When you forgive, you encourage bad behavior.

Forgiveness sucks; give it up. I don’t care what ancient texts say. We are ruled by Nature, and Nature does not forgive. The squeaky wheel that gets greased will be squeaking again soon. Best to replace that wheel. You don’t need to be angry about it or hold a grudge. Forget the pain of the slander, but remember the slanderer.

If you don’t deliver the punishment deserved, the next person will be adversely affected because the misbehaving party hasn’t learned to behave.

Let’s think of some things men do in a relationship, which deserve punishment but are often forgiven:

  1. Checking out or flirting with other women in your presence.
  2. Slobbery, including not putting away his toys, leaving dishes around, creating dirty laundry mountains, and expecting accolades for a loud belch or fart.
  3. Forgetting important dates.
  4. Communicating with an ex.
  5. Creating an orgasm tally imbalance.

You can’t forgive these grievances, my sweet, or they will continue and grow more severe.

This applies to platonic relationships as well. On my twice-weekly commute into the city, often I am stuck next to a man who has some sort of problem with his nose. This, mind you, has been going on for months. He sits near me, takes out his iPhone, tilts his head down, and begins playing some pointless game. Since his head is tilted down and he has a leaky noggin, he performs a snot symphony for the entire forty-minute ride.

*Sniff, Snort, Sniff, Gulp, Sniff, Cough, Snort*

I’m not allowed to euthanize him, oh, but I fantasize about it–sliding that needle into a vein while he sniffs and whimpers. One final gurgle, then off to the glue factory for Mr. Boogers.

Since his parents, friends, and (horrors, if such things exist) ex-girlfriends have forgiven this behavior instead of stuffing cotton up his nose and swatting him with a rolled-up magazine, we, the disgusted commuters, must endure this nonsense.

Another example close to my black heart is the way some fellow authors behave. As authors, we consume a large share of written media to see what is selling and why. It guides our work. Do we enjoy everything we read? Hell no. When we dislike something we read, we need to make the following distinction:

  1. Does this suck because I don’t enjoy this subject, whereas others do?
  2. Does this suck because it is horribly written?

In scenario #1, it’s best to stop reading and move on without providing feedback or negative reviews, because authors, of all people, should realize that authors need to eat, and it’s plain wrong to hurt sales due to a mismatch in tastes or preferences.

In scenario #2, it’s best to provide PRIVATE feedback and suggestions directly to the author. Again, a bad review won’t help correct the problem; it will just create hatred and embarrassment.

A fellow author has left a nasty review on one of my books. (See Rachel’s review here.) If I forgive her, she’ll do this to others. Instead, I’m going to read one of her books (already started and it is god-awful, as expected) and trash the shit out of her in a public forum by posting a one-star review. I also have a social media army I can enlist to assist me in the defensive assault. I hope she learns that her bad behavior must cease.

So, the next time someone offends you, pause to see if the offense was accidental. If it was intentional, don’t forgive–punish.

How funny was this post?

Click on a star to rate it.

Average rating / 5. Vote count:

Since you found this post funny...

Follow me on social media.

About the author

Author of humorous essays about relationships and lifestyles.


  1. Hi I probably should hit my self with a sledge hammer but come on Phil, I hope I am naive but are you being sarcastic then this blog is humorous and if you are planning revenge, remember Karma is a Bitch and a women/customer scorned saying “hell hath no fury like a woman/customer scorned”? so I know you are a mature wisdom role model in the Indie Community and will make the right choice. No I do not know the customer/reviewer but the trolls on Amazon and some in the Indie community are already trashing writers. This is the 21st Century a time for awakening and Peace, and I enjoy your creativity and wish you good karma, not bad. Bad week for allot of trolls and hurting others and a peace mediator has to come in and declare their opinion. You do have a witty humour so by your reactions comments, this is a sarcastic blog, with three teenagers I am learning allot about sarcastic behaviour, from a child of the 60’s this is a new adventure. I tell them before committing a regrettable action, they should re think their agenda for the consequences or it may back fire. Advice from a wise grandmother. Well anyway, just venting, tired of the back stabbing going on lately. I do not want to kick the …., love not war, lol

  2. As a book blogger who by the end of 2014 (and I am booked until then) will have read close to 200+ self-published/Indie/Small press books:

    1) it is not my problem or concern whether you make a living at writing or not. It pisses me off to no end that people through up crap and rip off hard working people. Like there aren’t enough shysters in this world already. Doesn’t even cross my mind. And it shouldn’t.

    2) I AM NOT a beta reader. Quit treating book bloggers as such. No I will not send you your mistakes in private. If you publicly are charging money for people to read your error riddled drivel then you should be outed publicly so hard working people don’t waste their money.

    Following these two things alone would go a long way in promoting Indie/self-pubbed authors as adults in a profession rather than teenagers in the high school cafeteria.

    If you really think one person (as in there are 7 billion people on the planet so everyone is exactly 1/7 billionth special) has the power to make or break you. You’ve already failed.

    1. Agreed here with Coral 100%. And like others have now said had I considered paying to read something you have written I will surely not now.

      I try not to encourage spite.

    2. I totally agree with you coral. As a fellow book blogger who reads 3-4 indie/small press/self-pub books per week if your work is good I will say so. If your work is not so good I will say so and no I will not remove or change my review after I’ve spent my time reading your book because you don’t like what I said!

      I am however happy to Beta-read and give my opinion in private and point out all those silly typo’s and plot inconsistencies if you ask me to do so BEFORE you charge anyone to read your error riddled book.


  3. Unfortunately, the review seems to have disappeared. Was the review inaccurate? Was it apparent that she hadn’t really read your book, or did her review get personal and inappropriate? I’m hesitant to say an author should go after a critic (everyone is entitled to their opinion and review, after all) but if she crossed the line by attacking the author, then that’s deserving of … something. Not sure what, though.

    That said, writing a vindictive review of one of her works sounds petty. Even if you’re 100% correct, you run the risk of being seen as a bitter, small-minded man and your review being seen as nothing more than an attack empty of correct criticism. Be careful.

  4. Wait, is this the review in question?

    “I love a good parody – and parts of this are actually funny. I found the story started smack bang in the middle of all the action and it was a bit daunting working out who everyone was and even who was talking at any given time since there is a lot of talking brackets and not so many ‘Bea said’ and ’ Mormon said’ etc. Once I’d settled into the style, there were a few laugh out loud moments – most of these occurring when the actual Fifty Shades characters were sliced into the story line. This books does show some potential.”

    If so, what made you so mad that you had to “revenge review”? It’s not glowing but it’s not awful either.

  5. Forgiveness doesn’t equal forgetting, or allowing bad behavior. In fact, it may inspire a person to no longer allow bad behavior, for the good of all – including the one who did wrong. But it only comes when someone is ready. Some people never forgive and have no intention of ever being forgiving to anyone. That must be a rough briar patch to live in.

  6. Aw poor baby. Did you get a bad review?

    Give it up, Mr. Butthurt. I’ve taken 4+ years of writing workshops with a BA in English and guess what? If you got a bad review, you probably deserved it.

    Humiliation in a public forum is the life of a writer. Try being in a senior seminar in front of 50 people getting your story ripped to shreds by a Ph.D. THAT’S humiliation.

    But maybe it’s good that it happened to you, because it seems like your delicate writer’s ego needed a good stomping. Next time man up and shrug it off.

    I’d highly suggest deleting this blog post and forgetting it ever happened because you just lost another customer.

    1. A friend of mine says that the most horrifying and difficult experience of his entire life was the week-long workshop he endured where authors he had admired his entire adult life absolutely SHREDDED his best, most beloved work to pieces before his very eyes, and told him EXACTLY why it sucked. In specific, lengthy, and gory detail.

      And they were right.

      They were not unkind. They were supportive, encouraging, ruthless, and merciless. They tore his work to pieces, and burned his soul down to the ground. They made it absolutely clear in what ways he sucked as a writer.

      And then they made him stop sucking in those ways.

      Since that point, he’s had a dozen professional sales, one of which was nominated for a Nebula award, one of the two most prestigious awards in science fiction.

      This is because he’s a better writer than he was before the Clarion workshops. And THAT is because, at Clarion, people were absolutely unafraid to explain, in great and excruciating detail, what sucked — and then they made him do better.

      So he did.

      I strongly suspect that Mr Torcivia has never been subjected to that kind of harrowing. Because, if he had, he’d not have this bizarre desire to get revenge on a not-particularly-negative review. It’s merely the only one that wasn’t fawning.

      If you’ve got people fawning over you, you don’t improve. Perhaps that’s because you’re already perfect, so you don’t NEED to improve, and everyone fawns because you’re actually just that good. . . but that’s not the way to bet.

  7. One of the most baffling things about your response here, Mr Torcivia, is what you’re reacting to.

    It’s a two-star review. It’s a kind, encouraging, helpful two-star review.

    You’re never going to get a negative review as kind as that. Seriously, if you can’t deal with the fact that not everybody in the world is going to love your work? Maybe you shouldn’t have your work available publicly.

    If that two-star review hurt you so badly that you feel that you need revenge, you really shouldn’t show your work to strangers. That wasn’t particularly bad. It wasn’t hostile, it wasn’t mean-spirited, it wasn’t unfair.

    If you can’t handle that level of gentle constructive criticism, I genuinely suggest that you give up being a writer. That’s the kind of feedback you NEED to improve.

  8. If a coworker told your boss, owner, and colleagues that you do your job at a level 2 out of 5, how would you react?

    I don’t mind criticism, but I DO reserve the right to consider the source, and to defend myself and my livelihood. If you want to be a public pincushion, that’s your right.

    Authors should NOT criticize other authors’ works in a public forum. We should work together and help each other. We are not competitors.

    1. Co-workers are ethically required to give their honest opinion to their boss and colleagues as part of peer review.

      How would I react? By trying to do better than a 2 out of 5 in the future. That’s how I’ve always reacted before. Because that’s how adults do it. We accept that we may not be doing as well as we might. I’ve gotten twos in peer reviews before. All of us have. We suck it up, take the criticisms on board, and use it as a source of improvement.

      And that wasn’t even a bad review. It was the ONLY review on your site that gave me ANY indication that the book was any good. At this point, the rest of the reviews look like uncritical fawning, which customers tune out. Five-star reviews that don’t SAY anything are not helpful. They give no reason to read the work — we assume that they were written by your family, who may or may not have actually read the book.

      The two-star review gave actual information, and actual reasons to read it.

      And you nuked it.

      Let me give you a couple pieces of advice:

      These are ideas from actual published authors, who work full-time in the industry, with bookstore distribution.

      If anything, self-published authors need to be even MORE careful. Going through an established publisher creates a gatekeeper function, so potential customers have an assumption of a floor-level of quality, below which the editors and publishers wouldn’t have looked at the work in the first place.

      Self-publishers don’t have that guarantee and shield. Self-published work may be as good as anything that goes through the traditional channels — I can point to self-published and self-distributed work that has won awards — but it also can be drivel, and nobody knows.

      The thing is — customers assume that authors who respond to bad reviews are bad authors. We assume that you get defensive because you have nothing else to do.

      We assume that a good author has enough faith in his or her work, and a thick enough skin, to be aware that not everybody’s tastes are the same, and that one-star reviews happen to good works.

      And you nuked a TWO-STAR review. As far as I, as a reader, can tell, that means that you have no faith in your own work, and that I can assume that the work is no good.

      A fair few of my friends are authors. Sometimes they link to negative reviews they’ve gotten. When they do so, they do so in order to talk about the weaknesses in the book that the reviewers have pointed out, and explain how they’re taking those lessons on board, in order to improve.

      You got specific advice about a weakness in your writing: character attribution in dialogue. Specific advice. You ALSO got specific advice about things that you did well. Done in an encouraging and helpful manner.

      How could you POSSIBLY have taken that as a thing worthy of revenge?

    2. Let me reiterate: as a self-publishing author, your job is quite a bit more than simply writing. Were you going through traditional channels, you could rely on the publishing house to cover a lot of the jobs that you yourself have to take on.

      One of those jobs is public relations. When, say, David Brin acts like a jerk, he can rely on some of the folks at his publishing house to smooth things over, unruffle feathers, and restore his reputation. I’ve seen it happen. Well, I’d left the actual party before The Incident, but I got to see how folks managed to restore harmony.

      You don’t have that buffer.

      Reacting to a negative review is perceived as petulance. And you are in charge of your own PR. Petulance in an author is totally a known thing, but it’s only survivable if the people around you can fix it.

      You’ve got nobody around you to fix it. If you have a public face, and nobody else to cover for you, petulance will destroy your career.

      I suggest that, if you’re not already reading them, you start reading http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/ to get an idea of the community of writers and how they interact, http://whatever.scalzi.com/ , http://journal.neilgaiman.com/ , http://wilwheaton.typepad.com/ , and http://jimchines.com/blog to see four authors (well, Wheaton is mostly an actor these days, but he writes, too) who do an excellent job of promoting their public faces. They write about genuine personal things, as you do, but look, specifically, for how they react to criticism and conflict. There’s a lot of good stuff to learn from them

    3. I don’t know where the “authors shouldn’t criticize authors” rule comes from, but you missed Author etiquette rule #1: Authors shouldn’t respond publicly to critical or negative reviews. It makes you seem like a pompous ass.

    4. Authors should NOT criticize other authors’ works in a public forum.

      Where did you get that rule from?

      It’s a nice sentiment, but just because you subscribe to it doesn’t obligate all other authors to return the favor.

      I’m reminded of Christopher Priest’s comments on the Clarke award shortlist, in which he not only badmouths the nominees, but also the entire panel of judges.

      Or perhaps you’d enjoy this list which came across my desk only yesterday: the 30 Harshest Author-on-Author Insults In History

    5. I don’t recall saying my opinions are “rules.” If I follow your logic, I’m a pompous ass for defending myself, but defending your position by criticizing me and calling me names on my blog is admirable?

  9. Ian, you are entitled to your opinion, your writing, and your way of dealing with criticism. It does not affect mine.

    Rachel’s “specific advice” was worthless because the first part about the characters was due to her beginning the series of three books at book #2. Her “advice” about writing “Mormon said,” “Bea said,” “Mormon said,” is not a style of writing that most readers appreciate, because it’s tedious and repetitive. Maybe the Australian style is different. So, her criticism was worthless to me and to many readers considering my book. I’m sure she felt the same about my review … as I intended.

    These three parodies were each written, edited, and published in 30 days. Are they flawless? Nope. Do I expect everyone to enjoy them? Nope. Am I attempting to ride E.L. James’ coattails? You betcha! Do many of my fans enjoy them? Yep.

    Ian, what have you published? How are your sales and reviews coming along? Anything I can do to help you?

    1. Given that I’m a bartender, I don’t publish a whole lot. Well, a couple essays on the history of the Blue Blazer and other drinks, and a lecture for the Ipswich Historical society on alcohol in Colonial America, especially around Ipswich. But, y’know, basically I mix and serve drinks — those lectures and essays aren’t pay work; they’re just for fun.

      Oh, and a Lone Ranger fanfic. But, y’know, fanfic. Again, not professional work.

      But I’m not talking to you as a writer: I’m talking to you as a reader and a consumer of books, and letting you know how, in general, we consumers perceive them.

    2. Two more comments: first, there is a LOT of discussion about the “said” issue in attribution of dialogue. What I’ve noticed is that a lot of writing teachers are against it, and a lot of professional authors are for it. Your best bet is to read a lot of stuff, note how each author does it, and decide which way you find more attractive.

      Me, I find attribution to be more useful than not. It feels a lot more tedious writing the attributions than it actually feels when reading, since reading goes so much faster. Indeed, that’s one of the ways that people look at the issue: lack of attribution slows reading; attribution speeds it up. More casual work often goes better with frequent dialogue attribution.

      But, like I said, Authors Differ.

      As for doing a book in thirty days, I don’t feel that that’s an excuse for sloppy editing. I know a few ghostwriters, and they typically turn out perfectly-edited novel-length works in two weeks. Their work isn’t high art, but it’s competent, well-edited, flows well, and accomplishes what the client wants.

      A couple people I know turned out a Tom Swift Jr novel in one week flat after the original author flaked, and the publishers had already locked in the print date . . . they did about a hundred hours in one week, and turned in a publication-ready manuscript on time. It’s not the best Tom Swift Jr novel ever published, but it’s perfectly competent, and the publisher didn’t lose money on the printing.

      A quick turnaround is not an excuse for sloppy editing.

    3. Ian, have you read my three books in question? Are they “sloppy”? My editors beg to differ.

      You’re here continuing your criticism on MY blog, where I try to make a living. Shall I come to your bar and give everyone in the bar my review of each drink you make for me? Would that make you a better bartender, especially if I have not actually HAD one of your drinks?

      Again, I don’t mind negative reviews and constructive criticism from readers. Authors should not post bad reviews for other authors. I do not write with constant attribution. That’s my style. Criticizing someone’s style because it doesn’t match yours or your tastes is senseless.

      Ian, I respect your position, but I won’t join it.

    1. Oh, dear Flying Spaghetti Monster, don’t retaliate. Absolutely, take those as constructive criticism — “edit better”, and “don’t bully people”, because those turned off two readers.

      And there’s no evidence that those are Rachel’s friends. You’ll note that the second one is a top reviewer with 149 reviews.

      If you must, you can ignore them. That’s a perfectly acceptable way of dealing with bad reviews, although taking the criticisms to heart is better. But “retaliation”? Oh, dear Ghu, you don’t want to do that. You will sink your career. I mean, you will genuinely torpedo yourself that way. I’ve seen it happen. It never hurts the person you’re retaliating against, and it always hurts you.

      Again, I encourage you to read those essays on “The Author’s Big Mistake”, and “How To Respond To Negative Reviews”. Anne Rice hurt her financial bottom line by responding to a negative review. I mean, Anne Rice. She burned through a HUGE amount of goodwill, and made people in the industry less willing to work with her.

      The odds are that you don’t have as much goodwill built up as Ms Rice does, so the effects on your career are likely to be even more significant.

      Seriously, look through the history of what happens when authors respond to bad reviews. It’s already started to happen to you, and it will only snowball from here. If you want a career, you’ve got to stop now.

    2. Ian, have you read my three books in question? Are they “sloppy”? My editors beg to differ.

      You’re here continuing your criticism on MY blog, where I try to make a living. Shall I come to your bar and give everyone in the bar my review of each drink you make for me? Would that make you a better bartender, especially if I have not actually HAD one of your drinks?

      Again, I don’t mind negative reviews and constructive criticism from readers. Authors should not post bad reviews for other authors. I do not write with constant attribution. That’s my style. Criticizing someone’s style because it doesn’t match yours or your tastes is senseless.

      Ian, I respect your position, but I won’t join it.

    3. Well, it’s your career. All I can do is point you to the evidence of what the likely effects of different courses of action are. You’re an adult and responsible for your own actions, and you’re free to act as you feel best.

      So, good luck, I guess.

  10. Interesting how most of these comments seem to be about ‘the other author’ & not at all about the point you are making. Forgiveness doesn’t work; any parent can tell you this. You MUST punish bad behaviour or you will have to suffer it forever (of course forgiving your kid after they’ve served punishment is necessary if you don’t want it thrown in your face forever, but that is another issue).
    I also extend this ‘attitude’ to adults & often call out people on their rudeness, thoughtlessness or downright god-awful behaviour. It amazes me how many adults have such poor manners & I often find myself in ‘trouble’ with Managers because said rude, inconsiderate asswipe has complained that I was ‘mean’ to them. Regardless of the fact that the Manager usually agrees with me, apparently you just have to suffer such bad behaviour & not SAY anything about it. No wonder bullying in the workplace is reaching epidemic heights. Sometimes I long for the days of public shunning….

  11. There is nothing wrong with authors posting reviews of other authors. If your book wasn’t published and you gave it to another author to read then it wouldn’t be unreasonable for that author to offer a private review because chances are that criticism would be used to improve the story before being published. But it’s not. It’s in the public eye and any opinions on the book will also be public. Authors are readers as well, in fact, every author started out as a reader.

    As a fellow self published author I find your attitude very unprofessional. You can be mad and hurt by a low review, but to react publicly the way you did gives all of us self/indie authors a very bad name. And honestly, if she had given you a glowing review, you would not be making a fuss. You would probably be sharing the news that a fellow author enjoyed your work.

    As for the two 1 stars your book has received, those people shouldn’t have done that either. If they really wanted to warn people not to buy your books, they should have just blogged or tweeted about it. If your books are good or bad, the honest reviews from real buyers will show that.

    1. From your perspective, there’s nothing wrong. That’s fine. It doesn’t influence mine. Some parents find it acceptable to punish their children in public. Some people think it’s fine to yell insults at professional athletes. Some men think it’s flattering when they whistle at an attractive woman.

      I don’t.

      Authors (and people) should praise publicly and offer constructive criticism privately. When you start receiving 1-star reviews from jealous authors, I’ll be interested to see how you react.

  12. No commentary from me. Just clarifying that the RACHEL who wrote the review was not me.

    Sorry for all the difficulties you’ve had. It’s distracting from our writing and marketing lives.


  13. Why must critical comment always be private, whether it’s from another author or not? When I review a book, I hope that my opinion of it — whether positive or negative — will help a potential reader understand what it is that I disliked so much. Perhaps they share my view of what is/isn’t good writing or what makes for a compelling yarn; possibly they don’t. Either way, I’ll provide an honest opinion and a reason for that opinion. Because 99.99% of the time, someone who cares enough to read a review is contemplating laying down money to buy the item being reviewed. If I were a foodie thinking of spending my money at a restaurant, I would want to know what other foodies thought were great dishes and which were ones to avoid. I’d want to know their qualifications for making that judgment, and their reasons for that judgment. But having every review a positive one with little context isn’t something that I find helpful, and I assume it isn’t something that others think is any more useful. Then it’s just — oh, call it decoration. Gilding. Having a mix of good and bad reviews helps me get a real sense of a book — a well-written and thoughtful positive review easily outweighs a mean-spirited diatribe, for instance, and vice versa. I have friends who loathe coming-of-age tales, and will automatically allot them a single star (if they bother to read them and finish them at all, that is). That’s the kind of stuff I filter out when I’m reading, and I focus instead on the reviewers who criticize elements of style, and then decide whether that is something that bothers me.

    Nobody has an obligation to share negative feedback privately — especially when they have paid money in order to read what you have written. And yes, I’ve been dissed by a writer in a review of my book, and it was in the New York Times. It wasn’t a lot of laughs, and I don’t feel any urge to take the author out for lunch to thank him for the time and energy he put into writing it. On the other hand, amidst all the gnashing of teeth that went on privately, I certainly never thought that the reviewer had some special obligation to treat my feelings tenderly as a fellow writer. Nonsense — his obligation was to the paper’s readers. I happen to believe he just didn’t “get” the book, but that’s at least 50% my fault; had I done a better job, formulated my argument more clearly, perhaps it would have resonated with him. Or perhaps it’s just him. Happily, other reviewers, including other major papers, did “get it”.

    Now, this doesn’t apply to private, author-to-author transactions, as in: “Hey there, would you mind reading my new novel and telling me if you think it works, and letting me know if there are parts in there that you find problematic?” That’s a different ballgame. You’re asking for feedback on your work from a peer; a kind of peer review. Once you release something into the public domain, you can’t pick and choose which opinions you want to be public and which “should” be private, simply on the basis of whether they are positive or negative. You have a right to publish; people have a right to comment — it’s the essence of free speech.

    As far as setting out to read someone else’s work with the intent of writing a negative review — well, if that’s how you want to spend your time, it’s free speech. But odds are that a reader of that review is going to end up discounting it if it seems to have more to do with the author’s alleged bad behavior and less to do with the book itself.

  14. Bad reviews are a part of life. Even the most accomplished, award winning authors with a world wide audience will get his/her fare share. It’s out of the author’s control. What the author can control, however, is his or her reaction to the review. If you think it is unfair, then I see no reason why you shouldn’t complain on your blog. If you need to vent then vent. But if you decide turnabout is fair play, and you leave a bad review with her, I don’t understand how that would make your point. Just read her book and if you don’t like it then follow your own advice and don’t leave a review. If your book is good, you will get more positive than negative reviews anyway. People can vote her up or down on Amazon reviews.

    I’m not sure why her review was removed because I never read it. I did, however, point out to another reviewer who admonished you, personally that they could choose a more appropriate spot to lash out, like you have done on your blog.

  15. I agree with you Phil. I am not a writer by any means. But I do believe that if you have something negative or even constructive to say say it privately. It’s just a respect thing. This Rachel would not like negative reviews herself I am sure. I am sure she knows the struggles of being an author and out of respect should keep her mouth shut publicly. I think your blog is fab and will continue reading it. People need to loosen up a bit and not get so easily offended.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.