Yes, he really did: best-selling British crime novelist R J Ellory actually went on Amazon, and using fake names like “Jellybean” and “Nicodemus Jones,” wrote rave reviews of his own books . In one review, he called one of his novels a “modern masterpiece” and wrote that it “just stopped me dead in my tracks.”
How embarrassing. Sales a little soft lately, R J? He also used fake identities to post negative reviews of his rivals’ works.
This is one more bit of support for the position that anonymous posts on the internet, including those with screen names, should not be accorded the same weight or respect as those with real identities attached. A group of 49 British writers, including Mark Billingham and Stuart MacBride, both of whom had books savaged on Amazon by Ellory, addressed the issue of fake reviews in an open letter to the British book-buying public, saying…
“These days more and more books are bought, sold, and recommended online, and the health of this exciting new ecosystem depends entirely on free and honest conversation among readers. But some writers are misusing these new channels in ways that are fraudulent and damaging to publishing at large. Few in publishing believe they are unique. It is likely that other authors are pursuing these underhand tactics as well. We unreservedly condemn this behaviour, and commit never to use such tactics. But the only lasting solution is for readers to take possession of the process. The internet belongs to us all. Your honest and heartfelt reviews, good or bad, enthusiastic or disapproving, can drown out the phoney voices, and the underhanded tactics will be marginalised to the point of irrelevance.”
Nicodemus Jones immediately wrote in to say that their letter was crap.
Not buying the books of authors caught doing what Ellory did would also be effective, I think. That’s where I would start. If only I read crime novels, so I could boycott him. I guess I could start reading crime novels….
Pointer: Kevin Woodside (Thanks!)
Graphic: Stacy Green
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