Authors Should Not Profit From Their Own Shitty Behavior

There’s another story going around of an author behaving badly, and this time, it’s a doozy: the author in question confesses to having developed an unhealthy obsession with a reviewer who 1-starred her YA novel on Goodreads, and ultimately went so far as to show up on the reviewer’s doorstep. Her actual, physical doorstep.

This story is out in circulation because the author in question wrote an article about her experiences in stalking the reviewer, and a certain major online publication ran the article. The article itself is less a confessional of the author’s unwise choices, much less her learning from those choices, and more an attempt at analysis of the pathologies in online book-reviewing culture and investigation of whether the 1-star reviewer is who she says she is. The author admits that she was warned not to engage with the reviewer, and makes a show of declaring that she, the author, is not entirely stable and that her stalking the reviewer was an inappropriate thing to do, but the substance of her piece is more an argument that her writing was treated unfairly and that she had no other recourse than to engage with the reviewer. If we take her story at face-value, we might ultimately conclude that the reviewer is more of a problem than the author, and that the author’s obsession, while regrettable, was an understandable response to the reviewer’s apparent determination to ruin her career.

The response to this author’s story of diving too far down the rabbit hole has been less about sympathy with her insanity and more about raking her over the coals for losing her shit over a negative review. Which is fine. Given the author’s inability to walk away from a 1-star review (out of many 1-star reviews for her book, oddly enough), and her willingness to fall in with the crowd that characterizes negative reviewing as “bullying,” I don’t trust this author’s analysis of the supposed perfidies of the Goodreads community. I don’t even trust her version of events. Her article gestures at being self-critical, but it’s ultimately self-serving more than anything else, and for that reason, all her commentary on the alleged toxicity of book-reviewing culture is suspect.

You may have noticed that I’ve written all this blog entry so far without naming anyone or anything except Goodreads? If you haven’t seen the story already, I’ve probably given you enough information to find the author’s name through Google, but here’s what I realized in reading another analysis of this author’s behavior on another, very high-traffic site:

We’re giving her what she wants.

What a brand-new novelist needs more than anything else is to be talked about. She needs people to read her book, and pay for it, but if she gets enough people talking about her, even if the talk is overwhelmingly negative, the readers and paying customers will follow.

I never heard of this author until today. Without her getting her bad behavior attached to her name on major websites, I probably would have never heard of her.

As we speak, there are plenty of Goodreads members adding the author’s name to their Will Not Read No Not Ever lists, but I’m sure there are many more people looking up her name on Amazon just to see what all the fuss is about, and many of those people are paying for her novel.

She’s profiting from her bad behavior. She’s using her unhealthy response to criticism to build notoriety, and she’s able to do this because of the copious amounts of critical analysis of her reviewer-stalking with her name and face attached. The major online publication rewarded her bad behavior by running her article. “Some names have been changed,” it says at the bottom, but the author’s name is very much intact. All the other websites weighing in on the inappropriateness of her actions are also rewarding her, because they are very much using her name. That sends a bad message to other (unknown, ethics-impaired) authors, and it makes more reviewers unsafe.

I’ve written about other badly-behaved authors before, though none of them went as far as showing up on someone’s doorstep. I’m starting to think maybe I shouldn’t have used their names. I’m starting to think the most radical way we can handle stories like this one is to refuse to name the author. Don’t add to their Google results. Don’t help them build name recognition. Don’t send new readers their way.

Orson Scott Card begs for our money, I mean tolerance.

Dude who wrote Ender’s Game was, in years gone by, saying stuff like this:

“Laws against homosexual behavior should remain on the books, not to be indiscriminately enforced against anyone who happens to be caught violating them, but to be used when necessary to send a clear message that those who flagrantly violate society’s regulation of sexual behavior cannot be permitted to remain as acceptable, equal citizens within that society.”
More recently, he had this to say:
If America becomes a place where our children are taken from us by law and forced to attend schools where they are taught that cohabitation is as good as marriage, that motherhood doesn’t require a husband or father, and that homosexuality is as valid a choice as heterosexuality for their future lives, then why in the world should married people continue to accept the authority of such a government?

What these dictator-judges do not seem to understand is that their authority extends only as far as people choose to obey them.

How long before married people answer the dictators thus: Regardless of law, marriage has only one definition, and any government that attempts to change it is my mortal enemy. I will act to destroy that government and bring it down, so it can be replaced with a government that will respect and support marriage, and help me raise my children in a society where they will expect to marry in their turn.

and also something about:
“Married people attempting to raise children with the hope that they, in turn, will be reproductively successful, have every reason to oppose the normalization of homosexual unions.”
Now that Geeks OUT has mounted a boycott of the Ender’s Game movie, he has sent this statement to Entertainment Weekly:

Ender’s Game is set more than a century in the future and has nothing to do with political issues that did not exist when the book was written in 1984.

With the recent Supreme Court ruling, the gay marriage issue becomes moot.  The Full Faith and Credit clause of the Constitution will, sooner or later, give legal force in every state to any marriage contract recognized by any other state.

Now it will be interesting to see whether the victorious proponents of gay marriage will show tolerance toward those who disagreed with them when the issue was still in dispute.

Allow me to translate: “Okay, you’ve won, now please buy tickets to see Ender’s Game! Come on, I’ve always tolerated your money in my pocket, so throw me a bone over here!”
Look, dude, if you want to stop being persona non grata with the LGBT-friendly geek set, you need to do more than concede defeat on the issue of marriage equality and say something weaselly and passive-aggressive about “tolerance” and “disagreement.”
You need to resign from NOM, and tell us why you understand that they’re full of shit.
You need to apologize for your hate speech. Acknowledge the disgusting things you’ve said about gays and their relationships. Then admit you were wrong. Show us how you understand that you were wrong.
It would help to donate a pile of money to a pro-LGBT cause. A charity that supports LGBT-friendly homeless shelters would be a good place to start.
Show us an about-face on your “family values” insanity. Acknowledge the absurdity of your paranoid, they’re-coming-for-our-kids rhetoric. Apologize for shitting on single parents, cohabiting couples, and everyone else outside of the “hetero married couple with kids” lifestyle. Emphasize the importance of honesty, compassion and diligence over conformity, piety and enforcement of tradition.
Most of all, you need to stop casting your side as the victim of the same-sex marriage debate. Do not characterize hatred as “disagreement” and do not conflate “tolerance” with consumption. Do not pretend to be afraid that homophobic traditionalists will experience even a small fraction of the violence, marginalization, stigma, hostility and general humiliation that sexual minorities have contended with for decades due to attitudes of the type that you have endorsed over the course of your career. (No, it is not “intolerant” of me to call you homophobic. If you act like a bigot, you’ll be labelled accordingly.) We have better things to do with our time than make your lives miserable. We might also have better things to do with our time than watch movies based on your work. This is something you’ll have to accept. If you are not sincere in your contrition, we will notice. If you show us another half-assed, weak-sauce concession and act like that should be sufficient for us to put money in your pocket, we will be unimpressed. Don’t say anything you don’t genuinely feel.

I am having a highly productive vacation.

I am pleased to announce that yesterday, I finished the first round of revision on Suicide is for Mortals.

 

WOOOOO!

 

This is not to say the hard part is over, as I haven’t even reached out to an editor yet, but it is a milestone.

I’m sure the part where I’m convinced the book sucks and I should give up on life will come after I see an editor’s feedback.

For now, though, I’m having a great time with this sucka!

I love the smell of author insanity in the morning!

Every time you use a book as a crafting object, a beloved fictional character is erased from the canon.

That’s the impression one gets from reading the reactions one gets to using an old paperback for something other than reading.

Miss Articulate bought a used copy of Pandora by Anne Rice, wasn’t impressed with the story, and converted the pages into a cute (if mundane) little box with a lid.

Then two things happened. Maybe three?

1. Anne Rice saw the blog post and shared it on her Facebook page.

2a. Anne Rice’s fans descended on Miss Articulate’s blog to tell her how offensively wrong she is to criticize the book and trash the writing skills of The Great and Powerful Rice.

2b. Said fans also took the time to tell the blogger what a terrible human being she is for chopping up a book. Desecration! Removed a book from the world! Nazis destroyed books, too!

It was really, really unprofessional and irresponsible of Anne Rice to share that blog entry on her Facebook page, but the damage is done now.

What I find really amusing is that such a can of worms opens up whenever someone uses a printed book as craft material.

You want to know who destroys more books than anyone else? BOOKSTORES. Whatever doesn’t sell gets torn up. Libraries also trash books when they wear out. Them’s the breaks for the paper and ink.

A book is not a sacred object, nor is it a precious commodity. The world is in no danger of running low on reading material. If you pay for a book, it becomes your property and you’re not hurting anyone if you use the pages for decoupage. Yes, I include my own works in that rule. (It’s a different case if you’ve requested a copy for review, but once the review is posted, go nuts with that review copy.) This here author can tell you: the spirit of the writer does not live in the pages. No metaphysical damage is done when someone chops up a used paperback. If you don’t like to see precious resources go to waste, save your anger for people who waste food.