Mayday, mayday! She’s going down!

I wasn’t going to post this evening but this one is too delightful to keep.

So it seems there is a review blog Big Al’s Books and Pals.  The eponymous Big Al tends to review mostly indie and/or self-published books, and mostly of the e-book variety.  In exchange for providing Big Al an electronic copy, an author can get some nice publicity – and we all want that for our books, right?

Well, you might think so.  Enter Jacqueline Howett.  She had a book reviewed by Big Al, her latest e-pub called The Greek Seaman.  Big Al gave the plot high marks but unfortunately, he gave the overall work a low rating, due to the numerous grammatical and spelling errors.

Ms. Howett had another opinion – that is, she seemed to think her writing was above reproach.  She showed up on Big Al’s blog to complain about his post, posting good reviews on her work from other sites (such as Amazon) as support.  At first, Big Al and other posters tried to reason with her, saying that bad or disagreeable reviews of any author’s work were not uncommon, and said that Ms. Howett should roll with the punches. 

That incredibly unreasonable advice had the predictable effect of Ms. Howett engaging in increasingly-shrill denunciations of Big Al, the posters on his site, the publishing world, the British government, Nabisco, and pretty much anything and anyone but herself.  Her posts were filled with – you guessed it – numerous spelling errors, poor grammar, and lack of punctuation.  At the climax of her posting, the erudite Ms. Howett concluded with the well-written post of, "Fuck you!" to everyone who dared hold the opinion that her work was anything less than the literary equivalent of pure orgasm.

(You can read the whole thing here.)

You know, I wish I could say this kind of behavior surprises me.  Upon reading this, all I could think of was the days when I watched American Idol (yes, I suck) and some shrill, out-of-tune harpy would – upon being shown the door – shriek between tears that she was going to be the biggest thing in the world, that Simon could kiss her ass, her mom said how good she was, ad infinitum.  It’s only logical that we would have the equivalent in the writing world.  Self-entitled narcissism will never go out of style, it seems.

I read a few other blog posts about the incident.  The most concise blurb I read came from Bibliobanter, who wrote, "RIP, Jacqueline Howett, … because I’m pretty sure she just dug a hole and tossed her writing career into it."  Perhaps Big Al himself best summarized it in a post about negative reviews:

If you’re an author planning to submit your book for review and can’t live with the consequences … possibly you should reconsider.


Jacqueline Howett has a blog and a Facebook page.  I wonder how much extraneous grief she visited on herself by acting stupid.

Incidentally, if you are interested in having Big Al perform a review, his guidelines are right here.  Please be advised that he has – as of 26 Mar 11 – a three-month backlog, so it might take some time to get picked up.


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