In Hoffman's favour she has now apologised, and her Twitter account has been deleted: but I'm amazed that she saw fit to put someone else's personal information up on the internet in order to get others to make contact. It's an appalling thing to have done.
I loved Hoffman's book Blackbird House, and I've enjoyed a good few of her other titles, too. But as a direct result of this, I will not be buying any more of Alice Hoffman's books.
You can read a good account of this at the wonderful Galleycat; Gawker mopped into all the corners with screenshots of all of her terrible Tweets; The Book Maven told the story and added some more background about a previous Hoffman overreaction. You can read what Lynn Price (of Behler Publications) has to say about it here; Editorial Ass has picked up the story, too; AuthorScoop mentioned it; and (inevitably) it's now being discussed at Absolute Write.
In an attempt to be fair, I have to point out that Alice Hoffman isn't the only writer to spew her objections to a bad review onto the internet. Anne Rice introduced her new and exciting paragraph-free style when she objected to an Amazon review of one of her books, while Laurell K Hamilton took us Christmas shopping for her characters and along the way revealed how much work her editors have to do.
This kind of reaction to a review has been called The Author's Big Mistake for a very good reason: it can't change the review, and the results are going to hang around for an awfully long time (as is shown by the links I've given above). If an author is determined to respond to a bad review but would like to keep some dignity intact, then the only possible course of action is to thank the reviewer for his or her time, and hope that they like the next book better. It's possible to do this with grace and style, as was ably demonstrated when I reviewed a book called We'll Always Be Pals on my other blog, The Self-Publishing Review. I wasn't terribly keen on the book but its author, Tom McManus, left a few very gracious comments, including this:
It's all good Jane, everyone is entitled to their own opinions and you have yours. I am not hurt by it. As you know, when you put something out there like a book, you take the good and the not so good in stride.
I just wish that Alice Hoffman had spoken with Mr McManus before she visted Twitter. She could have learned a lot.
But the last word here must go to John Scalzi, who has written an excellent analysis of The Author's Big Mistake. Some people are indeed crazy screechy monkeys, and some writers are asstards.
Edited to add some more linky heaven:
Thanks to Daniel Blythe, here's another writer reacting to a poor review. She's switched off the comments to her blog so there are no reactions there: we'll just have to make up for that here.
Pub Rants has now blogged about it too.
These ones come courtesy of AuthorScoop:
When Richard Ford shot Alice Hoffman's book: "it's not like I shot her." That's OK then.
There are some scary stories about more writers who have overreacted to bad reviews at The Salon.
And here Alain de Botton reacts to a very negative review. I've not read the book, but I am backing slowly away: here it's the reviewer who scares me the most.