Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Authors Behaving Badly or holy shit, stalking is never the answer

Remember awhile ago when a bunch of authors felt that GoodReads authors were bullying them so they set up a group called Stop The GoodReads Bullies and then bullied those GoodReads reviewers? Yeaaah.

Now, I'm not saying that book bloggers can't be jerks. They can. Cos they're people and people can be jerks. Sometimes it's on purpose, sometimes it's by accident. Whatever. For the most part though, fair or not, I feel like it's up to the author to be the mature one and not engage. If you get a negative review that you think is unfair, don't yell at the blogger, don't try to defend yourself. Just ignore. Because no matter how right you may be, you're going to seem like the crazy person. Even GoodReads believes this since they've made it so if you're registered as an author and you go to leave a comment GoodReads says "You really want to do this? Really? Cos you really really really shouldn't do it. Not even to say thank you. Just don't say anything."

So I hadn't heard a lot about authors behaving badly (or badly behaving authors, which I guess is the typical way it's written but I already wrote this and I like my way better) for awhile now. Not to say it's not happening, but I tend not to go looking for it and I tend not to read/follow a lot of self-published novelists (which it may be a stereotype but I assume most of the ABB fall into this category) so something had to be fairly big to fall on my radar.

I was scrolling through Tumblr when I saw this story posted by Jenny Trout  called "DON'T DO THIS EVER" about an author who became obsessed with a blogger who left a one-star review of her first book on GoodReads, enough to prompt the author to eventually show up at the bloggers house to confront her about the review. NOT ONLY, did the author go above-and-beyond the normal author behaving badly, but she seems sort of...proud of the behavior? She wrote about it for The Guardian without a lot of shame for what she did. She complained that people told her the reviews are for readers, not the author (which...yes? Was that confusing her?) and when she complained about people who leave negative reviews, she just means ones that are also writing their own books? I guess if you're writing your own thing you're not allowed to dislike any other book written. Ever.*

She also claims she was "Catfished" by this blogger, because the blogger didn't use her real name (probably because the blogger described herself as a teacher and I have friends who are teachers who are not writing reviews or anything like that, and don't use their real names or keep their profiles private just to keep their students from finding them) and also the author doesn't really understand what "catfish" means in the internet world. Which seems like a bad advertisement for someone who wants to make their living using words. But nonetheless the author contacts Nev from the MTV show Catfish and even this guy, who makes his living confronting people who lie online, thinks it's a bad idea for the author to just show up on the blogger's doorstep.

Do negative reviews suck? I assume so. Why would you want to be told that something you poured your heart and soul into was terrible. But stalking someone and randomly showing up at their house, tracking them down in real life? In WHAT WORLD is that the right reaction and not the actions of a crazy person?

The author got the blogger's address because of a giveaway. A book club wanted to do an interview with the author and asked the author to pick a blogger to do it. Somehow (she's not clear how) her nemesis blogger was connected with this book club and the author managed to get her address this way. As part of a giveaway.

I'm already sort of paranoid about giving my address or any personal information online, to an extent I think one should be. I've sort of relaxed on this over time. I'm not posting it publicly online, but I've been less worried about sending authors my address directly through email. Now though. I don't think my behavior will entirely change, but I will be more cautious. Maybe using a different address? Maybe ecopies only? I dunno, but something to think about.

*I know there are benefits to maybe not writing negative reviews of other authors if you yourself are pushing your own book. I don't necessarily agree, but I understand not wanting to badmouth what is in a way a co-worker. But that's a different topic and one I won't talk about cos I'm neither an author nor trying to be one so I really don't have much of a leg to stand on in that debate.