(Image by Kaetrin)
A few days ago, I noted the first Author Wangst of 2016. In the same week, we already have our second.
A self-published author (Christine) pretended to be a “Corporate Communications Assistant at Penguin Random House” (Corinne), and contacted YA bloggers. Christine’s book, originally self-published, would be republished in paperback by PRH, and Corinne sent copies to bloggers when she provided copies of other books. (These other books were likely obtained from wherever people acquire ARCs NOT provided to them by the publisher.) She even had PRH letterhead on the notes she sent with the books.
Bloggers smelled a rat, and contacted PRH – who confirmed Corinne/Christine is not with them, and they’re investigating. Jon at Bookish Antics wrote the blog post about it. Thanks to him and everyone else for sharing their experiences and screenshots.
Corinne/Christine never contacted me. So while I’m not taking the catfishing situation personally, I’ve had enough of callous treatment towards readers, bloggers, and reviewers. And I’ve already seen Tweets of “I feel sorry for her”, and calling her deception “inventive” and “creative”.
Hey, here’s an idea: How about NOT validating the fraudster by complimenting, or sympathising, with her? I don’t doubt that Christine has her own problems – she clearly must’ve had trouble drumming up enough publicity for her book if she was desperate enough to go to such lengths to pretend affiliation with a major publisher. But she shouldn’t be patted on the back for such shitty behaviour.
Upon reading the situation, some have remarked, “that’s crazy” or “that’s insane”. They probably don’t mean to be ableist when they say that, but unintentionally it comes across as kind of excusing Christine’s behaviour. As if “no one in their right mind would do this”. They would, and Christine did. Let’s not bring mental illness slurs into this.
The big problem here isn’t the deception itself (which is definitely shitty) as much as the fact that this person obtained bloggers’ addresses under false pretences. This is now a safety concern. When authors obtain bloggers’ addresses under false pretences, bad things happen.
Such as when K*thl**n Hale “confirmed” a blogger’s address, PHONED HER AT WORK, and LEFT SOMETHING ON HER HOME DOORSTEP.
But you know what? There are still people who Follow Hale on social media, and read her books. D*n**ll* M. Paige remarked when sharing Hale’s article of her stalking adventures that Hale “did that thing we all want to do”. And she’s since been rewarded with further book deals. And the comment of Christine’s deception being “inventive” and “creative”? Even people such as N**l Gaiman called Hale’s article “fascinating”, and he wasn’t the only one treating a stalking account as entertainment.
Because this is how it always goes. Though “not all authors” defend their fellow authors, they often do. Remember when domestic violence survivors tried to participate in #AskELJames by asking questions? Authors directly addressed it or subTweeted it as “bullying an author”. J*hn Green targeted an innocent person on Tumblr, but still bestselling authors sided with their fellow author. Even those who didn’t condone Hale’s stalking still said that the reviewers’ status updates on Goodreads were “bullying”. (They weren’t, by the way – she had evidence from the book to back up her claims, too.) *ndr*w Smith was called out for othering women, and his sycophants responded with #KeepYAKind.
Because this is the way it’s always been. Nothing makes the authors v bloggers thing clearer than when an author is shitty on the Internet. Yes, #NotAllAuthors side with their fellow author. Some even speak in support of bloggers. But most authors acknowledge there’s “drama” (which trivialises these situations), and claim, “I’m not getting involved.” And dismissing serious issues as just “drama” reinforces the message that the shitty things authors do to readers, bloggers, and reviewers don’t matter.
K*thl**n Hale, Christine, and whomever else have bloggers’ addresses, and they shouldn’t. We speak of how bloggers shouldn’t use their real names; they should get post office boxes… And that’s kind of awkward, because it’s telling bloggers to protect themselves, instead of telling authors not to be fradulent and not to stalk people.
And that’s just the major stuff – that doesn’t include the everyday stuff readers face. By now you’ve seen various passive-aggressive graphics on social media telling readers how they can best “support” authors. Always purchase on the first week, from an independent store, and read it straight away so you can review it straight away, but only write “positive” reviews, and be sure to crosspost to all the booksellers’ websites, and don’t forget word-of-mouth, and you can enter this contest to MAYBE win stuff if you spam your readers with a Thunderclap or various hashtag campaigns spamming about the book…
And sure, authors can deny that with, “It’s VOLUNTARY. No one has to do any of this stuff if they don’t want to.” Then why do you keep posting the same message on a regular basis? Whether the authors mean it to or not, it comes across as nagging. It comes with the implications of “if you were a REAL fan” or “if you REALLY care about me” or “if you REALLY loved me, you’d buy me a pony”.
OK, maybe not the last one. But THIS IS HOW YOU SOUND.
Because that’s how it is. No doubt you’ve seen the popular cry of “Authors are not your bitch”, which authors love sharing around on social media.
But what they neglect to acknowledge and share is that:
READERS ARE NOT YOUR BITCH.
BLOGGERS ARE NOT YOUR BITCH.
REVIEWERS ARE NOT YOUR BITCH.
Sometimes it’s stalking, sometimes it’s catfishing, sometimes it’s nagging, and sometimes it’s guilt-tripping. But authors need to stop harassing readers, whether outright or passive-aggressive.
Because it really wouldn’t surprise me if another #BloggerBlackout was launched. No wonder bloggers are burning out – they’re constantly being treated as having value only for what they GIVE; not for whom they are. J**nn* Harris even launched a manifesto telling everyone how authors should be treated. Would readers be as applauded and celebrated for producing a list of our demands? Hell no.
The power differentials are in place. And mere readers, bloggers, and reviewers are the ones most commonly trod on, instead of on equal footing.