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Wednesday News: Social media is used to cull college applicants; Women...

One critic says that an author’s work should be judged against her past efforts and questions whether “criticism untainted by knowledge of who the author is and what she has already done … is valid.” I don’t agree with the second person’s opinions at all Rowling’s desire wasn’t just to be judged by critics differently but to shed the weight of reader expectations as well. NYTimes.com

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

12 Comments

  1. Lia
    Nov 13, 2013 @ 04:36:38

    I’ve often wondered why Jennifer Armentrout uses a pseudonym. I get she wants to differentiate between the genres she writes in, but on every cover of her J. Lynn books, I see ‘Jennifer Armentrout, writing as J. Lynn’. Seems a bit pointless to me.

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  2. DB Cooper
    Nov 13, 2013 @ 06:51:07

    Oooh ok. The second critic opens up with:

    The joke, apparently, was on us: on you the reader, on us the critics.

    Which colors my own perception in thinking “ego is involved here”, as in the critic feels like Rowling got the better of him for a moment and resents it on some subtle level.

    Subtle, because to his credit, Mr. Mendlesohn doesn’t go on the attack as one might expect from a “pedestrian” commentator. Instead, he makes reasoned and I think somewhat valid point. I’m inclined to disagree though, I think wanting to know about the siblings of a book, the past history, and the things that go into a book, things that go behind it, are more a matter of academics than criticism, and that’s doubly so when talking about commercial criticism.

    That is, of course, also colored by my belief that criticism should be more about the book, and less about the author.

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  3. Tina
    Nov 13, 2013 @ 07:55:05

    I am sorry but the Mendelsohn piece seems to bee narrowly focused on this idea that an author who writes under a pseudonym largely does it largely to paint some sort of false trail for critics. He elevates the importance of the critical reaction over all else and completely dismisses all of the many different reasons an author may choose to go the pseudonym route.

    Rowling’s own interest, it seemed, was less in her audience than in her critics. The pseudonym, she later wrote, was meant to allow her “to work without hype or expectation and to receive totally unvarnished feedback.”

    Here to me, he seems completely oblivious to the fact that the “unvarnished feedback” she gets is as much from her audience as the critics.

    His contention that as a critic he needs to be able to evaluate the work based on what else the author wrote to which I say “this is exactly why they do it.” The fact that he can’t evaluate the work on just the work’s merit says to me that he fundamentally just doesn’t get it.

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  4. Christine
    Nov 13, 2013 @ 08:04:13

    I disagree- I think admissions officers for colleges should check social media. They can’t access anything unless the person who posted it wanted it to be seen by all and sundry. If a person is foolish enough to put something out on the web then they should accept the consequences. The whole college admission process is all about crafting the perfect essay, which usually is a bunch of B.S. and not reflective of the person submitting it at all and a stilted meeting where the terrified applicant acts like a Stepford Child in the hopes of being admitted. If I were an admissions officer I would want to weed out the applicants who claimed to be angels but instead were say, like those foolish destructive kids who broke into that ex-football player’s home, partied, destroyed tens of thousands of dollars worth of property and posted pictures of themselves doing it it all over the internet. I’d consider that the school dodged a bullet with them.

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  5. Lil
    Nov 13, 2013 @ 08:41:25

    Colleges check applicants’ online posts? Gee, imagine that.
    Kids (and adults) need to remember that nothing online is private. Nothing.

    And on a related matter, didn’t it occur to anyone that a desire for privacy might be one reason for choosing to write under a pseudonym?

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  6. Amanda
    Nov 13, 2013 @ 08:59:45

    I can’t get around some of the things people put on mediums like Facebook, they really don’t understand that employers and colleges will be looking at this to make decisions that will effect their future. At least once a week I have the “they shouldn’t be putting that on Facebook” reaction and I usually only go on Facebook once a week.

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  7. Anon2013
    Nov 13, 2013 @ 09:31:26

    #6 — Yes! I have that reaction, too.

    Checking social media is a standard part of the HR process for hirees for most companies that utilize background checks (and most do). Law enforcement also uses social media a lot. I can’t help but feel that many people are telling on themselves!

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  8. CK
    Nov 13, 2013 @ 10:52:19

    @Christine: +1 This! I totally agree. Don’t put it out there if you don’t want it to come back and bite ya when you least expect it.

    As for the hookups, I found this to be so telling and so sad:
    Ms. Martini said she was never taught how to have good sex, let alone how to ask for what she needs.

    Even in an age where information is (or should be) readily available, it’s heartbreaking to see that young women can’t find or learn about what constitutes good sex.

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  9. Sunny
    Nov 13, 2013 @ 11:55:31

    (TW: child sexual assault)
    For the hookup part… for a long time I was struggling hard with feelings of no self-worth and only felt I was good for anything if I was bringing a guy pleasure. I don’t think I actually enjoyed any of it, but I’ve since learned it’s an extremely common reaction for CSA survivors, so I don’t feel as awful about it now as I used to. I’m not at ALL saying this is why it happens for most people, but a lot of people sure do internalize that same message to varying degrees.

    For social media, it’s rough. Jobs already do it, and quite honestly I’m glad my job does — they don’t care about alcohol consumption or people at parties, but racist/sexist/homophobic stuff will get your application canned because we have a very strong work environment with 75% of the staff and clients are NOT cis het white or male. I understand that people can self-censor at work, but if they’re willing to put it out there with their name on it, then they’re likely not interested in self-censoring — and they’d be harming our clients as this is a very safe space.

    Totally getting away from the ugly, I find a couple of authors I really enjoy have completely different voices under different pseudonyms. I like Seanan McGuire’s voice, but absolutely adore her writing as Mira Grant because it is so very different. I like Claire Kent’s voice but I couldn’t connect with her writing as Noelle Adams. Is that weird?

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  10. Anne
    Nov 13, 2013 @ 13:35:59

    I’m totally fine with colleges, prospective employers, etc. checking social media and using their findings as part of any decision making though I think they should make it clear they are doing so. If you’re going to make it public, make sure you can live with it.

    I suspect it might be a generational thing though. I have a nephew who was fired after trashing a vendor and disclosing contract information on a game forum. I don’t think he learned a thing from that little episode. He still thinks that was no reason to be fired and even if it was, he should have been eligible for unemployment benefits. Those of us 35+ in my family all shake our heads while the younger ones are more forgiving/understanding.

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  11. Harper Kingsley
    Nov 13, 2013 @ 18:48:41

    About the college thing, I looked at the Washington Post comments and thought it was silly how many people were outraged/shocked that social media might be looked at when considering someone’s application. Really?

    I think one of the first things people do when they meet someone is Google them. It’s human nature to be curious, and Google is right there. Some of the results that come up for me are my website, my Twitter, my Facebook, my Tumblr, my LiveJournal, comments at MobileRead, my Goodreads, etc, etc. There’s even fanfiction and random stuff I said on AdultSwim close to ten years ago. It’s public knowledge and there’s no protection for it. There’s a reason that most services require you be at least 13 years old to sign up.

    If I was hiring someone for a job, I would Google them. And if the first results were a bunch of drunk pictures or some scandalous behavior, I might have second thoughts about accepting their application. No one wants to pour a bunch of money into training someone that’s not going to be able to get a job later in life because they didn’t set their privacy settings to Friends-only.

    Being tagged in a picture sucks, but you can come up with excuses for it. Posting pictures of yourself breaking the law or just displaying all around bad judgment … That’s something you’ve gotta live with. Maybe some kids need to have extra lessons about Internet safety, stuff that goes beyond not friending some 40-year-old creeper. Idk :/

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  12. azteclady
    Nov 13, 2013 @ 23:55:49

    @Anne: “If you’re going to make it public, make sure you can live with it.”

    Word.

    Also, if it’s already out there–because you weren’t thinking, because you wrote it in the heat of the moment, because (insert reason/excuse)–learn to live with it, because once it’s out there? It ain’t going anywhere.

    As far as the generational thing goes: this past Sunday there was an all employee meeting at work, where I reiterated the issues with trashing the company online, reminding everyone that they signed a form agreeing that doing so in any way that could be linked to them is grounds for dismissal. Today I learned that one of the supervisors linked–in her Facebook page, which all other managers have access to–to a tumbler that trashes both the company and the customers. Mind you, this is the second time in less than six months that this 20-something has done this, so at this point I’m just waiting for the axe to fall.

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