When I first started this blog, I wanted to focus on community support for fellow writers. I didn’t think reviews would really fit with the scope of One Story Slinger, and I didn’t know if I was actually qualified.
After all, I’m just a writer. I don’t have a degree in Literature. My degrees are in Social Psychology and Communication Arts; Journalism, with a minor in Writing. I got a “B” in my Literature critique class in college – the only “B” I ever got in the minor (Writing) classes. I’d always argue about the critics – “have they ever tried writing something?” “Sure, you can sit there in your armchair and judge but have you tried to write realistic dialogue and characters who come alive?”
I could critique writings by fellow authors in a Workshop setting all day long. But a whole novel? No way, or so I thought.
But it turns out that reviews are supporting writers and authors in the community. I’ve had this blog for about a week, and already I’ve learned some of the dark secrets of publishing. No, not what happens to unwanted manuscripts in the “slush” pile.
I’m talking about Trolls. These are folks on sites that offer self-publishing opportunities for writers. I don’t know all the details yet, but I will soon. I do know that on GoodReads, which is supposed to be a site sharing books with the masses, reviewers can review books they haven’t even purchased, let alone read.
Yep, you “read” that right. Reviewers can literally judge a book by its cover – and the review will post! Reviewers don’t actually have to say that they didn’t read the book either. For example, I would most likely not randomly pickup a Fantasy book. Nothing personal, just not typically my cup of tea. I could go on GoodReads and randomly select a Fantasy writer, decide I don’t like his book cover, and post a review. That review will count towards the “stars” for both the book and the author.
Not fair, right? Of course not! Not only have I not actually read the book, I may even have something against the author. Perhaps I don’t like his politics, or his name, or the color shirt he’s wearing in his pic. I can use my completely arbitrary reason to not like an author and review him, his personality, his politics, everything but his book – and it counts as a “real” review.
This has happened to several authors I’ve met over the past week with the launch of my new blog. That’s right, in one week I’ve run into this complaint from at least five different authors, and it looks like only two of them actually know each other.
Authors are subjected to cyber-bullying from cowards who hide behind computer screens and hate themselves so much that they refuse to look in the mirror, and instead find a target. I was raised by a woman like that, so I recognize the signs. These people are known as Trolls – aptly named, IMO.
Some authors report being stalked outside of the GoodReads or other self-publishing community. One explained that he was not only stalked but harassed by one of the Trolls – to the point that his address was posted. A group of Trolls plotted to commit a crime against this poor author. (This author provided proof of the premeditated crime.) And what is being done about this?!
Nothing, so far. Each time the authors seek help from the GoodReads support or Amazon.com, another popular Troll-habitat, their claims are either ignored or, worse, the “powers that be” patronize them, trying to bully the authors into giving up their complaints.
Enough. I try not to get too worked up over something like this – I truly believe my anger (and yours) feeds the Trolls, after all, what else can a Troll live on but pure hatred? But this is uncalled for. There is no good reason for an author to be harassed, bullied, and attacked online.
Let me be clear. It’s not about liking their books. You might not like everything you read. This is normal. You’re passionate about some things, and not so passionate about other things. I for one am passionate against bullying in any form, because I was bullied growing up. Yes, I credit that for being able to laugh at myself, and my thick skin. But I’ll be damned to sit there and watch a bully attack a victim. As a former victim, I swore that I would never sit by and watch bullying in action.
So I’m not. Sitting by, that is. I’m taking them on. One by one. Yes, I may be sinking my career as a novelist before it starts. But I can’t sit here and watch fellow writers making their dreams of being published come true, just so a coward can harass and mock them.
Trolls, get a job, get a life. I’m not scared of you. I’m a former investigative journalist and a former victim of bullying – I don’t scare easily.
In the meantime, as I try to sort out the Troll investigation, I will start reviewing books by fellow authors. My reviews will be honest, I promise – I will actually read the book before commenting. And if I don’t care for a particular story, I promise I will be fair, reasonable, and constructive if possible. I promise I will never use an author’s character, politics (unless the book is about his or her politics in some way), personality, or anything else arbitrary in my review. And I certainly won’t start to stalk or cyber-bully anyone!
If you want me to review one of your books, please visit the ReviewMe page and complete the form. (I need to use the form for tracking purposes. If we’ve already discussed me reviewing your book via email, don’t worry about it, you’re in the queue!)
Writers – don’t be afraid of these little pieces of pond scum. Together we can conquer them once and for all!