The Unfortunate Backlash

A few days ago, I made a post about Raani York and her “wishlist” to reviewers. Her post became an instant career killer. This is a prime example of a situation I hate to be right about (not saying I’m right about everything, so let’s not get that twisted.)  In fact, it’s kinda scary how predictable the self publishing world has become. Her post went up on January 13th, and within 2 days (2 days!?) her book was torn to shreds. I stand by what I said in the previous post (which you can read here, or just scroll down a bit) but I feel awful for her. Her book went from a 3.89 on Goodreads (which is amazing by GR standards) to a 1.78. The reviews have been mean, cruel, and really fucked up. The sad fact is that she isn’t the first, nor will she be the last author to get massacred for making a mistake.

Because self publishing is being publicized as “so easy,” everyone thinks they can do it. The market is flooded with half-assed, barely cohesive piles of junk. For a long time, reviewers had taken it upon themselves to regulate the market. They helped squash any poorly constructed piece of garbage to help make room for the authors that really gave it their all. This did help a lot for a long time and by the time self-publishing became the “in” thing to do, the reviewers that were trying to help became overwhelmed. Then, the delusional authors entered the scene. These were the authors that thought their book was better than every other book on the market, and they acted that way. They would respond to negative reviews with harsh, almost psychotic responses in an attempt to put the reviewer in their place. These authors helped form STGRB and other psuedo-justice driven websites. They claimed that people who didn’t like their book were either jealous or just mean. One bad review for someone could easily land the reviewer’s personal information out for all of the world to see. Because many reviewers are also authors themselves, that was fuel to the fire. STGRB was/is the leader in continuing to push the hatred, but that’s another topic all together. Because things began to get so out of hand, reviewers started to fight back. If an author started to gripe about negative reviews, or reviewers in general, the masses would descend and a book that was more or less decent would be shredded. That is unfortunately what has happened to countless authors when they even make a peep. Granted, not all authors are innocent (I’m looking at you, Kathleen Hale.) But those that are attempt to speak out about it and get classified with the truly terrible authors. It sucks that it happens this way, but it seems to be the only way to keep the battle on even ground and to keep authors from getting big heads.

But, isn’t there another way? This is more of a rhetorical question than anything, but it’s out there. Shouldn’t authors be allowed to make observations about the community without fear of being ripped to shreds? I decided a long time ago that I was going to remain as neutral as possible, but I was going to say what I felt needed to be said. Of course, I also learned early on what to say and what not to say. I don’t think that I am free from being targeted, I mean, we all are, aren’t we? But, I really think that someone like Raani York, who (after a follow up look at her blog) really meant it as a joke, shouldn’t have been attacked like that. There are tons of authors that do, and their treatment of and behavior in the community are evident of that, someone who has not been known to make waves should be given peace. A wrong move like this from an other wise great author shouldn’t be a career killer. If Ms. York reads this, I truly hope that she continues writing, but she should perhaps stay away from any attempt at direct contact with reviewers in the future. Good luck, Ms. York.

About Maegan Provan

I am an indie author and proud of it. I try to update as much as humanly possible, but I'm a busy bee.

Posted on January 18, 2015, in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. There’s definitely a double-standard. Reviewers can say anything they want in a review, but there’s an unspoken rule that authors can’t reply. While I support reviewers’ rights to post anything they want in a review, based on the criteria of their choosing, I think it’s sad that some people choose to spend a great deal of time engaging in gang-like warfare on Goodreads. Raani’s post was a “wishlist,” but to some, it came across as a list of demands.

    Like Raani, I “wish” everyone liked my book. I also wish everyone was nice to each other. As an author, I’ve made the decision to only review books I can honestly rate at least a three-star. That doesn’t mean I don’t think other reviewers should follow my lead. Each reviewer has their own rules for reviewing, and I think they should have the right to post their reviews without consulting authors or worrying about hurt feelings. Yes, my feelings have been hurt by reviews, but I wholeheartedly support the reviewer’s RIGHT to say what they needed to say.

    Reviewers should not feel stifled. They should be allowed to post an honest review without fear of repercussions from crazy, stalking authors. The same SHOULD be true for authors – they should feel safe to post their observations or opinions without fear that reviewers will call all their friends to one-star their book out of spite.

    In a perfect world, authors and reviewers would act professionally, but this is not a perfect world. Some authors throw hissy fits, lashing out at reviewers, while some psychopathic reviewers hide behind aliases to take their middle-school bullying tactics to their favorite review sites. Some people seem to thrive on BS and drama, but in the end, no one really benefits. It creates an atmosphere of negativity that harms everyone.

  2. There must be a bigger, more strident response elsewhere – what’s posted to the OP is quite restrained.

    Ever since a friend of mine attacked the “Agent Model” and started to question if self-publishing was a viable option (2009 I think it was) I’ve seen a number of flame wars over publishing/agents/self-publishing and now reviews/reviewers/authors

    Every time I read something like this, I have to wonder if sales go up as a result.

    Not that the author is trying to kick up a fuss, mind you, it’s the old adage that ‘any publicity is good publicity.’

    Still, the controversy is ultimately good for everyone, even if it is tremendously painful in the short term. The ugly flame-war over the agent debate was enough to turn hundreds of authors to self-publishing. It resulted in our current industry, still in it’s infancy, but maturing very, very fast.

    • I do think that Ms. York will be able to get out of this, provided that she keeps to herself and doesn’t do anything else. It very likely could have been a publicity stunt to get a bit of attention, but I always try to find the good in everyone, so I hope that’s not why she made the OP.

      • Nora Roberts just posted “Bite Me” which sums up her frustration with people telling her what and how to write. She’s so laid back and gracious – yet somebody pushed her buttons until she snapped.

  3. That is both the appeal and the problem with indy authors – if Stephen King were to post something like that (or any of the other so-called “real” authors) it would not be a career killer because most readers look at them as a creature on a pedestal – they aren’t someone you can chat with, someone you could talk to, they are some kind of literary God. But indy authors, well they are just people. They’re a Joe Schmoe like everyone else and so we can talk to them. We can tell them what we think. As social media evolves I think the “real” authors will eventually be down here too, but it takes time for public consciousness to change. I know I refuse to read or buy anything by Ann Rice now because of how she behaved on her facebook page (using Christian bashing to get a controversy started and hundreds of hits/views comments, all of which was a clever publicity thing which she later, after all of those hundreds of comments, came out and said “now, now, be nice” after she had fanned the flames for days…I can’t stand the idea of anyone bashing any religion [no matter which one] or group just to get comments and page views.) I’m sure other people were just as mad(judging by a comment during the thing stating “She may have lost 300 likes but this will just attract new people who will more than double what she lost” and I am sure they were right) and there are probably others who have quit reading her books over it, too, but she sells so many that we don’t matter – and we know it. She can piss off a third of her readers (or more) and be fine, but if an indy does that we’re probably in trouble – and their readers also know that. Ann Rice is a *someone* and since we know she doesn’t need us, we know she doesn’t care if we quit reading her work, then why quit at all? We can’t hurt her with it – but we can hurt that indy writer. Our bad review will have an instant effect on her book, while our bad review of Ann Rice’s won’t, so it just isn’t worth the effort. The’re bigger and better and above us. For instance I talked to some other people who were also pissed off by it, and had unliked her page, but they will continue to buy her books because – and I quote – “She’s Ann Rice!” so it’s okay because she’s a *someone” – and *someones* can get away with things that Joe Schmoes can’t.

    • Honestly, Jo, I have to agree with you. It’s quite a messed up double standard within our society. Those that have billions of book sales and movies under their belts are allowed to prattle off garbage and drama inducing nonsense but the moment one of us does it, our career would be over. It honestly sucks the biggest load of rotten eggs in the history of the planet.

  4. Maegan, thank you for such a wise and considered post. I know Ms. York, though only through online contact, and she has unpublished her work and disappeared. You are right in that this behavior harms everyone…all indie authors and more specifically the object of the bullying in very real ways. Her wishlist for reviewers was intended to be a joke; yes it was naive and some would say untoward. But like you, I was appalled at the viscous backlash. So I thought you’d like to know, that it really wasn’t a publicity stunt. She’s been destroyed by this in a very personal way.

    • Jacquie, I am glad that you read my post. I hate that Ms. York has removed her work, but I hope that she doesn’t get discouraged. The best reaction to this is to keep publishing and not let them get the better of her. It’s unfortunate that one wrong word can destroy a career, but I hope that she doesn’t give up.

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