Book challenges can be exasperating, demoralizing, and deeply painful for authors, especially those whose semi-autobiographical stories are declared inappropriate for youth. However, many writers find that allowing the challenge to silence them can be even more disempowering. Consider the following actions as you prepare your response to a book challenge:

  • List all of the reasons writing your book felt important.
  • Remember all the readers you wrote the book for, who found value in it and whose access to it is now jeopardized.
  • Review emails of gratitude or appreciation you may have received from readers, students, teachers, or parents.
  • Lean on your communities: friends, family, colleagues, fellow writers, and writers’ groups. Let them know what you are going through and ask for their support.
  • Look at it from another perspective:
    • Some authors consider having their book challenged as an affirmation that their books are encouraging necessary change.
    • The additional media attention on challenged titles can improve title-recognition for your book. Some authors also note increased positive interest and book sales during and after challenges.


  • Don’t engage with trolls, and don’t respond to negative book reviews on sites like Amazon and Goodreads.
    • Consider taking a break from looking at reader reviews.
    • Trust that your supporters will counter any negative comments or reviews.
  • In cases of online threats or abuse, refer to PEN America’s Online Harassment Field Manual.
  • Alter your social media accounts to only engage personal contacts for a few weeks or months, especially if there are attempts to dox you.
  • Protect your website from cyber attacks by talking to your website administrator or seeking out additional technical support.