Professionalism: Have we forgotten what it means?

I don’t do this often, because in all honesty I don’t like to harp on things…especially those that I don’t have the power to really change. I also absolutely hate drama. I’m an extremely laid back person and it really takes a lot and I mean A LOT to rile me up. But with the constant drama that seems to be hitting social media lately is getting increasingly more difficult to overlook. Why? Because it’s EVERYWHERE I look; Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, blogs, the list goes on. If it’s not one thing then it’s another. 

  • An author deciding it’s a good idea to share the name of a negative reviewer for their book.
  • A reviewer bemoaning about the bitchy comments on their negative reviews.
  • Someone saying that they’re getting treated unfairly by a street team.
  • Someone saying that they are being targeted by a street team.
  • Voting negative reviews down because what use are negative reviews, right? (sarcasm)
  • Someone deciding it’s a good idea to leave a snarky/bitchy comment on a negative review that they don’t agree with.
  • Reporting a book on amazon because it’s competition for you.
  • Reporting a book on amazon because it offends your delicate sensibilities.
  • Someone deciding it’s a good idea to leave a negative review for a book that they haven’t read and then being shocked and appalled by the “hate” that they get for it.
  • The constant and completely fucking IGNORANT way of throwing the word BULLY around.
  • A sudden case of the internet superman syndrome, where people think that since they’re hiding behind the anonymity of the internet it allows them to act like total assholes without any thought to what their words can do.
  • Putting any of this up on social media and then being shocked when there’s blow back and even though you backpedal so fast you leave tread marks, you realize that there is no such thing as simply deleting. (hello, screenshots!)

I’d like to take this moment to re-introduce all of us to a very interesting concept that seems to have been forgotten by many people lately.

pro·fes·sion·al·ism
 noun prə-ˈfesh-nə-ˌli-zəm, -ˈfe-shə-nə-ˌli-: the skill, good judgment, and polite behavior that is expected from a person who is trained to do a job well

Yeah. That.

A novel concept isn’t it? You want to be treated like a professional? You act like one. It’s really that simple.

Let me start by saying that blogging for me is not now or never will be a job. It’s a hobby. One that I enjoy immensely, but it is a hobby nonetheless. I have no aspirations of ever being a writer. I have a full time job that I enjoy as much as my hobby. I’ve spent over 12 years in the professional HR industry which has taught me a lot about people…they are my business after all. And what I learned is simple; they’re not perfect. It doesn’t matter what you do, how you do it, there will always be one rotten apple to be found anywhere. Where am I going with all this? I’m getting to it.

Let’s put a few things into perspective for a minute. Although our reading world is a tight little bubble, it is at the end of a day like a business, is it not? Authors are there to sell their books. Readers are there to buy their books. And bloggers? Well I suppose that we’re something in the middle. We’re there to promote our favorite authors, honestly review books, and allow our followers a means to learn about new or new to them authors and books and a way to chat about all of it. (In a nutshell anyway) It also allows all of us to connect on a FRIENDLY social platform and chat about everything among other booklovers and authors.

Where in any of this does it give any of us an excuse to act like a cliche version of mean girls instead of the professionals that we are? 

Let’s pretend we’re looking at an actual business. Ever go and look at reviews for any of the business you know of? No? I suggest you take a look. I’ll even give you an example; recently while searching for a hotel for a vacation I was planning I was looking at the reviews of the hotel that I narrowed it down to. It had mostly great reviews. Then there was this one negative review. Know what it said? The reviewer gave the hotel a 2 out of 5 because the mini-fridge only had pepsi instead of coke, and the TV only had one channel in English. Mind you this hotel is in fucking SPAIN! I ask you this, how in the ever loving fuck is that review helpful to me? It’s not! But you know what else I didn’t find? Other reviewers commenting on this review to tell this person what an idiot he/she is. (Because why bring any more attention to this completely useless review?) The hotel that they  reviewed commenting on said review and letting them know what an idiot they are. Why? Because it’s fucking obvious. If anything, the only thing that that review did was make all the positive reviews more legitimate in my eyes. In all honesty, I don’t trust anything that ONLY has glowing reviews. I’ve learned that in most cases if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. 

Have I gotten negative reviews in my line of work? Absolutely! You can’t please everybody and people like to voice their opinions. I actually had a person complain once that I don’t know what I’m doing because I couldn’t help him find work. This person went on yelp and wrote a very lengthy and snarky review on my business all about it. Of course he left out the fact that his skill set didn’t quite match up to his salary expectations of wanting to make $55k with just a GED because he’s a ‘quick learner‘. He also left out my very sound advice that he lower his expectations a little and maybe work his way up, because who am I to tell him what to do? Uh, right.  

As much as I was itching to go and respond to this completely unjustified review, I didn’t. Why?  I grew up on a popular Russian saying; ‘Never argue with an idiot, others will never be able to tell the difference.’ That’s a rule I practice in life and in business. What would me commenting back on this review accomplish? This person will simply go on the defensive and probably look for supporters to claim his “rightness” while I will be single-handedly burying my professional name and reputation by trying to prove otherwise. I’ll never prove my point to this person, especially if I’m being defensive and bitchy about it. So when I hear from people that I don’t know what it’s like, I beg to differ. I do, I really do. My business is my baby, one that I put my blood, sweat and tears into. So of course it sucks getting unjustified (and even justified) negative reviews. But it’s par of the course, unfortunately. Such is life.

The very second that you put anything out on the internet, it becomes public. That means that it becomes open to public scrutiny and critique. Know that saying, opinions are like assholes, everyone’s got one? Yep. Welcome to the technological age that allows any asshole with an opinion to put theirs out there…be it constructive or not. You can’t change that no matter how much you’d like to. But what you can change is the way you react to it.

In my work and in my blogging, I’ve learned one very important thing; you really do get more flies with honey. Have I gotten my share of negative comments and situations? Lawd yes. But I will never, and I mean EVER respond in kind, because that’s just not who I am. I’ve had a commenter leave a very rude and snarky response to a constructively written negative review. I thanked this commenter and told them that I’m happy they enjoyed the book, but unfortunately it didn’t work for me for the reasons I stated. While I appreciate their opinion, I’d be happy to objectively discuss the book if they feel I got something wrong, but there is no need to be rude about it. Here’s a funny thing…the commenter actually appologized for their earlier comment. (pause for dramatic gasp here). What would have happened if I responded with an equally bitchy comment and told that person that they can take themselves and their ‘opinion’ and fuck right off? I’m pretty sure you know.

I also have a rule for my negative reviews; they’re constructive. I will never write anything in a review or even a comment anywhere that I wouldn’t be able to state directly to the person face to face. I’m a snarky and sarcastic shit in real life, but I have no issues saying these things in person. Internet is a great little tool that allows us a wider reach, but it doesn’t give us an excuse to act like insensitive assholes. There’s an actual human being behind the screen on the other side of the comment, email, or whatever. So before you say something that you otherwise wouldn’t have the balls to say in person, stop and think for a moment. Can this ‘comment’ affect you negatively? Will it cause you to lose followers/customers? Because the answer to both of those is a big ole’ resounding YES.

Now on to my point. Why do people think that they can act however they want, say whatever they like, and not receive that in kind? You want to have an opinion? You want to share this opinion with the world wide web? Well put on your big girl panties and prepare yourself for contradictory opinions.

So allow me to take this opportunity to address all of my points from the beginning of my post:

An author deciding it’s a good idea to share the name of a negative reviewer along with the negative review on social media.

No. Just no. Bad, author. Step away from the interwebs, count to ten, breathe, and then act. Yes, you’ll get sympathizers on your post that will agree with you and tell you how absolutely awesome you are. Know what you’ll also get? The silent unfollows and de-friends from followers that see this post for what you may not have necessarily intended for it to be… a bid for attention and for people to come down en masse on this reviewer. What does that get you at the end of the day except bring attention to a negative review that many people would not have otherwise seen and make you seem just a teensy bit unprofessional. Uhem.
I’ll also let you in on a secret. When I decide to buy a book, I like to look at both positive AND negative reviews. Know how many times I was turned off from purchasing a book because I saw negative reviews being attacked (notice I don’t say bullying here) by commenters that say that this person is an idiot and a failure in life for not getting how simply amazing this book was? I’ll give you a hint; A LOT. It does nothing to endear me to this particular author or the book. Even the dumbest reviews have merit, because they’ll keep like-minded dumbasses from reading a book that they wouldn’t enjoy.
I’ll let you in on another secret. Over half the books that I have purchased were actually after reading negative reviews. I have certain triggers that will keep me from books (I absolutely LOATHE love triangles and never read them). Aside from that, it’s fair game. Usually readers are smart enough to deduce between a biased or stupid review from an objective and constructive one. If someone hated a hero so much, it makes me curious how bad of an asshole he really is so I’ll be one clicking that bitch faster than you can say ‘asshole’. 
You’re putting your work out there for public consumption, be prepared for differing opinions. You can’t please everyone, but there’s a buyer for every product out there. Keep that in mind 😉
A reviewer complaining about the bitchy comments on their likewise bitchy negative reviews.
Read my entire post. You get irritated at an author for taking offense to a negative review but it’s ok for you to bitch about people commenting on yours because THEY disagree with YOU? Remember what I said about making your opinion public? Find those big girl panties of yours and move on. You’ll get them. You don’t need to jump down their throats for stating their opinions just like you did. You don’t like it or feel they’re too aggressive about it? Delete them, block them, and MOVE ON. You want to respond and tell them what an asshole they’re being? Want to get all your friends involved to ‘support you’ with like minded aggressive commentary back? Well don’t come crying to me when it turns into a 5 page thread of back to back idiocy of offense and defense and whole lot of fucks being thrown around. The only fuck I have is one I don’t have to give. 
And here’s another thing; we’re adults. Adults fight their own battles. Adults do not get all their friends involved in petty arguments and post it all over the damn place on social media to get even more pity and ‘support’. You handle your own shit. You don’t like what is being said? Respond to it…PROFESSIONALLY…and nip it in the bud. Or just ignore and delete it if you see that there is no seeing reason with this person. 

Someone saying that they’re getting treated unfairly by a street team.
Yes. It happens. It’s happened to me and friends of mine. I know one of my fellow bloggers was actually kicked out of a street team for not liking one of the books the author wrote and writing an extremely constructive and justified review about it. She shared that with me, I shared that with a few more blogging buddies, and the author has since lost a hefty amount of potential buyers because we were extremely turned off by the unprofessional and vindictive behavior. All this happened silently. There were no social media posts to be found on it. So just because you don’t hear it, doesn’t mean it’s not happening (a little food for thought here)
There’s also the flip side to this. If you’re having an issue with someone inside a street team, have you tried approaching them about it…privately? Before making a public post about how much that particular street team sucks? There’s always 3 sides to every story; your side, the other side, and what actually happened.
Someone saying that they are being targeted by a street team.
In the event that this is actually true, remember what I said about being turned off of a book that has negative reviewers being attacked in comments? That is the only thing that this tactic accomplishes. Oh and by the way, us bloggers (and plenty of readers) can tell when these comments come from street teams, and it’s a very effective way of turning us off from an author entirely.
Voting negative reviews down because what use are negative reviews, right? (sarcasm)
Read back my entire post. Negative reviews have merit. They will make the positive reviews more legit. If it’s a completely unjustified review, people can see that and won’t have it sway their opinion. I don’t put much weigh into reviews that state “this book sucked”  or “this erotic book was too erotic”. You see where I’m going with this? Readers are educated people, we can usually see between the lines.

Someone deciding it’s a good idea to leave a snarky/bitchy comment on a negative review that they don’t agree with.
Why? What do you want to accomplish? How well do you respond to criticism? Are you prepared for the reviewer to respond in kind? If you don’t agree with it, that’s great, but that person is just as justified in having their ‘opinion’ as you are in yours. Realize that the only thing you will accomplish is bringing even more attention to a review that may have otherwise gone unnoticed by others, and for that reviewer to go on the defensive and not listen to a damn thing you say anyway (justifiably so).

A reviewer doesn’t owe you anything. Their review doesn’t have to be detailed, lengthy, or constructive. They bought a book, didn’t like it, so they feel justified as marking it as so. Don’t agree with that? Write your own positive review. You wrote a positive review but still feel like commenting anyway? Sorry, that makes you look like a troll. Not your intention? That’s still the only thing you accomplish. Are you the author of said book that feels offended by that? Please,  please, for the love of all that’s holy do NOT comment on that review. The reviewer didn’t get how amazing your book is? Welcome to the real world, where everyone is not going to like everything. And just so we’re clear, an ARC reviewer doesn’t owe you a positive review. When you send a book to be read and reviewed honesty, you have to be prepared for that: HONESTY. 


Reporting a book on amazon because it’s competition for you.
You’re a fucking douchebag. Period. You don’t deserve to call yourself a professional. You don’t deserve to call yourself an author. You need to tuck your tail between your legs and crawl back under that rock that you came under from and stay there. Period.

Reporting a book on amazon because it offends your delicate sensibilities.
Here’s a concept, don’t buy the fucking book. Don’t read it. Don’t look at it. Don’t even think about it. Just because you don’t like it, who made you judge jury and executioner? There’s a product for every customer out there. Just because it’s ‘offensive’ to you doesn’t mean that there aren’t readers out there that will enjoy it. Who are you to judge? Also, see my point above about douchebags.
Someone deciding it’s a good idea to leave a negative review for a book that they haven’t read and then being shocked and appalled by the “hate” that they get for it.
Seriously? I don’t even have anything to say about this.

The constant and completely fucking IGNORANT way of throwing the word BULLY around.
FFS! A negative comment on your post is NOT bullying. A person disagreeing with your opinion and being vocal about it is NOT bullying. It truly makes me ragey seeing this word thrown around so carelessly that it’s starting to lose all meaning. Allow me to make it clear:
bul·ly1
ˈbo͝olē/
noun
  1. 1.
    a person who uses strength or power to harm or intimidate those who are weaker.
verb
  1. 1.
    use superior strength or influence to intimidate (someone), typically to force him or her to do what one wants.

Before you accuse someone of bullying you, look up the definition and think about true victims of this. Because you’re cheapening their horrific experiences by using this term so ignorantly. 
A sudden case of the internet superman syndrome, where people think that since they’re hiding behind the anonymity of the internet it allows them to act like total assholes without any thought to what their words can do.
Oh look at that, you can use the internet to leave an anonymous and venomous comment anywhere you see fit. All of a sudden you sprout a pair of balls and feel like you can be an asshole of epic proportions and that’s OK because it’s the internet. 
If you can’t say it to a person’s face, why would you say it online? Why even say it at all? What does a rude email to an author accomplish for you? What does a rude comment on a post get you? What does an asshole remark on a review result in? Does it make you feel big? Tough? Smart? Yeah? Well you’re the only one that thinks that. There’s a person on the other side of that screen. A person with feelings, a person that may have had a shit day, a person that may be dealing with things that you have absolutely zero idea about it. Sticks and stones may break your bones but words can be just as vicious. Think before you post. How would you respond if you’re on the receiving end of them?

Putting any of this up on social media and then being shocked when there’s blow back and even though you backpedal so fast you leave tread marks, you realize that there is no such thing as simply deleting. (hello, screenshots!)
Do I even need to comment on this?


My point in all this? We’re adults, we need to act like it. Professionalism isn’t just something that’s reserved for the 9-5. It’s a concept that should be applied to everything in our daily life. But we also need to understand that there will always be an exception to every rule. There’s always going to be the one asshole to be found in the bunch, but don’t let that give you a reason to judge everyone on the action of one. A reviewer leaving a venomous and unjustified review on a book doesn’t make ALL reviewers idiots or mean. A street team/author being assholes doesn’t make ALL street teams/authors that way. And so on and so forth. Don’t punish the lot on the actions of one. The reading and blogging community should be a safe and friendly platform for us to chat about books and everything in between without the fear of being judged. Let’s make it that way. 

Comments

  1. Holy shit…SOOO well said!

  2. Fabulous post, well said!

  3. Thank you, ladies! I've been thinking on this post for so long but I've been avoiding writing it simply because I just don't like to bring light to negativity. But I'd really love for things to go back to being about books and our love for them and more positive things in general <3 <3 <3

  4. Bravo Lana! 🙂 This is very well written and explained. love it <3

  5. Well said, Lana. There's too many people that thrive on the drama..it's quite tedious!

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