This is a great post from Ali Luke. It’s an incredibly well written piece on how truly difficult it is to be a fiction writer. This isn’t a straight up “here are tips” kind of article, but you will definitely find some note worthy passages in here!
I work from 9am to 4pm, Monday through Wednesday. I get up in the morning, lightly browse Facebook, get ready, and I’m out the door. Typically when I come home from work, there isn’t a lot going on. I mostly talk to Tricia, attempt to write and inevitably get distracted by shiny things on the internet. The reason I wanted to give a break down of my day is because it’s boring. I look at reviews, I check in with my other author friends, and that’s about it. The real life of most self-published, or small named authors is pretty boring. Or, at least I thought it was.
Today, I logged on Facebook and I saw one of my friends had shared an article from Buzz Feed entitled “This is What Happens When an Author Tracks Down a Critic in Real Life.” I was completely shocked. I mean, I know that the battle between bullies and the rest of the publishing world has been raging on in the background for years, but I never thought it would turn into something in the public eye. If you decided not to take a look at the aforementioned article because you found it TL;DR, I’ll explain:
Author Kathleen Hale wrote an article for the Guardian called “‘Am I being catfished?’ An author confronts her number one online critic” and it talks about her brush with a pseudo-book blogger, sock puppet type. The article spoke about Hale’s descent in to obsession about one particular reviewer named “Blythe Harris.” The bulk of the article touched on Hale’s own insecurities about the reviewer and how the reviewer went on to cyber-stalk her. With several alcohol fueled investigations, she did everything from pay ($19) for a background check on the name used by the reviewer, to requesting the reviewer interview her as part of a blog spot in an attempt to get more information. She even obtained the reviewer’s address (which she said would be for a giveaway) and Googled it, finding out that the reviewer used a pseudonym. Hale went on to rent a car, drive to the reviewer’s home and showed up at her door. Even though she chickened out, she still managed to call the reviewer, not once, but twice, in regards to the entire situation.
Every author deals with bullies at some point in their career. Most have their worst experiences at the beginning, when they’re still young enough in the community to get upset by bad reviews. The social websites, like Goodreads, are full of trolls look for people like Hale. They harass and attack authors in hopes of getting a reaction. Of course, there are authors who try to “counter attack” by using sites like Stop the Goodreads Bullies, under the guise of “protecting themselves.” If you know about STGRB, you know that the majority of the community look at them as sick, twisted psychos who stalk and harass anyone they feel they can by claiming that they’re trying to counteract bullies. STGRB has been on the black list for a long time due to their shameless sharing of private information (real names, addresses, phone numbers, etc.) and they’re considered the scourge of the writing world. Kathleen Hale contacted “Athena Parker,” one of the founders of STGRB (pseudonym) ((shocker, there, right?)), to get some more insight into how to respond to the bully. I went into a bit of detail about STGRB because I wanted you to understand that when Hale mentioned them in her article, I lost what little empathy I had for her.
Now, don’t get me wrong, “Blythe Harris” was just as much in the wrong as Kathleen Hale. Harris stalked Hale by over commenting on any positive review that was left on Hale’s book. She even “live tweeted” Hale’s tweets, mocking them mercilessly. Considering “Blythe Harris” probably won’t be commenting any time soon, let’s assume Harris’s recount of the situation is mostly spot on.
I don’t know how many times I’ve said this, but you NEVER comment on your own reviews. You NEVER respond to bullies. You NEVER harass them, because then you’re no better. I kind of though “don’t STALK them” would be a given, but maybe I’m being to optimistic. Regardless of how you feel about a reviewer, regardless of how merciless they become, you are better by not responding. You are better by not finding out who they are and going to their house.
Needless to say, both parties were wrong in this, and both should take serious looks at their own lives. The fact that Hale wrote an article about the situation makes her look more like the wrong-doer in the scenario, but I want to be clear that I don’t feel one has more guilt in the situation than the other. I think it’s wrong that either side is getting sympathy.
So when you sit at your keyboard, in hopes of starting your first/next book, think about this situation. Think about how both parties looked at the end of the situation. Think about how you want to look if something like this happens to you.
Writing Tip/ Moral of the Story: TWO WRONGS DON’T MAKE A RIGHT!!!
A great article every one should read. I think that this applies to everyone, no matter what their age. These are fantastic reasons for ANYONE to write a book.
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