'Sock Puppets' - question for Trek authors.

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by Captaindemotion, Sep 5, 2012.

  1. Captaindemotion

    Captaindemotion Vice Admiral Admiral

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    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):

    http://webcache.googleusercontent.c...37+&cd=9&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=uk&client=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:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/sep/03/rj-ellory-secret-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?
     
  2. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    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.
     
  3. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    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!
     
  4. Deckerd

    Deckerd Fleet Arse Premium Member

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    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.
     
  5. JD

    JD Admiral Admiral

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    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.
     
  6. James Swallow

    James Swallow Writer Captain

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    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.
     
  7. Brit

    Brit Captain Captain

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    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.
     
  8. Captaindemotion

    Captaindemotion Vice Admiral Admiral

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    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/commentisfree/2012/aug/05/nick-cohen-cheating-authors-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.
     
  9. Lonemagpie

    Lonemagpie Writer Admiral

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    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)
     
  10. Lonemagpie

    Lonemagpie Writer Admiral

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    Has he done it as well?

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

    garamet Writer Admiral

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    I'm shocked, I tell you...shocked!

    No, not really.
     
  12. Captaindemotion

    Captaindemotion Vice Admiral Admiral

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    ^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.
     
  13. Drago-Kazov

    Drago-Kazov Fleet Captain

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    I honestly don't care. if a book is bad no sock puppets can save it.
     
  14. zarkon

    zarkon Captain Captain

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    Not even Sooty ?!?
     
  15. Drago-Kazov

    Drago-Kazov Fleet Captain

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  16. William Leisner

    William Leisner Scribbler Rear Admiral

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    QFT

    Yup. This is not something new, just something that's far too easy to do now in the internet age.
     
  17. Lonemagpie

    Lonemagpie Writer Admiral

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    Yeah, the only thing that's really shocking is the fame level of some of the perps...
     
  18. lurok

    lurok Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I'd never heard of author before this story broke, so I guess he could benefit from the "Any publicity is..." maxim. And I agree, it's douchebaggery.