Faceless CriticsTight-fisted, penny-pinching, niggardly, and seemingly endowed with self-professed literary acumen. These are the new self-proclaimed book critics that seem to be crawling out from behind their rocks in greater number in recent months. Too miserly to spend a dollar or two on an ebook, or too lazy to contact authors for review copies, they instead load up their Kindle with freebies they find, and then take sadistic delight in spreading their distain across the Internet.

One particularly nasty example of this came to my attention a few days ago.

For a long time now, I have had a free ebook available. ‘Vandalism of Words’ is a promotional book that I published over two years ago to support my blog. It is a collection of over 140 of my better blog posts, short stories and a few poems. Not a literary masterpiece by any means, but suitable material for a free offering on a blog such as mine. That it is has been downloaded by the thousands tells me that it has been quite a popular give-away. It has even sold quite a few copies in paperback and received some very complimentary reviews from readers.

However, one gentleman (for want of a better word) decided that he didn’t particularly like the book and was most upset to discover what the book contained. Although in his review, I was actually quite pleased when he stated that the book contained ‘self-deprecating narcissism and pointless rants’. That sums up The Vandal quite well I think. That he didn’t enjoy this free book was fine by me and his posting of his review fine as well.

If it had been once.

For some reason, this fellow decided in his wisdom to post his review repetitively. By doing this he embarked on a personal attack that was cowardly and extremely mean-spirited. These ‘spoilers’ however are becoming more frequent as this is not my first experience with this type of low life. There is little one can do to combat these people other than to report them as ‘spammers’ to the various social networks they use.

These people are not book reviewers by any standard. None of them post on their own blog, none of them request review copies that are available from most authors for legitimate book bloggers and reviewers. They instead, spinelessly hide behind the anonymity of social media handles and spread their poison. Such are the freedoms that we enjoy on the Internet now, there will always be those few who abuse it.

I think this was yet another fine example of one of my now famous narcissistic and pointless rants.

The Stingy Skinflint Freebie Book Critics
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9 thoughts on “The Stingy Skinflint Freebie Book Critics

  • 03/11/2011 at 3:48 pm

    Thanks for relating the story, Derek, I’m sure you’re not the only one. But as time goes on, do you find that it gets easier to spot a freak like this? I often find that I can tell in the first few words of the first sentence, that this is someone on a mission: vicious, perhaps; unhinged, certainly, but all the more obvious for the rhetoric they use. When I read reviews on Amazon, both the hate-mongers and the hyper-praising fans are quite easy to spot, and before making a decision, I like to find a measured, carefully thought-out review that mentions both pros and cons. Perhaps this might be one way forward, that we can tune in to the wallies and screen them out ourselves, once we recognise the word structure of their “review” to ignore it and move on to the next?
    All the best,

  • 03/11/2011 at 4:00 pm

    Quite true Chris. Both are pretty easy to spot.

    But I think what is becoming annoying is that these cranks are too miserable to even buy a 99c ebook. Free ebooks are an easy target. Even worse, I’m sure that many times they haven’t even read the book anyway.

    I had an experience with on odd fellow who decided he could be a ‘book reviewer’ based on reading only from the ‘Look Inside’ feature on Amazon. He even had a blog and professed himself to be a one of the best book reviewers around. Needless to say, he has happily gone missing in action in recent months.

  • 03/11/2011 at 4:13 pm

    Blimey! The world’s full of freaks, you’d think they’d have better things to do with their time… But seriously, maybe that could be a failing of giving books away for free. From your perspective, you do that to attract readers to your other books, but maybe to some people it’s a case of “anything free is worth what you pay for it” so that the author then becomes fair game, in the eyes of the freak, because if the author thinks their work is worth nothing, then the freak will be happy to make the author feel worthless. Horrible thought, come to think of it…

    • 03/11/2011 at 4:51 pm

      Actually Chris, I originally published this particular book as a free giveaway to promote my blog, not my books. I published it long before all the ebook stuff took off and the first version was only offered in pdf on my blog.

      It was never intended to be a teaser to buy my other books. Although, when it started to get downloaded so many times, I popped my other books’ details into it quick smart and republished the ebook versions.

      But I take your point about the deemed value of free.

      • 03/11/2011 at 5:26 pm

        Apologies Derek, too much reading quickly while I’m supposed to be working :-)
        I read a press article about a US writer (can’t remember his name now) who’s written a series of seven novels. He gives the first one away for free and pulls readers in to buy the other six. It sticks in my mind because it does make very good business sense I suppose.

  • 03/11/2011 at 4:20 pm

    I experienced this type of invective Derek when, foolishly, I created a string on the Amazon page devoted to my scifi novel “Onet’s Tale”. The lowlifes in question merely perused the ‘read inside’ element and went to town big time.

    Unfortunately we are all in these arshole’s sights. Do what I did and ignore them. Above all stay well away from any form of Amazon forum!

  • 03/11/2011 at 5:17 pm

    I once had someone leave a one star review on one of my freebie books because of a ‘typo’ on the blurb. They admitted they hadn’t even read the book! The irony is that it wasn’t even a typo, but an English spelling instead of an American one (I’m British). My favourite complaint is that a freebie book isn’t long enough–especially when there is a longer version of the book out for them to buy! I mean, put your hand in your pocket and go purchase a copy if you want a longer version! That one was FREE! (Okay, rant over…)

  • 03/11/2011 at 5:19 pm

    I really wonder what these people do, that they have this much time on their hands. What’s the point of bashing a work you haven’t read?

    There seems to be more of this, and other nastiness on the Amazon discussion boards, and less on smaller sites for readers and writers. But still, there are a lot of discussions that inexplicably become personal and nasty.

    I hope that readers don’t pay much attention to the ravers. As Chris points out, they’re easy to spot.

  • 04/11/2011 at 10:26 am

    That’s nasty, Derek. My sympathies. Maybe you should just look on it as a badge of success. You have done wonders blazing a trail in cyber-space for the rest of us to follow.

    I’m with Jack: I keep well away from Amazon forums.

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