Just once, it would be nice to see a story about an author having a meltdown over a negative review that’s actually mean-spirited and personal. Not that it would be okay to have a meltdown where her fans could see her. Just that my writer brain seeks nuance and ambiguity. I want to see flawed protagonists and relatable villains. Perhaps those meltdowns just don’t get as much attention? I guess.
Anyway, now we have Emily Giffin to add to the list of authors who behave badly in the face of negative reviews. Only, Giffin didn’t act alone. This time, it started out with the author’s husband, THEN Giffin went on Facebook and subtly encouraged her fans (she has over 115,000 on Facebook) to go gang up on the Amazon reviewer. Then another reviewer edited her review from five to one star and explained how Emily Giffin and her husband had turned her off by behaving like irresponsible asshats (my words, not hers). And because the shit hadn’t yet sufficiently hit the fan, Giffin’s assistant, Kate, jumped into the fray and berated the second reviewer for changing her mind.
Meanwhile, Giffin continued to insist that she was not looking at the Amazon reviews for her book, but at the same time egged her assistant on and encouraged her fans to “defend” her against the negative reviewers.
Around this time, Giffin’s husband went back on Amazon and issued an apology to the negative reviewers for picking a fight with them.
However, by that point the second reviewer was already receiving abusive phone calls and voicemails from Giffin’s fans.
This is possibly the most damning episode:
I’m not going to copy-paste the whole saga into this post; I encourage you to go and look at all of Pocketful of Books’s screencaps. You will see how Giffin oh-so-gently encouraged her fans to go and pile on the negative reviewer, while still maintaining plausible deniability.
In addition to being a best-selling author with St. Martin’s Press, Giffin has also been a litigator in a Manhattan law firm, according to her Wikipedia entry. This woman is not stupid. She has plenty of experience with people behaving less than ethically and responsibly. I think she knew exactly what she was doing, and if she didn’t, then she just didn’t think, and there’s no excuse for that.
Throughout the whole absurd episode, Giffin steadfastly maintained that she never, ever looked at her Amazon reviews, so she didn’t see what people were posting about her. To be honest, she probably could have avoided a lot of insanity if she had checked her review section and seen the 1-star that initially set her husband off.
No, sorry, that’s not a terrible review, as negatives go. Negatives need to be allowed, otherwise the positives don’t mean anything.
There’s a word to describe the way Emily Giffin has acted towards her fans, with the participation of her husband and assistant. It’s not just “oversensitive.” It’s not merely “arrogant.”
The difference between a barely-known author who can’t handle a negative review, and Emily Giffin, is that Giffin has six figures of Facebook fans and is able to employ an assistant. This means she has a much greater capacity to do damage than some indie-pubber, self-pubber or bottom-lister who struggles to make her writing career more than an expensive hobby. Her carelessness, combined with her impressive following, have done damage, and she just throws her hands in the air and says, “Well, what else can I do?”