Author entitlement is a wonderful thing. Just by putting pen to paper, you can be forgiven for child abuse. Stalking. Abusing your readers. Grumpy-catting when you can’t get the recognition and validation you paid for. Especially in your own mind. Apparently it’s all part of that miraculous creative process.
So welcome Margo Howard as today’s star turn in authorial over-self-entitlement. (Is that a word? Sorry, English language, but it sure is an accurate description.) Aided and abetted, as these cases so often are, by a paranoid conspiracy theory – which is given added credence and visibility, in this instance, because it happens to coincide with someone else’s equally unhinged views on that monstrous devourer of all that is good and bright in the world: Amazon.
(Bear in mind, by the way, that Franklin Foer’s New Republic article has been torn to pieces not just by the lunatic fringe self-publishing fanatics, but by the Washington Post, among others. And naturally it’s the New Republic that’s kind enough to give Howard her air time on this issue.)
In her article “Amazon’s Elite Reviewing Club Sabotaged My Book,” Howard claims that the Amazon Vine Community … well … sabotaged her book by conspiring to review it. Badly. Now if as Howard states, she never even heard of the Vine Community prior to this, it’s hard to know how it could have had such a grave impact on the fortunes of her book. And also, since the reviews she mentions were pre-publication, it’s equally hard to know how much its performance could have been impacted by those reviews, with no sudden post-review downwards lurch in the numbers of copies sold. But why let logic get in the way of a good tantrum?
Howard’s not afraid to say that: “I was so distressed about this injustice that I looked up the list of Amazon’s board of directors. Great good luck, I happened to know two of them, so I pestered the one who was a lawyer, feeling all this slamming by the barely literate approached tortious interference.” So hold on: She’s attempting to bring legal pressure to bear on the board of a major book distributor to get bad reviews of her book removed? What exactly is that called?
The Passive Voice, linking to Howard’s article, has picked up a crop of comments from actual Vine reviewers. And as one of the commentators points out, “the Vine reviews are paid for by the publisher.” Oh, and Howard also happens to know a couple of Amazon directors: How does that make her a likely victim of a conspiracy? Jennifer Weiner is not exactly sympathetic either, and seems to be joining a fast-consolidating movement to elect Margo Howard Fairy Queen of the Special Snowflakes Club by acclamation. Elsewhere, she’s already being bracketed with child porn consumption apologist (oops … bestselling author…) John Grisham and Kathleen Hale in “When Authors Go Off the Deep End.”
Seems like Howard has withered on the Vine. Thanks, New Republic, for helping share her problem so widely. Oh and incidentally, Franklin, she really helps validate your anti-Amazon case. Really really.