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:
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”
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.
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!