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How to Write a Rant that People Want to Read


We all rant sometimes.

Some of us do it online for the world to see. Some of us do it in the privacy of our friends and family. But the fact of the matter is that everyone gets emotionally angry from time to time. There’s nothing wrong with it. If you’re compelled to blog when you’re in a rant-y mood, though, I think it is important to make sure you’re engaging your community, not driving them away as you flick them the middle finger. Rants can be awesome for traffic, but there can also be a fall out. If you’re going to rant, make sure you write something people actually want to read. Here’s how:

Actions versus People

When you write a general rant about an individual or even a group, you look like a big meanie. You don’t have to agree with every single person out there, but most rants about people come off as attacks, not lively debates. Personally, I just don’t think there are many reasons you should burn those bridges. If you wouldn’t be comfortable standing up on the BlogWorld stages and yelling,  “So-and-so is a jerk!” don’t say it online either. If you don’t agree with someone, don’t be shy about your opinions…but save the rants instead for actions.

It’s true – when you rant about actions, you typically have someone in mind. And I definitely encourage people to name names when blogging about someone. However, there’s a difference between saying that you don’t like someone’s actions and that you don’t like someone period.

When you talk about actions, it also makes it easier for your readers to relate. They probably have been annoyed by the same actions by other people, even if they don’t know the person you’re ranting about. It also makes it easier to open up the topic for debate. If you rant about a person and one of your readers disagrees with you, they might stay silent for fear of being attacked as well. When you’re ranting about an action instead, readers can more easily inject their opinion without as much worry that you (or your community) will turn on them just for disagreeing.

“Duh” Rants

Sometimes, I read what is supposed to be a passionate rant and at the end, the only thing I can think is, “Well duh…”

There are certain things everyone hates. These topics are the constant content of blog rants, but when you aren’t really adding anything new to the conversation, what is the point? It’s your blog, of course, and if you need to get something off your chest, do it. Just be cautious as to how much of your content is self-serving versus how much is actually interesting to readers. Keep the ratio in check.

Bringing Attention to a Company

The best rants, in my opinion, are those that don’t attack a person or even an action, but rather a company;s policies. As consumers, I think it is our duty to point out when a company is doing a crap job. Rants help other customers know that their experience wasn’t isolated and you get the added benefit of warning others before they spend their hard-earned dollars.

When ranting about a company, however, make sure you’re fair. If you’re going to rant about a company’s customer service, for example, talk to at least two people – one bad employee is a mistake, but two in a row is rarely a coincidence. Or, if you order a product and it arrives broken, send an email and allow the company to respond, sending you a new one or refunding your money. In other words, before you rant, allow the company to correct the problem. Everyone makes mistakes, and I don’t think it’s fair or intelligent to rant over an isolated incident that the company is happy to correct.

And always remember that there are real people behind businesses. Whatever you’re ranting about is someone’s fault, and there’s a good chance that they’ll read your blog post, especially if it gets popular. Again, it goes back to attacking actions, not people.

In-the-Moment Emotion

When something ticks you off, it’s easy to feel emotional. I call it in-the-moment emotion – fleeting feelings of frustration that are often blown way out of proportion. Now is a great time to write about something because your post will be filled with passion. It’s not such a great time to hit the publish button.

If you’ll calm down after an hour, will you regret whatever you just wrote? Remember, once something is out there online, you can’t take it back. Even if you delete the post, it is still out there. So, give it at least an hour before you publish your rant, and if the material isn’t time-sensitive, give it at least 24 hours.

Something else to consider – how angry is your post in terms of word choice? Last week at #BWEchat, we talked to Jason Falls and Marcus Sheridan about cursing in blog posts and on social media. Whether you’re for or against, I think we can all agree that when we’re mad about something, the language can sometimes be a little stronger than we otherwise have on our blog. This can be part of what makes a rant great. Can be. If you go overboard, the language you use could turn off your readers, even if they were initially interested in your rant and agree with you. When you calm down a little, you can reread your rant to make sure the language is refined. That doesn’t mean you have to take out the sailor language – it just means that you can clearly decide what words you really want to use.

Logic Rules All

Lastly, make sure that your post is logical. I hate reading rants when I don’t know the back story and can’t figure out why the person is so mad. Even though rants are emotional, they should also make sence. Give me a compelling argument so I feel as emotionally connected to the story as you do. Now is not the time to be brief. I want the full story, including details.

In most cases, I personally think that it also makes sense for you to add “solutions” as part of your rant. What could have been done differently? What can be done now to help ease your pain? How can others avoid finding themselves in the same situation? No one ever said a rant can’t be helpful.

And be prepared. Most rants drive traffic, so people are going to respond, either on your site or off. If your post is logically sound, it shouldn’t be hard to debate with your readers.

Have you ever ranted on your blog? Was the result good or bad? What’s the best rant you’ve ever read from another blogger?

Self-Pub Author Tells Readers To “F*** Off!” (or, How NOT to Respond to Reviews)


With the ease and relatively low cost of today’s self-publishing tools, many authors are going this route rather than going through the much longer process of finding an agent and traditional publisher. It can be extremely lucrative, and even if you don’t make tons of sales, at least you gave it a shot, right?

While lots of awesome authors choose to self-publish, it sometimes gets a bad rap because for every amazing find, there are dozens or maybe even hundreds of books that were…well…self-published for a reason. Sometimes, you can’t find a publisher to take you on because the market is flooded or they just aren’t willing to take a chance on you for whatever reason. But often, publishers turn down proposals because the writing is bad. So, if you’re going to take a chance and purchase a self-published book, it makes sense to read as many reviews as  possible.

A lot of self-published authors are finding success because they go on virtual book tours or offer up their books to be reviewed on book blogs. When you send out your book to reviewers, it’s nerve-wracking. I know; I’ve done it. Thankfully, I didn’t have any scathing reviews of my ebook, but I did get some criticism. No matter how awesome your book, few reviews are 100% sunshine and unicorns. The same is true of even a blog post – not everyone who reads is going to be a fan.

You deal with it. You cry, maybe, if you have to. You learn from it and move on.

What you don’t do is respond like Jacqueline Howett, author of The Greek Seaman. After getting a luke-warm review from BigAl’s Books and Pals, she freaked out. It wasn’t even a bad review – the writer had both good and bad things to say. The bad comments he had were mostly about the fact that he found several grammatical errors, along with a number of confusingly-structured sentences.

I invite you to click on that link now to read the comments. Seriously, I couldn’t believe them. It all starts with this gem:

“You obviously didn’t read the second clean copy I requested you download that was also reformatted, so this is a very unfair review. My Amazon readers/reviewers give it 5 stars and 4 stars and they say they really enjoyed The Greek Seaman and thought it was well written. Maybe its just my style and being English is what you don’t get. Sorry it wasn’t your cup of tea, but I think I will stick to my five star and four star reviews thanks.”

Let’s not even talk about the grammatical errors in the comment itself. She then proceeds to copy and paste a few good reviews from Amazon as individual comments.

It gets better. In subsequent comments, she accuses the reviewer of not downloading the correct copy, being “discusting [sic] and unprofessional,” and leaving anonymous negative comments about the book. She goes on to tell other commenters “stay out of it” and then, my favorite part, she leaves a few comments that simply say, “F*** off!” (Without the stars, on Al’s site, it’s uncensored).


The sad part is, without her rants, this review might very well disappeared into the chasm of the Internet. I checked a few of the other posts on this site at random, and it looks like he averages two or three comments per review. Maybe ten at most. On the review of Jacqueline Howett’s book? Over 300 (and counting). He actually gave the plot a good review, so without her crazy comments, some people might have actually bought it on his recommendation. After all, we all make errors when writing, and if you self-publish you might not be able to afford a good editor. To me, it’s more important that the plot is good, and I think a lot of other readers feel similarly. But Jacqueline’s response? No way will I ever read this book.

The reviewer, in my opinion, has handled this with grace. He responded to her accusations and then said that he would not be commenting on the matter any further. I found that overall, he was extremely fair in allowing people with a variety of opinions to post comments.

You’ll notice that I haven’t posted a link to Jacqueline’s website or book on Amazon in this post. That’s by design. While I do think that this is an interesting new media case study and we can all learn from it, I personally do not want to in any way support this author’s work. I’m sure that she is seeing some sales because people are curious as to just how bad her book is, but I don’t want to encourage that. Even if her book is amazing, there are a lot of great authors out there who treat their readers with respect. Use your buying power to support them instead.

Without the community’s support, a writer is nothing. Remember that. It’s something that I think all of us should keep in mind, whether we’re writing ebooks, traditional books, or even blog posts. Community is everything.

For the record, I checked out the reviews on Amazon as well, just because I was curious as to whether or not Al’s review really was unfair. Of the 92 reviews posted, 10 are 5-star…and 72 are one-star. Of the 5-star reviews, a number of them are making fun of the double entendre title and several comment on the fact that the grammar/spelling is bad even though the story is good.

Also, hat tip to my roommate, who told me this was going on.

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