Bullying: can a bad review be considered as such?

According to Wikipedia. “Bullying is the use of force, threat, or coercion to abuse, intimidate, or aggressively impose domination over others. The behavior is often repeated and habitual.”

Recently, a good friend of mine received a pretty nasty review. It was lengthy and pointed. The reviewer was particular and definite. The effects? My friend may quit writing. My question therefore is this: can bad reviews be considered a form of bullying?

I know the reviewer in question didn’t threaten or use force, but doesn’t verbal abuse amount to intimidation and domination of another? The reviewer was not attacking the writer in this case, but rather, the characters, and so therefore, it was like an attack on the author’s children. I mean, aren’t your characters your boon companions while you write the book?

Suppose that the reviewer had gone “there” and verbally attacked the writer-their ability to write, their style-voice, etc.


Now whatcha think? Is this bullying?

About master

Kim Smith is the author of the Shannon Wallace Mysteries, and the Mt. Moriah Series- plus, YA fantasy, and Bizarro fiction. All available on Amazon.

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  1. I have seen a fair amount of discussion about this topic recently. It’s a good question. I have yet to received a review (good or bad) so my opinion is just that…my opinion.
    Everyone gets bad reviews. That’s why they say writers need thick skin. SUPER thick skin. Recently, a friend of mine got a bad review and it was pointed towards her as a writer (meaning her style, ability to construct a plot, word use, and overall character development). It hurt BUT It’s the opinion of this one reviewer. Motives as to why…one can only guess. She chose to ignore it and move on. It’s only one review. That’s not bullying. Hurting your feelings about your characters is not bullying. We are attached to the characters because we’ve been with them from day one. This reviewer wasn’t. Sounds like they weren’t able to bond. It’s going to happen. That’s not bullying.

    When the review is critical but has a constructive element, such as characters were not well developed, then it because either it’t that one reviewer’s opinion or it’s true. If you see this a fair amount in reviews then maybe they have a point. Take that hurtful criticism and turn it into fire and write again…prove them wrong.
    If they posted reviews on all of the authors books and got their friends to do the same and they all said the same thing basically…that’s bullying. Or if they said really terrible things to the author…that’s something too. Maybe not bullying but something. Or they tried to get people to not buy their book…bullying. Have you ever seen Jimmy Kimmel’s Celebrity’s read mean tweets. Celebs read awful things about themselves that strangers have tweeted. Some of it’s terrible. Could that be bullying? Nope, not unless it’s repeated. You can’t stop people from hurting your feelings, initially. But you can stop them from repeating the offense.
    Of course, I would guess that once you receive a review such as the one discussed in this post, a proper time is need to cycle through the hurt/grief and no LARGE decisions should be made. A bad review that offers good feedback is no different than an agent rejection and a bad review that is just plain ugly is still rejection but then it needs to be brushed off. Some people are just ugly.

    Tell them to not read bad reviews. EVER!
    Of course, that’s easy for me to say since I’ve not yet had this experience.
    Good luck to them.

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