Authors Behaving Badly

Goodreads exploded in another of its periodic conflagrations this weekend. This time it was a self-published author whining in disturbing terms about bloggers who allegedly promised reviews in return for free e-books and allegedly failed to deliver. He even went so far as to post a list of said bloggers, describing them as "liars and thieves." In fact, one of the bloggers in question had never even heard of the author before the kerfuffle this weekend. If you'd like a more thorough review of this author's meltdown, Evie at Bookish has a recap.


As I've said before in other terms, 98% of authors are not cocoa-loco crazy like this guy. (We are, however, cocoa-loco crazy in more socially acceptable ways. We'll lock ourselves away with a computer on a perfectly nice day when we could be riding a bike, for example. Like today. Sigh.) Here's what I'd like to say to the other 2%: Book bloggers are not your prison bitches. They don't owe you anything. Not even if you send them a free book. Not even if you spend time doing an interview for them. They are doing a service to the literary community, promoting books, and in most cases they get paid absolutely nothing for that service.

We should nurture and thank book bloggers, not publicly call out their alleged failings or create lists of disfavored bloggers. They are helping to grow and support our industry, providing some of the milk we all suckle. They succeed or fail based on the services they provide to their readers, and their obligation is to their readers, not to authors.

Look, I like the current trend of inexpensive e-book self-publishing. One of the glories of it is that anyone can do it without being taken for ride on the multi-thousand dollar Ferris wheel of vanity presses. I'm on record saying that I would consider self-publishing at some point in my career. But one of the problems with it is also that anyone can do it, some of whom clearly aren't emotionally prepared for the considerable stress of publishing a book. If a traditionally published author behaved like this chap, he'd hear from his literary agent and editor tuit de suite, and soon join the ranks of self-publishers if he didn't get his behavior under control.

I also think this spat demonstrates something about the costs of cheap ebooks. The author in question was whinging over supplying a free e-book that retails for $2.99. His lost profit on that ebook (assuming the bloggers bought it instead of getting it free--an unlikely assumption, since I started the free sample of one of the fellow's books and put it down after the second sentence--yes, it was that bad) would have been $2.09. But the average person requires about 5 hours to read a 300 page book--even at minimum wage, that time is worth $36.25.

Cheap e-books are not cheap for the reader. You're investing at least $40 worth of time every time you pick up a book. Would you rather spend $42.99 on 5 hours of crappy reading or, say, $54.99 on five hours of thought-provoking entertainment? I prefer the latter.

The last thing I want to say is congratulations to Goodreads. They banned the badly behaving author fairly promptly. That bodes well for Goodreads--civility requires rules and an enforcement mechanism, and I applaud Goodreads for supplying both.

What do you think? Have you seen any other examples of authors behaving badly? Let me know in the comments, please.




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16 comments:

Karlene said...

Thank you so much for posting that! As someone who gets asked to review all the time, I appreciate your comments.

One of the main reasons I sometimes don't post a review after receiving a comp copy is the review would be a bad one...

Stephanie said...

Thank you!

The situation was completely ridiculous. Did you see the part where he threatened them saying, "If you don't want the list published, review my book." Lol. WTF, dude!

I'm so glad GoodReads deleted him.

Mike Mullin said...

Thanks ,Karlene! And if you ever hate one of my books, please go ahead and review it anyway. Bad reviews benefit authors, too. And honestly, anyone who cant' deal with a bad review should get out of this business.

Mike Mullin said...

Thanks for reading, Stephanie. Yes, it was ridiculous. I didn't see the bit about him trying to blackmail the bloggers, but I'm not surprised. It's consistent with the rest of his behavior. And yes, the way Goodreads handled this gives me a lot of hope for the site.

Blodeuedd said...

Great post, aye we are not prison bitches. Honestly some of these authors need to have a check-up. And they are ruin it for authors. There are some good selppubbed authors out there but the crazy few make bloggers not wanting to go near the rest

Katie said...

* headdesk *

This guy seems like he has some serious problems. As in, a genuinely crazy person. And now he's caused a firestorm and made dozens of bloggers vow to never work with independent authors again. I'm so tired of crazies giving the rest of self-published authors a black eye through shenanigans like this.

Mike Mullin said...

Yep, and it makes people like me hesitant to self-publish, even though it's possible that it might be more lucrative. I have no idea what to do about it, though.

Andrea said...

ABSOLUTELY! I've been very fortunate to have authors be very understanding of the life of the blogger, especially the volunteer one. I satirized this situation in this letter on my site: http://wp.me/p2n8SF-2S. I am in the camp of bloggers who don't like to write bad reviews (as in, this book is not worth reading), but I do try to offer constructive criticism (like a good edit would make this extraordinary).

Mike Mullin said...

Great post Andrea! Had a good laugh reading it.

Myrna Foster said...

I don't consider myself a book reviewer (although I do recommend books I absolutely love), and I get e-mails from people like this (who have obviously never read my blog) all of the time, usually with an e-book attached. I've never downloaded one. I don't even respond to the e-mails. They get treated like the spam that they are.

Great post! I'm glad that Goodreads did something.

Mike Mullin said...

Thanks, Myrna! I can't imagine that that sort of spam works often. I don't care how free you make your book--there's still a cost to me to read it. If it sucks, I've just wasted a ton of time I could have spent reading something awesome.

bookittyblog said...

It makes me sad that many reviewers won't review indie books anymore thanks to this guy. I do understand where they are coming from though. But lots of indie authors will suffer thanks to this man.

Stephsco said...

Oh no, more drama on Goodreads! I'm getting a bit tired of all this entitlement; it seems to be going around. I suppose in a reality TV-centric culture, everyone expects to be a star and to be treated like one. Even down to book reviews on $2.99 ebooks. Not sure we can stop the freight train.

Mel Chesley said...

Wow. Just... wow. Perhaps it is time to put the smack down on some of these indie authors that give other indie authors a bad name. Geez. I'm with Stephsco... don't know if it can be stopped.

Ed Briant said...

If it was printed galleys of the book that the author was complaining about then there might be some justification. Galleys could possibly be sold on eBay, but a blogger could hardly re-sell an e-book.

Ali Chisholm said...

And some books are just so darn bad that I can't get past the first few pages. Sure, I could post a review saying that, but my time is just as valuable as that authors. I'd rather write about a book I could have an interesting post about.