An Open Letter to my Amazon Stalker

Monday, May 17, 2010, 10:46 PM

Dear Amazon Stalker,

I've been watching you work for a while, but until today I felt inclined to let you labour in peace. No author likes getting one-star reviews for their books, but we all realise it's part of the job description, so we don't let it bother us.

Unless, that is, someone like you starts posting negative reviews for the same book over and over again using different screen names. You've so far posted a total of seven one- and two-star reviews between the UK and US versions of Amazon. Even so, it wasn't worth my time to pay it any mind. But then Amazon went and updated the UK and US versions of my debut novel, titled THE TWELVE and THE GHOSTS OF BELFAST respectively, making them different editions of the one book, rather than entirely separate entities. In doing so, they collated all the reviews, meaning that the UK version now lists no less than five of your reviews in a row (click here to view them). Now that your stalking is laid bare for all to see, I thought I might as well address it.

Thing is, you didn't make it hard to tell all those screen names were really the one person. If anyone clicks on the profile page for each of them -- Cormac Mac, Noir Fan, and Crime Lover (there's also Crime Queen, though gender issues aside, he/she didn't review my novel yet, but I'm sure it's coming) -- they'll see that you have been reviewing a strikingly similar range of books. Amongst other obvious trends, they'll also see that you've taken an equal dislike to my fellow crime authors Tom Piccirilli and Laura Wilson, again posting multiple reviews of books you don't seem to have read, as well as the venerable broadcaster Terry Wogan.

It's obvious what you've got against my novel, and I've a good idea why you've taken umbrage with Mr Piccirilli and Ms Wilson, but that does leave me with one question, and I am posting this in the hope that I might discover the answer. My question is simply this: What on God's green earth did Terry Wogan ever do to you?

Best wishes,


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Blogger Julie Weathers said...

I despise the Amazon reviews exactly for this reason. Zach Recht wrote PLAGUE OF THE DEAD. I bought it because he was a friend even though zombie fiction isn't really my forte. Surprisingly, I thought it was fascinating and filled with his offbeat humor. He got some stunning reviews considering it was released by a small press with no promotion.

Then along comes someone with an axe to grind or someone who wants to gain attention by being the one to shred him and they nitpicked the stupidest things.

And there you have it. Someone who wants to point to their friends and show that they shredded an author and how clever they are.

I'm glad you pointed this out. I haven't read the book, but I've read your stories and you're an incredible writer.


11:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have a stalker?

That's so cool.

11:49 PM  
Blogger Cate Gardner said...

It's a sign of true success when you pick up a stalker. Ask Terry, he probably has hundreds. :D

7:56 AM  
Blogger McKoala said...

Your own stalker? Wow. I'm sorry about the damage he/she is causing. Some people need to get a life.

11:16 AM  
Blogger Jamie Eyberg said...

I know a guy who knows a guy who has a penchant for finding people and breaking kneecaps. Just let me know. :)

I couldn't agree more. I don't know who these disgruntled people are but they really need to get a life.

2:26 PM  
Blogger Sean Patrick Reardon said...

Belfast six-pack! I can do amazing things with both a lacrosse ball and a cricket ball.

4:21 PM  
Blogger jjdebenedictis said...

Here's another couple of questions for the stalker:

1) Did you succeed in stopping this book from being a huge success?

2) Did you succeed in getting your opinions taken more seriously?

3) Did you succeed in making yourself feel less angry about this book's huge success?

If you answered 'no' to some of those, you might want to rethink how useful this exercise really was to you.

Are you better off now? Is the world a better place now? Did you fix anything--anything at all--by doing this?

7:48 PM  
Blogger ssas said...

He's just spinning wheels. And I bet he's FURIOUS you won that award. :)

10:38 PM  
Blogger Stacy said...

He doesn't seem to have had much effect, though.

2:36 AM  
Blogger Author said...

Hey, Stuart, I know how you feel.
I too get some pretty harrowing one and two star reviews, from people I suspect haven't even read the books, not to mention a 'one starrer' who then attacked readers who'd genuinely enjoyed the books, accusing them of being publishers plants and paid off to write good reviews. This 'one starrer' even took his time to hunt down one of my fans and bad mouth him, as if that won him some brownie points. The thing was 'the fan' had become a friend having read, enjoyed and given my book a good review - not the other way around as the 'one starrer' declared with an Ah-Ha! Got You! moment.
People are allowed their opinion, I respect that, but they shouldn't be allowed to push their 'bad opinion' on others, and I think it's about time that Amazon got a grip on those who are evidently on a crusade of their own. Surely blatant campaigns like your stalker's one should be picked up and removed.

2:49 PM  
Blogger ssas said...

I don't agree, Matt.

So we want only "Good opinions" on Amazon? How do they police it? How do they tell when someone's on a crusade? Writing analysis? Programs? Other people reporting?

Sorry. That whole concept is way too Big Brother for this writer. I think we have to take our lumps, unfortunately. Assholes are everywhere. Nothing you can do about it but ignore them as best you can and go on.

But then free speech is sacred here, so I hate to see anyone squash it in any form.

4:12 PM  
Blogger Sean Patrick Reardon said...

Myself, I never read the reviews on Amazon, before I read a novel. I don't like any hints about the plot before I start. I will sometimes read them after.

Most all novels I read are based on recommendations from friends, or novels that writers I like mention.

I do like the "you might like this" feature on Amazon though. It has lead me to many good novels.

6:32 PM  
Blogger Paul D Brazill said...

Amazon reviewers do seem to be nutters, really.

Dave Zeltserman got a one star review for his brilliant book Small Crimes. one criticism was that the book didn't have any 'new words' that the reviewer hadn't come across before!

6:27 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

I forget who said it, but it was once remarked that sometimes it seems only jackasses know how to lick a stamp. The problem is, in the modern era, you don't even have to go to the trouble of mailing your complaints; you can post them online for all the world to see.

Lucky for you, phenomenal (and deserved) success is a pretty pithy retort...

2:57 PM  
Blogger Mary said...

It’s a complex character that chooses to attack crime writers and sweet, old Terry Wogan. What a mix!

Just read the first chapter of Collusion. Great stuff. :)

11:17 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I see a few have already beat me to the point of, "You know you've really made it when you pick up Amazon stalkers."


9:56 PM  
Blogger Whirlochre said...

Sometimes, you have to let 'em be wrong — unless they start hissing to themselves in the supermarket. I draw the line at hissing in the supermarket.

10:33 PM  
Blogger Steve Stubbs said...

I would encourage you to complain to amazon. Bad reviews influence my purchasing choices and probably those of others as well. Amazon does moderate the reviews before they are posted, and would not allow the same person to post over and over if they recognized what was going on. If you are as great a writer as super-agent Janet Reid says you are (and that is a recommendation from high places, believe me) you deserve better than this. Good reviews will help make your career. After reading her comments I am going to buy your book.

As soon as those negative reviews disappear, that is. Just can't get past that * review.

But who the hell is Terry Wogan?

Good luck with your career. And KEEP WRITING!

9:05 PM  
Blogger Sara J. Henry said...

What I hate are the one-star reviews because the book is not available in audio. Or because the guy's book order from Amazon arrived late. Gentle reader, the author really doesn't control what formats the book is released in - or how fast Amazon ships it.

Hi, Stuart - this is Sara Who-Is-Not-Sarah-Weinman who met you in Indy and LA.

3:18 AM  
Blogger Wild Geese FC said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

12:59 AM  

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