Authors – Do we have the right to a moral voice?
I love reading romance! I wouldn’t be a very good romance author if I didn’t. I love reading across all genres, my favorite is obviously historical, (usually Regency/Victoria) but I love paranormal and contemporary and erotica too.
I also love giving great reviews when a book thrills me in some way. If you look at my review history on Amazon (where I used to review) you will see I very rarely give another author a 1 or 2 star review (I get plenty, so I know how it feels). What’s the point in hurting someone’s feelings? However, if the content of a book ‘offends me’—note I say content —not the writing, I’d never comment on the writing skills of another author, then sometimes I will give a bad review.
I read, or I should say started to read, a contemporary book the other day, and could not get past the first 20 pages. The story setup offended me so much that I gave it a 1 star review on Amazon to voice my concern. I got on my moral high horse AND I paid for that by getting a threatening email from the PUBLISHER.
This contemporary romance starts with a hero who decides he wants a beer and sex, and he’s going to pay for both. Okay, I shrugged, not very heroic as far as I was concerned, a man who pays for sex, but I went with it. Then we meet the heroine. A young American woman stuck in the wilds of Aussi who suddenly needs to get home but doesn’t have the money for the flight. What do you know, prostitution is legal in Kalgoorlie, so she immediately decides her only CHOICE is to go and prostitute herself . That’s where I left this book.
Why I hear you ask, when many historicals have courtesans (I’ve never written a courtesan book) and arranged marriages little more than a paid arrangement.
The answer is easy. Back in historical days women of a certain social standing, or women in general, had few, if any rights, or any other CHOICE in employment options. In the twenty first century we have several options, especially for an educated and smart woman.
When I researched slavery for my debut Regency romance, Invitation To Ruin, I was horrified to learn that slavery is more prevalent today than back in the 1800’s, due to modern sexual slavery, taking many forms around the world. What I find offensive about the oldest profession is that the majority of women in this occupation in the world don’t have a choice. It’s not usually glamorous or profitable for them—their pimp or madam, maybe.
I was angered that an author’s story could indicate to young women that it was an acceptable first choice to prostitute yourself, before ascertaining another option. Authors tread a fine line in influencing people as do TV and movies etc. I didn’t like this positioning and I was open about it. I never give a bad review under an assumed name. Not on an issue important to me.
I’m not writing this to justify my review, merely to explain it because the PUBLISHER of this book (a well known author, with serious power behind her), tracked me down and intimidated me with her street team, enough to make me take my review down.
I have received 1 star reviews, and yes they hurt, but I respect a person’s right to give a review, if it’s honest felt. I certainly have never tracked anyone down, and intimidated him or her into removing it.
So I guess, as an author, I no longer have the right to voice a moral standpoint. There, I have got it off my chest. Lesson learned. I will no longer write reviews good or bad. Sad for me as I do like to have an opinion in this world, on issues I feel passionately about. As a woman who has never married and who has had to financially look out for myself, I would hate to think we are now desensitizing young women into thinking prostitution is the quick fix to all their money problems.
The one thing I do find totally offensive is a PUBLISHER tracking down a reviewer and intimidating them. Shame on you! I think the author of the book is probably horrified too, as suddenly I have had about four nice Facebook comments from her when she’s never before interacted with me.
How would you feel if someone tracked you down about a review? Is it acceptable because I am an author? What do you think?