And that brings us back to the topic of reviews. [And, trust me, I am more tired of talking about this than you are of hearing me talk about it.] One of the things Pat Dilloway said to me repeatedly over my review of Lyon's Legacy is, "...do what your mom always said: If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all." [When I say "repeatedly," I mean repeatedly. He said it on my blog in the comments, emailed it to me more than once, and called me out on it in a post on IWM.] And, you know, I get that. It seems reasonable. Just hold back the critiques and let the market be flooded with... whatever. Because, you know, art is hard. Just like math. [That's a Barbie reference for those of you that remember that fiasco.]
BUT, as Claire Fallon said in her Huffington Post article on the Rushdie goodreads topic, "A sweeping policy of 'if you can't say something nice, don't say nothing at all' means that every book is deemed an instant classic by some, and an artistic failure by none." Or, as I like to say it, "If every book is special, then none of them are." Basically, "public flattery and mutual back-scratching [of indie authors to other indie authors (my insert)] undermine the entire artistic community." That was, again, Claire Fallon.
Which brings us to the Sad Puppies...
But, first, really, who would name themselves that? [And they did name themselves.] It's pathetic, not cute.
Rather than try to explain the whole Sad Puppy thing in detail (that would take several posts, I'm sure), I'll just say it like this: The Sad Puppies are a group who have sabotaged the Hugo Award nominations for this year by rigging the process so that only the pieces that they have chosen (pieces by conservative writers) received nominations. Basically, it was a couple of guys (but mostly Vox Day, a racist, sexist asshole [Seriously, this guy believes that women shouldn't have the right to vote and has referred to African Americans as "half-savages."]) who were upset at not being nominated in previous years who, rather than just accept that their stuff wasn't up to nomination quality, started making excuses and coming up with conspiracy theories as to why they were being "blocked." [The major theory being that John Scalzi and his cabal of SJWs (social justice warriors) were behind the scenes keeping upright, conservative citizens such as themselves out of the ballots.] So they cheated...
Which is very like indie authors giving other indie authors 5-star reviews because, you know, "art is hard" and all of that crap.
Here's a thing that happened:
I posted my review of Pat Dilloway's Where You Belong to Amazon (because that's where reviews belong), and he immediately began challenging the review in the comments and saying the things I pointed out where just plain fabrications and I would need to point them out to him and prove their existence. He's not paying me to be his editor, though, so I declined. However, another reviewer came along and pointed some of them out. So Dilloway switched gears from "those things don't exist" to "oh, no, those things are legitimate" and proceeded to get into it with the other reviewer. I suppose he didn't like having concrete evidence of his tense lapses posted right there in the comments, though, because those comments by the other reviewer "mysteriously" disappeared thanks to Amazon (and, I'm sure, someone's liberally use of the "report abuse" button (because we all know that the truth is abuse, right?). [Fortunately, the other reviewer posted his own review, though that review is not as detailed in its examples as the comments were.]
So I was talking about all of this with a buddy of mine, Bryan Pedas, about both the Dilloway thing and the Hugo thing, and he read this post by John Scalzi about the mess with the Hugo awards, a post that I also read, and he sent me a quote about Vox Day that he said summed up Dilloway perfectly, which is actually exactly what I thought when I read the same piece of the post:
The fact that I'm making another post about all of this is, I am sure, a victory condition for Dilloway, but, then, not posting about it is also a victory condition, so I might as well do the thing I'm inclined to do, which is to out the person being terrible to other people, since Dilloway has been harassing me daily in emails and comments for the last month (since the Lyon's review went live) and has made it an ongoing practice to 1-star rate other authors' books as a way of expressing his dislike or anger. In light of all of this, the "Dilloway situation" and the Hugos thing, I am going to sort of redefine "sad puppy" to this:...he’s the sort of person for whom any scenario will be seen as a victory condition; if he were to be set on fire and pushed in front of a speeding train, he would cackle about how this was exactly what he had planned right up until the moment of impact turned him into flaming bits of kibble. In the grand pantheon of People Acting Like Children..., he’s the Grand Baby, and attention is what he wants....Fuck that dude. If everything is a victory condition for him — and it is — then worrying about what he’s going to do is sort of pointless. What is he going to do? Why, declare victory! Regardless! ...He wants you to see him as a mastermind, rather than as a general failure whose only successes lie in being terrible to other people, and encouraging others to be the same.
A Sad Puppy is anyone who makes a habit out of whining or complaining about how they don't get the respect they deserve (in whatever capacity that takes: no award recognition, poor reviews, whatever) and, then, go on a rampage and do revenge-y things to get "even" with other people (or to, in Dilloway's words, "let [them] have a taste of [their] own medicine").As Dilloway himself says, "I complain all the time about people [who give my books low ratings]."
What I really want is for people like this to just get over themselves. No one is out to get you. No one has a conspiracy against you. No one is going to any trouble to make things more difficult for you. Do you know why? Because you're not worth the effort. The only reason Dilloway is even still on my map is that two to three times a day, I get a notification that he's left another comment in which he calls me names (because Dilloway can't seem to tell the difference between actual literary criticism and name calling). [Actually, at this point, he has literally spammed my comment feed with hundreds of comments calling me names (just ask Lee or Jo, who both got caught up in his spam).] Oh, that and that he has down-rated another of my books. I supposed that is meant to provoke some kind of reaction out of me. And, maybe, this qualifies as that, since I've brought him up, but it's really more about the idea of these kinds of people rather than about Dilloway himself.
The most important thing to remember is to not let people like this push you into doing something you don't want to do. Remember, they're going to claim the win no matter what you do, so just go on as if they aren't even there and do what you would do. I'm going to leave you with another John Scalzi quote:
Just a thing to remember when a Sad Puppy puffs himself up in a blog post or comment thread near you: You're looking at a failure trying very hard to convince himself -- and you -- otherwise.