Sunday, April 18, 2021

To Lauren Hough and Other Whiny Pissbabies: How Not to Behave as an Author

I should know how to behave and not behave. Anybody in MM Romance will be happy to tell you I have a long and sordid history of pissing people off, picking fights, and generally running my mouth off whenever I feel something needs to be said.

I've been writing for nearly twenty years, so trust me, that's a lot of people pissed off. I consider myself retired from shenanigans these days, because I just don't have the spoons anymore, as the kids say. Ten years of publishing, nearly twenty of writing, a host of mental and physical health problems… other matters I don't feel like discussing here, have taken their toll. I mostly just write these days, and keep to my little social circles. And too much Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

All that being said, there has been an increasing problem with how authors treat readers, and the short of it is that authors treat readers with contempt. A major turning point in this was Kathleen Hale, who stalked a reader who pissed her off. Literally went to her house, left her a 'gift', called her at work, and so terrified this woman she withdrew entirely from the internet for a time (IDK if she has returned at all, I sure as fuck wouldn't). Since Hale, it's like a floodgate opened, and the problem just continues to worsen.

Much like the way you can count on there being a monthly article that grossly misrepresents romance, or an author whining about how their book with a depressing ending should totally count as a romance, you can count on there being yet another author who throws a temper tantrum about reviews.

The bingo cards typically include such things as:

  • You can't give a one star review without explaining it
  • You should never just rate a book and not review it 
  • You shouldn't be allowed to review if you haven't proven you purchased the book
  •  It's mean to give one and two star (and even threes now…) to books because it hurts authors.
  • If you don't like a book, just don't review it, you shouldn't say mean things and hurt the author and their sales
  • A review should be constructive and helpful

 On and on and on it goes.

 I'm not going to pretend reviews can't hurt. I'm not made of stone. It sucks when you see that a book you're proud of, that you spent more than a year on, is called 'stupid' and 'predictable' and 'lmao did this author even try' and my personal favorite 'this book is just the author checking diversity boxes'.

 I've been called a hack. A wannabe. A sellout. My all time favorite criticism to this day, even though it happened at least ten years ago now, is that my 'writing is far from Valhalla'. I still don't know what that even means.

 A reader has refused to read Treasure because she thinks it's too stupid and unbelievable some of the characters have blue hair. My wife was never really been fond of Embrace. There are people who won't read my contemporary. People who will only read my contemporary. Too much porn. Not enough porn. My characters are all the same. Cheesy. Boring. Pathetically obvious self-insert.

 I've heard it all. Sometimes nicely. Sometimes not so nicely. Sometimes people are downright mean, like the person who said The Painted Crown was the worst book I've ever written, it had too many problems to be fixable, and I should just scrap it.

 That doesn't give me the right to hop on twitter, paste these reviews for all to see, and mock them relentlessly. It doesn't give me the right to declare myself the Review Police and tell readers how they should review.

 It doesn't give me any rights at all. People are allowed to hate my books. They're allowed to hate me. They're allowed to hop on GR and tell everyone I couldn't write a good book if my life depended on it. They're allowed to say they find me an obnoxious, dumbass bitch whose books they will absolutely never read and then go on on a spree one-starring everything I've ever written (which I would admire the dedication, b/c I have over 100 stories published).

 To be honest I'd probably never notice. Because despite all the examples above, I don't actually go out and read reviews. Those are all comments I've chanced upon, or had some well-meaning reader or associate share with me. Sometimes it's a particularly unpleasant email.

 Whatever the case, I don't lash out. I don't call readers names. I don't tell them what to do. I don't act like a fucking child about it. If something really really gets to me, I'll whine to my long-suffering wife or entirely too patient sister.

 Reviews are for readers. Not authors. Even on sites like 'Dear Author' that's just a gimmick. I already wrote the book. It's done. Published. I always try to learn as I go, and do better with each book, but I don't see the point in losing sleep over what people say about a book I'm done with. Reviews are for readers. I did the best I could, released it to the world, and after that I'm done. Every person that reads it reads a different book, sees a different story. Trying to control that is like trying to control the moon. Good fucking luck.

 Leaving readers alone (and staying off Goodreads) is something that Lauren Hough and those just like her could really stand to learn. They are clearly too juvenile, every last one of them, to be in this profession. No one should have to take abuse, but negative reviews and readers refusing to be bullied into silence and submission is not abuse. It's refusing to be abused.

 So what has Lauren Hough done that I am name and shaming her?

 She bitched and moaned about a four star review. She screen-capped it, put it on her twitter where she has 66k followers, and was flat out mean and nasty to that reader.She put a reader on blast, called them an asshole, subjected them to the harassment of her followers and fellow pissbaby authors, for a four star review.

That it's. That's what set her off. Someone thought her book a four, but worth rounding up to 4.5. Someone thought it mostly a five, but rounded down to 4.5. Pretty fucking good ratings. But wait there's more.

Not good enough for Hough, I guess, who seems to think they were lying or posing or something to prove something???

Instead of apologizing, she stood by her comments for a while, then later blamed it all on being stoned. She doubled down and continued to treat readers like shit.



The saga continues, of course, because authors like this don't know when to quit. She is making claims of dogpiling, twitter mobs, etc etc. She has plenty of authors and fans standing by her, treating her like the poor innocent victim in all of this, like she didn't attack readers out of nowhere for giving her book a high rating.

Yes, I will keep repeating that. It boggles the mind.

Now she's decided that all this 'picking on her' is the same as being a victim of rape.


And because apparently she is queer, and a victim herself, she should be allowed to get away with this abhorrent behavior. Here's a newsflash: being a victim doesn't mean you can't also be an abuser, and Lauren Hough is most definitely abusing readers with this sort of behavior. It's bullying. It's hurtful. It's punching down on people who cannot defend themselves from an author with 66k followers and countless peers jumping in to defend her.

No one is 'picking on' Hough. She came out swinging at people who were bothering nobody, and now is mad those people are swinging back.

If you can't handle that people aren't going to like your book? If you're to call readers assholes because they gave your book a 4.5 rating? Go do something else, because you clearly are not mature enough to be an author.

Then again, clearly Hough knew that the only way to get any sales was to make people feel sorry for her. So maybe all this abuse of readers wasn't the weed talking, but the plan all along.


  1. How does she still have readers after insulting them so much? I'm not saying there's a need to pander or anything, but why is courtesy and basic respect for humans so hard? Everyone is entitled to their opinions, but bullying like this is such a gross abuse of power.

    P.s - Painted Crown is one of my favourites, I was surprised that someone had that many issues with it��

  2. I have no clue who Lauren Hough is. And yikes, I sure don't want to now! She totally reminds me of this newbie author who went around getting tons of MM authors to friend her and join her group and who then showed herself to be a trumper. When folks started unfriending, she wanted to know why and was told most MM authors aren't friends with those who support him because of his anti LGBTQ policies. She went on a rant about why she supported trump and whined about people unfriending in droves. She posted a list of stuff about herself guaranteed to make people feel sorry for her including that she was queer. She ended up trying to make herself appear as the victim because a couple hundred people unfriended her. It was nuts. And she wasn't the only one using these tactics on social media. There's just a a whole wave of newer authors with this kind of behavior. I've been published a dozen years and I just sit here and SMH over this stuff.

  3. Hi, thank you for writing this! I will just say as a point of clarification — Goodreads doesn't allow half star reviews, so both these reviewers felt the book was worth 4.5 stars, but recording that rating in the Goodreads system differently. One was "rounding down" to give 4 stars, and the other was "rounding up" to 5 stars. Reading her later tweets/the tweets of her supporters, it seems that part of her problem was that she thinks the rounding up/rounding down convo is stupid and pretentious (?) and she was just making a very funny joke (??) about how these reviewers are nerds for wanting to explain their ratings (???). Extremely weird because indicating partial star ratings in your written review is an incredibly common practice on Goodreads!!

    1. It is an incredibly common practice! I've done it myself and I've seen so many reviews like this. So honestly it just made me feel that she isn't a long time member of the goodreads site/community to know this

    2. Lol, I'm a nerd. I even knew that, and yet went the other way entirely. Thank you!!

  4. I saw this stuff playing out on twitter, and it honestly pissed me off. More so now that it looks like she is financially being rewarded for her behavior. She keeps doubling down and keeps dragging it, as it looks like it's benefiting her. Like what the heck.

  5. I read reviews to see what readers think worked and didn't, and I'd say 99% of the time they give me something to help me become a better writer.

    The only time I "had fun" with a review is when I got a one-star for a book because, seriously, the reader was angry I had an ill-educated character use the wrong tense of "to lay" in his conversation. And that was the only reason given. I use it to prove no matter how perfect your writing is, there's going to be someone who doesn't like it. But I don't attack people or belittle them. That IS arrogant and childish.

    When I do reviews, I try to be positive, but some books just don't work for me and so I don't officially review them (though I might complain about them on Facebook ;) ).


To Lauren Hough and Other Whiny Pissbabies: How Not to Behave as an Author

I should know how to behave and not behave. Anybody in MM Romance will be happy to tell you I have a long and sordid history of pissing peop...