E.L. James' Disastrous Twitter Q and A

Posted on June 29, 2015

Fifty Shades of Grey author E.L. James (aka Erika Leonard) is having a trying day today. Her publicist convinced her to answer random questions from the public on Twitter and it did not go well. Unless, of course, she really is into being abused. In that case, kudos to her PR team for setting up a bullying extravaganza that's still going on at #askeljames.

Fans of the Fifty Shades of Grey series were supposed to tweet questions one would normally ask an author about her work. And, to be fair, some people did do that. But the trolls came out and they just lit into her. Many people demanded she explain why she romanticizes abusive abusive relationships. Others asked why she doesn't donate part of her book proceeds to charities for abused women. Some accused her of being homophobic. The meanest tweets took aim at her writing skills and the fact that Fifty Shades started out as fan fiction based on Stephanie Meyers' Twilight books. Here are just a couple of samples.

James' PR team forgot the #1 lesson of book promotion in the digital age. To misquote Melisandre from Game of Thrones: Twitter is dark and full of terrors...and trolls.

If you want to have a successful Q and A with fans, take a tip from the pros -- the pr people who run presidential political campaigns. Nothing should be left to chance. Have a "no holds barred" town hall -- but make sure every questioner is screened and has a full background check. Otherwise, your candidate is going to get asked some very awkward questions on live television. Then the candidate might have to answer truthfully. And no one wants that.

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