Let’s talk about: authors who stalk reviewers

 

 

Guys,

 

As some of you know, I’ve been on a blog and Twitter hiatus for the last few months. So I have not kept myself up to date with on-goings in the community. Imagine my surprise when I learned that an author, back in 2014, stalked a reviewer. When I saw the first headline I shrugged, rolled my eyes and made myself a cup of coffee. Whilst making said cup of coffee I got more intrigued, so I made myself comfortable in front of my computer, and decided to dive in to this mystery and see what it was all about. Nothing, and I do mean nothing, could have prepared me for what I was about to discover.

 

I don’t want to get ahead of myself here, so I’ll try and show it all as I stumbled across it!

 

Earlier tonight I finished a book-tag and was going through my list of followers, to find some people I could nominate to get the tag going. As I only really returned from my hiatus just after New Years, I noticed a lot of great people have started following me in my absence, and thus I decided to check them all out. One of the people is S.E. White, and what I found on her blog has so far kept me occupied for 3 hours, with about 10 tabs open. Her blog post “The Time When an Author Responded to a Bad Review: And It Worked” is truly disturbing. So of course I couldn’t just stop there. Instead I clicked every single link reference in her post, which kept giving me new horrifying material to read.

 

Eventually, I found the article that The Guardian printed about it – which you can read right here. This article isn’t new – with a print date back from the 18th of October 2014 it’s over 4 years old. I was still shocked about the entire ordeal. I mean where does this author get off thinking she’s in the right, when she decides to stalk a blogger who’s left a 1 star rating for one of her books on Goodreads? I’ve heard so many authors say that they stay away from GR, as it’s for the readers and not for the writers. However, this woman isn’t just stalking the reviewer online, oh no, she does a background check on her, gets her address from a publishing company and goes to her freaking house. Like, she actually goes to her house!

 


I strolled to the front door. A dog barked and I thought of Blythe’s Instagram Pomeranian. Was it the same one? The doorbell had been torn off, and up close the garden was overgrown. I started to feel hot and claustrophobic. The stupid happiness book grew sweaty in my hands. I couldn’t decide whether to knock.

 

 

Even though, she’s allowed to deflect the madness with a big dose of inappropriate humour, in the Guardian article. it doesn’t make it any less scary, manipulative and just wrong on so many levels.

 

But the madness doesn’t stop there!

 

Somehow, somewhere there’s someone that looks kindly on this behaviour and decides that the author deserves to make money on this. So she has an upcoming book planned for 2019, very appropriately it’s called:


Kathleen Hale Is a Crazy Stalker

 

Honestly, if I knew anyone that would describe themselves like she does, when feeling the pressure of a deadline, I think I’d suggest they seek professional help.

 

In the months before my first novel came out, I was a charmless lunatic – the type that other lunatics cross the street to avoid. I fidgeted and talked to myself, rewriting passages of a book that had already gone to print. I remember when my editor handed me the final copy: I held the book in my hands for a millisecond before grabbing a pen and scribbling edits in the margins.

 

Now I’m not an author, but to me that doesn’t seem like normal, or even healthy, behaviour. Had a seen this and was about to enter any kind of relationship or interaction, with someone who describes themselves as a “charmless lunatic”, I would run in the opposite direction. Faster than you’d see me run towards some Danish liquorice.

 


It looked as if I had been taken in by someone using a fake identity. I Gchatted Patricia: “I think we’ve been catfished?”

 

Let’s start by looking up the phrase “catfished”

 

Catfished 
To be deceived or lead on by someone on any social network, or chat session who’s claiming to be someone or something they’re not and tries anything to make you believe them with words that might interest you. While they’re just sitting behind whatever devices they’re using and their true identity is being concealed while giving you false information about themselves.

A typical catfisher would: 
*Use False info or identification 
*tells or sends you anything that interests you (very romantic or sexual 
*will ask for money or talk you into joining any website you got to pay for. 
*will constantly go through great lengths to ignore or make up an excuse to avoid any telephone conversation or video chatting.

 

Now let’s take a look at the definition for “pen name”

 

Pen name: noun
An assumed name used by a writer instead of their real name.

 

As far as I’m aware a blogger is a writer, so going with that assumption, it’s okay for a blogger to use a pseudonym. Just as it’s okay for an author. That doesn’t mean that the person using a pseudonym is untrustworthy or shady. Coming to think about it, it might just make them smarter than someone like me. You see, I have quite an unusual name so if someone really wanted, I don’t think it would take them a long time to find my personal Facebook profile, my postal address. Hell for all I know, they could probably even find out what my favourite colour is and how I like my coffee.

 

And that, my good people, is a scary thought! That someone would go to such extremes because of a low review rating. I’ve said this many times before, but writing is an art form. And just as with all other forms of art, it’s subject to individual taste. Some will like it, others will not. That doesn’t mean I’m not sympathetic to how hard it must be, to see your hard work being teared to shreds by reviewers. I bet that it gives some an instant craving for alcohol and comfort food. But if you choose to share your work with the world, you open yourself up to the possibility of receiving low reviews. The came can be said for bloggers. I have blog post where I feel like I’ve worked my arse off, and in my own opinion I feel like I’ve written the best review ever to grace places like Goodreads. But that doesn’t mean that anyone else feels that way. And we all have to be okay with that.

 

As I’ve also mentioned before, for many readers the amount of stars awarded to a book doesn’t mean anything. When I am looking for my next read, or researching a book I’ve been asked to read and review, I’ll look at the comments. Not the stars. And I have before read and loved books that other bloggers didn’t like.

 

Other commenters joined in to say they’d been thinking of reading my book, but now wouldn’t. Or they’d liked it, but could see where Blythe was coming from, and would reduce their ratings.

 

The author claims that the reviewer in question converted other readers, making them agree with her and lowering their own rating. Well, that can really only mean two things: either the blogger had some shady dirt on all those people, or she made so compelling arguments and could back them up, that they simply changed their minds. Want to take bets on which way I’m leaning?

 

I’ve previously been contacted by an author, who asked me not to tag her on Twitter in negative reviews. This was within my first few months of blogging, and I was just tagging authors left, right and centre. The fact that she took the time to ask me via PM was very considerate, and it made me feel bad that I hadn’t considered how seeing the low reviews on her Twitter notifications would feel for her. But I learned a valuable lesson, which I’m carrying with me. Now I do imagine that this author gave it some thought before contacting me, I suppose to some it could still be taken in a negative way. But for me it was a positive experience.

 

In case you don’t know, I find it worth mentioning, that there’s a petition going to get the book pulled. If you find yourself agreeing that it’s wrong for an author to stalk a reviewer into hiding, profit from it and then turn it into something of entertainment value, you can sign and share the petition right here.

 

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Lets chat

So that’s it, my rant is finally over. But I would love to hear your thoughts on the matter. Do you think this author is in the right or wrong? Let’s talk in the comments!

 

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26 thoughts on “Let’s talk about: authors who stalk reviewers

  1. DyAngel

    Okay, this is really disturbing. I have my gmail address public for people that want to contact me, and thinking that someone could start stalking me just because I give his/her book a 1 star rating is…terrifying.
    I want to publish a book in the future. I think that reviews are important getting better and fixing your past mistakes. But if you can take a bad review, you shouldn’t read it. And attacking a reader just because he/she didn’t like your book is insane.
    I think this author should work on her issues and not publish that…can I name it book? Like, there is a law about stalking people, isn’t it?!
    After reading this, I must say I’m kinda scared.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s exactly how I felt after I found out. Scared. What kind of world do we live in, when people can stalk you and profit from it? I’ve given many 1 star reviews, but I’ve never once considered that it could have consequences like that. It’s the name of the game. I would never stalk anyone for not liking my blog posts, which to me is the same. So yeah, it is scary and i hope a lot of people sign the petition so the book gets pulled.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Bibi, I have read this article a few months back and I was horrified that authors are such an obsessive lot… I have had an author calling me an asshole as I refused to read or post positive reviews on his book. I have other authors messaging me constantly. I have been harassed by an author’s fans for a year on my blog because I didn’t agree to the author’s POV… After that, I take authors with a pinch of salt.. I have toned down vitriolic sarcastic way of reviewing but I stay away from some of them… I have had these episodes

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Omg… I don’t even know what to say. That’s so far out, that my slightly wine dused brain can’t comprehend it. I’m sorry it happened to you, Shalini 😦 no one should be harassed, hated on or name called for expressing their opinion. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  3. That’s really dreadful. There is no excuse for stalking.
    Thanks for sharing.
    PS. Your likes/comments aren’t enabled when I view your blog post in the Reader. Not a problem, I just go through to your actual blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The thing is on the article..

    say ‘Judy’ is ‘Blythe’ then why is she using her own friend’s photos, and posing them as her own? That’s actually catfishing, people thought the person was her because she was posting it as her profile pic, and not the friend

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh i know, i’m just saying it seems they’re both in the wrong. Author for what she did, and the reviewer for what she did. I mean the publishing house was sending books to that address for a year, and no-one twigged on as to why they’ve gotten no reviews or the giveaway that was supposed to happen for the author?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I don’t think the blogger handled it 100% perfect, so I agree with that. However, as it’s not a dating service the pictures shouldn’t matter. I work with many authors who’s real face I have never seen or real name I’ve never learned,but that doesn’t bother me. Because that’s not the point of out interactions.

        Like

  5. Luckily only this particular author seems to want to go that far, but I have definitely heard about little flame wars and fans vs. bookbloggers and authors who make a bad name for themselves by acting out online. It is scary!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think for me personally I’m not scared about what has happened, small flame wars or even rudeness. It’s what comes next. When this kind of behaviour isn’t just condoned, it’s capitalised on. That’s a scary thought and a terrible example.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for this post. I actually have this very subject lined up for a post later this month because when I heard about Kathleen Hale’s book being released in June and the controversary surrounding it I needed to check it out and… woah.

    Just… woah.

    I have so many opinions to unpack but because I’m writing a post on this later I don’t want to unpack it all on here but I agree with everything you say. There’s so much here that is not ok and I think Kathleen Hale is also ‘not ok.’ Anyone that is that obsessive regarding a negative review to the point of stalking actually has some issues that they need to talk out with a professional because no matter how she tries to laugh it off – stalking is not ok and is a sign of some deep rooted obsessive tendencies.

    There’s also the fact that because she’s female and young and pretty she has ‘gotten away with it’ like it’s harmless but gender shouldn’t matter here. If a male author stalked a female blogger this way and then got a book deal from that experience there would *rightly* be outrage and so outrage should be occurring here too.

    I don’t know who the author was that politely asked you to not to tag them in negative reviews was but I think they did it the right way. I was actually going to talk about negative reviews and tagging authors in my blog post as well but I’ll just mention here that I kind of get it when an author doesn’t want to be tagged in negative reviews.

    If they go *searching* for negative reviews then they can’t get upset when they find *exactly* what they are looking for. But, if they are just trying to promote their work on social media and get tagged in negative reviews (and some *can* be nasty) then I can imagine that might be hurtful. Especially if they’re just writing their stories and actively not reading reviews of any kind! It’s kind of like someone knocking at your door to tell you that they don’t like your work!

    Good post, I’m glad this subject is being talked about because I was surprised this didn’t pop up more.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I absolutely agree with your point about how this would have been very different, if it was a male author stalking a female reviewer. The media and would have been all over that, and no one would have dared help her write a book about stalking someone.

      About the author who contacted me, I think that was such a great way of dealing with it. And I have nothing but respect for it, because in hindsight it wasn’t nicely done on my part. But it’s a great lesson, which I can only thank her for being so lovely about.

      Gerry, I can’t wait to read your blog post about this concerning matter. Because I think it is very important that people help spread the word. After all I don’t think any of us would like to all of a sudden have an angry author at our front door, and then have said author make fun of us afterwards. Will you link the post to mine, or send me a message when yours go live? I’ll keep an eye out for it, but I don’t want to accidentally miss it. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. It’s double standards sadly and it just sucks.

    I also don’t believe anyone should profit from the appalling way that they treat another but it seems a lot of people agree because the writer’s book on GR is getting a lot of 1 star reviews. I mean… a lot.

    I think there are a lot of unspoken rules in blogging but no one sort of tells you what they are. It’s a case of figuring it out.

    I remember tagging something in Tumblr once and didn’t realise that my negative post showed up in the fandoms tag. It was only when someone pointed it out that I realised! It’s good that the author was so polite because also I would be more inclined to say, ‘ok I didn’t love their book but they were so nice I’d give another of their books another go.’

    I’ll be posting it at the end of the month I think, I’ll happily link you to it if you want?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree – it’s despicable to even try to profit from putting other people through such things, I have no words for how bad it is to try and get away with it.

      There are a lot of unspoken rules indeed, but I’m glad I was so lucky that I learned my lesson from such a polite and friendly author.

      It reminds me of another time where an author contacted me on GR and asked me to read & review her book. After I did, she wrote and thanked me on for leaving a review of her book, even though the review was 1 star and I didn’t like the book at all.

      It would be great if you link, I can’t wait to read what you have to say on the matter 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m glad you wrote about this issue. I first learned this about a week ago during a discussion in a book group on Facebook. I’m getting ready to sign the petition.

    Stalking is a crime. She should be sued for harassment, damages, and face criminal charges. This is not okay.

    I repeat: THIS IS NOT OKAY.

    The first anti-stalking laws were passed in California, partially because a young actress, only 21 at the time, was shot and killed by an obsessed fan who had been stalking her for three years. He left his home in Arizona, tracked her down through various resources, was rejected by her, and then he killed her. Look up Rebecca Schaeffer’s story. It still makes my skin crawl thinking about it.

    As someone who has been stalked before, this is incredibly upsetting to me. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and opinions!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh Laura Beth, I’m sorry to hear you’ve had personal experience with stalking. Luckily, I’ve never been subject to it – so I can only imagine how upsetting it must be,

      I’m glad to hear you’ll sign the petition. Because I do strongly believe, that all we bloggers should unite in this – as none of us would like to see it happen to any of us, or anyone we know, or just anyone who dares to speak up.

      Like

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