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-   -   'Sock Puppets' - question for Trek authors. (http://www.trekbbs.com/showthread.php?t=187283)

Captaindemotion September 5 2012 09:16 PM

'Sock Puppets' - question for Trek authors.
 
No, wait, there is a point to this thread.

Best-selling author RJ Ellory (one of my favourite thriller writers of recent years) has recently admitted to writing so-called 'Sock Puppet' reviews of his own books. He was exposed by another writer, Jeremy Duns, leading to the admission

http://storify.com/stevemosby/jeremy-duns-on-r-j-ellory

Of his own story, Ellory said (under the alias Nicodemus Jones):

Quote:

this is a modern masterpiece.
I don't need to really say anything about the plot of this book. All I will say is that there are paragraphs and chapters that just stopped me dead in my tracks. Some of it was chilling, some of it raced along, some of it was poetic and langorous and had to be read twice and three times to really appreciate the depth of the prose...it really is a magnificent book.
Ignore all dissentors and naysayers, this book is not trying to be anything other than a great story, brilliantly told. Just buy it, read it, and make up your own mind. Whatever else it might do, it will touch your soul.
http://webcache.googleusercontent.co...ient=firefox-a

Ellory also used the Jones alias to slate Brit crime novelist Mark Billingham. The writer who exposed him, Duns, has also exposed the writer Stephen Leather, who has said:

Quote:

"As soon as my book is out I'm on Facebook and Twitter several times a day talking about it. I'll go on to several forums, the well-known forums, and post there under my name and under various other names and various other characters. You build up this whole network of characters who talk about your books and sometimes have conversations with yourself."
http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012...amazon-reviews

Two writers from my own part of the world, Stuart Neville and Sam Millar, have been involved in a spat about this issue, Neville accusing Millar of using sock puppets to give bad reviews to his (Neville's) books. Millar has denied this.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-19465081

The Crime Writers Association has issued a letter condemning the practice http://itsacrimeuk.wordpress.com/



But it's not unique to crime or even fiction writers. Some years ago, historian Orlando Figes was exposed as being involved in this practice too.

I just wondered what you authors from the BBS thought of the practice. Is it something everyone knows about or are you as shocked to hear about this as the rest of us?

Christopher September 5 2012 09:23 PM

Re: 'Sock Puppets' - question for Trek authors.
 
I don't approve of the practice, of course, but it doesn't really surprise me. The anonymity of the Internet creates the natural temptation to invent imaginary aliases to speak in your support -- perhaps especially if you're a writer of fiction and creating other voices to speak through is what comes naturally to you. Most of us are ethical enough not to give in to that temptation -- or at least smart enough to realize we'd probably get caught and do ourselves more harm than good in the attempt -- but if a temptation exists, some people are going to succumb.

Greg Cox September 5 2012 09:24 PM

Re: 'Sock Puppets' - question for Trek authors.
 
This is NOT at all normal or acceptable and pretty much every author and editor I know who has commented on this is appalled.

I mean, sure, most authors have probably wasted precious brain cells imagining the reviews we'd like to get. But we're not crazy enough to actually post them under assumed names! :)

Trust me, when I plug my books, you'll know it's me!

Deckerd September 5 2012 09:30 PM

Re: 'Sock Puppets' - question for Trek authors.
 
It's not like this was invented at the coming of the internet. As long as there have been critics there have been writers masquerading as critics (or paying someone else to do it). It's all part of the show. I would write a review of my own work saying it was quite possibly the worst thing ever written. Guaranteed cult status.

JD September 6 2012 06:37 AM

Re: 'Sock Puppets' - question for Trek authors.
 
I hadn't heard about this before, but it doesn't surprise me one bit. I hate to say it, but if you give people the opportunity to do stuff like this, there are a lot of dishonest people who will take advantage of it.

James Swallow September 6 2012 11:15 AM

Re: 'Sock Puppets' - question for Trek authors.
 
What Greg said.

To be honest, I've never really thought much of online reviewery as a place to get a nuanced opinion on something, and this sort of behaviour exposes the worst aspects of it.

Brit September 6 2012 12:44 PM

Re: 'Sock Puppets' - question for Trek authors.
 
I've seen this happen two or three times in fan fiction circles. There is the infamous MsScribe from the Harry Potter fandom. It doesn't surprise me that it happens in commercial literature.

Captaindemotion September 6 2012 01:49 PM

Re: 'Sock Puppets' - question for Trek authors.
 
I can understand a young, newly published author, who is desperate for publicity and attention, resorting to something like this. However, for someone like Ellory, who is already critically acclaimed, best-selling, prize-winning and endorsed by tv clubs, to resort to this is inexplicable and unjustifiable. How many extra books did he think 'Nicodemus Jones' would sell for him?

Stephen Leather's actions were particularly odious, as he pretended in one of his aliases to be a little-known British writer called Steve Roach, in apparent retaliation for Roach having been disparaging about one of Leather's books (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisf...rs-journalists)

As has been observed, this sort of thing has probably gone on before the internet, but the web makes it a lot easier to pull off. I remember some years ago reading in Private Eye, the satiricial UK magazine, an article about how many authors and publishers scratched each other's backs when it came to book reviews. They did an article showing numerous good book reviews of other authors' books, then showing an example where the reviewee had previously or subsequently given the reviewer another good review. They showed links between agents, publishing companies and even simple connections like relationships, marriage, etc etc. It was quite eye-opening.

Lonemagpie September 7 2012 05:10 PM

Re: 'Sock Puppets' - question for Trek authors.
 
Quote:

Captaindemotion wrote: (Post 6915614)
I just wondered what you authors from the BBS thought of the practice. Is it something everyone knows about or are you as shocked to hear about this as the rest of us?

It's stupid douchebaggery of the highest order- puts Ellory in with Orlando Figes (who was previously famed for it) in the "I'll never read them, then" file.

If I want to slag off somebody else's book, I'll do it under my own name - but that's maybe because I'm a longtime reviewer/critic anyway (having done that job for SFX, Death Ray, Neo, etc over the years)

Lonemagpie September 7 2012 05:13 PM

Re: 'Sock Puppets' - question for Trek authors.
 
Quote:

Captaindemotion wrote: (Post 6919058)
Stephen Leather's actions were particularly odious,

Has he done it as well?

To the "I'll never read that douchebag" department with him!

garamet September 7 2012 06:12 PM

Re: 'Sock Puppets' - question for Trek authors.
 
I'm shocked, I tell you...shocked!

No, not really.

Captaindemotion September 7 2012 08:24 PM

Re: 'Sock Puppets' - question for Trek authors.
 
Quote:

Lonemagpie wrote: (Post 6924977)
Quote:

Captaindemotion wrote: (Post 6919058)
Stephen Leather's actions were particularly odious,

Has he done it as well?

To the "I'll never read that douchebag" department with him!

^Yeah, he did. Read the link in my second post.

I wouldn't have been reading Leather again anyway (read one years ago, wasn't impressed) but I still like Ellory's books. But I'll be buying them second-hand or getting them from the library from now on.

Drago-Kazov September 9 2012 11:33 AM

Re: 'Sock Puppets' - question for Trek authors.
 
I honestly don't care. if a book is bad no sock puppets can save it.

zarkon September 9 2012 12:25 PM

Re: 'Sock Puppets' - question for Trek authors.
 
Quote:

Drago-Kazov wrote: (Post 6933538)
I honestly don't care. if a book is bad no sock puppets can save it.

Not even Sooty ?!?

Drago-Kazov September 9 2012 12:35 PM

Re: 'Sock Puppets' - question for Trek authors.
 
Nope


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