41 Comments

  1. Maggie Spence

    Great article and so true. My own book was targeted because of something I said in the forums and the pack has been relentless in their retaliation. They are organized and cranky. I don’t think I suffered any long term damage as a result of their campaign but it’s unsettling to be in their crosshairs. The worst of the ugly reviews were removed by Amazon but there’s still a few up there that are clearly vindictive. Luckily, consumers can read between the lines.

    • Trever Bierschbach

      Sorry to hear that happened. Some people just can’t act like adults when it comes to online interaction. I’m glad that you haven’t seen too much damage.

    • ginmar

      The “something you said” was trying to game the review system at both Amazon and Goodreads with other authors, something forbidden by the TOS and scruples. Then you called a reviewer at home and threatened them if they didn’t remove the teview.

      Anne Rice approves of this, apparently, because she told Maggie that she’d done “very well for herself.”

      • Trever Bierschbach

        I’m curious about this as well. So something Maggie said on a forum constitutes a ToS violating bad review on one or her books? Or am I misunderstanding that that’s what happened?

        • ginmar

          She tried to arrange a “reviewing circle” with other writers to give each other five star reviews. You scratch my back, etc., etc., When it was pointed out to her and potential takers by other writers that this was very very bad, she shrugged it off as being something she was “morally comfortable with.” Readers commented. Maggie went ballistic. She called one reviewer at home and threatened to give her phone number to many, many people if the reviewer did not take down her critical review.

          • Trever Bierschbach

            With all due respect Ginmar, I really don’t care about accusations, speculation, or hearsay. If that happened, yah it’s dumb, my question has been from the start, did people put malicious reviews on hers or anyone’s work, that didn’t review the book, and if so are you saying it’s OK because of her actions. That is the only point to this article. If you’d like to discuss whether posting reviews that do not review the actual material is right or wrong that’s all well and good. If you want to argue whether someone proposed something unethical and the argument that came out of it, that’s not what this is about.

            So again, are you saying her actions justify people leaving personal attacks as one-star reviews of an author’s work?

          • ginmar

            So if someone criticizes an author’s unethical behavior—-up to and including stalking and threats—-it’s just “rumors and hearsay” to you.

            Yeah, I’m sorry I wasted my time here.

          • Trever Bierschbach

            Saying someone did something is exactly the definition of rumor and hearsay, but yes, if all you want to do is comment off topic and not answer a very simple and pointed question, you may have wasted your time. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. John

    Why not just change the title of this article to: “Breaking News- Website Enforces ToS!”. And I must’ve napped through that social media storm previously mentioned.

      • John

        The whole blog is about a troll review that got taken down when the site was notified of it. Why is this noteworthy? And there was no social media storm over Anne Rice; the world outside of her FB page didn’t even notice it.

        • Maggie Spence

          John,
          There are thousands of examples to support the blog article and it’s noteworthy to thousands of people. If the article is insignificant to you, then you can ignore it. The fact that you commented twice on its irrelevance is most ironic. Protest too much?

          • ginmar

            Maybe Maggie can call him at home and threaten him till he deletes his comment.

            Tell the truth for once, Maggie. People didn’t object to something you said. They objected to you trying to set up a reviewing circle of authors to get around the TOS, then they objected to your threatening at least one reviewer. At home.

          • John

            A Troll complains about trolling while trolling? And since you didn’t bother to actually read the comments, I’ll explain it. Slowly.

            Trevor responded to my first comment seeing clarity, so I responded to his. Got it? I doubt you do, but there it is anyway.

            Sorry you’re getting dragged into this, Trevor, but for the record, Maggie is grossly misrepresenting things and lying by omission. She was banned from both KDP and Goodreads for her behavior, including as Ginmar noted, calling a forum poster at home simply because they disagreed in the discussion thread. And said she was proud to do so. See for yourself.

            https://darkwriter67.wordpress.com/2014/07/15/bba-pt-6-maggie-spence-has-lost-her-goddamn-mind/

          • Trever Bierschbach

            No worries, not really dragged into anything, and I’ve no real comment on what looks to be a she said she said argument that doesn’t make anyone look good and leaves everyone covered in mud. My concern with this specifically relates to people leaving malicious reviews because they don’t like an author, their politics, behavior or opinions. If people left these sorts of reviews on Maggie’s work then they were in the wrong. If she responded by calling them and being threatening, she was in the wrong. I just want consumers to be aware these sorts of reviews can be damaging to many innocent writers and if they’ve considered leaving a review of a work they have never read, please reconsider.

          • John

            The problem here seems to be a combination of conflating two seperate issues ad not understand the Goodreads ToS.

            There’s a difference between Rating and Review on GR. You’re allowed to Rate a book to show your interest in reading it whatever the reason- as a fan of the series or disliking the author’s particular behavior. As GR expressly allows this, it’s neither dishonest nor trolling; in fact, the only thing they’ve cracked down upon is shelving. You’re no longer allowed to state or imply that personal behavior is the reason for rating a book- a good example is Maggie Spence’s history. Anyone can rate her book however they like, but they can’t come out and say why. If this seems unfair to you take it up with GR, since it’s their site and their rules. And I don’t recall ever seeing anyone complaining about positive ratings over those same reasons, which is disingenuous- don’t you think?

            What I’m finding odd, Trever, is your unwillingness to perform any diligence. It’s ok to take Maggie’s words at face value, especially since they support your position, but when presented with proof positive of her deceit suddenly it’s all heresay. I wasn’t aware that facts constituted heresay whenever they made someone uncomfortable… or embarassed.

          • Trever Bierschbach

            John let me try to be as precise as possible.
            1. I didn’t write about ratings I wrote about reviews, and as you note, there’s a difference. I also quoted Amazon’s ToS specifically related to the two mentioned reviews in my article so I don’t see how talking about GR’s policy on ratings is at all relevant.
            2. I’m putting the same relevance to everyone’s comments, because it’s all speculation, supposition, and hearsay. Someone said Maggie called and threatened them, Maggie says that person threatened her, I’ve heard no recording of either conversation so it’s impossible to say either is irrefutable evidence or fact. Everything anyone says about it is hearsay unless someone can provide a recording, or actual evidence.
            3. None of this has anything to do with this article as it specifically references two instances of people writing reviews of a book because they didn’t like the author’s politics. It’s not about Maggie, or even Anne Rice. If you want to somehow question the facts of the article go for it, they’re direct quotes and links, so good luck, but it’s not about drudging up some argument that some people had that wasn’t even mentioned.
            4. My only position is that this happens, which it does, are you saying it doesn’t? I don’t need Maggie or anyone else to support that, I have quotes from those users who did it printed right in the article. If you want to discuss the topic, people who review books they didn’t read in order to attack the author great, that’s what this is for.

          • John

            –1. I didn’t write about ratings I wrote about reviews, and as you note, there’s a difference. I also quoted Amazon’s ToS specifically related to the two mentioned reviews in my article so I don’t see how talking about GR’s policy on ratings is at all relevant.–

            Because you specifically included GR in your post, that’s why.

            –2. I’m putting the same relevance to everyone’s comments, because it’s all speculation, supposition, and hearsay. Someone said Maggie called and threatened them, Maggie says that person threatened her, I’ve heard no recording of either conversation so it’s impossible to say either is irrefutable evidence or fact. Everything anyone says about it is hearsay unless someone can provide a recording, or actual evidence.–

            The link I provided you with has both screenshots and links to the original discussions where you can see Maggie’s own words and the statements other posters made regarding them. That’s evidence, and you’re ignoring it. Or you could ask her yourself.

            –3. None of this has anything to do with this article as it specifically references two instances of people writing reviews of a book because they didn’t like the author’s politics. It’s not about Maggie, or even Anne Rice. If you want to somehow question the facts of the article go for it, they’re direct quotes and links, so good luck, but it’s not about drudging up some argument that some people had that wasn’t even mentioned.–

            It does because you brought up GR, and they do allow for it on the site. You simply can’t label it as such. And I still haven’t seen any mention from you why it’s equally bad to give 5-star ratings for the same reasons. It can’t be both ways.

            –4. My only position is that this happens, which it does, are you saying it doesn’t? I don’t need Maggie or anyone else to support that, I have quotes from those users who did it printed right in the article. If you want to discuss the topic, people who review books they didn’t read in order to attack the author great, that’s what this is for.–

            When did I ever say it didn’t? Where’d you even get that from? What I said is that most often there’s valid reasons for doing so and it’s permitted on GR. If, for example, someone declared they won’t read Orson Scott Card’s books because he’s a raging homophobe is something you’d consider to be an attack, I don’t know what to tell you. You simply can’t shelve the books that way on GR anymore.

          • Maggie Spence

            I can clear up one thing. I absolutely called mahala at home but I didn’t threaten her. I wasn’t calling her because of a review, I called her because she posted personal information about my kids, my husband, my business and she responded to my mother’s review with some scary, creepy venom. I wasn’t calling a reviewer at home. I was calling a woman who got way into my space and I needed to tell her personally to back off. Which I did. What could I even threaten her with? But it leads us back to the question. Take Goodreads out of it. Should reviewers tank a book they haven’t read because they don’t like the opinions, behavior or politics of an author? Answer the question.

          • Trever Bierschbach

            I mention GR reviews because it happens there too. I can add GR’s policy on reviews if you’d like, here it is:

            “And here are some of the things that might cause your review to receive a lower priority in our internal ranking system, which may affect whether or not your review appears on the book page:
            Reviews of the author. Mentioning the author in the context of a review is always acceptable, but reviews that are predominantly about an author’s behavior and not about the book will be deleted.”

            Also if you note, I did say that your post looks like an argument between two people that doesn’t make either look good. Not sure what else you want from a bystander in regards to a completely off topic blog post. What the link you provided does not do, is prove that anyone was attacked, nor does it answer the question “Is it OK to post malicious reviews of books you didn’t read.”

            Again, GR’s policy for reviews is the same as Amazon’s, I’ll update that since it seems to be a sticking point for you. I will also reiterate, I am not talking about ratings, I’m talking about reviews. Nowhere do I use the word ratings.

            When did you say it doesn’t happen? I don’t know, you keep trying to pull the topic away from the article to prove something I’m not even debating. I don’t care what GR allows on ratings, that’s why I didn’t write about it. I don’t care if someone doesn’t buy a book because they don’t like the author, that’s why I didn’t write about it. But for further clarity I will update the post with GR’s policy on reviews if that will help, because that is the topic.

        • Trever Bierschbach

          John, you may not have seen the social media storm but the Wadhwa review has been talked about by thousands of posts and comments on Twitter for months. I saw them myself or would not have said so. It is also important because, as stated in the article, it’s not just one review, or one reviewer that does this. The first quote is from a different consumer reviewer that posted his right after the troll was taken down. His quote specifically states, he did not read the book, then proceeded to comment on the author’s character rather than the product. It is a huge concern to writers, especially independent authors like me and others.

          I am sorry that you did not find it relevant. Others have, I cannot determine ahead of time whether a topic will appeal to 100% of the people that read this site, I can only write what interests me and what I think will interest others.

          • ginmar

            How is this “she said, she said” when one party is telling the objective truth and the other is lying? That kind of false equivalency is lazy reasoning. You should follow that link. It’s called “research.”

  3. Maggie Spence

    Ginmar,
    You can say it over and over, you can spin the truth, you can make up all the stories you want. Doesn’t make any of it true or relevant. Even if I did “threaten” a reviewer, which, I’m sorry, makes me chuckle every time you say it, even if I tried to create a review circle, completely untrue and ridiculous. But even if I did all those things…. how does that justify you giving my book a bad review?

  4. ginmar

    You’re one of the most bold faced liars anyone can hope to find. You can save that kind of performance for Anne Rice and her slobbering fans. People can still see your comments in various places.

    • Maggie Spence

      I didn’t lie about anything. In fact, your links prove everything I said to be true so thanks. But try to answer the question without getting bogged down by misinformation. Here’s the sitch: lets say an author burns down an orphanage on Christmas eve then pulls a puppy’s tail and makes him cry. Should you give that authors book a bad review without reading it? That’s the question, ginmar. Focus.

  5. Maggie Spence

    Facts? Well, if you honestly looked at the facts then there is no violating tps on my part soooo, if you don’t like what I did with listopia, you should take it up with GR. So how does that carry over to breaking Amazon’s terms of service. I will ask the question a different way. You didn’t like what I did at GR. Should you retaliate by giving my book a bad review on Amazon?

    • John

      Yes, why not? If you stalked and harrassed someone on one site, why shouldn’t other readers be aware they might suffer the same treatment on another?

      That’s a question for you to ponder as well, Trever.

      • Trever Bierschbach

        It’s not a question to ponder, Amazon is very clear about the policy. Reviews of books are to be reviews of the book, to intentionally write a bad review just to attack the author is against the ToS, as you yourself noted in your first comment.

  6. Hello, Trevor, let me be succinct, I will never recommend the book of someone like Kathleen Hale, Anne Rice, or Maggie “Trainwreck” Spence. Even if I thought they were good authors, which I don’t, I do not feel the need to urge other readers to expose themselves to authors that have proven that they cannot be trusted not to attack anyone they disagree with.

    And, Trevor, it’s not rumor it is a fact that Spence did call me. It is not that hard to find out the truth unless the truth isn’t what you want?

    • Trever Bierschbach

      Mahala,

      If you don’t want to recommend books that’s entirely up to you, but if you notice the article is just about people who intentionally write malicious reviews because they don’t like the author. It has nothing to do with not recommending books.

      As for the last, I write about facts. I do not mean to offend, or even say you are lying, I doubt you are, but I wasn’t there, I didn’t hear it, and unless you have a recording I never will. There is a reason journalists use words like alleged. I am equally sorry you had a bad experience with another person, and I’m sorry anyone has to go through that, but the simple fact is for someone on the outside of this, it is all just hearsay.

      • Trevor, Spence has even admitted she called me. Her reasons why vary from post to post but she has admitted it and there is plenty of proof out there.

        Once again, research is your friend or at least the helpful acquaintance that will make you, me, all of us, look infinitely smarter.

        Interesting that you refuse to do the research and that you refer to Spence in this instance as a person. I did not have an “experience” with a person, I had an experience with an author and I will never recommend her book(s) because of her actions both to myself and other readers and authors.

        She is the first commenter here and you took her word for what happened to her without all this “I wasn’t there” so why am I not afforded the same instant belief or she not told that without proof it’s only her word?

        • Trever Bierschbach

          Mahala,
          Research would matter if this article was about Maggie or you, it’s not. I don’t even mention you, you all came into these comments to make this about you all. Why would I research someone that is not the subject of the article? That’s not how this works.

          As for believe you, sure I believe you but what do you want me to do, I believe you in as much as I believe anyone else that tells me something happened to them that I didn’t see. I still ask, what does that have to do with people writing malicious reviews of books they didn’t read? I didn’t add Maggie’s story to the post, I didn’t come out and advocate for her, everything that she has said is just as much hearsay as anyone else, because I didn’t see it or hear it, but that’s not the topic.

          • Trevor, I’m sorry, I’ll just leave now. But why would you say you believe me now when you didn’t before? Oh, the author admitted it.

            Here’s the point, Spence came here and posted and you believed and commiserated. She took your blog and made it about her and you agreed. If you agree then it’s about what happened to Spence and what happened to Spence isn’t what you blogged about? But it is because of your comment?

            Now is it or isn’t it? I don’t know anymore. I gave you the courtesy of a direct reply to your she said/she said comments. What you do with it is up to you.

            Myself? I look all this stuff up. Who knows what you’ll find? Isn’t that why we blog?

          • Trever Bierschbach

            I looked back and forgive me but I don’t see where I said I didn’t believe you. I also commiserated with you, that I do see, more than once. Perhaps you are misunderstanding what I’m saying. There is a vast difference between believing what someone says, and what they say being fact, or the complete truth. I believe both parties involved are stating things exactly as they happened based on their own perspective, I can’t do otherwise, I wasn’t there. I looked back at my first comment to Maggie, and if two sentences of non-committal sympathy is the definition of making my blog about her then I guess we’ll just have to disagree there. You’ll also note that she mentioned that the events in the article happened to her as well. If people have left malicious reviews of her books based entirely on her as a person, then those reviews are related to the article, and that is what it is about. If they didn’t leave such reviews, then that would make Maggie disingenuous, but not me because I am operating on the same benefit of the doubt I’ve given everyone else. You’d have received the same response, just like anyone else. How can I do otherwise, I wasn’t there. What I do find interesting is no one will come out and say whether those types of reviews were written on Maggie’s books on either site. If they were, then her comment would be true, and those reviews would fall within the realm of violations of ToS, and exactly what I was writing about.

            As for she said/she said, what else can I call it. It is the precise definition of hearsay. I can’t say that it happened or that it didn’t. I see two people saying they were wronged by the other. If I’m to believe you, I have to believe her and vice versa. I’m sorry that’s not good enough, but it’s all I expect from strangers when dealing with me so all I can offer to strangers myself.

            I am responding to this because you seem to be offended by some perception of me I just don’t understand. If me saying I’m sorry that happened to you isn’t enough once, how many times must I say it in order for you to be satisfied? As for why we write, and looking stuff up? Believe me, if I was writing an article about the events between you and Maggie, I’d happily look it up, but I don’t tend to do that to respond to off topic comments on my site. I am already working several articles ahead and to give my readers factual and researched articles I have to concentrate my time on that, not on the comment section, especially when the comments are not about the article.

            I’m not sure what else I can offer you except have a good evening and a good week. I hope everyone finds whatever satisfaction you are looking for in your dispute.

          • Maggie Spence

            Trevor,
            I’m so sorry your blog post was driven off topic. I appreciated your article very much because I know firsthand that there are people who leave malicious reviews on books as some kind of punishment to the author. At least two of these people have posted here. They are not interested in helping other readers find interesting books, they simply have a score to settle, a grudge to hold onto, a little bit of power to wield. So your article is spot on accurate. Yes, there are people who abuse the review process on Amazon so caveat emptor to all of your followers who rely on reviews.

          • Trever Bierschbach

            These things happen, it’s the internet after all. I just hope everyone involved finds a solution to whatever’s going on.

  7. Trever Bierschbach

    Well all, this has certainly been the most lively discussion on Frags and Beer in awhile and I appreciate everyone’s visit and comments. Discussion, sometimes heated, is the key to understanding and growth so I value all of it.

    That said, this article is simply about the events and examples presented and linked. It’s not about drama and arguments on facebook, or who said what to whom. It’s not about phone calls, or how authors handle legitimate bad reviews. It’s not about anyone but the subjects noted in the article and it’s certainly not about me. While I’ve had my motivations questioned, accusations of taking sides, and told I didn’t research something that was never mentioned in the article, none of that is relevant. The point is that people do intentionally write malicious reviews of books (and everything else) they didn’t read, based entirely on their opinion of the creator. This act is in violation of most review policies, especially those of the two sites mentioned. Regardless of justification, or how you feel about it, these are facts and the only facts that matter to this topic.

    I won’t edit out, or close any comments, but I will respectfully ask that people stick to the topic. There are places to have discussions about other topics, but if you choose to continue to do it here, I will choose not to entertain them further by responding. If you want to discuss the topic, then please do, and I will gladly participate as time permits.

  8. ginmar

    “Drama.” What men say abou the women when they can’t be bothered to listen and take their concerns seriously. Or when their biases get threatened. Trevor, you just dismissed Maggie’s victim as “drama.”

    • Trever Bierschbach

      Drama: an exciting, emotional, or unexpected series of events or set of circumstances.

      If you are unable to stay on topic and refrain from making unfounded accusations I’m going to have to politely ask you to stop commenting. I know what you are trying to imply here and the sort of character speculation is unwelcome. If you have comments or criticism about the article please feel free to discuss. If all you want to do is read too much into what someone says and speculate on their character that can be taken elsewhere. I’ve been more than fair, and polite to everyone involved, all I ask is the same consideration.

  9. Ed

    Bullies are bad. Its getting so boring.The net result of three years of this is that Amazon and GR permit only happy talk. I suppose that they think it helps them sell books. If a person is threatened or stalked this is a police matter. However, its being used on sites like this to cover for whiny author excuses for not selling their lousy book. If the author believes the troll effect, convenient for them. Forbes Magazine has detected no relationship whatsoever between reviews and book sales. So, bye bye big deal reviewers; you’re not worth a nickel to an author. So write whatever you’d like. This nicey-nicey stuff is making everyone puke.

    • Trever Bierschbach

      Thanks for stopping by but with your comment I have to wonder if you read the article. This isn’t about trolls, it’s about people writing garbage, lies, and criticism of the author rather than the book that they didn’t read. This has nothing to do with being nice. If it was a review of the book that wasn’t nice I wouldn’t care. I also wonder if you’re an author, being one myself I don’t share your views of the effects this has on authors on these platforms, especially indie authors and those who have to scrape for every sale. When some puritanical ideologue writes an attack of an author, or lies about the book they didn’t read, it can have a dramatic effect on perception of the book, and if said crybully has a big enough platform it can ruin an indie author just starting out. Sorry that every site on the internet can’t be the sewer fire that exists in some corners but anyway, thanks for stopping by, it really is appreciated.

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