Chelsea CainBest-selling crime author Chelsea Cain appears to have gone into social media meltdown in a really bad case of Author Meets Facebook. In a series of posts, she managed to diss on her readers for their asinine behavior and intrusive questions. She then managed to compound the damage. Her initial posts were taken down pretty promptly, apparently at the behest of her publisher. So the following is not first hand. But it is based on direct copies of the original posts like those you can see in this article, which have been widely corroborated.

Cain wrote:

I am not your personal customer service hotline. Do not ask me the order of my series or when the book is coming out in your particular country or how to make your fucking Kindle turn on. Google it. It will take you less time and turn up a much more reliable answer.

She then followed up with more in the same vein in response to a comment on the post:

I spend hours every day responding to reader questions on all my various social networking sites. It is a full time job. It takes up more time than writing. You have no idea the bullshit I am bombarded with. Suddenly I’m an asshole for pointing out that listing the order of my books ten times a day may not be the most productive use of my time? I love cool questions and comments. It’s the inane ones I object to. You don’t pay my salary. I don’t have to do this. But here I am. Personally responding to your comment at almost 1am

So there is Lesson One in social media self-promotion for writers: If you do have readers who pay for your livelihood, do not shit on them from a great height, in public view. Sure, they weren’t made to pass an IQ test to read your books. But deal with that: If you’re putting yourself out there on social media and in the blogosphere in the first place, you obviously did it with a purpose.

Lesson Two, actually, for writers and publishers, might be: If you put a blooper like that out on social media, correct it, apologize for it, but don’t simply delete it. Because on the internet, it never goes away. And if you take it down when somebody has already copied it, you just look like you’re doing a cover-up. And above all, if you’re going to do a follow-up, don’t do it like this:


And Lesson Three might be, especially if you’re a New York Times bestselling novelist, if this stuff gets too much of a burden for you, pay a publicist or an agent to do it. Or just don’t go on social media personally. Or, as some commentators pointed out, get a proper FAQ and reader-friendly infodump on your personal site so no one has to ask you basic questions in the first place. No one is forcing you to go on social media, just as no one is forcing you to write, or your readers to read you. Get a proper social media and publicity strategy together, for crying out loud. You should be able to afford it, with all the money that the people you just dumped on push into your hands.

I’ve no doubt that somewhere Jonathan Franzen or his sympathizers will be wringing their hands over this and saying how it demonstrates the terrible things that happen when authors are forced into doing social media. Well, his original comments smacked of over-entitlement and deeply insular arrogance, and so do Chelsea Cain’s.


  1. Maybe more authors should take publicity lessons from Salinger and Pynchon. As a reader, I can think of few, if any, reasons to contact an author – Facebook, Twitter, email, mail, or – oh, horror- the doorbell. If perchance I was sitting on an airplane next to a famous author I like, I would saying nothing I wouldn’t otherwise say to a traveller. But if an author has a public face in social media, then he or she can except the flood gate of stupid questions. Who was the author advocating more writing less social media? Learn from him too. Not everybody is meant to interact.

  2. If so many people want the correct order of her books, why not post the correct order on her web page? Or just recommend her fans get a free account at Not only can you find out the correct order of any series, you’ll also get an email when there’s a new book in a series you’re following, or one of your favorite authors writes a new book.

  3. @dlomax

    Personally, I wouldn’t recognize Chelsea Cain if did I sat next to her. She doesn’t write the kind of books I’m likely to read.

    Of course, if you do ever sit next to her, please ask your question before the plane takes off. Passenger melt downs in flight can cause unscheduled diversion.

  4. I don’t know Chelsea Cain, so the following is pure speculation on my part.

    This outburst is what I would expect to see if a person who is introverted, and not very social, has to deal with large numbers of people for a long period of time.

    The question I have is why was Ms. Cain on Facebook in the first place? Was she forced onto Facebook by her publisher? Did she try to force herself to be more outgoing in order to sell more books? Either way, it seems to have been a bad move in her case.

    My recommendation would be for her to close her Facebook account, and to create instead a static web page with a FAQ to address the more obvious questions, such as the reading order of her books. Then she could go back to writing new books and satisfy her fans that way, instead of by trying to have one-on-one conversations with them.

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