I don't use Twitter much. I find it too much of a time sink; it can take me 5 minutes minimum to read and respond to a Tweet (I'm dyslexic). Yesterday, though, I was keeping an eye on #HaleNo and I ended up having a conversation with an internationally bestselling author about the proposed blackout. She argued that it would be hurting a lot of authors who had nothing to do with Hale, and she's right - in a way - it will.
When I began the conversation, I wasn't sure what my position was going to be. I agreed with the blackout but I wasn't sure if I was going to join in. I'm horribly behind on my ARCs and I've got 2 reviews which I was intending to get finished and post ASAP - if I join in with the blackout, I am actively punishing these two authors (if you will excuse me the ego trip of pretending anything I do makes a difference, especially to the two people concerned). It's going to effect another two authors who's books I need to crack on with and who I would make the effort to status update about because I am so horribly behind. It's going to effect another author, because I started their book last night and am really excited that it's going to be good and if I join the blackout, I can't say anything about it.
I don't know what any of these people think about #HaleNo. I haven't looked. It doesn't actually matter because this is not about them. As I said to the IBA on Twitter, when nurses strike it's not done to hurt the patients. As a blogger, I hope that authors understand why we're doing this and that they offer to support us. We all have our own reasons for doing this. These are mine.
- Because accusations were made without proof and a woman has been silenced. No proof of trolling, of harassment, or of bullying by Blythe Harris against Kathleen Hale. No proof has been shown that she has stolen a friends' pictures. Hale's account differs in several important respects from that of the Blog Tour company. When people go digging, they're finding more evidence Hale's presentation of events differs from them.
- Because even in balanced articles, the headlines refer to us as Trolls. For a long time we've been fighting the notion that a negative review is bullying, or one-starring without a review is trolling. It isn't, plus nobody complains about 5 star ratings without a review. Are there some people on the internet who rate 1 star and needle the author about it? Yes there are, the web is dark and full of idiots. Is Blythe Harris one of these people? No. Not as far as I can see. Most of us aren't.
- Because this could have been any of us. As I've said, Blythe has not been shown to have done anything wrong. Yes, trolls exist on the internet and some people are rude and some people harass authors, but Blythe has not been shown to have done any of those things. If Hale can write about Blythe in The Guardian, she can write about me.
- Because her Publisher has not commented. I don't expect they will but they damn well should. If Hale were a man, you can bet they'd be distancing themselves. I have no idea if they legally could, but I would like to see them drop Hale from her publishing contract. I want them to stand up and be f***ing counted. I want them to stand up and take a public action to demonstrate they do not condone Hale's actions. I want them to show they take the safety of their customers seriously (because that's what we are. We are the people buying books.). There are 20 million Goodreads users. I want them to say yes, the 20 million people whose hobby it is to read and review books, plus the however-many-more who do so elsewhere, are more important than Kathleen Hale. No, it won't happen, but I want it to.
- Because we have no power. The only thing I have is my voice and I'm damn lucky to have that. I don't have friends in high places. I'm not important enough to be featured on STGRBs list of bloggers. My profile is too small to make me a target. Too many people believe and support Hale because of who she is. I will use the only thing I have to protest Hale's actions, as insignificant as it is.
- Because this is not going to make a damn bit of difference. Hale is too well connected for this to destroy her career. It's funny, because that's what we're accused of being able to do: destroy careers. We can't. Really, whose career has been destroyed by bloggers? I believe that this is futile. I know there are things happening behind the scenes, but there are too many people too firmly entrenched in the belief that somebody else is responsible for their failure, even when they haven't actually failed. I believe this action will change nothing, but this is still important and I stand with everybody else.
So, here it is. With regret, until the 27th I will not be posting any reviews of new books, or status updates about the ones I'm reading. I apologise to the authors whose reviews are being further delayed by this action.
Questions, discussion etc welcome in the comments.