In a textbook case of one author exploding over another author’s success and popularity, Huffington Post (UK) writer and four-time novelist Lynn Shepard entreats Harry Potter author JK Rowling to cease writing books for the sake of writers everywhere. In the piece, titled If JK Rowling Cares About Writing, She Should Stop Doing It, Shepard discusses why successful authors like Rowling should cease writing in order to give other authors a chance at succeeding in the harsh world of publication.
In her article, Shepard states her opinion that it is a shame adults are reading Rowling’s novels. Then she goes on to discuss the impact of Rowling writing under the pseudonym of Robert Galbraith, and how it has ruined the chance for other well-written books to gain popularity.
In the days following the article, originally released on February 21, 2014, the post has ‘enjoyed’ the attention of tens of thousands of readers.
Unfortunately, few have had anything nice to say about the piece or Shepard’s admission she has not read any of Rowling’s works. The comments in response to the article quickly devolved into a battlefield of angry readers and writers.
What happened next is something Shepard and her publishers likely didn’t expect. Her books, which had once enjoyed a 3.5* average review score on amazon.com, was bombarded by upset reviewers. Many openly admitted to not reading any of her books, referencing the article as their motivation for leaving 1* reviews.
Others who have bought and read her book but hadn’t left reviews started posting their thoughts in the form of reviews, highlighting key issues with Shepard’s writing style. Since the posting, her novels have dropped in ranking, with averages ranging from 2.8* to 3.3*.
An interesting element to this drama is the surge of accusations claiming Shepard wrote the article in order to be controversial and go viral to draw attention to her novels. It has worked, to a certain degree, because people are aware of Lynn Shepard and the four novels she has written.
Personally, I mourn a little over the potential destruction of a woman’s struggling career over a mistake. When the ire of the fantasy community is roused, it doesn’t get mad, it gets even.