Twitter has shit itself with the article by Kathleen Hale confronting her Goodreads stalker/reviewer/catfish who not only confronted her in person but has now exposed her in an article in The Guardian.
The gist is that someone named Blythe Harris gave Kathleen Hale’s first book a bad review and then Hale went bananas and tracked her down, stealth style, proving herself to be slightly unhinged, just like Blythe herself.
Okay, get over it, you think, except that Blythe’s review wasn’t constructive, and her influence over other reviewers on Goodreads started a bullying campaign against Hale.
I have read both the review by Harris, and the article by Hale, and subsequent online opinions, and I have come to my own assessment on the matter.
Both are nuts.
Blythe Harris isn’t professional in her opinion and neither is Kathleen Hale in her response.
They seem to cancel each other out and it’s all a bit whacko for my liking.
The problem with the internet is that everyone is now an ‘expert’. You can google anything and become vaguely proficient at most things from cats cradle, to picking out the melody on a guitar to correctly peeling a pomegranate.
And once you become an ‘expert’, you join a reviewing community, because perhaps your opinion isn’t valued in real life, so maybe online it will have some weight. Or maybe you think you have a unique way of looking at things or are a frustrated journo? Whatever, the point is, you get an account and you’re ready to be a keyboard warrior.
I have come to the conclusion that many online review sites are a petri dish of vitriol. There is a sheen of besmirch and bitterness on many of these sites.
While some reviewers go in with the best intentions of offering their opinion of the product, a few are just plain nasty, and often transparent.
This whole debacle made me think of John Updike has 6 Rules for Constructive Criticism.
It’s a classy list and something almost old fashioned about it, if not only for the fact that manners are seemingly lost on the web nowadays.
I am a Goodreads author and reviewer. I read the bad reviews of my books and I read the good ones. I also post reviews of other authors books. I only review books that I love, or are over a 3/5 stars. I don’t consider myself qualified or smart enough to offer a proper review of anything but if I like it, I will tell you why.
I have had some nasty reviews and even questionable reviews. People who have reviewed me on Amazon and Goodreads who haven’t reviewed any other book, only mine, and written something scathing. Was my book so bad you were so prompted to finally speak out against crimes against publishing?
Come on, I’m not learning impaired, I know who they are but I let it go because that’s their beef not mine. I don’t know why you could be bothered to set up a fake account to write something about my book.
If I am swayed by a reviewer, it’s because their history shows an equal balance of opinion about the item/product and insights that resonate.
I have also had terrific reviews and ones that make me want to write my next book for them. I have found my readers, which is all an author can ask for.
I don’t engage with the bad reviews. The first few made me cry when I read them, because they were so personal.
Good reviews are about the work, not the creator.
Now I skim over them and shrug. You can’t please everyone. You can only write for you and your perfect reader and thankfully, I have more of them than I have of those holding the poisoned pen.
I am so fucking grateful for all of you who read this blog, and buy my books, and email me, and tweet me and engage with me on Facebook.
I respond to everyone because you bloody well made an effort to connect with me. God I love that!
You have no idea how special it makes me feel.
Kathleen Hale went to her reviewers house to confront her about her shitty review. Insane, yes?
I get it but in a different way. I want to come to your house and bring you a present and talk with you about books and characters and life, and look at your photos, because I’m the girl who loves to see the wedding photos and talk about your kids and your life and share stories and then high five at the end because we’re so damned pleased to know each other exists.
But I can’t because it would be weird, no?
*nods head understandingly*
So I guess, my point is, be pleasant and smart and if you can’t, then shut the fuck up.