Many readers are stupid. A disproportionate number of non-readers are even stupider. (Point in case: Goodreads.) I've already done my take on how to handle criticism, so I've been hesitating to write yet another article on why you should stick to your own balls (or ovaries) in the face of internet confrontation. This whole phenomenon just confounds me, and I'm way behind on making these darn blog posts, anyways, so I might as well double down on it. Anyhow, if you don't know, and you already do, publishers have been pulling books from their line-ups due to pre-release criticism of the materials yet unseen. It seems to be caused by professional reviews that paint the word as all our favorite -isms. And why question that? Surely, a critic would never have a bias, especially not one so esteemed as a critic of YA fiction. Think Plato's cave but rather than seeing shadows on the wall, they're having the shadows described to them by others. (Did they go over that in the theory? Secondhand information and ears and hearing noises? Probably. I don't remember.)
See, here's my main frustration. I don't believe these are samaritans trying to call out manifestos of bigotry. If I actually gave a fuck, I'd love to read the (un?)shelved manuscripts to see how they add up to the allegations. Something tells me that Mein Kampf, they are not. (Although, wouldn't I look like a fool if they were?) Likening this to #metoo would be a false equivalence. You see, when you accuse someone of something, you don't purposefully attempt to hide the evidence, especially not if you're confident in your statements. What these people are doing is saying, “Don't look! It's so evil, so racist, so hateful that you might not even notice if you read it for yourself! Don't come up with your own opinion. Let me protect you.” I don't find these to be good or even very confident people. If nobody reads the book they're calling out, then how can anyone disprove their claims? Ironically, many of these dimwits also tend to be the type who boast about reading “banned books” one month every calendar year. It appears to be a cabal of progressive puritans who enjoy the power of "canceling" those who accomplish what they are incapable of. You can bend over backwards to suck their collective dick but that doesn't mean they won't kick you in the face when your time comes. Whether or not you've truly done anything wrong, you're done away with. Apologies will only confirm their suspicions.
So, authors, what the fuck? On one hand, I understand. You're afraid; they've got you up against the wall. You put years into this book, have all your hopes and dreams stitched into the pages, other unnecessary metaphors. You don't want to come off unprofessional or get caught with your foot in the mouth. Here's the bad news: You're already fucked. Once they've sunk their fangs into you, you've got moments to act. I truly believe that most, if not all these authors mean well. I would be astonished if a single one of them tried sneaking some covert racism into their young adult book on the sly. If your book isn't what they claim it is, then why shy away from proving them wrong? You know what you've written, probably better than anyone (barring maybe your editor). Talk some sense into the situation. Are you digging your own grave? Maybe, but it's better than to submit to the entertainment police. People are divided on outspoken artists; nobody respects a push-over.
Publishers, you're probably not actually reading this article, so this paragraph is essentially useless. Imaginary publishers that I pretend read my posts, you're shooting yourselves in the foot. On one hand, there is a potential loss. On the other hand, you're missing out on an opportunity. I understand playing it safe is the game but outspoken Twitter profiles don't speak for the majority of readers. In many cases, controversy stirs interest in the general populace, especially when the claims turn out to be false. Look at the fan outrage towards Suicide Squad. That shit still made money. How many Transformers movies has Michael Bay cashed in on, now? (Particularly decent example, being that they are often accused of being racist, sexist, smartophobic.) I'm not here to argue the quality of these movies. My point is that despite negative reception, they still made bank. This boils down to the free market. Let consumers decide what you publish, not tweets. If an author's making money, why cut them off? I get that many of the authors I'm referring to aren't established writers, but why not give them one chance? I'm more sympathetic in this case, because I totally get how each book release is a major gamble and a financial liability. I'd still love to see a publisher give the literati the finger, though, and stand up with for the authors they were willing to sign on.
Ultimately, my point is why let others cancel your dreams? If a single bad review is going to light their torches, then fuck 'em. Who wants a fanbase like that in the first place? I think everyone whose written has been misunderstood on some level. I can say that a lot of my older writing and even my current writing could be misconstrued in such a fashion, in part due to my inefficiency as a storyteller. Thing is, if you're well-intentioned, the least you can do is have some faith in yourselves. I know this is easier said than done but you need to take this misfortune as an opportunity. The spotlight's on you and you need to take your fifteen seconds of infamy to prove yourself innocent before they move on to the next target.