How authors can beat the Amazon trolls.

amazon, itunes, ebooks, author, brimson, football, soccer, troll, bullies

An Amazon troll.

I love Amazon, it is amazing. Not simply for the fact that it offers brilliant prices on just about everything but because it’s where I sell most of my books. Not just in the UK either, but around the world.

However, my favourite online retailer does have a dark side and it is one which all authors need to be aware of; the forums.

As an idea of course, a place where readers can talk about books is brilliant. Not just to enhance the experience of readership but also because a lot of people like to support authors and promote new ones which is not something to be sniffed at. Conversely, it is also a great way to let people know that you might not have enjoyed a particular book as well as hopefully, providing an explanation as to why. This however, is where the problems can sometimes arise.

Now I always advise authors to avoid responding to reader reviews and especially to comments for the simple reason that reviews are an individual’s opinion and are generally posted for the benefit of other readers. And whilst they can be incredibly useful to authors for all kinds of reasons, they are not written for them/you/me.

There are inevitably exceptions to that, the primary ones being to thank someone who has been particularly complimentary or point someone who has loved a book in the direction of a sequel if such a thing exists. However, when someone posts something negative, be it about the story, the writing or even the grammar, whilst the natural instinct is to respond, it is imperative that you avoid the temptation and instead, bite the bullet and take it on the chin. If you don’t, you potentially open yourself up to a world of pain. For the forums are also home to all kinds of trolls. And literary trolls like nothing than a sniff of a stroppy author.

As a result, before you know it you could find yourself under attack and those attacks can be very personal indeed. They can also be relentless as literary trolls hunt in packs. And don’t think they will confine their activities to Amazon either. Oh no, upset the trolls and they’ll fairly quickly be rubbishing you on Goodreads as well as various other sites. And those attacks can go on for weeks, months, even years.

Indeed, so bad can they get that they don’t just damage the book, they can easily undermine the reputation and even confidence of the author. I know of numerous authors who have actually withdrawn their books from sale because they can’t handle the abuse they’ve received. Occasionally, they have got so bad that the police have had to become involved.

Quite what drives these people on escapes me. Although I suspect both jealousy and sad, empty lives have a lot to do with it. However, to delve into the psyche of these bullies gives them exactly the kind of power and importance that they crave so it’s far better to simply laugh them off, ignore them and simply keep churning out good solid work. Because ultimately, that’s what they want to stop you doing, which is ironic given that they all claim to love books.


top dog, brimson. hooligans, author, film, screenwriting, violence, crime, thrillerDougie Brimson is the author of 15 books, the bulk of which are now available as eBooks. These include the thriller, The Crew (the most downloaded football book of 2012 which is now FREE), its sequel, Top Dog, which is soon to hit the big screen and the new comedy, Wings of a Sparrow.

Details of all books as well as links to buy can be found by clicking here!  

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Published on February 15, 2013 06:45
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message 1: by Gillian (new)

Gillian Hi Dougie! Great post and also very true! The trolls on Amazon do indeed hunt in packs. I could understand if they had a problem with an author for what ever reason and if ONE of them left a comment for the author to explain the problem.

But no they don't do that. Instead they all group together and attack the author in a pack, they don't even give the author time to respond before they post the next nasty comment. The author normally isn't aware that these people are all friends who have shared a link and decided to attack the author brute force. The author thinks that a load of random people are turning on him, and that is very unfair. It is bullying behaviour.

I am not an author, but I still stay well away from the Amazon forum these days. When I very first started posting on the Amazon forum I stuck up for an author who was been attacked from all sides. Then the trolls turned on me, the abuse went on for pages and pages of the thread. When I argued back the trolls called me a trouble maker! Hehehe! They try to twist things, but people can see exactly what they are trying to do. I often wonder if the trolls actually believe themselves???

Nowadays I stay well away from the Amazon Forums, but I imagine the trolls are still there fighting with people daily, do they ever stop and listen to themselves? These days I just log onto Amazon, buy a book and leave. I couldn't be bothered reading all the hate on those threads.

It must be very upsetting for an author who has been attacked by these trolls. The trolls really seem to get enjoyment out of taunting and harassing people.... :(

message 2: by Dougie (new)

Dougie Brimson Hi Gillian, I couldn't have put it much better myself and you are certainly wise to stay away.

I've actually called them on their behaviour on numerous occasions but each time, rather than actually respond intelligently or perish the thought, indulge in a debate, they resort to childish tactics to divert attention away from themselves. I've had everything from cooking to music as well as numerous 'I can't see what you're saying because I have you on ignore' replies. It's laughable.

Their main problem with me of course, is that as both an established author and someone who is prepared to stand up to them, they have no real power over me and they can't handle that at all.

It's classic bully tactics of course. Although to them, they're not actually doing anything wrong. It's everyone else...

message 3: by A(nnabeth) (new)

A(nnabeth) Hole You said it, Dougie!

I must say, the more time I spend around here the more I wonder how the trolls do it. They seem to spend their entire lives online, literally. Don't they have jobs and families to go to? What is it that allows them to spend so much time tracking down supposed miscreants and then terrorizing them for days on end?

And while I agree that it's not a good idea to respond to reviews, some of these reviewers need to be called to order. Just the other day I saw that Anna Karenina making a comment to the effect that a reviewer whose review is full of spelling and grammatical mistakes is not in the same league as an author whose book is full of the same mistakes, because the reviewer is not charging for the review. I say, how can a reviewer who can't write properly be able to judge the writing of others? As a customer who looks to reviews for help in making reading decisions, I never know what to think when I see an illiterate reviewer accusing an author of illiteracy.

I wish some reviewers paid more attention to their own writing and upheld high standards in reviewing instead of chasing and terrorizing authors.

message 4: by Dougie (new)

Dougie Brimson I have often asked myself that same question A(nnabeth) because it genuinely baffles me although I suspect that when it comes to certain individuals, all is not as it seems.

The person you mention is, in my opinion, one of the most active questionable and indeed, dangerous of them all. 'She' seems to post constantly and seemingly on every thread and what with all the trolls who hang on her every word, I equate her to some kind of 'Flashman' figure.

However, as for calling reviewers to order, as I said in the piece, it's often exactly what they are after so it's far better to starve them of the thing they crave most; attention.

message 5: by Sharon (new)

Sharon Desruisseaux Excellent article on a horrible situation. Thank you :) I avoid the forums for that very same reason. Unfortunately, trolling seems to be a way of life for some very bored people and the matter has attracted others. It is wise to just ignore them as they seem to want a fight. Hopefully more will make this matter known and something will be done about it. Reading should be a positive experience and it would be wonderful to see that bought back to forums for healthy debates.

message 6: by Dougie (new)

Dougie Brimson Well said Sharon. Could not agree more.

Spread the word! :-)

message 7: by Lizzy (new)

Lizzy Lessard I think the only way to combat the trolls is to avoid them. People will say mean things on the internet that they won't say to you in person.

No matter what you post. No matter how many times you try to convince these trolls that they're wrong. No matter how many people you have supporting you. You're not going to convince them to stop trolling. The more you try, the more trolls will attack you.

The best and only advice an author needs to know when dealing with reviews: Don't respond. Do not feed the trolls.

message 8: by Dougie (new)

Dougie Brimson Lizzy wrote: "I think the only way to combat the trolls is to avoid them. People will say mean things on the internet that they won't say to you in person.

No matter what you post. No matter how many times yo..."

I just wish some of the new indie authors would realise that!

message 9: by Dougie (new)

Dougie Brimson Punked wrote: "Great Blog Dougie! The troll problem seems to be getting out of hand all-right. Trolls are very peculiar people. The internet is the perfect place for people who are wimps in real life to act all t..."

Hi Punked, thanks for the very kind words. I'm humbled.

I suspect your imagination is pretty close to the mark regarding our trolling friends -on other forums I frequent we call them keyboard warriors- and you're right, when you actually meet them face to face, they tend to be quite contrite. Embarrassment does that, as does fear! Then again, I can be quite intimidating if need be! ;-)

Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with criticism (I get my share!) but if you are going to give it out, it should be honest, constructive and most importantly of all, you have to be prepared to back it up. Otherwise it means little or nothing and should be regarded accordingly.

PS: Your chaps obviously have good taste! If you could ask them to spread the word I'd be obliged! :-D

message 10: by Dougie (new)

Dougie Brimson Rick wrote: "I am currently the victim of a huge troll attack on Amazon. This may sound familiar but this time there's a twist. I have evidence of the trolls, the same ones on this site, conspiring to leave 1..."

I'm following it on Amazon and STGRB!

message 11: by Sharon (new)

Sharon Desruisseaux I wish you luck Rick and I am sorry about all you are going through as I can honestly relate on my own attack. I have ignored and blocked them, and even stay away from this site and only check in periodically due to all of it. I have flagged them and complained and hopefully if enough of us do the same and more forums are out on this, the trolls will be eradicated and we can go back to honest and constructive reviews. For as writers we are also readers and all around it should be a safe and pleasant environment. As you can see, it is not at current. I am following that site as well and it does give lots of wonderful advice and is very helpful in a positive way.

This is a serious issue that affects writers and is threatening to destroy careers out of pure malevolence and vindictiveness. Some writers have been so tormented that they gave up writing completely! So horrific and a wretched tragedy. It is one thing to have a negative review-all authors get those as you cannot please everyone. But as you mentioned with the one-star reviews when the book is brand new and no copies sold-yep, I can relate on that as well. Ignore, flag and complain for now... and write, write, write as we do best :)

There are other sites as well for authors and reviewers that are attacked. The key ingredient is knowledge on this issue and to know it is not personal as one would assume initially. Your book sounds wonderful and I wish you luck and would love to get a copy when done. This environment is tough but worth it as writing is a passion and cherished craft as it is for myself. And like you and many others, it is tough to just sit there and let them attack-I know, oh I know on that one. But, until our rights are better recognized, I suppose that is all we can do for now. But, keep taking a stand against the trolls as I and plenty of other authors and reviewers are-writing about it and getting the word out.

Right now the word is out enough about the rampant trolls that people are hesitant when they see a slew of rancid reviews in malicious attacks to make them pause. This is good and helps the author. I personally judge a book for myself and usually just glance upon the review section as we honestly do not know which are paid for by the authors or publishers and which are the victims of troll attacks, and which are genuine. As some of the attacks might come on full force and obvious at first and then often scatter with later toxic entries as the author publishes anything anywhere.... So, people (all readers) are more cautious due to our writing about it such as you are doing. Thank you and good luck and know you are not alone in being victimized. I am crossing my fingers for the troll attacks being cleaned up. :)

message 12: by G (last edited Jun 07, 2013 10:13AM) (new)

G The issues highlighted here are definitely coming to light now, and remedies are being set in motion. As a new author, I was given a small taste of what the trolls can dish out not so very long ago. They decided to leave me alone though, but I was certainly woken up to the issues, and am waking others up.
I have also been following the threads on the Amazon forum, and it really is quite amazing the lengths they will go to, just to besmirch an author they claim they want nothing to do with. They have so much hate for some authors that you would think it would be a waste of their time to do this.
What is really confusing though, is that some of these trolls are authors themselves, so maybe you are right Dougie, and jealousy plus an empty life, plays a major part in their behaviour.

message 13: by Dougie (new)

Dougie Brimson G.L. wrote: "The issues highlighted here are definitely coming to light now, and remedies are being set in motion. As a new author, I was given a small taste of what the trolls can dish out not so very long ago..."

Thanks G.L. I think it's been proven that many of the worst trolls are failed authors who are consumed by both jealousy and envy. A great example of this is an 'author' called Ann Sommervile who during one of her rants actually posted on her blog the phrase 'I'm a better writer than they will ever be' which kind of says it all. Indeed, of you want to see bitterness in it's rawest form, her blog is well worth a look although I must warn you, you'll need a shower afterwards as you'll be feeling decidedly grubby.

As you say, the best way to deal with them is to ignore them.

message 14: by Lidia (new)

Lidia Lopinto Troll Free Zone authors attack in packs . Trolls are hunted down relentlessly until they are slain into oblivion, this means their accounts are zonked. Join the troll free zone authors group, and stop the trolls in their tracks. Display the Troll Free Zone banner.
There is no website for us, and there is no list. Anyone using the Troll Free Zone mention in their blurb will do as follows: Click on the Trolls Link. Find out what website they are promoting. Take a screen shot and email it to the Amazon Author Central help desk requesting the Troll be terminated. That's it.

And, yes, I do advocate responding aggressively to the Trolls. They don't like to be called Trolls, because that ruins their business, which is trolling for dollars. The 1 star reviews are there to get traffic,

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