Book Bloggers Beware

August 15, 2008 at 11:54 am | Posted in Books, LIfe, Reading | 27 Comments
Tags: , , ,

I was contacted by Phenix & Phenix Literary Publicists earlier this year to see if I would be interested in reading and reviewing a book. I won’t mention the name of that book here because I don’t want it to be picked up by search engines. Here is a picture of the cover so you know which book I’m talking about:

I read this book and reviewed it. It was awful, but I tried to be as fair as possible. Over the past week, I started receiving comments from people involved with this family that had absolutely nothing to do with my review. The first comment was from someone speaking out for the mother. I was a little concerned about it, but ultimately didn’t do anything because it did offer the other side of the story. It was after that that things started going down hill.

The co-author and publisher of the book replied back to the initial commenter with a 1,550 word response, which started a volley of vitriol between the two sides. I started deleting these comments as soon as they were posted. Once I started doing that, spam-like comments from people using the first names of both authors starting pouring in. As a result, I unpublished my review of this book yesterday afternoon. If you are interested in my review of this book, I still have it listed on LibraryThing. It wasn’t worth the effort required to monitor the comments. Within hours of taking that review off-line I started getting emails from people I do not know asking me why that post is no longer available on my blog. I will not be replying to those emails.

I cannot begin to tell you how much I regret ever agreeing to read and review this book. Not only did I not enjoy the book, but now I’m starting to feel a little harassed as a result. I do not in any way want to be a part of this family feud. If you are contacted about reviewing this book, I strongly suggest you decline the offer. If you’ve already agreed to read and review it, I would strongly suggest not posting your review. I don’t want this to happen to anyone else. I will be contacting Phenix & Phenix to let them know what their clients are doing. I’ve now learned my lesson about reading and reviewing self-published books.



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  1. I’m so sorry you had this experience.

  2. WOW! Luckily I haven’t had anything like this happen yet. These people should understand that they are taking a chance when they shop their book for review…you might hate it!

    I will be interested to hear what Phenix’ reply is…e-mail me and let me know when they write back.

  3. Oh my gosh, that’s awful. Keep your arguments elsewhere people!

  4. That is terrible! People you need to get a life and move on and leave her alone!

  5. you should re-enable the post as they have no real right to harass like that. but when you turn it back on, disable comments.

    In fact, you should actively promote their hostile activity in your public posts as you have done here. They forfeited their rights to bitch and moan when the book was sent to you…

    Regardless of their attitudes, your fair, but bad review should be out on the web.

    If they continue to harass/spam you, you can physically block certain IP addresses so they no longer have access to your site.

    do not let someone else force you to censor yourself.


    please let us all know if/how we can help. i might have to get a copy of that book myself. i do not hold back when i dislike something..

    of course, the backfire would be reading it and enjoying it… perhaps i will just skip this one.

  6. Wow! I guess these people have never heard of freedom of speech and everyone having a right to their opinion.

  7. Sorry Jennifer that this happened to you. It really makes a person leary on reviewing a book such as this, that’s for sure.

  8. yuk. I will keep an eye out for sure. thanks for the heads up!!!

  9. O my gosh! What a horrible experience…I’m sorry to hear that you were treated this way by these people when you were kind enough to lend your time and efforts to review the book for free.

  10. OMG, Jennifer, that is horrible. I feel so bad for you. It sounds like things have gotten a little crazy with these people. Scary. Thanks for the warning.

  11. Wow, I’m sorry that this happened to you! Thanks for the warning.

  12. Wow, that’s awful! Thanks for sharing this lesson learned…I’m sure there is action that can be taken to preven this from happening again. Hang in there.

  13. intrigued, i did a little more digging and i was able to read one of the comments posted by the Rev, using google’s Cache feature..

    posting counter points on a review like that is just inappropriate.

  14. Jennifer,

    Please don’t let this sour you on self-published (I prefer “independently-published”) books! People who can’t take criticism shouldn’t take part in the public dialogue. Please review the book I sent you (when you get to it; I’m not hurrying you); I don’t mind if you give it a critical review. I promise not to bother you if you don’t like it!

  15. Thank you everyone for your comments and support. What an experience! I’ve taken erisian’s suggestion and republished the post.
    Libby, please don’t worry. You’re book is on my list and waiting patiently on my shelf. I really do appreciate the opportunity to read and review it.

  16. That sucks, but it’s good you decided to put it back up. It’s your blog, your opinion.

  17. Oh no. I can’t believe something like this happened! Any aspiring author needs to understand that you cannot please all of the people all of the time. If a book receives a negative review, that information is analyzed and redirected, and a different avenue of outlets is sought in an attempt to find ‘your’ readers. That’s what publicists do. It’s our job! While I feel so badly for you that you had to deal with this, I also feel badly for the publicist, as they had no idea this was going on.

    With attitudes and actions such as that this author will learn quite quickly how small the publishing world can be. Good luck to them ever finding someone who will represent them again!

  18. What a bunch of nut balls! You’re just the reviewer. You can’t help how you feel. If they want good reviews, here’s a novel idea, write good books! Take your spam elsewhere people.

  19. We have to remain impartial and HONEST or we lose our credibility (which is lacking with the publishing snobbery anyway). If we ever hope to gain a following (which I think is happening quite nicely, in fact) we have to remember this.

    I think book blogs will eventually replace print reviews (IMHO). People just don’t have time for the long critical reviews of yesteryear.

    Chin Up! You are one of the best book bloggers out there.

  20. […] the experience of being one of the venues chosen by an author to continue the family feud that I chronicled on Friday. Little did I know that when I agreed to read and review the book that the author also thought I […]

  21. Well, if nothing else, this will make me take a more critical look at agreeing to review any self-published books. Thanks for the warning!

  22. You pin-point one of the main problems with accepting books for review, you never quite know what is going to arrive and what the outcome might be. I have to say that as much as I like free books popping through the door I’ve stopped accepting them now.

  23. Jennifer, I’m so sorry this happened. I have this book, too. I initially said that I didn’t have time to review it, but they said they didn’t care how long it took, would I please accept a copy- so I relented. I let my neighbor take it to read first.. she started it and hated it and gave it back to me unfinished. NOw after reading this, I’m not sure what to do! Maybe it will get accidentally thrown away!

  24. Oof. What a terribly crappy thing to have happen. Eesh!

  25. oh ick. I’m sorry.

  26. umm…wow. That was really unnecessary.

  27. Oh, man. I see my comment above. Guess I had to learn my lesson the hard way and not from you. It seems to have worked out okay for you, so hopefully the same will happen with me. 😀

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