When Reviewers Attack – Prologue of GoodReads Bullying Investigation (Case #09-2013)

It’s early on a quiet Saturday morning. The house is calm (kids and spouse are asleep), and you’re enjoying a cuppa joe or tea – or maybe a glass of OJ. You’ve caught up on the news – well, the comics, that’s most important! – so you’ve decided to check your author inbox. Or maybe you opt to check out reviews of a recently-released book to Amazon.com, or GoodReads.

As an author, you have the expectation that not every reader will like your books. After all, not every publisher liked the story, and heck, not even all your friends did. Their opinions aren’t supposed to be personal – it’s not that they don’t like you, as a person, but the story wasn’t their cuppa tea. You don’t like everything you read either.

But you can have the expectation that a person reviewing your book has read the story in its entirety. You can assume that reviewer has given the book a fair read-through, and is honest. You should be able to assume that the reviewer will not discuss your personal life story or judge the book based on you, the author.

This is how reviews are supposed to work. (And this is how reviews are conducted here, at One Story Slinger.) Reviews on book review sites should be about the book under review. Other readers don’t need a diatribe on why a reviewer dislikes a particular genre, or a lecture on the “evils” of the author’s politics (unless the book is about said politics). Who cares? If you can’t judge a book based on the quality of the story in the pages, you have no business reviewing them.

But so many readers out there are reviewing books poorly – and several have gone one step beyond “poor” into “libelous and slanderous” territory. Still others have ventured into the “criminal” zone by stalking authors, harassing them, and even threatening them.

I was skeptical at first – I’ll admit that. I thought this was about authors not liking reviews from readers and complaining about negative responses for their books. That’s not the issue at all, dear readers. This is about authors standing up for themselves against criminal behavior, against readers who are bullying and terrorizing them, readers who suffer from a mental illness.

That’s right. These “reviewers” AKA “trolls” have a mental illness. They hide behind their computers and think they are clever by taunting hardworking writers, harassing authors and engaging in violent, disruptive behavior. But they didn’t count on me. And they never saw me coming.

This is the prologue to my three-part investigation into the cyber-bullying, criminal behavior and general harassment these trolls are perpetrating on authors they have personal grudges or issues with.

In this investigation, I spoke with authors who have been attacked unfairly and I’ve seen first hand the “reviews” left by the trolls. I’ve read every reviewing policy for the sites involved in this story – if they existed, that is. (GoodReads and Amazon.com are the two big names). I’ve taunted the trolls myself in hopes that they would respond in kind. (And they did.) I’ve tried to get answers for authors on how to cope with this phenomenon. I’ve researched causes and symptoms of mental illnesses like the ones the trolls have.

And I’ve reached several powerful conclusions – to be revealed in Part 3.

So, stay tuned to One Story Slinger this weekend for an all-access pass into my investigation “When Reviewers Attack.”

In the meantime, check out some of my earlier posts on the subject to get more background information:

We’re on to “those” people – Trolls: https://onestoryslinger.wordpress.com/2013/09/28/were-on-to-those-people-trolls/

Trolls Be Damned: https://onestoryslinger.wordpress.com/2013/09/03/trolls-be-damned/

Case #09-2013 – GoodReads Bullying Investigation: https://onestoryslinger.wordpress.com/2013/09/03/case-09-2013-goodreads-bullying-investigation/