Cheats should never be allowed to prosper

Posted on September 5, 2012

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I have blasted on this overall theme before today and now I’m at it again.

Recently there were some noises being made about the review-for-hire scene where an author could pay these dodgy operators the appropriate fee in return for which the ‘reviewer’ wrote glowing things about the author’s work. So I blasted about that over at awritergoesonajourney.

On top of that, articles seem to be popping up all over the place about British crime writer, RJ Ellory, being caught out and admitting to writing reviews of his books on Amazon under pseudonyms. Needless to say these reviews were glowing. For example, writing as ‘Jelly Bean’ he described his work as ‘one of the most moving books I have ever read.’ Other alleged comments include: ‘It is so beautifully written I felt as though it enabled me to be a part of that era even though that can never actually happen’ and ‘I would highly recommend this book to anyone who really wants to experience a class read’ and even better still, describing his own work as a ‘modern masterpiece’.  Even more moving was ‘whatever else it might do, it will touch your soul.’

Remember – this was the author describing his own work while pretending to be other people. How does he even have the gall to be doing that?

Not content with using his masquerade to write his own bogus reviews, Ellory used the same opportunities to blast some of his competitors’ work while remaining safely hidden – or so he thought.

Bear in mind this was not just a once off. It seems that Ellory has done this multiple times under different aliases. Yet now that he has been caught out he has admitted to doing it, noting that ‘I wholeheartedly regret the lapse of judgment that allowed personal opinions to be disseminated in this way and I would like to apologise to my readers and the writing community.’

A ‘lapse of judgement’ implies something less than a series of deliberately written and posted bogus reviews with Ellory pretending to be someone else. But note that his apology is not actually apologising for that. His apology only seems to be for letting his personal opinions sneak in ie deriding the work of others. If he really does think his work is actually represented by those over-the-top descriptions, then RJ Ellory has MAJOR egotistical problems and needs to be worrying about psychiatric care and getting fitted for his straight-jacket. Nonetheless, I am not seeing any apologies from him for a quite deliberate deception of others.

I recently had a brief online debate with someone else on this subject. That other seemed to think that writing bogus reviews was nothing more than a bit of harmless self-promotion. I heartily disagree. It is nothing short of deliberate deception, telling lies to the whole world in a deliberate attempt to con people into buying your material. That is not self-promotion. How can it be self-promotion when you are in fact hiding the fact that it is yourself writing that nonsense?

Equally interesting in the article linked above, another author, Stephen Leather, justified his admitted practice of writing bogus reviews by saying “Everyone does [it].” I disagree in the strongest terms. If you have any personal ethics, you don’t do that. If you have any basic decency and honesty, you don’t lie to the world like that. And I do NOT know great swags of authors who think this is all such a great idea as Leather does. I can only think of one rather self-righteous author/self-publisher whom I believe engages in that style of behaviour. And in my opinion they have the morals of a particularly unscrupulous sewer rat.

The argument has become that nobody is being hurt by this practice of bogus reviews. Like hell! While Amazon’s ‘review’ system has quite rightly become thoroughly discredited for just the sort of practices being discussed, the genuine reviewers at other places and in other media are also sooner or later going to find themselves quite wrongfully disparaged.

These idiots should be supporting genuine reviewers as good reviews, provided they are warranted, can mean more sales. Instead, these fools have been pursuing stunts that damages the credibility of reviewers and thus in the long run, only doing themselves damage.

It disgusts me that the likes of Ellory has stooped so low. It further disgusts me that his apology does not seem to extend to being sorry that he deliberately lied to and deceived people. It infuriates me that the likes of Stephen Leather insist that nothing is wrong with such a practice, quite falsely stating that ‘everyone does it.’

My counter-argument is how about people show the likes of Ellory and Leather what they think of that duo and anyone else pulling such stunts – boycott them! Refuse to buy their work! Hit them in the pocket as cheats should never be allowed to prosper!

Now if you have an opinion on what I’m blathering about or even just feel like saying hi, then don’t be afraid to leave a comment or post something to me via Twitter or Facebook. I don’t bite – at least not always.

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Posted in: Other, Review