Remember Kathleen Hale?
She’s the Full Fathom Five YA author of No One Else Can Have You who stalked a Goodreads user who gave her a bad review. She turned the experience into a Guardian article designed to laud her literary skills and adorably quirky personality as she played Nancy Drew to ‘catfish’ a reviewer and their secret identity. Shockingly, this didn’t go down well with readers, who were justifiably disgusted with Hale’s actions and the potential dangers it put the community in. Discussions were had about the act of criticism, fears shared regarding author-blogger relations, and the #HaleNo Twitter campaign saw countless reviewers unite over a common goal. Despite repeated requests for comment on their client’s abhorrent actions, HarperTeen never did offer a robust condemnation of Hale’s stalking of a reader, nor was any further action seemingly taken.
So what’s Hale up to?
She’s been sporadically writing for a number of outlets, including Elle, and has remained pretty quiet on the book front since the offending actions. For a while, a number of us believed HarperTeen had quietly dropped the sequel to her debut novel from their schedule, due to the lack of information available online and removed release date.
That’s all changed now, of course.
A couple of weeks ago, the Goodreads page for Nothing Bad Is Going To Happen (and lo, the irony bell did ring for that title) was quietly updated with a synopsis and cover. This came as something of a surprise to the bloggers I talked to. Usually, these events are accompanied by a blog tour, exclusive content or even just an announcement of some kind. Seldom does this happen with no accompanying fanfare of any kind. Most of us didn’t even notice or hear about this until last week. All in all, this would be considered a sloppy business move from any publisher.
Then again, getting bloggers involved would have been far messier.
The #HaleNo campaign was defined by its staunch opposition to Hale’s actions and attack on the book blogging community. For all our differing opinions and disagreements, it wasn’t hard to come together to oppose the literal stalking of another person. The power of bloggers is small in the grand proceedings of publishing, but it can still pack a punch, and it is still representative of consumer desires and demands. Those supporting #HaleNo agreed that they would never offer any publicity or review space to Hale on their sites: No reviews, no blog tours, no interviews, and so on. In an industry where word of mouth remains the most effective form of publicity and marketing budgets are stretched thin, the strength of a good blog tour is often underestimated. If nothing else, #HaleNo showed that death of the author is not always a reality.
The chances are that the book is being quietly pushed out in order to settle the contract with Hale and Full Fathom Five. Publishing contracts can be severed or cancelled but it’s an uncommon occurrence and usually accompanies a more shocking or embarrassing blunder, such as plagiarism or massive public scandal. The Hale situation was a PR mess, but relatively contained to one specific corner of the wider discourse. Whether the book will garner more specific publicity in the months leading to its release date remains to be seen. The book will be released in January 2016, the same month as new releases by best-sellers Kiera Cass and Michael Grant, so it’s probably not a publisher priority. Ironically, this blog post in and of itself feels like more publicity than anything Nothing Bad Is Going To Happen is getting.
When in doubt, #HaleNo.