Friday, 1 April 2011

How to win friends and influence people.

This blog like every other seems to attract the occasional critical comment.  Over the years I have received hate mail from all sorts and on one occasion I was abused in public for writing a mildly critical piece about Cheryl Cole, ridiculous though it might seem.  No comment thread on this website can ever compare however, to a recent outpouring on BigAl's books and Pals blog which provides the best example of professional suicide I have seen in my entire life.  On the 16th of March "BigAl" reviewed Jacqueline Howett's "The Greek Seaman" , despite sounding like a sticky fortnight in Mykonos, BigAl gives the book a moderate review highlighting the relatively good story and also a string of grammar and spelling errors that make the book "hard to read".  Now I am not adverse myself to the occasional error in my writing, what with me being a certified dyslexic and all,  I however take it on the chin and accept my fate with a little bit of humor and self deprecation.  This blog for example is clearly marked as "insane", "ramblings", the "worst blog ever" etc, don't take it too seriously for gawd's sake.  Ms Howett on the other hand has a different approach entirely to critical analysis, namely outright verbal assault in the public domain followed by an even more public meltdown. 

This comment was the first to be posted on March 18th by the author.

"You obviously didn't read the second clean copy I requested you download that was also reformatted, so this is a very unfair review. My Amazon readers/reviewers give it 5 stars and 4 stars and they say they really enjoyed The Greek Seaman and thought it was well written. Maybe its just my style and being English is what you don't get. Sorry it wasn't your cup of tea, but I think I will stick to my five star and four star reviews thanks."

Followed by 

"You did not download the fresh copy.... you did not. No way!
Al was given the option of a free copy from smashwords the following day to download in any format he preffered [sic]Look AL, I'm not in the mood for playing snake with you, what I read above has no flaws. My writing is fine. You were told to download a new copy for format problems the very next day while they were free at Smashwords, so you could choose any format you wanted to read it in and if their were any spelling mistakes they were corrected. Simply remove this review as it is in error with you not downloading the fresh copy i insisted. Why review my book after being told to do this, and more annoying why have you never ever responded to any of my e-mails?
And please follow up now from e-mail.
This is not only discusting [sic] and unprofessional on your part, but you really don't fool me AL.
Who are you any way? Really who are you?
What do we know about you?
You never downloaded another copy you liar!
You never ever returned to me an e-mail
Besides if you want to throw crap at authors you should first ask their permission if they want it stuck up on the internet via e-mail. That debate is high among authors.
Your the target not me!
Now get this review off here!"

Torrid stuff and certainly one of the stupidest responses to a review I have come across, but it does get worse...much worse.  Hundreds of negative comments follow from authors, the public, the blog owner and others largely pointing out that they would probably steer clear of the Ms Howett's books on the grounds that she had a bit of an "arse on", one commentator writes; 

"The best part is that even your comments, Jacqueline, are full of misspellings, awkward phrasing, grammatical errors, and typos. So I'm certain those creep into your writing. And if you didn't have a good editor (or even an editor at all), then it's not hard to believe what the reviewer is saying.  It's almost like you're proving Al's point for him just by your own writing in the comments"

1 minute later Jacqueline Howett responds with,
"Fuck Off!"

Oh dear..................

This exchange is now over 300 posts long and has been championed by Stephen Fry among others, as an example of the best way to throw a career away, quickly and very publicly.  To read the whole sorry exchange click here, its actually tremendously funny in a slow motion car crash sort of way. 

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