Author Archives: debooker
Writer reacts to bad review and writes about tracking down the reviewer; others react to writer writing about her stalking experience
First the article about tracking down the reviewer:
“Am I being catfished?” An author confronts her number one online critic
When a bad review of her first novel appeared online, Kathleen Hale was warned not to respond. But she soon found herself wading in
by Kathleen Hale
“No,” she said firmly, taking the pen away. “Kathleen, you understand we can’t make any more changes, right?”
“I was just kidding,” I lied. Eventually she had to physically prise the book from my hands.
A lot of authors call this “the post-partum stage”, as if the book is a baby they struggle to feel happy about. But for me, it felt more like one of my body parts was about to be showcased.
“Are you excited about your novel?” my mom asked, repeatedly, often in singsong.
“I’m scared,” I said. Anxious and inexperienced, I began checking goodreads.com, a social reviewing site owned by Amazon. My publisher HarperTeen had sent advance copies of my book to bloggers and I wanted to see what they thought. Other authors warned me not to do this, but I didn’t listen. Soon, my daily visits tallied somewhere between “slightly-more-than-is-attractive-to-admit-here” and “infinity”.
For the most part, I found Goodreaders were awarding my novel one star or five stars, with nothing in between. “Well, it’s a weird book,” I reminded myself. “It’s about a girl with PTSD teaming up with a veteran to fight crime.” Mostly I was relieved they weren’t all one-star reviews.
One day, while deleting and rewriting the same tweet over and over (my editors had urged me to build a “web presence”), a tiny avatar popped up on my screen. She was young, tanned and attractive, with dark hair and a bright smile. Her Twitter profile said she was a book blogger who tweeted nonstop between 6pm and midnight, usually about the TV show Gossip Girl. According to her blogger profile, she was a 10th-grade teacher, wife and mother of two. Her name was Blythe Harris. She had tweeted me saying she had some ideas for my next book.
“Cool, Blythe, thanks!” I replied. In an attempt to connect with readers, I’d been asking Twitter for ideas – “The weirdest thing you can think of!” – promising to try to incorporate them in the sequel.
Curious to see if Blythe had read my book, I clicked from her Twitter through her blog and her Goodreads page. She had given it one star. “Meh,” I thought. I scrolled down her review.
“Fuck this,” it said. “I think this book is awfully written and offensive; its execution in regards to all aspects is horrible and honestly, nonexistent.”
Blythe went on to warn other readers that my characters were rape apologists and slut-shamers. She accused my book of mocking everything from domestic abuse to PTSD. “I can say with utmost certainty that this is one of the worst books I’ve read this year,” she said, “maybe my life.”
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.
“Rape is brushed off as if it is nothing,” Blythe explained to one commenter. “PTSD is referred to insensitively; domestic abuse is the punch line of a joke, as is mental illness.”
“But there isn’t rape in my book,” I thought. I racked my brain, trying to see where I had gone wrong. I wished I could magically transform all the copies being printed with a quick swish of my little red pen. (“Not to make fun of PTSD, or anything,” I might add to one character’s comment. “Because that would be wrong.”)
Reaction to the article:
This Is What Happens When An Author Tracks Down A Critic In Real Life
Kathleen Hale faced backlash on social media after admitting to tracking down a book blogger at her home address.
by Jenna Guillaume
On Saturday (October 18, 2014), YA author Kathleen Hale published an essay on The Guardian about confronting “her number one online critic,” and a social media storm of epic proportions erupted.
In the article, called “Am I Being Catfished?”, Hale describes how she obsessed over a book blogger named Blythe Harris who had given her book, No One Else Can Have You, a one-star review.
After Hale’s essay was published, the book-blogging community rushed to defend Harris, arguing she had done nothing wrong but that Hale had actually stalked her.
To see the array of reactions, some by well-known authors such as Neil Gaiman, go to:
Best thing to do: don’t follow this example. There will always be somebody who makes his or her “mark” by trying to leave a mark on you through your work. The best revenge is to ignore and write more and work to improve. After all, nobody’s perfect, not even critics.
Or in the words of author Robert A. Heinlein: “Critics can’t create, therefore, they feel justified in critiquing those who do. There is some logic in this: they hate all creative people equally.”
Three men were standing outside a dog obedience school with their dogs.
The first man’s dog was pulling on the leash and parking at almost anything. He said, “My dog’s such a good guard dog, she’ll bark at strangers over a block away to warn them to stay away.”
The second man’s dog was stumbling around, bumping into things, but not to be outdone, he said, “My dog’s such a good guard dog, she’ll knock over anything or anyone to protect me and my family.”
The third man’s dog was old and tired. She was curled up in a circle, snoring loudly. He said, “My dog’s such a good guard dog, she guards me against having too high an expectation of what she can do.”
Sixteen chances to get things right … or wrong.
Give it a try at: http://www.playbuzz.com/shira10/do-you-know-all-12-english-tenses
by Ann Patchett
Author opens an independent bookstore to fill a need.
Address: 3900 Hillsboro Pike, Nashville, TN 37215
Two years ago, when Nashville lost its only in-town bookstores, the novelist Ann Patchett decided to step into the breach. Parnassus Books, which Patchett and two veteran booksellers envisioned, designed, financed, and manage, is now open for business and enjoying the ride.
In late February I am in my basement, which is really a very nice part of my house that is not done justice by the word basement. For the purposes of this story, let’s call it the Parnassus Fulfillment Center. I have hauled 533 boxed-up hardback copies of my latest novel, State of Wonder, from Parnassus, the bookstore I co-own in Nashville, into my car; driven them across town (three trips there and three trips back); and then lugged them down here to the Parnassus Fulfillment Center. Along with the hardbacks, I have brought in countless paperback copies of my backlist books as well. I sign all these books and stack them up on one enormous and extremely sturdy table. Then I call for backup: Patrik and Niki from the store, my friend Judy, my mother. Together we form an assembly line, taking orders off the bookstore’s Web site, addressing mailing labels, writing tiny thank-you notes to tuck inside the signed copies, then bubble-wrapping, taping, and packing them up to mail. We get a rhythm going, we have a system, and it’s pretty smooth, except for removing the orders from the Web site. What I don’t understand is why, no matter how many orders I delete from the list, the list does not get shorter. We are all work and no progress, and I’m sure something serious must be going wrong. After all, we’ve had this Web site for only a week, and who’s to say we know what we’re doing? “We know what we’re doing,” Niki says, and Patrik, who set up the Web site in the first place, confirms this. They explain to me that the reason the list isn’t getting any shorter is that orders are still coming in.
You may have heard the news that the independent bookstore is dead, that books are dead, that maybe even reading is dead—to which I say: Pull up a chair, friend. I have a story to tell.
The reason I was signing and wrapping books in my basement is that more orders were coming in than the store could handle, and the reason so many orders were coming in is that, a few days before, I had been a guest on The Colbert Report. After a healthy round of jousting about bookstores versus Amazon, Stephen Colbert held a copy of my novel in front of the cameras and exhorted America to buy it from Amazon—to which I, without a moment’s thought (because without a moment’s thought is how I fly these days), shouted, “No! No! Not Amazon. Order it off ParnassusBooks.net, and I’ll sign it for you.” And America took me up on my offer, confirming once and for all that the “Colbert bump” is real. That explains how I got stuck in the basement, but fails to answer the larger question of what a writer of literary fiction whose “new” book was already nine months old was doing on The Colbert Report in the first place. Hang on, because this is where things get weird: I was on the show not because I am a writer but because I am a famous independent bookseller.
Let’s go back to the beginning of the story.
Two years ago, the city of Nashville had two bookstores. One was Davis-Kidd, which had been our much-beloved locally owned and operated independent before selling out to the Ohio-based Joseph-Beth Booksellers chain 15 years earlier. Joseph-Beth moved Davis-Kidd into a mall, provided it with 30,000 square feet of retail space, and put wind chimes and coffee mugs and scented candles in front of the book displays. We continued to call it our “local independent,” even though we knew that wasn’t really true anymore. Nashville also had a Borders, which was about the same size as Davis-Kidd and sat on the edge of Vanderbilt’s campus. (In candor, I should say that Nashville has some truly wonderful used-book stores that range from iconic to overwhelming. But while they play an important role in the cultural fabric of the city, it is a separate role—or maybe that’s just the perspective of someone who writes books for a living.) We have a Barnes & Noble that is a 20-minute drive out of town without traffic, a Books-A-Million on the western edge of the city, near a Costco, and also a Target. Do those count? Not to me, no, they don’t, and they don’t count to any other book-buying Nashvillians with whom I am acquainted.
In December 2010, Davis-Kidd closed. It was profitable, declared the owners from Ohio, who were dismantling the chain, but not profitable enough. Then, in May 2011, our Borders store—also profitable—went the way of all Borders stores. Nashvillians woke up one morning and found that we no longer had a bookstore.
The rest of the story at: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/12/the-bookstore-strikes-back/309164/?single_page=true