Writer on a Warpath: Dylan Saccoccio Rampages against Reviewer


There’s only one way to respond to a negative review: DON’T

Authors who challenge a review do nothing in the way of damage control. Quite the opposite, actually.

This is a major writing faux pas. At best the author comes off defensive or childish. At worst, the author comes off psychotic, especially when they threaten to post revenge reviews or even file a lawsuit.

On the offenders registry are authors Stephan J. Harper, Carroll Bryant, Emily Giffin, Chris McGrath, and now Dylan Saccoccio.

Today, I’d like to focus on Dylan Saccoccio (author of The Tales of Onora) for going on a rampage against a recent reviewer.

dylanDylan is an author I’m rather familiar with, having purchased his book based on the number of reviews, comparisons to Tolkien and George R.R. Martin, his impressive Amazon Best Sellers Rank, and the fact that I’m a sucker for an attractive cover.

You’ll note I did not determine my purchase based on the number of positive/negative reviews.

Similar criteria attracted the recent reader who left a less than positive review.

How Dylan responds is absolutely cringeworthy. See for yourself. If you’d like to see a train wreck, follow the link here.

His arguments aren’t even valid. He accuses negative reviews of being damaging to his novel’s success and a reflection of the reviewer instead of the author or book.

What I find funny: It’s his response to the negative review–NOT the negative review itself–that risk damaging his book’s success and his reputation as an author. So essentially he’s causing the very thing he is afraid will occur.


With over 100 reviews (60% being positive), a large twitter following, a loyal fan base, and a high Amazon ranking, it’s petty and ridiculous that he would even hone in on this one review.

He is so afraid of others threatening his writing career, he isn’t even aware he is committing career suicide. That’s like worrying about getting West Nile from a mosquito bite while smoking a cigarette.

Let’s look at the damage, shall we?

The review did no damage whatsoever; however, his response could cost him fans (new and old), damage his reputation, hurt sales, and lose followers.

Case in point. I used to follow him on twitter, but I simply can’t follow any author who behaves this way. Will he notice the sting of one bee? Maybe not. But if enough bees sting . . . you start to feel the venom.

So what did he accomplish in the way of damage control? Nothing but assuage a bruised ego.

So why did he respond to this review? The simple reason would be a lack of logic. He wanted the reviewer to remove his review because he worried it would damage sales. So in truth, he wasn’t trying to be a defensive man-child. He was responding to misconceptions of the dreaded negative review.


Negative Reviews Discredit Your Book or Writing

Negative reviews add legitimacy to a book’s reputation. Case in point, I almost didn’t purchase The Tales of Onora because it had too much praise. Without a negative review, I’m led to believe that his friends and family (or paid people) were a majority of his reviewers.

Negative Reviews are Slander

Slander and opinion are very different things. Can anyone tell me what a review is? Yes, for those of you who said opinion, you would be correct. We live in ‘Merica where everyone has a right to an opinion–whether informed, well-constructed, or biased. Does the latter describe this recent review. Hardly. He simply didn’t like it, and to be honest, neither did I. And for a lot of the same reasons as this guy, I might add. I guess I’m glad I didn’t review it. I’d hate to be the target of damaged pride.

Reviews are Personal

Youve_Got_Mail_20917_MediumHere’s where he really lost it, accusing the reviewer of having no sympathy or humanity. As if the reader’s goal was to bring down his career. Most of the time, reviewers don’t know you. Your success or failure isn’t their concern–and it shouldn’t be. This isn’t heartless, it’s just a fact. They are interested in finding a good book that they will enjoy. You are not their focus when they leave a review. Reviews are for READERS, not authors. They are telling other readers why they liked/did not like a book and whether they think it is a worthy read. Their opinions can be hurtful, but it isn’t an attack.

For the record, the ONLY good way to respond to a negative review is to NOT RESPOND.

You could try NOT READING THEM, though I think an author interested in growth should read and consider all their reviews.

Instead of going on a rant, consider these alternatives to take the sting off.

  • take a shot for every negative review (non drinkers can substitute shots for chocolate)
  • frame them on the wall of shame
  • burn them
  • put a hex on the bad reviewer
  • determine if their negative response is in fact positive criticism and use that to improve your writing in the future
  • whine to a friend
  • re-read positive reviews
  • sing Let it Go
  • go online and distract yourself with cat memes

Well there you have it. I’m a firm believer in learning from other’s mistakes, so let this be a lesson to the rest of you. When you get a review–good or bad–be gracious, be humble, be prepared, and most importantly be quiet. Whatever your response is, keep it out of the spotlight. In the end, your success or failure relies more on you than your reviews and readers.

2015 Reading Resolutions


In 2014, I think I only managed to finish 4-6 books. Partially I just didn’t have a lot of time to read what with writing and editing my sister’s novel and all, but on the other hand, I simply could not get through some of the books I tried to read. What it comes down to is this: I don’t have time to read bad books, but in 2015 I am going to make time to read good ones. This is my to-read list. Additional recommendations are welcome, especially in the fantasy genre.

51kmDQgbu9LThis book was referred to me by my sister. Being a parody reader and writer, she loves the works of Terry Prachett–most of them anyway. I started reading this book in 2014, but I got stuck in the middle. It wasn’t that it was bad, it was just slow-going. I plan on returning to Discworld this year so I can find out how the story ends. The characters are really enjoyable and most of the humor is very witty. So far, I recommend this book.

91pY4eHaULL._SL1500_As a fantasy writer, I like to keep up with who and what’s popular in the fantasy realm. I’ve heard a lot of buzz about the author Brent Weeks–this book in particular. I haven’t started reading it yet, but the synopsis sounds hopeful. I’m looking forward to reading something from an author I’m not familiar with. Keeping my fingers crossed it’s good.

81yqwJc-HwL._SL1500_Would any fantasy lover’s reading list be complete without something written by George R.R. Martin. I’m ashamed to admit I watched the show before reading the book. I just don’t typically get invested in series with more than five books. It’s too expensive and time consuming for me to keep up with. I do, however, want to sample George’s writing style, so I’m going to read the first book and go from there. I like the show so I assume I’ll like the book.


This author was referred to me by my sister. I was told Karen Miller is like the woman George R.R. Martin. I’m really looking forward to reading this one, even though I have no intentions of reading the other books in the Godspeaker trilogy. For one thing, I already know what happens, because my sister told me everything. You never ask her to tell you about a book or movie unless you want to know how it ends. See her review here.


If you were worried, I happen to have some independent authors on my list as well. Though I’m not a fan of Gods, I do love elves, so I figured this book would be a safe bet. I’ve never read anything from this author before, but it had decent reviews so I’m happy to check it out.


The cover drew my interest, and the reviews won me over. Even though one of the reviews contained massive spoilers (seriously, people, don’t give away the end), I’m still going to read this. I’m hoping the story is as good as the cover. I haven’t read a sample yet, so I’m really trusting the opinions of others here.

91R5IqXMMvL._SL1500_This is probably the only nonfiction book I have on my list. I saw this on twitter and couldn’t resist. I love the story of Gilgamesh. It was the first piece of ancient literature I studied in college. I loved the character’s plight: Why must we die? Humanity’s struggle with the inevitability of death and what it means to be mortal is a fascinating topic, one that I hope this author will do justice.


This is another book I studied in college (same professor). This is probably one of my favorite stories of all time. I’m particularly fond of the theme of mortality: Is it better to die a legend and be remembered forever or to be remembered and loved by a few and then forgotten forever. The only reason I don’t have this book on my shelf right now is because I can’t choose which translation I want.


For those of you who think I want to read this after watching the movie starring Fancy Wolverine, let me just stop you right there. I’ve wanted to read this since I was four. Yes, that’s true. I remember a trip to the library as a child. I saw this book on a shelf and asked my mom how old I had to be to read it–considering it didn’t have pictures. She said grown ups read books like that. I think 28 is grown up enough. Challenge accepted.


I’m not usually a fan of Mages or magic in fantasy (which makes my reading pool pretty shallow), but this book was written by an awesome author, so I’m sure it too will be awesome. I’ve read a sample, and so far, I have to say the quality is very good. I usually don’t recommend a book after only reading a chapter, but I’ve already recommended this one to several people.


I just added this title to my reading list today. I saw it on a post by Therin Knite, and I thought it looked good. The reviews are promising and I like the sample so far. The writing is good so far. No final judgement yet.

Well, there you have it. I think eleven books isn’t too ambitious. It’s going to take me enough time to read “Les Mis” so we’ll see how many I actually finish. Some of these books are repeats from 2014, and I’ve even started reading some of them; this year I vow to finish them.

What are your reading resolutions? Do you have a quota or a list of titles?