I’ve been book reviewing for one year and seven months now. Comparatively I haven’t been around for very long in the blogging world, but I have been around long enough. What’s ‘long enough’? Well, I’ve been blogging long enough to have trolls try to start flame wars and authors attack me for having an opinion and expressing said opinion. I’ve learned to deal with it because, hey, most authors and commenters are awesome people. I was also blessed with a thick skin as well as an iron-clad commenting policy that I’ve always followed.
Compared to the experiences of some book bloggers I’ve had it pretty good. Some book reviewers have faced far worse than I have, others have faced far less. For the most part I’ve put up with it and have not called out authors publicly because I didn’t think their behaviour constituted public humiliation.
At 2:03pm on August 3 I received an email via my contact page from an author named Robin Wyatt Dunn. It was a review request, which as you guys know, I’m currently not accepting from authors. So, as per my usual policy, I sent him links to my review policy as well as my article ‘How to Alienate Book Reviewers.’ I said this in not necessarily a polite fashion, but more of a brisk one that wasn’t rude. Specifically, I said: “Here: [link] and here: [link] for my answer.”
If Dunn was like most authors, he would have just given up and left it at that. I have never gotten a reply to my links before. Most authors accept that I am not accepting book reviews, that they screwed up by submitting to me and move on. But not Dunn, oh no!
I had emailed him back promptly at 2:16pm because I happened to be at home at the time. Five minutes later I checked my email again to find this reply:
Here for my answer to your answer:
I’ll be honest with you guys here: I started to tremble. Not with fear, but with a mixture of rage and disgust. There is never, under any circumstances, an excuse to suggest someone kill themselves. Suggesting someone kill herself because you didn’t follow their clearly stated policy in a place where you should have looked before contacting her is particularly unacceptable. It’s akin to chastising a child for reaching into the cookie jar only to have that child hit you and scream “I hate you!” at the top of their lungs.
My first reaction as a book blogger was to a) calm down a little bit, at least until my hands stopped shaking enough for me to type and then, b) do a post about the incident. I wanted to have documentation of the incident as well as show readers who already were on my blog for the discussion post about bad book blogging experiences that I’ve also had bad experiences. Yes, my first post was a little incoherent because I was so mad/disgusted. That’s why I’m writing this post now.
I’m not seeking to defame Dunn, but rather to get the book blogging community as well as the author community aware of this problem. The problem here is author entitlement and a general lack of respect for others on the internet because you’re not face-to-face with the person you’re suggesting commit suicide. Authors: you are not entitled to a review. You are certainly not entitled to a review when a reviewer has closed their submissions. And you are definitely not, under any circumstances, entitled to suggest that a reviewer find a “cheap, quick and painless” way to kill him/herself.
My example here is rather extreme, but it speaks to a huge problem within the author and book blogging community. If one author behaves badly, it reflects badly on all of them, especially when that author is within the self-publishing community, which still struggles to be recognized as legitimate. And if we as a book blogging community consistently let authors get away with this extreme behaviour without calling them out on it, we’re only hurting ourselves.
I’m not suggesting anyone do anything about or to this author in particular. In fact, by even bothering to make a more coherent post about this incident I will likely be giving the author free publicity. But this isn’t just about the author in question, this is about respect or lack thereof. This is about the self-publishing community standing up for itself when incidents like this happen and it’s definitely about raising awareness about the kind of crap book bloggers like myself put up with all of the time.
For those of you that are still curious, here is my proof of the incident in the form of a screenshot: