Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Author Bullying: When the Shoe is on the Author's Foot

Author Bullying
When the Shoe is on the Author’s Foot

First off, there are some things you should know about me, basic background information that is pertinent considering the messages I received in response to a review I posted. I live in Germany; I have lived in Germany for a little over three years now, the first three while my husband was enlisted in the Army were spent in government housing where we had one option for internet, and while it largely sucked it was reliably unreliable (but at least when we had access to the internet at all, it was always fast enough to connect to with my computer). Now that my husband is out of the military and working as a contractor we have moved out of the military housing and live on the economy where we thought we should have many options for our internet and signed a two year contract with a company for internet service. They immediately shipped out a router and a mobile stick so we could connect the next day while waiting for a technician to be able to connect us through DSL. The company we chose is the only one that services our area that doesn’t limit DSL internet usage (this is important because we stream a lot of stateside television). Now our mobile stick allows us 10 gigs of high-speed internet a month, before the speed is greatly reduced; the speed is reduced to such a point that I cannot access the internet from my computer, fortunately it’s still fast enough that I can get on Facebook and Safari on my iPad to stay connected. We have been trying to get our DSL internet connected for three months now, and our company tells us they can’t connect us because Company X already has a line in use coming into our house. Our address is _ _ D, and we have personally talked to the previous tenant who is good friends with our neighbors, and he assures us that they got their service transferred to their new location months ago, he even called Company X to verify that for us. This leaves one possibility. There is a single line of service for all of address _ _ A-D, and the person in _ _ A has service through Company X, so everyone else has to as well. But since our chosen internet company can still provide us with service through the mobile stick, we cannot get out of our contract with them. So we get 10 gigs of high-speed internet a month (that lasts a week in our house), and then I can’t connect to the internet from my computer.

Point number two about me. I’m not very good at remembering to post reviews on Amazon yet. I’ve only been reading Indie books since the end of October of last year. But I also don’t even bother going to Amazon to post reviews when I can only connect to the internet from my iPad because it’s a pain in the butt and I’m a bit lazy (note, most of the books I’ve been reading lately are copies received from the author so they’re not already connected to Amazon on my Kindle app). Goodreads has an app though, that is super simple to rate and review books after I’ve read them. So when I finish a book, the review goes on Goodreads immediately. When my high-speed internet resets, I copy and paste my reviews from Goodreads onto Amazon a few at a time; I don’t want Amazon to think my reviews aren’t valid because I post 20 in a single day. My high-speed internet reset this morning.

Point number three about me. I have a five year old and an almost 3 year old and I have several books to read to them on the iPad. I have made a habit of reviewing these books because they will all be Amazon verified purchases, and I have a theory that if Amazon decides to delete peoples reviews again, people with a high percentage of Amazon verified purchases will be spared the loss of their non-verified reviews. This is just a theory, but none of my reviews disappeared last time Amazon went on a review deleting spree. My criteria for rating kids books are that if my children demand that I read a book to them over and over again, it’s a good kids book and deserves five stars. It gets bonus points if it’s one I don’t mind reading over and over again, but that doesn’t factor into the Amazon rating.

Point number four about me. I’m addicted to entering giveaways. Goodreads has a First Reads giveaway program. When I enter a giveaway for a book in the First Reads giveaway program, I add it to my “to read” shelf on Goodreads. That shelf now has over 11,000 books. My “currently reading” shelf has 11 books (yes, I really have 11 books started right now). My “read” shelf has 223 books; I’ve written reviews for over 100 of those books because they are the books that I’ve read since creating a Goodreads account.

This evening I received the following message about a book I recently reviewed, a review that was copy and pasted onto Amazon today. “You are a racist! There I said it and meant it. You gave all books that had black names and photos bad ratings. Stick to reviewing kids books there are less pages and they are simple, in which you are more than eager to give a five star. Stick to what you know best.”

That message was followed less than an hour later by this message: “Here's your pattern,

You never had any intentions of rating my book good or bad. You have read thousands of books in days, and I mean thousands. You went to Amazon today 4/15/2014 to post about other books and stopped by my page, saw the positive ratings and that enraged you.

All black authors, black pics, or black names you gave poor ratings. Period. I checked and here at goodreads that other black author has 4-5 star ratings. A pattern of yours I'm sure.

The book is in audio and any issues, the book would have never been accepted by the narrator Caroline Miller, she made no changes to the audiobook and would have never put her name on it had it been the way you described the book in your review.

I can bet that you are on the list that many author's here at Goodreads has complained about and are bringing about legal actions, for false reviews, bullying, and attempt to control book sales.

You never intended to give the rating until you so happened across my page while rating others and were enraged with the positive ratings.

You read thousands of books in hours and days. I would love to read the book you have ready to publish.”

Here is the 2 star review as posted on Amazon and Goodreads (I did delete the name because my intent really isn’t to hurt her sales.) “I received a copy of this book through the Goodreads First Reads giveaway program with the hope that I would leave an honest review.

The first and most important thing that I have to say is that this book NEEDS an editor. Miss _____ may be an expert in her field, but that knowledge did not shine through the various issues and meandering thoughts in this book. The ideas were not portrayed in a clear, concise manner making them difficult or impossible to understand, and unlike if I were consulting personally with Ms. ______ in her office for assistance, I cannot ask her for clarification on the many things that were unclear while reading. Another major issue for me (although others may find it trivial) was the almost complete lack of page numbers. I cannot reference specific items on specific pages because the book doesn't have them. Furthermore the table of contents wouldn't help me reference which chapters would best help me in my job search as all of the chapters are listed as one item followed by meaningless page numbers.

I found portions of the book to be excessively wordy or redundant, while there were other areas where more elaboration would have been very beneficial to the reader (like when the author advises the reader to be careful with the information included on their social networking pages to not cross the line into the unprofessional, examples of some things that should not be included would be very beneficial. While I'm sure most of us already know to be careful of what we include on our social networking sites to present is in the best light and don't need those examples, the people that don't already know to be professional with the information they share, also have less understanding of what would qualify as unprofessional). I'm fairly certain that all of these issues that I've had while reading this book are things that a competent editor would have pointed out to be fixed prior to publication.

I did like how the author provided space for notes after each chapter for the dedicated job seeker.”

I stand by my review, and I will not be bullied into taking it down. If I have to, I can read the book again to find examples of each of the problems I listed in my review. But honestly, do I owe her a positive review because she’s African-American? Should I have to be worried about posting my honest opinions of books because of the race of the author? Was my review bullying her? And should reviewers have to worry about a lawsuit for giving a respectful but negative review? - Katie


  1. No I find no bulling in your comments - I can say that because I spent a great number of school years being bullied

    You were fair in your comments and even offered helpful suggestions on how to improve the book. Often authors release books so it should be too hard to do

  2. I cant find any bullying in your review!!! You were fair and honest and if the truth hurt the author then maybe she should take on board the what's being said in the reviews and try and improve her book.

  3. I sincerely hope you do not stop posting an your honest view on any book. If the content of her message is in anyway similar to the content of her book, it would appear that your review is spot on. As far as being sued, I really doubt that any attorney would accept what appears to be a freedom of expression case without a substantial fee up front - which most people don't have. In addition you listed specific faults in the book, not an unfair general statement that the book was garbage. The author claims that she researched your reviews and that you give all black authors a poor rating, but she provided no examples of your bias. Her point that the narrator wouldn't have accepted the book if it was as your review is invalid as the narrator is hired to read the book, not edit it. Finally, I think I would edit the review you posted to include her statements, she can't fault you for using her own words as fair warning for future buyers.

  4. There was no bullying in there. This was a constructive review, you pointed out the problems you had with it - and am sure many others would too. Some people should not release their books into the world if they cannot take the criticism. Keep doing what you are doing