves, only to find that it doesn't live up to your own hype.

Further reading:

*1 Smart Thing I Did to Sell My Manuscript: NO Clones Allowed
*The review in question


  1. I gotta honestly disagree.

    I'm not sure what the unedited review was like (I can tell it was modified to reflect this blog post) but I don't see his blog as being ~ necessarily ~ condescending. I can see where you might see it that way but I can also see it as a matter of fact "here's why I did what I did that this person didn't like" without it being the level of harshness that direct attacks on a review can be.

    He got a negative review that he said "I did the things you didn't like on purpose." Maybe he went a little too far, but I hardly think it rises to the level of response it's getting.

    I mean, if GRR Martin wrote a blog about why he has 9 different story arcs active at once, and could point to a review critiquing that, would we have the same anger?

    Now that's my read on it and then reading the comments that make it sound like he threatened or harassed the reviewer.

    Sorry... just see it different.

  2. Probably. The other thing I've found out since then is that some of what the guy commented on was pulled from the reviewer's twitter feed as well. I didn't see that at the top of the review when I first read it. So in other words, after the guy read the review, he then went out and searched the internet for anything else that the reviewer was on. That's sort of a little creepy in my opinion.

  3. That's right. Don't single out a negative review, as it just makes you look more petty than you would've intended. If you have a factual rebuttal regarding certain facts or statistics, then perhaps you can consider doing it. And it's never recommended to directly rebut a negative review anyway. He can do it only in a case-to-case basis, but even then, he might only drag down his reputation rather than achieving what he intended in the first place. If you honestly believe your reputation is being unfairly damaged, it's better to hire a professional PR firm to manage it.

    Reputation Management