Thursday, May 26, 2011

Yay, I published in Salon; Boo, the commenters hate me

I used to write for Salon all the time, and when recently, a Chinese edition of my novel, Girls in Trouble, appeared with the wrong author photo, I wrote about it for Salon. To me, it was an essay about how so much is out of our hands as authors and also about the meaning of ownership, how an author photo is a physical symbol of "this is who I am and I wrote this book."

You might have thought I was writing about starting WWIII.

I instantly had about 70 responses, and most of them were anonymous. I had posted up two photos, my real author photo and the photo of Summer Pierre, the woman whose picture festooned my book.  "You look like a vampire who needs a tan," someone wrote. "You want to look mysterious, but instead, you just look like a big bitch." I was accused of being jealous because the other woman was prettier, warmer, less pale. Then commenters began attacking me for what they thought was navel-gazing, for being a hack writer, for having a website they didn't like where "each link opened to a new window!" The attacks grew bigger and bigger, the language nastier and nastier, right along with my headaches and nausea.

People did come to my rescue. "I was going to email you to warn you about the commenters we get," someone who worked at Salon told me. My editor there emailed to tell me, "they're all mostly wanna be writers and they get jealous. Don't take it personally." A few friends, who had published pieces in Salon, also wrote me, telling me the same vitriol had splashed over them, too. "Don't read any more," people begged.

I believe in karma.  I didn't react. I stayed cool, but it was a really rough day for me. And then, half an hour ago, I heard the story had found its way to China. An award-winning radio show in Ireland emailed me, wanting to interview me.

Not bad for a "vampire who needs a tan."


jonathan evison said...

. . . screw the haters, caroline! . . . and you're adorable, btw!

a gracious plenty said...

i found myself laughing as i read the comments some people wrote to you. not because their comments were funny but because i couldn't believe people would write things like that.
and who cares if you are pale? and you "look like a bitch"? seriously, what does that even mean? people are so...interesting.
the little bit i've read on salon, i, too, noticed their comments were pretty vicious. i hope this post helped you to completely let all of that go.
you are beautiful inside and out. i love your blog and get so much out of it.
i am not a published writer, but i love to write more than anything. one of the scariest things is knowing that once you release your piece out into the masses, it is out of your hands.
just keep doing what you are doing. you do it well.

Anonymous said...

I found the article balanced and interesting -- and as an emerging/lurking/hopeful author in waiting, I'm always interested in the publishing process, even the hiccups. There will be lots of people who read your piece with interest, ignore the comments you don't like. And congrats on the book / article publication -- both good news. p.s. Pale is good.

Robby said...

I'm pretty sure the Salon commenters hate everyone.