When blogs first appeared on the big wide interweb, they were notoriously introspective. People would post their musings as if every word that fell from their mouth was critically important to scads of people. Out there. Somewhere. Then some savvy blogger got the idea of talking about something other than their cat, and a whole new realm opened up.
Now people began sharing information. Looking for niches. Searching for like-minded souls with whom they could share obscure hobbies, antique recipes, or the escapades of their favorite celebrity. And books.
Favorite books. Un-favorite books. Book reviews. Book recommendations. New books. Old books. Children's books. Self-help books. All kinds of books which attract all kinds of readers. Readers who started blogs.
As authors, we love these readers. The majority of them are sincere and knowledgeable. And if they are popular and well-respected, they can jump-start careers.
Of course, not all readers who blog will sing our praises. Some do live to snipe. Thankfully, they are the exception, not the rule. And thankfully, the other exceptions are the authors who go off the deep end at one of these bloggers. We have all seen it: someone makes a comment about a book they didn't like. The author catches wind of it (probably through Google Alerts or some such tool) and they trot over to the site to tell the blogger why they are wrong.
Things tumble downhill from there. The blogger defends her comments. The author goes on a diatribe. Others jump in, like the crowd that surrounds a fight and cheers the combatants on, sometimes just to see how deeply they can shove that author's button. And the battered author falls for it.
What just happened here?
1. The blogger got a ton of new hits, all reading the bad review.
2. The author looks like a fool, especially if there are any fury-driven mistakes in her responses.
3. Irreparable damage is done to the author's reputation.
What should have happened?
Let's be real, unless the blogger is mega-famous, her comments won't be read by very many people. And if she IS mega-famous, and the author feels compelled to respond (after giving herself 48 hours to cool off before doing ANYTHING) she should do so privately if possible and graciously under all circumstances. "I'm sorry you didn't like my book. I have taken your comments seriously with an eye toward improving future manuscripts. Thank you for your honesty."
Win. Who knows - she might be right. And as authors, we need to remember we are always "on" in any public arena. Even when someone walks up to us at a book festival, makes an outrageous statement ("I only read national award-winning books!"), brags about their level of education, rudely picks up our book and tosses it aside, smarmily dismissing it based on assumptions made about romance in general, and then turns the conversation back on the author by saying, "Please don't make me defend my choices!" Doing nothing is still the best course.
That, and soothing the outrage with chocolate. Lots and lots of chocolate.