Don’t feed the trolls

A long time ago, on a computer network far, far away, I  encountered an anonymous individual freaking out big time over something or other. This person was trashing another anonymous user: calling him/her names, posting really, really uncreative obscenities. I used to lurk on usenet, reading stories, checking news, and generally being a giant nerd—imagine my astonishment when I discovered that a ginormous public forum will often generate phenomenally jerky behavior.

*insert sarcastic gasp of astonishment here*

A week later, this same person freaked out all over someone else’s post. And then again a few days later it happened again. It was like watching a train wreck.

The person trashing everything in sight on an online space is called a troll. Trolls like to cause trouble. They love flame wars and posting rage rants and if they can make a normal, ordinary individual strolling along the internet highway freak out, that is the ultimate WIN.

The only way to counteract them is to not freak out. Doesn’t matter how offensive they are, how crazy, how stalkerish, how absolutely evil, if you ignore the troll it will get bored and go away. Don’t feed the trolls the thing they most want: you flipping out in public. Trolls cannot be reasoned with. Trolls are irrational precisely because that generates the biggest upset.

What does this have to do with writing romance novels? Well, see, there are some people who like to post bad reviews on books in various places. Sometimes they just don’t like the book. Sometimes they don’t like the genre. Sometimes they just want to see if they can get the author to freak out in public. The reasons don’t really matter. The response is the same as what you would use for a troll: ignore, ignore, ignore.

As a writer, I’ve received my fair share of critique, reviews, criticisms—a lot of it bad. Some of them were mean. Some were heartfelt critiques kindly meant. The only two proper responses are: say nothing, or say thank you. That’s it. Those are the only two options. Ever.

As Nassim Nicholas Taleb says in his book, “Fooled by Randomness,”

A book review, good or bad, can be far more descriptive of the reviewer than informational about the book itself.

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