Below is a post written by Stitch, his one and only post, published on July 5, 2012, explaining the GR bully culture and how it works. In the post, Stitch expresses his distaste for the bullies and how they operate.
Above is a Goodreads post written by an author that will remain anonymous. In case you’re wondering, the image of the post is cut off abruptly in order to exclude the author’s name (enough damage has been done to her.) This author was a victim of a GR bully attack. Actually, several attacks. In the end, she was so disheartened by what she experienced, she left Goodreads and quit writing altogether. When she did, the GR bullies rejoiced in her exodus and reveled in her misery. I would include screencaps of this, but again, I do not want to reveal the identity of the writer. I just want to use her as an example of what bullying on GR can do and the irreparable damage it can cause. Sadly, this kind of abuse to writers kills confidence and stifles creativity to the point where the writer cannot even bear to continue. This is expressed in her words:
“The third and fourth books, I’ve loved… and yet the world seems to hate them. No, not hate them—I’ve seen hateful reviews. These people don’t know how I’ve managed to be published. I’m starting to wonder, myself. Because it’s obvious that my opinion of my books, and the public’s opinion, is so different… I’m scared. There is such a big disconnect there that I am seriously doubting my ability to estimate what a reader will like. I thought I knew… now I realize I have no clue. And I’m tired… so tired. Two young kids, full-time job, writing on the side. I feel like I don’t get a moment to breathe. And during the few times I do, I am reminded of my failures as an author. Each time I try to pull myself up again and get out of this hole, someone comes along and pushes me back in. So, because I am not made for this business, I’ve decided to pull out. As much as I once loved writing, I honestly don’t anymore. That means no more posts on this blog. No more interaction with other writers and no more groups, no more events. No more books.”
No person, writer or otherwise, should ever be made to feel like this. What is so sinister about this kind of bullying is that the victims of the attacks are too afraid to stand up against it for fear of what the bullies will do to their books, their reputations, and their careers. I’ve been watching them for months now and I know that the GR bullies are famous for twisting people’s words around, making them look bad, ruining their reputations with lies, and destroying their careers even before they have begun. This is why we are here. To be the voice of those who have been bullied, forced, and otherwise coerced into silence. We are here to be their advocates and to expose those who are tormenting them.
I don’t usually write posts. My job is to search the web for any and all related information that goes into our articles. However, I felt the need to write this post, because in my observance of these bullies, I’ve come to notice several similarities to modern-day urban street gangs. In a book called, Common Characteristics of Gangs: Examining the Cultures of the New Urban Tribes, G.W. Etter Sr. says:
“Modern urban street gangs have evolved into tribal organizational structures. These new urban tribes have developed into a subculture in the streets of the urban jungle. They claim territory, are self-supporting, have their own language and customs, and establish their own rules and codes of conduct. Their customs are passed to new members by rites of passage from generation to generation, thus ensuring the continuance of the gang. Gang members identify themselves as a people that is separate from the rest of society.” (Etter, 1999, p. 261)
How is this similar to the GR Bully culture? These bullies have organized themselves into a hierarchical structure that we will reveal on this blog, slowly, with each post. Each bully falls into one of several categories: ringleader, instigator, stalker, or minion. As for how they claim territory, here is a clipping to illustrate their mentality:
For the record, we have evidence that Shannon, The Holy Terror has visited author blogs and left rude comments. So the statement she is making here is false. But notice how she says “OUR spaces”? This is claiming territory. Unfortunately, this is the mentality of the whole group. They claim certain spaces as their territory and anyone who approaches them has to play by their rules. Their rules (codes of conduct) are:
1. There is a distinct line between authors and readers (separating themselves.)
2. Reviews are only for readers.
3. Authors must remain silent while the reviewers can behave any way they want toward them.
4. Authors are not allowed to comment on reviews of any kind.
At STGRB, we do not play by these rules, nor do we agree with them. First of all, there is no distinct line between an author and a reader. All authors are readers and many readers are want-to-be authors. As authors are readers, reviews are written for them as well. As we see it, reviews are publications that are subject to public scrutiny, as are all publications. All people, authors and readers are therefore allowed to comment on them. Lastly, reviewers are not allowed to behave any way they want to toward anyone, that includes authors. On this site, we do not allow author bashing of any kind.
Another aspect of the GR bully culture that I have noticed is that reviewers exercise self-promotion and in doing so, snark has become a status game where reviewers attempt to score points. Whoever can write the nastiest, most author-bashing, disrespectful review becomes the winner. Whoever can get the most ‘likes’ and ‘comments’ on their reviews is the winner. It becomes a status game of getting to the top and staying at the top. It doesn’t seem to work with 5-star reviews. It only works with the scathing one-stars.
This bully culture seems to think the problem stems from authors who are behaving badly. They do not see their actions as the cause of the conflict. They blame the author-reviewer war on self-publishing, stating that if it wasn’t for the self-publishing revolution, they would never have to tolerate authors talking back because agents or editors would keep them in line:
The only problem with this argument is that the bullies have been known to start flame wars with many traditionally published authors thus disproving their assertion (read The First Five Days on Goodreads at Cuddlebuggery Book Blog.) No, the conflict does not stem from self-publishing, nor from author behavior. It stems from the GR bully culture that has evolved on the internet.
Sadly for this group of people, the future does not hold good fortune. Self-publishing is not going away anytime soon and is only going to get bigger as more and more successful self-publishers come into the spotlight. In the future, we will see bookstores closing, e-books becoming the dominant form of reading, competitive pricing by Amazon putting many publishers out of business, and a tsunami of self-publishers putting their work out into the marketplace. Goodreads will more than likely grow, being flooded by waves of self-published authors looking for readers and the bullies will have to make a choice. They will either have to change their behavior and get along, or they will continue as they are. If they continue, they will only bring more trouble and heartache onto themselves. And that’s the truth.
I just want to add one final thought. I’m talking about the last bit there where Stitch says:
Goodreads will more than likely grow, being flooded by waves of self-published authors looking for readers and the bullies will have to make a choice. They will either have to change their behavior and get along, or they will continue as they are. If they continue, they will only bring more trouble and heartache onto themselves.
Now, considering he wrote this on July 5, 2012, this statement is rather prophetic. This is exactly the kind of trouble Ashleigh Paige brought onto herself by shelving an anthology on a BBA shelf and then sending the bully squad after the authors who spoke up about it. For more on that, read our recent post Ashleigh Paige Throws a Hissy Fit.