Comments: 21
Gregor Xane 9 years ago
This is idiotic. ETA: Harris's manifesto idea is idiotic.
Debbie's Spurts 9 years ago
My reader's manifesto:

• I will obtain your books legally at agreed upon prices.
• I will never engage in piracy or plagiarism.
• I will boycott any authors who feel I owe them anything else.
Merle 9 years ago
I'd sign Debbie's manifesto!

Okay, after actually reading the article, it sounds like this author may not be one of the crazies who feels entitled to 5-star reviews from everyone who reads her work. Possibly she's taking issue more with the expectation that authors be all over social media, have personal relationships with readers and write at least one book per year to the demands of the market. To which I say, fine - I don't expect to interact with authors online or off, don't want them to be my friends, and do want them to write original works in the amount of time they need to make their books good. Many (most?) of the best authors make do with little to no meaningful online presence and long waits between non-cookie-cutter books, though, so I'm not sure readers need a "manifesto" about it. (Maybe publishers do.) Maybe they just need convincing that your books are good enough to read without being your friend.
Debbie's Spurts 9 years ago
She always talks a good talk without mentioning the years she's been confronting readers in the review comments belittling them in a way definitely crossing the line into patronizing even if not far enough to be considered exactly a personal attack. We always need correcting and shown the right way to honor the importance of authors ...
Merle 9 years ago
So she is part of that crowd. Well, I won't be reading any of her books.
Oh, yes, she mocked someone for being offended due to religious beliefs and the way she portrayed a character in her latest books when that person mentioned it in her review. Her and her fans were mocking the review on Twitter. That was the most enraging for me. I spoke to the person who wrote the review on BL and she was lovely.
Grey Warden 9 years ago
You have to wonder why after all that any supposedly highbrow literary organization would give her a platform to spout more nonsense from. It's hard to believe no one's aware of her behavior.
To some extent I agree: writers can write what they want. It's the fact that she's already abused reviewers that bugs me.

That's the thing, and as someone pointed out in those comments, the readers invest in the story. Time, money, energy. If they don't like it, they'll say so. If they wish it were written another way, they can also say that. That doesn't mean the writer will write another book to their specifications. Maybe they just won't pick up or read another book by that author, but that's okay, too. They gave it a try, and didn't enjoy it.

What I believe Harris really means is that people should also write their feels on her books in the way that she wants, and that's not gonna happen.

But, yes, she's not writing to demand. She /could/, and if someone were paying her on commission, she would have a contract with them that she should fulfill. Like artists who work on commissions: they have a contract, so they cannot simply draw what they want. They have someone telling them what to do, paying them to do so, and it's a contract.

When I pay for a book, I may wish a book was written one way, I may say I wish that, but I also understand that the contract was me paying for a book, reading it, and then saying what I felt in a review. I don't have the right to demand anything else from the author, but the author has no right to curtail how I review. (Their part of that contract was producing that book, and since I had it in hand, they obviously did. Nothing else is expected of them on my part.)

I can actually understand some of what she's saying. On the other hand, Martin and Gaiman have spoken on this subject. To my knowledge, neither of them have lashed out at reviews or reviewers. Harris has, and that's why I am able to stomach them saying this more than when she says it. Because I suspect this is as much about 'disrespectful reviews' - even ones that simply say that they don't like how a character from mythology was portrayed - as it is about other demands.

She's not working on commission, and I'm not reviewing on any contract from her. Which means if I don't like how a character was portrayed, no contract binds me from saying so publicly.
Gregor Xane 9 years ago
Preach it!
And it's not true that all writers are like this. Screenwriters are often paid by commission, as are television writers, as are comic book writers. Media tie-in writers. (One writer was condemned for killing off Chewbacca, but he was specifically told that had to happen in the book. So it wasn't his choice: he was writing to demand. But someone was paying him to write that way.)

Or it's like Joss Whedon after Avengers: Age of Ultron. People had issues and swarmed Twitter with those issues. I personally didn't see it: Black Widow, they complained, was weak, blah, blah, blah, and I see her as one of the strongest women he's written. Most are blindsided when the menfolk leave them; she took some time to stare off into the sky then bucked up and got back to it. She didn't fall apart, cry, etc, etc. I also liked that she had a very strong working and friendly relationship with Clint but was not romantically involved with him.

But other people saw it differently. Them saying so was cool. Them telling Joss directly was cool, even if they told him they thought it was bullshit and she should be with Hawkeye.

Them telling him to die and stuff? Not cool. There are lines that can be crossed, and can be crossed by reviewers, as well. We don't 'own' authors. We don't get to harass them. The other example I use is book signings and Cassandra Clare. Someone said someone nearly broke her fingers by slamming a hardcover book on her hands. (A writer friend of hers.) As much as I don't like Cassie Clare as a person, no one has the right to physical assault her. (She plagiarized, guys, so that's why I don't like her.) As much as they don't like the story, and they were upset by something that happened in the book, they do not have the right to physically harm her, or even verbally assault her. If they want to spend their time waiting in a line to tell her they hated what happened in the book, they hated the book, and they would no longer read her writing, that is their choice. It's their time. They've invested in the book and they are critiquing the book, not Clare. They are not harassing her. (Even me saying that she plagiarized, when there's proof that she did steal from fanfics, is not harassing. When a writer is as homophobic as Card, steals, etc, there is a way to point this out without harassing them.)

What's funny is that I am on the side of authors and artists, like, a lot. I think there is very much a line. But what they see as the line, and what reviewers see as the line are very often different. What I want to ask people like Harris, or any author who condemns snark and mocking a book, as awful and bullying is if they watch the Simpsons or South Park or if they read, say, Mad? Because if those reviews are bullying, how are any of those not bullying? Because if you're separating those on two sides of a line, boy, that's a fine line.

And here's where the problem lies: I am willing to admit there is a line. I am willing to admit that authors can be taken for granted, but I am also saying I think that this has been claimed too much when it hasn't happened for me to not side-eye something like this. Threatening people, wishing death on them, and physically harassing them are more what I think when I think that people take authors for granted. A lot of the stuff Harris talks about actually does sound sensible to me: if an author must ignore e-mails or not write to specification or what people want when they want, then I agree, that's their right.

Another story comes to mind: I complained to friends about Barker not finishing Scarlet Gospels. I did not contact him about it, or say it online where he could find it, or where he would look. When I told my same friend that I couldn't believe that people e-mailed George R. R. Martin to tell him he was fat, old, and they were afraid he wouldn't finish Song of Ice and Fire, so hurry it up would he, I was appalled. And they commented that I had done the same thing about Barker to them.

I said, yeah, but it takes a lot of guts to send that directly to an author. I would never demand that of them to their face, but I do have the right to complain it's not happening if someone says it will and I'm excited, especially if I do it in a small restaurant that I know he's not in. There was virtually no way for Barker to know about this. Sometimes, or even a lot of times, we do this, even online. We don't contact an author, we don't even expect them to bow to our wills. But we still have complaints, and I wouldn't say they're not valid. That doesn't automatically mean we expect anything to change: we just want to vent, and our friends who truly understand this happen to be online.
Gregor Xane 9 years ago
You're on it, Grim!
Grey Warden 9 years ago
Harris has a point about a sense of entitlement, but fails to see it in herself. The classic example of reader outrage was when Doyle finally killed off Sherlock Holmes. The fanbase was so enraged he had to bring him back. I'd like to see any of these modern writers try to claim they're intellectually more endangered and lay claim to more privilege than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. That'd pretty much put an end to all of this.
Exactly. Her hypocrisy makes me doubt this is the whole story. She certainly wants to demand we tailor our reviews to her expectations.

And yes, if she wants to write something that she knows won't sell, more power to her her. She can't force people to buy it, however. She certainly can't tell them how to critique it. And I suspect there will be a lot of 'people are mean in reviews' in this talk.
Block, ignore, get off Twitter for a while if you need to.

Report them if they're actually harassing you.
Grey Warden 9 years ago
Or when an author sics their rabid fanbase on you, stalks your home address or hunts you down in another country to assault you with a wine bottle.
Yes, exactly. The line between harassment is the same between reviews and authors, no matter which way it goes.

Authors aren't told not to say anything about negative reviews as a way to muzzle them, but more as good business sense. If they want to ignore that though? Then they can knock themselves out!
But you could tell that to the reviewers who are addressed, the women who are harassed for no reason other than being women, etc, etc. Authors are in no special category there.
Merle 9 years ago
Authors are selling a product. They are professionals and they are public figures. Consumers have the right to talk about what they produce. Period.

There is this whole "it's my baby!" argument but come on. If you are trying to sell stuff, you need to take criticism like a professional. I am not an author but I am a professional, and I once had a disgruntled former client write a 1-star review of me (not a work I had produced - ME) online. It happens. I didn't contact this person, cause anyone else to contact the person, try to get the review taken down, throw an online temper tantrum, or anything else. Again, it happens - out in the world there will always be someone unhappy with what you do. If you want to be an adult in the real world, you have to learn to accept it with grace.
Debbie's Spurts 9 years ago
My 2¢ on the authors's "...speech will focus upon the need for greater respect for authors from readers, featuring a 12-point manifesto about this very subject. " *SNORT* hey lady, your customers owe you the agreed upon purchase price and respect for your copyright where they won't participate in piracy or plagiarize.

How they feel about or if they respect the book or your writing skills will just be subjective opinion based on what they read of it--and it's absolutely none of your business once the retail transaction completes what your customers then do. No respect, stated feelings, reviews, or anything is owed. It's a retail transaction, a customer buying a product. Period. If you have to demand or ask for respect -- usually a sign you won't be getting it unless in a position to force underlings to fake it upon demand. Which ain't happening just because you have something to sell to us; demands in that situation = consumer boycott. Manifesto my ass; it's a retail transaction and your book is a commercial product.

No one on or offline gets to harass, bully or personally attack another person. But those issues and occurrences are totally separate issues from how reviewers have to respect authors or how you think we have to review a book. Don't muddy those very real concerns about criminal behaviors and mock actual victims wth issues of respect and how customers perceive commercial products. Personal attacks versus product attacks. Not the same issue.