The Internet blew up over the weekend with the news that the Guardian had run a piece by author Kathleen Hale–in which Hale describes actually stalking a reviewer who’d given her a less-than-positive review on Goodreads. The *thunk* sound you may have heard was the sound of the Internet’s collective jaw hitting the floor.
I first saw this come up at the Bitchery over here, and shortly thereafter saw posts go up at Dear Author and on Jim Hines’ blog as well. All three posts and most of the comments in them are in accord that Ms. Hale went so far over the line that she left the line in another state entirely behind her.
Me, I’m going to take this opportunity to reiterate my personal policy re: reviews of my work. I don’t read them. I’m on Goodreads, but I make a specific point of avoiding reading any of the reviews on Faerie Blood, Valor, or Vengeance. All I’ll look at is the aggregate rating on those books, since I have them on a my-books shelf. Likewise, I do not rate my own books either. If a standalone review on a blog somewhere comes across my radar, I’ll go look at it–but I will not engage with that review unless it’s clear that I can do so without making the reviewer or commenters uncomfortable. I strongly feel that it’s important to let people be able to discuss your book without you looking over their shoulders.
Y’all have probably noticed that I’ve backed off heavily in writing up reviews of books, too. Part of this has been because I simply haven’t had as much time, what with writing my own stuff. But part of it has also been the increasing trend I’ve seen of authors reacting badly to reviews–even to three-star reviews. I see a surprising amount of unhappiness about three-star reviews, in fact. And I’ve seen more and more reports of authors dogpiling on reviewers, which for my money, just isn’t right.
For the record, if you’ve reviewed anything I’ve written, I’m happy you did so. Even if it’s three stars. Hell, even if it’s one star. I promise not to take it personally.
And if I do, I will never, repeat, NEVER engage you about it. DO NOT ENGAGE is the golden rule here. I just wish Ms. Hale had followed it when she was reminded.
ETA: I have seen a bunch of people in comment threads asking what the Guardian was possibly thinking by running Ms. Hale’s piece. Dara has suggested to me that they may be looking at it in conjunction with the ongoing GamerGate debacle. Given all the stalking and harassment involved with that, I could buy that as a possible way that the Guardian might be looking at this.