In the year since the book sold, I’ve seen several instances of authors stalking or threatening reviewers. So, first off because it’s most important:
Threatening and/or stalking someone is never, ever okay.
It is so Not Okay that I don’t even have a metaphor for how Not Okay it is.
In fact, “Not Okay” is a huge understatement. It is wrong. It is illegal. It is evil. No one should ever do it.
I have never been the subject of a bad review. (Because my book isn’t out yet. I’m sure that I will get some when it starts to be available. That is life. Can’t be all things to all people/there are bad reviews for classics/etc.)
But I have been stalked and threatened.
And it is terrifying.
Is a bad review terrifying? … Maybe? But not in the same way. If someone hates my work, I do not fear for my life. And if they somehow make me fear for my life with personal threats and calling my private cell and heavy-breathing their review into my ear, then, you know, I go through appropriate channels to try to protect myself. And “Appropriate Channels” is NOT threatening or stalking.
(Nor is it using a large platform to sic fans on reviewers. I don’t have a large platform so this may never be applicable to me, but it should be said because apparently some people don’t know this?)
So, okay, with the internet the way it is, people are more accessible than ever. We can tweet and email and chat and crosstalk and argue and all that, and I love that, I love connecting with people. And as the pub date approaches and my circle widens, there is more opportunity for cool conversation but also more risk. And I never want to make anyone feel unsafe, ever.
So I want to just include a personal policy, of sorts, for social media. As time goes forward, I will be thinking about and developing this policy further, but for now this is what I’ve got.
–If you ask me questions directly online, or invite me into a conversation, I will happily and respectfully try to respond. I love talking to people (though I am awkward about it at times) and appreciate conversation.
–If you Tweet about me but do not appear to be inviting me into conversation, I will err on the side of not responding. I’m not ignoring you to be rude! But I would rather risk appearing rude than making you feel unsafe.
–If you review my work, I may or may not read it, but I will always appreciate it–even if you hate the book. Why? Because you took the time, and time is your most precious resource. Thank you, truly.
–If you review my work and loved it and rave about it and it comes to my attention, I may in fact print out your review and keep it to look at when I’m unsure of myself. It means the world to me to know I did well in the eyes of a reader.
–I will always support a better safety and harassment policy on all social media platforms.
–If I hurt someone or cause harm, I will want to apologize. I will feel sorry. I will likely make some kind of public announcement of what I did wrong (keeping names out of it) and my intent to do better and any plans I have to that effect. I may or may not apologize directly, depending on my sense of whether or not a direct apology/contact is wanted by the person I hurt. (I am aware that sometimes, when harm is caused, the person harmed wants nothing more to do with the person who has harmed them and that’s okay too. Stuff is complicated and I want to try to do the right thing.)
Okay. I think this is a good policy, though again, it is evolving. And I always want to do better so feedback is welcome.