Books Magazine

Authors Behaving Badly #6

Posted on the 06 June 2012 by Pocketfulofbooks @PocketfulofBooks
Authors Behaving Badly: When Authors React Badly to Negative Reviews and Criticism! Or: How NOT to Handle Bad Reviews!
When an author puts a book out into the world they must know it's not going to get completely positive feedback. All books, throughout history, from Hamlet to The Da Vinci Code, have people who love them and people who hate them. And most authors handle the negative reviews pretty well (even if they're crying inside).
Authors Behaving Badly #6However, some authors decide that they want to fight their critics. Some get personal. Some get downright nasty. Did someone say car crash?
I was originally going to post one article on this but so many authors have behaved badly that I thought I would make it a weekly feature! I bringz you all the drama every Thursday from authors who have been a little naughty.
6. Melissa Douthit Commits an Act of Severe Douchebaggery

Who Is She: Melissa Douthit, 'Vanity' Author/ Book Reviewer/ Blogger. What She Responded Badly To: The Keira Cass controversy centering on a negative review by book blogger Wendy Darling which was published on Goodreads.  What Made the Fur Fly: I published an 'Authors Behaving Badly' post a couple of weeks ago about author Keira Cass and her publicist making waves by responding badly to a negative review posted about Cass's book 'The Selection'. More specifically, they called the reviewer a bitch on Twitter and tried to get people to down-vote her negative review so it wasn't top of the pile on Goodreads. The negative review was posted by Wendy Darling of book blog The Midnight Garden. The review, and the controversy surrounding this review, was even picked up by Publishers Weekly, where Darling commented on the fall out and how it had affected her.  A 'vanity' author ('vanity press or vanity publisher is a term describing a publishing house in which authors pay to have their books published' according to Wikipedia) named Melissa Douthit decided to take it upon herself to respond to this situation. In a rather questionable fashion. To say the least. In a post on her blog, Melissa sides with Cass and accuses Darling of rallying her friends in a hate campaign against Cass,

'[Cass] got blamed for several things over which she had no control. Afterwards, Wendy got her friends at Publisher’s Weekly to write up an article on it, basically, just to get all of her Goodreads friends and readers of the article to hate Kiera. After it happened, this author was stalked, bullied, and harassed to no end, even after she had expressed regret over the whole thing to Wendy.' (Source)

She then accuses Darling of 'hiding' behind her alias and 'bullying and harrassing' Cass,
'Okay …. before I begin, I want to discuss two things: this reviewer, Wendy Darling, and her friends on Goodreads. First off, I want to say that I think it is beyond cowardly to hide behind a pseudo name and a generic picture, especially when you are stalking and harassing someone, or getting your friends to stalk and harass them, which is what she does. Secondly, it is then hypocritical to accuse other people of being sock puppets when you, yourself are hiding behind a sock puppet alias. I have two words for this: cowardly and hypocritical.' (Source)
So. What does she decide to do to take her revenge on Darling for what she saw as an attack on an innocent author? She (and a 'number of bloggers and authors who are fed up of Darling's behaviour') apparently go all private detective and out Darling's personal details. I have stolen the following screencaps from the wonderful Cuddlebuggery Book Blog who helpfully blocked out the bits where she reveals Darling's identity, as I also don't want to publish those details on my blog out of respect for Darling:

Authors Behaving Badly #6
I think this was a despicable thing to do. When a reviewer gives a book a negative review, they are not personally attacking the author. They are commenting on the piece of writing, not the person behind it. It is not bullying an author to give them a one star review. It is a piece of literary criticism, and negative reviews and all this publicity have probably done Cass's book sales the world of good! 
Wendy Darling has previously risen above everything that was going on and, aside from her article in Publishers Weekly, and comments on her original review, she didn't get involved in the resulting craziness. However, Darling has now published a blog post going through the controversy step by step, and she has defended herself on each point. This is what she says,
Here's what I continued to do, even after all this occurred: 
  • I have never retaliated by calling Kiera Cass or Elana Roth any names. (Well, in public, anyway.)
  • I have repeatedly corrected misconceptions about the book and/or defended the points that I thought did not deserve mockery.
  • I have never told a single person NOT to read this book. 
  • I have never asked anyone to downvote a single positive Amazon review for this book.
  • I have never withdrawn a single "like" on a positive GoodReads review of this book that I had already cast in support of my friends before the debacle occurred.
  • I have made it very clear to friends that my relationship with them would not be affected if they decided to read this book. (Source)
Oh, and one more thing. This author actually created numerous fake accounts in order to give particular books lots of one star reviews, and other books lots of five star reviews. She was banned from Goodreads for this behavior. Cuddlebuggery had these screencaps of her behavior and the resulting Goodreads email verifying that she had been banned:
Authors Behaving Badly #6
Authors Behaving Badly #6
I agree with Cuddlebuggery's comment that this woman is the bully she accuses Wendy Darling of being. I also just want to say this: she loves Nickelback. Just putting that out there.
What do you think? Who is in the wrong? I would love to know your thoughts!

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