Author Confronts One-Star Reviewer, Confirms That This Is A Terrible Idea
In a bizarre, spiraling series of events, author Kathleen Hale accused a reviewer of catfishing her, then proceeded to stalk said reviewer.
It gets weird.
Attention came to Hale when she posted this article on The Guardian website, speaking about how she confronted a 1-star reviewer. In her version of the story, a woman gave her novel a 1-star review on Goodreads. Hale was told multiple, multiple times not to respond, to avoid the reviews. It turns out there's even a pop-up warning in the Goodreads author interface that cautions authors against replying to bad reviews.
Hale read the negative review anyway. The review made claims that Hale's book mocked PTSD, domestic abuse, and rape.
From Hale's perspective, these accusations were untrue, and she decided to look into this reviewer. Which appeared, at first, to be an unusual, but brave, thing to do. Hale made some reasonable points about the fact that any author response to criticism is made impossible because it's seen as abusive. She also said that mean-spirited reviews are allowed as fair game so long as they focus on the book and not the author, which is true of Goodreads' review policies.
Hale then goes on to describe how she discovered that the negative reviewer (Blythe) was not who she claimed. Which is indeed odd. However, things begin to take a turn when Hale details the extent of her research with casual detail:
The exterior of the house that showed up on Google maps looked thousands of square feet too small for the interiors Blythe had posted on Instagram. According to the telephone directory and recent census reports, nobody named Blythe Harris lived there. The address belonged to someone I’ll call Judy Donofrio who, according to an internet background check ($19), was 46 – not 27, as Blythe was – and worked as vice-president of a company that authorises disability claims.
Hale eventually visits the reviewer's home. She writes that she considers the act a personal rock bottom, however in her next paragraph she goes on to explain how she continued to follow the reviewer online and eventually called her at work, saying she was fact-checking a story and asking the reviewer multiple questions in an attempt to get the reviewer to confess to book blogging under a different persona.
Looking at the facts in the reviewer's corner, it would seem that others agree with the reviewer's negative opinion of Hale's book. In addition, Jezebel linked to an older piece written by Hale that details another very unflattering, stalker-esque escapade.
What started out as a pro-author, take-back-the-power kind of thing turned into a mess where there's no one to root for. The reviewer definitely made some mistakes, and Hale was in a sympathetic, difficult position. However, when one weighs the reality of leaving a potentially-inaccurate, 1-star review versus knocking on someone's door, well, it's hard to pick a valiant hero.
It would seem, for now, that what everyone says is true. Ignore those reviews. Don't even read them.
Or perhaps it's time for authors to push back.
Oh, and...please respond below. Don't come to my house.
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