The other day, I got a blast from the past, when the news that yet another author had catfished and stalked bloggers in order to get more exposure for her book – going as far as to fake being an employee of a major publishing house. (Read more on Tez’s excellent blog.)
Here’s the thing: it’s been a very long time since I blogged about books, or even wrote a review. I’m not embarrassed by any of the stuff I put on Goodreads a few years ago, but I’m not exactly proud of them either. I feel as though I could have said some things a lot better, been a lot more thorough in my research, maybe used fewer curse words (although, really, curse words are like 50% of my vocabulary). I moved away from book blogging, partly because I got too busy, partly because I was depressed, and partly because I just didn’t care for all the new releases.
But this shit – authors stalking bloggers, authors making bloggers feel unsafe, this was one of the things that gave me the final push out the door. What really clinched it for me, though, was seeing history repeat itself, again and again, despite the outcry from bloggers about this making them feel unsafe and unhappy.
As far as I’m concerned, this behaviour should have been left behind in 2011. Better yet, it should have never happened.
I get it – authors have it hard. They now have to write books AND market them. There’s a lot of responsibility thrown on their shoulders by a greedy system, and having exposure is important. Guess what – that exposure isn’t more valuable than the safety of readers.
I don’t care if I ruin my chances of ever working with an agent or a publishing house – I need to say this: Stalking is wrong, and anyone who condones it is as guilty as the stalker, because they enable them to harrass and silence without consequence.
Sure, we all shuddered reading Kathleen Hale’s description of how she tracked down a blogger and drove miles to leave a book at her doorstep. Sure, we all rolled our eyes when John Green threw a hissy fit because someone on the Internet had an opinion. Yes, a lot of these badly behaving authors should know better than to behave unprofessionally.
But there’s another culprit, and that’s the people who let them off the hook. Publishers and agents who continue to support them. Fans who are all too happy to dog-pile on the nay-sayers. Colleagues who defend them and use their own fans to attack.
Jesus, it’s like middle school again. Some poor kid doesn’t fit in and tries to carve out a space for themselves, only to have the populars shun him or bully him, while teachers and parents turn a blind eye. Do we really have to keep bringing this stuff in adulthood?
People behave as if it’s the bloggers’ own fault for putting their thoughts out in public, (even if authors are more than happy to take avantage of the free exposure). But we can’t have our cake and eat it. We can’t have bloggers doing free work AND police their behaviour to suit our needs.
It’s time to act like adults, people. That means exercising patience and impulse control. Do you know what that means? That means being fair, calling out bad behaviour, and refusing to engage with negativity.
And yeah, I get it – if you’re a fan, it’s hard when someone you like, even admire, does something bad. I’ve been there a few times and it’s not pleasant. You don’t want to cut ties. You want them to redeem themselves.
But they won’t, if you don’t show them that what you did was wrong.