Lord Grimdark and the critics

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Not listening to the people who put you down is one thing, making them your strength is quite another. And that’s what fantasy author Joe Abercrombie has been doing, under his Twitter handle of @lordgrimdark . Abercrombie often posts quotes from his one star reviews, fragments of why people really hated his books.

This sort of thing is generally considered bad practice for an author. You’re either spreading negative press about yourself in the form of the review, or you’re making more bad publicity by picking an unwinnable public fight.

But it seems to work for Abercrombie. It fuels a public persona that has the grim, resilient humour of his characters. By sharing largely without comment he removes any power those critics had over him, not rising to the bait but making them part of his own book-selling machine, resolving the conflict not into a flame war but into something for his Twitter followers to discuss.

There’s something pleasing about it all. Something almost Taoist, turning your opponents’ strength against them. I hope next time any of us comes in for criticism we can take a lesson from Lord Grimdark and turn it to our advantage.