Notice the question mark at the end of the post title. It’s there because this is a widespread misconception that’s hurting reviewers. Authors such as Joanne Harris spouting “not all authors” while calling reviewers, like Blythe, trolls is infuriating. This ignorance of how the reading community works is astonishing. If authors are to pass judgement on something that affects their readers, they should educate themselves before commenting in a public sphere.
@iucounu It’s a tricky situation. But there’s a lot of it about. Engaging a troll never ends well.
— Joanne Harris (@Joannechocolat) October 22, 2014
We know not all authors are badly behaved, that they’re the minority. However, that minority is growing both in numbers and in the danger they pose to reviewers. Reviewing has become an extreme sport, a blood sport, in fact. Blood has been spilled because of a 1-star review.
@Joannechocolat I don’t understand the reaction becoming so sweeping. It’s like a postman committing a crime and people boycotting letters.
— Holly Smale (@HolSmale) October 22, 2014
Bloggers are deleting their blogs, reviewers deleting their Goodreads accounts. Prolific readers, and therefore prolific book buyers, are leaving the reading community. Once passionate page-turners aren’t so passionate about their hobby anymore. Having to weigh reviewing against personal safety really takes the spark out of it.
If there really is an authors vs. reviewers war, then authors are winning purely on the basis of the imbalance of power. A bestselling author like Anne Rice, a notorious badly behaving author, has thousands of fans. Should she tweet about a particularly “mean” 1-star review her fans will hound that reviewer, intimidating them into deleting that review, giving that reviewer a reason to stop reviewing altogether – silencing them, if you will. This particular scenario is no longer rare.
People like Anne Rice belittle the reviewing community by denouncing bloggers for spreading “gossip” about badly behaving authors (in this case, Kathleen Hale), telling fans to ignore us and believe every word Hale said in the Guardian.
Why are bloggers and reviewers so angry? This is why.
“It’s only a book,” people say. Yes, we know, yet we’re abused for critiquing them. No wonder reviewers and bloggers rally and support one another when one of us is targeted. Because only we understand. Who else is going to come to our defence?
Reviewers are victimized and victim blamed by authors time after time. There’s only so much the community can take before it fights back and takes a stand. That’s what passionate people do. #BloggerBlackout and #BloggerYes are ways to show the publishing industry we have banded together to present a united front. That we’re angry, that we won’t be fobbed off with weak statements by publishers of badly behaving authors claiming not to be involved. They’re involved by association, by the contract that binds them.
@dearauthor We were not involved in this incident, and we do not disclose our blogger contact information as a general matter.
— HarperTeen (@harperteen) October 20, 2014
With self-publishing in e-form anyone can be an author. Social media has made authors more accessible to readers and vice versa. This increase in communication has resulted in an increase in negative experiences.
Some authors would prefer only “professional” reviewers read their books. Well, we can turn around and state that only “professional” authors should publish a book. Unfortunately the latter isn’t possible to enforce.
A select number of supportive authors have been exceptionally vocal in their defence of reviewers in the past four years. (Four years, has it been that long?) If it wasn’t for them, the majority of us may have stopped reviewing. That’s not an exaggeration. Why continue when no author condemns the abuse their readers are receiving from other authors?
Badly behaving authors’ loss has been supportive authors’ gain. In reputation, in book sales, and in reciprocal support when they themselves are victimized by their publishers (e.g. Ellora’s Cave and #NotChilled) and other authors. It pays to support, and not bite, the hand that feeds you.