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Saturday, February 2, 2013

Book Killing

Writing has been going very well. I learned about a practice this week from an article my friend Jordan Summers tweeted about. It’s called ‘Killing a Book’. According to the article, a new practice in operation on Amazon involves authors who use their sock puppet and trolls to fill a competing author’s reviews with one star hit pieces. Another more subtle one is using trolls or sock puppets to put a favorable review on an author’s book, and then using the same entity to trash everything else the author has done, using the line ‘I really liked such and such book, but this one is horrible’.
I thought it was strange when the long knives came out in droves to eviscerate E.L. James for her ‘Fifty Shades’ lightning strike. Then there was Stephen King announcing that Stephenie Meyer ‘Can’t write worth a darn’. King’s statement was incomprehensible in that he insulted a fellow author who not only was writing, but everything she wrote sold in the millions of copies. Even if he were asked to critique Meyer’s writing, he could have stated ‘I don’t care for her writing style, but obviously I’m the only one’.
It makes me wonder – can’t anyone simply be happy for another author's success? In the examples of hit pieces done anonymously, did the perpetrator actually believe the readers would immediately buy their offerings instead? In King’s case, did he think readers hearing or reading his Meyer remark would then become his fan? In the ‘Fifty Shades’ evisceration, you could at least tell that most of the remarks were from people who had actually read the book, mostly because many of them were very funny. I confess when I need a laugh, I go over to read comments on ‘Fifty Shades’. I don’t agree with doing them, but there are some real comedians out there doing the comments on ‘Fifty’. Besides, if I were E.L. James, I’d be on the boards enjoying the hell out of it.
The ‘Book Killing’ phenomena is much more dangerous. I have writing friends who have had this done to them. They’re trying to make a living off their writing, and a ‘Killing’ will many times drop sales down from the thousands to single digits. To me there’s no excuse for one or two star bombers on Amazon concerning books. A reader is allowed a very extensive preview of a book. If it’s poorly edited, written, or the plot’s not what they thought, there is certainly ample warning to avoid purchasing it. I’ll use my book MONSTER as an example. It’s over 640 pages long by even Amazon’s calculation. They give the reader six full chapters to decide. Believe me, if you read the first six chapters of MONSTER, you can make a decision.  :)
It's rough out there in the marketplace.  :)


Charles Gramlich said...

If someone dislikes a book, that is one thing, but this "attack" tactics is just beyond the pale. I'd not read any author who I found out engaged in that kind of behavior. I have given one or two stars to books that I really didn't like and have explained why, but have often used phrases like, "in my opinion," or "for me this didn't work." It only seems fair.

Bernard Lee DeLeo said...

It is hard to imagine one author doing this to another, but they've caught them in the act on Amazon. It is a very strange phenomena, Charles.

Jordan Summers said...

Bernard, This tactic creeps me out. I think there are ways of saying that you didn't care for a book that discusses the book itself, but these are sneak attacks. It smacks of cowardice.

Personally, I don't review books that I'd give a one or two stars to because it's not worth my time.

Bernard Lee DeLeo said...

If done by a fellow author, it's cowardice, greed, and envy, Jordan. It's very strange and disturbing. Amazon is trying to figure out a way to combat it, but it's an uphill battle.

I'm with you on the one and two star reviews, only since reading the lengthy previews on Amazon, I've avoided buying anything in the one and two star range. Authors have a rough enough time of it in this competitive marketplace as it is normally. Adding the element of 'Book Killing' really dredges the swamp.