As reported by quite a few news outlets, legitimate questions for James were overwhelmed by tweets from those who were, let's say, less than enthused by James's work. These tweets came in a wide variety of flavors. Some of the tweets were just mean:
Some of the tweets were mean, but witty:
Some were silly or absurd:
But most dug directly into the criticisms of the Grey series that should have convinced the author's publicist to keep James the hell away from an open platform like Twitter:
It did not help that whoever was running the Q&A felt the need to block a lot of those participating. This is fine for those who were just being jerks (albeit funny jerks):
But not so much for those who had very real concerns that should have been addressed:
This may seem like they are beating up on E.L. James but, as E! Online very astutely observed, "literally anyone on Earth should have known that an open forum for one of the most divisive books in recent history, on one of the most open social media platforms, would only result in disaster." Perhaps we should leave some sympathy for James and reserve our condescension and ire for the author's publicist and/or marketing team and/or whoever thought this would be a good idea.
The lesson for marketers is a pretty straightforward one: If the person, brand, or work that you're marketing is divisive, don't use a platform which literally anyone can participate in for promotion. Marketers and publicists want to use social media for a fun, innovative way to advertise, but they want to do so on their own terms. It is imperative that they realize that, on social media, they will have to do their work on everyone's terms.
Don't feel too bad for E.L. James, however. Her book series has sold over 125 million copies, which is close to one book for every other adult in the United States. So, as disastrous as the Twitter Q&A was, she can just head home and take some time to enjoy the monstrously large piles of cash that she must have stacked here and there around the house.