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Tuesday, January 02, 2007


(Almost) breaking news: a debate!

Here's an interesting thing: John Scalzi criticising Laurell K. Hamilton for having a go at her fans.

He's right, of course: it's all but impossible to win an online argument at the best of times, and when it's about you, a dignified silence and a lot of fist-chewing is probably the only option. Plus, if you wish, deleting negative comments from your own website, which, after all, you pay for. Nevertheless, Ms Hamilton has a couple of good points as well: it is a bit sus if people insist they haven't read books and then proceed to say what's wrong with them, it is disconcerting to get told you suck by a total stranger, there very likely is an element of love-to-hate going on with her readers (I can certainly think of a couple of movies I went to see knowing I probably wouldn't like them, but reckoning it would be interesting to discuss why), and, as I said just a few days ago when talking about series loyalty, if you don't like a series any more you probably should just stop reading it.

Much is said of interest on both sides, in other words.

I suspect Ms Hamilton is going to be roundly mocked for this, the Internet being what it is, which is a bit of a shame, as it's seldom nice to see someone pilloried (unless they've done something really bad, and disputing with your fans online is hardly tantamount to bombing a hospital or cutting down a rainforest). Personally I'm not gonna join in the teasing: there are some reasonable points in there, and she sounds fed up enough as it is.

It's a useful general tip to hopeful writers, though, when considering how to deal with rejections and feedback. When people criticise your stuff, it's very tempting to argue. But Hamilton is a huge, massive, bestselling author, and even she gets condemned when she argues with criticism. How people are currently reacting to her is an object lesson.

Have a look: it looks like being one of those notable internet moments that'll be referred to as an example of, well, whatever people are talking about, in many future online conversations.

Kit wrote: "...it's all but impossible to win an online argument at the best of times..."

No it isn't.

I win. Ha.

(Er, sorry.)

Something else this little debate demonstrates is that having a blog is not necessarily a wise promotional move for an author.

Just as (s)he might be able to win over potential readers with well-written posts (or at least provoke them sufficiently to spark an interest in their work), (s)he might just as easily irritate and alienate a few thousand others with a few hundred carelessly-chosen words. Yikes.

Of course, this is not limited to blogs and the internet - there's a well-known and critically-acclaimed author whose novels I will probably never read, purely because he once irritated me so thoroughly with a piece of broadsheet journalism.

I guess it's just easier to do on the internet, with no editorial filters to keep things in check.
No need to apologise, you're quite right. You do win. I see no reason to be a bad sport about it: I am defeated fair and square. Well played, sir. Have the laurels.
Whoever said that all publicity is good publicity needs to be attacked by an enraged horde of crazy monkeys. There are at least two groups of people this isn't true for...writers and politicians. Anything negative seems to stick to one's reputation like krazy glue mixed with cement, and it is sad how the smallest comment can be blown into a huge slam-fest. The internet has given the lie to the idea that writers are all isolated from the rest of the world, and that the writing life is a lonely walk and that writers can only interact with their readers in significant ways while on tour and such.

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