So last week, Chelsea Cain had a meltdown on Facebook. And whoo, has it got people talking. By the time the meltdown had been brought to my attention- Chelsea had removed the posts- but thanks to Literary, etc– you can read the actual posts (and her thoughts on the subject as well). Now before anyone gets their pouty pants on saying I’m trashing Chelsea or her new-found haters add me to that particular fan club- STOP. THINK. AND READ. I’m not trashing Chelsea NOR am I condoning her behavior. We are going to talk about the meltdown as related to our expectations of the author/reader relationship.My momma raised me on the thought process of “Be careful what you write- it could be misunderstood”. So, as I read the posts- and the comments… well, it was all something else. There was some hatefulness, there was mudslinging, there was ferocious defending of the author, and there was equal defending of the right to ask questions and NOT have your head bit off.
And now- we see the ugly side of social media.
Listen, I’m all for social media. It helps connects old friends, new friends, people with similar interests- heck, I’ve even gotten a date or 2 via the old social media…. But, as Chelsea’s VERY PUBLIC meltdown shows us all- sometimes you need to push the keyboard away and just not hit “post”. People could deliberate for days on exactly what led to the meltdown- was it the question? Was it the fact that ONE KICK didn’t make it to the NYT Best-Sellers list and she was cranky over that? Could she really be under too much pressure? Could it be many things that we are not aware of? I’m going with the guess of it’s a combo of MANY things (but again- not slamming her)- because, whether we want to admit it or not- we’ve all had that social media walk of shame.. Maybe we overshared. Maybe we posted things that had no business being on Facebook. Maybe we were caught being a b*tch. Or a douchebag.
The problem with *SOME* authors and readers relationship on social media is this: We, the readers, through the various funny tweets/cute pictures shared/lol stories and all the other things that authors post in their continuing building a relationship with the reader- we think we know them. We do know them (albeit in a limited way). And when the fit hits the shan- we are aghast. How dare OUR author do that? How dare OUR author curse? Or be mean? Or what have you? Simple: Our author is human. Our author will make mistakes.
What if the author crosses a line in the author/reader relationship?
Right now, people are threatening to never buy a book of Chelsea’s again. And for people who did not know her- she is being painted in a very unfavorable light. So, what to do when an author crosses the line in the author/reader relationship? Is there a line?
I think there is. But where the line is will depend on the individual reader.
For me, my pocketbook is a major line. When authors behave badly- you have a choice in continuing to support them OR to speak with your wallet. After the whole John Grisham autographed book debacle- I vowed never to buy another book of his again. #6yearsstrong on that vow!
So, darling readers- what are some behaviors that would make you quit supporting an author?
Can An Author Uncross That Line?
Once the line is crossed- can the trust be returned between the author and reader? Would a huge mea culpa from Chelsea go forth to soothe tons of ruffled feathers? Or once it’s gone- is it gone for good?
Final thoughts: This is such a thorny issue. I can actually see both sides of it. I can see Chelsea’s (or other authors) frustration at being asked the same questions multiple times, being torn between forging relationships via social media (which helps with selling books) or locking themselves up like a hermit- to just write- but missing out on the connection with fans. I can see the fan’s side- you ask a question, you just want to have your question answered with respect. It’s a thorny issue- with multiple points of view.
Can we as readers enjoy the writings of an author that we don’t like or at least always agree with their behavior? Or to truly enjoy the book- must we like or at least respect the author?
So… Tell me your thoughts on this situation. If you’ve read Chelsea Cain books before- will this affect you buying her books? If you have not read Chelsea Cain before- are you more or less likely to give her a chance? Have you had any experience with an author behaving badly? Authors- is this a cautionary tale to you or can you understand this situation? Let me know in the comments!
Happy Reading and Bookishly Yours,