I was a fat kid growing up. I’m one of those lucky fat people that exercises and loves to eat and drink and be merry. Where the nurse taking my blood pressure is bracing herself to give me the bad news and instead does this surprised, “Oh, your blood pressure is great.” I’ve played all kinds of sports and climbed a lot of mountains. Still, being fat has had a profound effect on my life and shaped the choices I’ve made.
I must have been in 2nd or 3rd grade and had to ride the bus to and from school. No one wanted me to sit with them and you never went to the back of the bus because the big kids ruled back there. Most days I was lucky and was able to sit in the front and not bother anyone. One day I wasn’t so lucky and the bus driver yelled at me to go to the back of the bus. I don’t know if everyone decided to show up to school that day or what, but I ended up all the way in the back with a sandy blond haired 6th grader.
He growled at me. “No one sits here.” And spread his legs across the seat to make his point. The bus driver yelled again. Not sure whether it was at me or him but I had no choice. I had to sit down. So I sat on top of his legs. We lurched in our seats as the bus immediately pulled away from the curb. The 6th grader was pissed (I never did learn his name although I remember he did tell me) and tried pushing me off of the seat, but hey, I was chubby so that wasn’t easy. I turned and braced myself against the seat across from his.
Kids laughed at the exchange and he kicked me in the back a couple of times. Thing is this was the dead of winter and I was in a big fluffy snowsuit so I don’t remember it hurting. I made up my mind that all I had to do was bide my time until my stop. Then he decided I could sit there and let me scoot in, so I did. “But!” he warned, “You have to hold my books.”
“No.” I don’t know if I actually said those words or if I just shook my head. I probably just shook my head. I wasn’t a big talker back then.
He huffed and puffed at my refusal and made threatening moves. He never actually hit me. Then he put his books on top of the seat in front of us and ordered me to hold them there. When I wouldn’t, he grabbed my hand and placed them on top of the books. “You just have to leave your hand there.”
What I did next was a defining moment in my life – I looked him square in the eye and let my hand drop, along with his books.
By the time I got to my house he said I could sit with him whenever I wanted. Only I never remembered having to again. More unpleasant things happened with other kids during my childhood, but it was that moment on the bus when I decided how I would deal with bullies.
Now we’ve come to authors and bloggers and bullying. Some authors claim they are being harassed and bullied and so are some bloggers. If this if your first time facing being picked on, now you know how the fat kid feels.
Authors once you make your work public and start charging money for it. It’s out of your hands and there really is no recourse for you if someone, for whatever reason, decides to pick on you via your work. But take comfort in the fact that an adult who reads those hateful reviews have probably been picked on at some point in their lives and knows that there is something wrong. I personally have never read a ‘hate’ review and gone, “No way I’m reading that book.” I recognize it for what it is – someone picking on someone else for a reason I may never be privy to or want to be. I ignore them and move on. Invest your time in chasing your audience and those wonderful reviews waiting around the corner.
However, right or wrong, as a blogger I do take note of authors who react as if they’ve never been picked on before. I recoil in horror at what they do and how they go about exacting ‘revenge’. I do think, “If I find out who they are I will never read their books.”
When you react, you may think you’re doing what I did back in the 2nd grade but you’re not. You’re looking the wrong people in the eye. You need to look at the people who like your work and say, “I’m going to keep on writing because that’s my choice, no matter what anyone else thinks.” Then do just that, keep writing.
If this is your first time being picked on, I’m sorry, now you know how the kid who got picked on at school feels. If you were that kid in school then you probably wouldn’t do it to someone else anyway.
For example! Here’s one of my 1 star reviews or a part of it anyway and am I freaking out OMG! No. In fact it’s a nice litmus test to what everyone is doing with their freebies -
Am I being picky? Maybe. But remember this – I have 400 other books waiting on my Kindle. Given all the issues with this ebook I decided to pass, award it a DNF, and move onto something cleaner. I also know that the author is offering this title as a freebie. Freebies should be shining examples of an author’s work. This one does not shine.
People are hoarding books, I know I do. So think twice before throwing up that freebie willy-nilly just to get it out there. I didn’t do that with this one but I thought how she feels about it was a good indicator of things out there in free eBook land.
See how easy that was? No need to take it personally. No need to pick up that social media ax and start hacking away. Analyze what you see, take what you can use, and leave the rest.
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