One Writer’s Journey

March 3, 2011

A Wacky Book Challenge

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:45 am
Tags: , ,

I’m calling this one wacky, because I don’t think that the babysitter really wanted to challenge the book.  Sure, she had something to gripe about but if you don’t like that the library has a book or where it is shelved, you go to the library.  You do not go to Fox news.  But that’s what this woman did.

The book she challenged is My Mom’s Having a Baby by my writing buddy Dori Butler.  There’s no doubt about it, Dori’s book is highly factual.  She tells how it is from conception through birth.  It isn’t explicit but facts are facts.  It is the perfect book for a child who is about to become a big brother or sister and wants to know how jr. got in there anyway.  And, obviously, if you are about to give birth and your older child(ren) will be there for the big event, then this book is the one they need.

A book challenge is something that many of us will one day face and we can only hope to handle it as well as Dori did.  To help us do that, Dori has agreed to answer a few questions

SueBE:  Dori found out about the challenge to her book when she received an e-mail from Melissa Cutler of Fox 4 News in Dallas.  A woman who  babysits felt the book was too mature for the 9-year-old that she watches who had checked it out.    After sending an e-mail to the Dallas reporter, Dori got another e-mail from Fox News but this time from New York.   Suddenly the story was going national.  Dori, what was the best piece of advice that the publisher gave you in helping prepare for your interview?

Dori Butler:  To remember I don’t actually have to answer the question I’m asked. To know what I want to say, know what message I want to send and keep repeating that message.
SueBE:  What about the interview process surprised you the most?
Dori Butler:  I was surprised that I couldn’t see the babysitter (she was in TX) or our interviewer (he was in NYC). No one in the studio I was in saw what was going on.  They just pointed the camera at me. In fact, they couldn’t hear what was going on, either. I had an earpiece, so I was the only one in the room who heard the babysitter or the interviewer. Everyone (I brought some friends for moral support) heard what I said and that was it. None of us saw anything until the segment was up on the Fox News website.I was also surprised just how many people supported me. I definitely got some hate mail from people who saw that segment and thought they knew me, thought they knew my motivation for writing the book, thought they knew everything they needed to know about my book from what they saw in that 3-minute segment. And some of these people felt compelled to go on Amazon and write negative reviews of the book without even seeing it. But many, many, many MORE people wrote me in SUPPORT. I’ve made a lot of new friends through this whole ordeal! 🙂

SueBE:   What was the most difficult part in doing the interview?
Dori Butler:  It’s difficult to go on a national television show that’s LIVE (you can’t take anything back!) in the best of circumstances. But this was especially difficult because I saw the teaser they’d put up on the website on Wednesday. I felt they were really sensationalizing the story. It seemed to me they wanted a fight. It’s hard to walk into something like that.

And of course the story only focused on those two pages. Nobody ever gave me a chance to talk about the rest of the book. Every time I tried to talk, I was cut off. So I think some people got a very skewed view of what the book is really about. It’s not a book about sex; it’s a book about a family’s joy and anticipation prior to the birth of a child. THAT’S what it’s about. I don’t know that any of the Fox and Friends viewers saw that.

 

SueBE:   What advice would you give to an author whose book has been challenged in some way?
Dori Butler:

My advice is:

1) stay out of it unless you’re invited in. I’ve talked with a lot of librarians and some ALA people since this started…librarians don’t always want to hear from the author of a challenged book. Sometimes they do; but sometimes they don’t. I’ve heard many, many stories over the past week of authors who got involved and handled it poorly. You don’t want to be “that author.” Some authors get too emotional (understandably so) and inflame the situation. So that leads me to . . .
2) Stay calm. Do your best to present a calm demeanor. You’re more likely to sway people to your line of thinking if you’re calm. And if you’re in a situation where you’ve not going to sway anyone to your line of thinking anyway, it’s a waste of energy to get all worked up. It also makes you look bad. Let the other person get all worked up.
3) If you do find yourself in a position where you have to “defend your book,” remember that you’re not really defending your book. Your book doesn’t need defending. What you’re defending is someone else’s right to read your book, should they choose to.
4) Know what you want to say. Have three points that you just keep coming back to. Don’t allow yourself to be dragged into a question you don’t want to be dragged into. Stay in control of the conversation. If you don’t like the question, repeat one of those three points.
5) Look at the camera! (I really wish I’d been better about that…the guy in the studio told me to look down, not to the side if I need to take a minute to collect myself. (If you look to the side, it makes you look “shifty.”)  I took his advice a little too much to heart. Every time I spoke, I looked down and took a breath…I should’ve looked up again much sooner than I did.
6) Don’t read the comments on these stories. (I didn’t read any of them on the Dallas Fox channel or on the Fox and Friends site…but recently I’ve read a few that appeared elsewhere.) You’ll see a lot of misinformation and you’ll want to correct it, but it’s really better to leave that to your supporters to do. Better not to inflame the situation.

 

SueBE:   All I can say to Dori is BRAVA!    Thank you for having the courage to take on a tough topic in a truly honest way.  And thank you for having the guts to go on television knowing that the reporter was going to do his best to make your book seem like something it is not.

For those of you who want to read more on this, here is the link to the blog post by the book’s publisher.  And here is the link to Dori’s own blog post.

And when you see erroneous comments posted about another author’s book, step up and speak up.  Keep your comments brief and factual and about the book.   Let’s all work together to keep books out there where the kids who need them can find them.

–SueBE

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5 Comments »

  1. This is amazing. It’s frightening what one person can do –in terms of harm and denigration. There’s something seriously wrong here… I have trouble understanding what motivates some people. As you point out, why did she approach Fox News? Yeah, I think we all know why…

    Comment by Leah Rubin — March 3, 2011 @ 6:35 pm | Reply

  2. Leah,
    I’m trying to remember which author commented on how his sales went up after a challenge (not a news story, but an actual challenge). Maybe Dori and Albert Whitman (the publisher) will reap some actual benefit.
    –SueBE

    Comment by SueBE — March 5, 2011 @ 3:43 am | Reply

  3. […] @ 12:33 am Tags: book challenge, censorship, Dori Butler, My Mom's Having a Baby In early March, I blogged about a challenge to Dori Butler’s book, My Mom’s Having a Baby. Given that the book […]

    Pingback by Another Book Challenge « One Writer’s Journey — April 7, 2011 @ 12:33 am | Reply

  4. […] blogged several times about book challenges and Dori’s book, My Mom’s Having a Baby (here and here).  Isn’t it great to see a fabulous author recognized for the quality of her […]

    Pingback by Edgar Awards « One Writer’s Journey — May 2, 2011 @ 4:19 pm | Reply

  5. […] A Wacky Book Challenge.  Not surprisingly, another post about book challenges and banning. […]

    Pingback by Tops for 2011 and Wishing You a Top-Notch 2012 « One Writer’s Journey — December 30, 2011 @ 1:34 am | Reply


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