EV_BGRJXkAAAqjPIf you’re part of Book-Twitter, you’ve probably already come across the latest drama already; that of Mackenzi Lee drawing, leaving notes, and signing her name in other authors’ books on the title page where they would typically sign themselves. This was done, according to Mackenzi, to help promote the indie bookstore where she works. Each signature, message, or drawing was done at the request of the purchaser.

Shortly after these images were posted online to further promote what Mackenzi was doing, one of the authors commented on it. In a way, I think it goes without me saying that this was offensive to the author. In fact, many people found it horrifying that she would do this. I’ll be honest, when I first saw it all, I really didn’t know what to think but I knew that, ultimately, that wasn’t what really mattered here in the long run.

I do not know enough.

EV_BG0BWkAEt2NhI’m always fascinated by how so many people can jump to defending white people’s actions when a person of color speaks out about something that hurts them. And when I say fascinated, I do also mean disappointed. It’s like a morose fascination, my own personal befuddlement at how people can be so ignorant to their own perpetuation of discrimination, often very much in line with racism. You see, I’m fully willing to recognize that there are things I, as a white woman, do not understand in regards to struggles and hurts and frustrations that people of color are forced to deal with.

EV_iCtvVcAAkWrqAnd so, as I sat here, clicking through Twitter in search of the full story behind the anger that was filling my newsfeed, my main goal was to try and understand. So, I thought; as an aspiring writer,  how would I feel if I had published a book and another author had drawn in it and signed their own name? How would I feel if they had signed their name on the title page that is reserved, more or less, for my signature?

People write in books all the time.

I’ve always, personally, been a big fan of inscriptions. I’ve done it for my friends on numerous occasions, buying a book and writing out a lengthy and heartfelt message on a page with enough space. I’ve signed my name and sent them the books. I’m not currently an author, but I hope to be one day. For me, personally, I’ve never seen that as wrong.

EV_CFbQX0AIESkYSome people draw in books. I, myself,  have been tempted to do so at times. I have even done so on occasion. There are people on Etsy currently who sell books that they have “painted,” adding design and color not only to the covers themselves but to the pages. I tried my hand at this, as well. For me, however, I have always seen this as selling the artwork. But, taking time to think about it…is this something to reconsider? Well…

What Mackenzi did was, ultimately, different.

The fact that she is a published author herself is one difference, though for me that is not the biggest one. The fact that she is doing this for strangers who purchase a book from a store at which she works is a difference that speaks to me a bit more. The fact that she is white doing this to marginalized authors is another incredibly important one. The fact that her messages often seem crass, rude, and sarcastic adds to it. I’m sure she was trying to be funny, but honestly? I get where it’s hurtful.

EV_CEbNWkAAcfvwAnd at the end of the day, I know I am not the one who can determine whether this was wrong or not. Knowing who I am and what I have experienced, I am well aware that this is not my place. I can say, personally, that had one of the WIPs I’ve been writing published and she had done this to a book of mine, I do not think I would have been upset. I like writing in books, I love inscriptions. I especially love doing it for my friends with books I adore.

That said…was this wrong?

Yes, I believe it was.

EV_BImHXQAc21M7The fact of the matter is that this situation comes down to what marginalized authors go through. It comes down to the disrespect that this obviously showed them. It comes down to the fact that she did not ask for their permission. And it comes down to the fact that it is, inherently, disrespectful. And marginalized authors deserve better than this.

Do I expect for Mackenzi to have known better? No, not really. I’ve frankly become rather pessimistic and despondent in that regard. White people being unknowingly horrible to marginalized groups is something of a common theme in this world, I’ve noticed. It’s not that I don’t think she should know better because she definitely should. I’m just not surprised anymore when someone doesn’t.

EV_BHgkWoAYM9D2Had the messages not been insulting or rude, had she thought to ask the authors of these books if they were alright with it, had she left a personalized note on separate paper instead of drawing all over the pages…I’m sure I would think differently. And though I, personally, would not have been hurt had it been my book the important takeaway here is that when something like this happens it is not my feelings nor my experiences that matter. Rather, it is the feelings, experiences, and the voice of those speaking out about things I am well aware I do not fully understand that matter

I have not read Mackenzi Lee’s books, though they have been on my TBR for a while now. As of this moment, I’m genuinely considering taking them off my shelf. The final thing I have to say for her part is that I hope it is an experience that Mackenzi herself learns from.

Oh, and if you’ve gone out and started one-starring the books of marginalized authors because they spoke out about an injustice that they have been subjected to without reading their book in the first place, you are a shitty person.

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10 thoughts on “YIKES – Mackenzi Lee & Book Signings

  1. So the bookstore she works for is one that’s in my state. The store’s twitter account was used by her but most of those comments are deleted. I don’t think it was completely malicious intent and the people asking for the signatures were silly. But I hate that the bookstore is being dragged through the mud after they’ve issued an apology and did the right thing. I don’t agree how she handled things for sure

    1. Yeah, I don’t think it’s the bookstore’s fault as much. They didn’t make her write the rude things, after all. I do think they could have taken a role in asking the authors if they’d be okay with her signing their books, though.

      1. Yeah agreed. I’m just not happy that people were dragging the bookstore through the mud 🙁 they’re a great store and it was the people asking for the signatures and the girl herself who made a wrong move…

  2. Honestly I don’t see a problem with what she is doing. I bet every one of these people who bought the books would buy a brand new copy of the book if they had the chance to get the actual author to sign them. So its not like Lee is stealing the signing page, because most likely the buyer will never have the chance to get the real author’s signature. I know in the comic industry it is perfectly acceptable to take someone elses artwork and get it signed by someone else. For example I have a really cool art print of the hulk and I got it signed by Lou Ferrigno. Most of the artists at comic con actually try to market their art by saying you can go get it signed by the big names at the con.

    That being said, some of Lee’s comments are very rude and that is probably not okay. And I think the authors that have spoken out against her should not be belittled, or punished with low star reviews. They should be able to voice their opinions without any backlash. I’m kind of sad that this became a discussion about race at all. Why can’t the internet just discuss things like we are just adults and nothing else. Race, gender, religion should not be a factor period. It should solely be about is she in the right or in the wrong.

    1. I can understand that. And I agree on some points. Like, I know I wouldn’t care if it was a book I’d written.

      I think race is a big part of the reason why this hurt the authors so much, though, so to try and make the conversation not about race is kind of ignoring the problem, imo? Cause I don’t think it really is as much about drawing or signing other people’s books alone as it is the whole picture. And the whole picture, unfortunately, in this society includes race. Marginalized authors have an infinitely harder time getting published in the first place, have struggled to be able to sign books for their fans (which was especially the case for one of the books she signed), and have to deal with a whole slew of other issues in general. So, to be disrespected in such a way on top of everything else?

      I’m not an expert in any way and I know I don’t fully understand the matter in that regard. Still, I find it better to defer to those who do understand race issues and struggles when determining right or wrong as they have often lived it time and time again.

      1. Was she only signing books by POC? or was she signing any book that a customer put in front of her? If its the latter then her intentions, whether good of bad, don’t seem to stem from race? It seems to me that making this about race is taking it a step further then it needs to. Of course if she is purposefully signing only books by marginalized authors then that is completely unacceptable, and she deserves to be called out. And I don’t mean to belittle the hardships of anyone, I just don’t see the connection to race here. Though I will admit that I have very little information and also I can’t comment on or judge what other people feel, especially since I have not had to face those hardships myself. So I agree, it is much better to defer to the people who do understand the race issues and struggles!!

  3. I hadn’t heard anything about this until reading this post. Ugh. I just seems so wrong. And I like this author! But the idea of writing on the title page of another author’s book is really crossing a line. I might feel differently if it was on the inside cover or somewhere else — just like, as you mentioned, I’ve gifted books to friends/family and added a note on the inside. But as a published author, the fact that she signed someone else’s book, even at the book owner’s request, feels disrespectful.

    1. Yeah, exactly. And like, it’s one of those things where I’m not entirely against it in the right circumstances—like if she’d asked the author—but not the title page.

      Also, there’s definitely contention in the fact that she did this in the books of marginalized authors. It just makes it that much more cringe imo.

  4. She’s a messy, ignorant, arrogant bench who needs to shush already.
    The sad irony is “punks respect pronouns” when in her newest (still not yet released) book has been blasted all over the place because she deadnames the trans character, misgenders them, and is downright disrespectful of trans people and their history.
    She makes me so mad, and I’ve never been a fan of hers (I had owned the books, but after hearing the treatment of the trans character, and her “defence” made me unhaul them straight away).
    This entire thing just makes me so uncomfortable. She should have known better.
    I’m glad you posted about this – people definitely need to know the entire story.

    1. That is ironic. I’ll be honest, I don’t know much about her (didn’t even know which books she’d written until this happened) but hearing that makes me even more uncomfortable with what she did.

      It’s truly astounding how awful some people can be.

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