How To Respond To An Author or Troll Attack

24 May, 2012 Musing Musers 24 comments

Emails we get surprisingly often look something like this:

Hey I need help. I’ve had an author comment on a review I’ve written. What should I do?

Having your first author run-in or serious troll/flammer can be scary, intimidating, infuriating.  After you process it, you have to decide what to do, how to respond, if you respond at all. This page is a tool to give you some advice, perspective and information from vast experience in dealing with these matters.

If you read nothing else – at least read this:

Depending on each individual circumstance, you will need to tailor your response.  But there are some basic things you should always do, no matter how it happens.

-Screen cap everything

Even if you don’t ever want to respond to the author or attacker, it’s still important to have permanent documentation of the run in.  This can be useful if that person is attacking someone else in the future and proof of their repetitive harassment is needed.  Many author-trolls in particular will eventually delete incriminating posts or comments after the damage to the reviewer is done.  Screencapping is the only way to prove or verify what has happened to you.  For your own sake, and the sake of others, always screen cap.  If you don’t know how – here is an excellent website for you!

-Keep your cool

You may want to lash out and attack – and nobody is stopping you.  However, it will be harder to justify your reaction if the drama becomes bigger.  Launching a cool, logical, confident argument is hard in the heat of the moment, but you will be grateful later when you have no ramifications for outraged words or actions.

-Learn when to step away

Sometimes a battle with an author or a troll never seems to stop.  But the good thing is that, since they’ve come to you, you are often in a position of power.  Rather like a siege on a castle, there are inherent benefits to being the one attacked.

Most social networks let you delete comments on your pages or block the member.  If their attacks are too heated or prolonged for you, then you always have the option to end the argument.  This will usually result in claims of censorship.  Your best option is to leave comments (that are not outright name-calling and abuse) that are already up, post a final comment that the discussion is over and state your intent to delete further attempts to engage.  The important thing about this is that you follow through.  If you reply to some comments or allow any abusers to stay then they will keep trying.

If the abuse is happening on your blog then blocking their IPs is especially helpful.

Amazon does not allow you to delete comments from your own review and thus:

-Look to the Book Reviewing community for support

If the attacks get too much to handle, if they are persistent and you feel as though you can’t cope then it’s probably time to look to the community for assistance.   As a reviewer, even if your review is harsh and critical you have a right to your space without fear of reprisal or censorship – so long as you are not violating the TOS for the site you are on.

The community is there to support and, when contacted, can provide backup and camaraderie.   Speak up, ask for help and lean on others to help provide a strong voice of resistance against hostile attacks.  They can’t always make the abuse go away, but it helps to have people standing at your side, taking some of the brunt and providing another strong voice of resistance.

The Cuddlebuggery Endorsed Troll Response Method

How you have been attacked shapes how you can respond.  An author harassing you via email can be ignored but a public attack is harder to do so.   We have responding down to a fine art here at Cuddlebuggery.

1. Screen cap! (If you take away anything today – it’s to screencap!)

2. Ignore or respond back depending on your confidence level.

If the troll is an author, and you wish to express your dissatisfaction with their interaction with you, you can:

3. Shelve their books on a Do Not Read shelf on Goodreads.

4. Explain in the comments why you have chosen not to read the book.

In the comments section, explain what happened and use the evidence you have collected – be it links or screen caps.  This protects both you and the author.  In this regard, with screen caps you provide a clear testimony and evidence as to your grievance.  Thus people coming upon your story can make up their own minds based on the facts.  Without screencapped evidence then you can only provide your impression of the discussion – which may unfairly defame an author.

We do not endorse starring books as a retaliatory action against authors.  We also don’t endorse writing reviews based on your bad experience with the author since these are usually removed, on request, by GR admins.

Consider connecting to other victims of author attacks.  Sometimes people think they’re the only ones or alone.  They don’t realize that harrassment from authors and trolls happens to a lot of people.  Reaching out to them and sharing your experiences, providing support and backing them up against an attack is a good way to contribute to the community.

Things to remember:

You are always justified to write a critical review or a book or blog about your reading experience.

You are not alone.

There is no 100% right way to “get” a book.  Even if the author disagrees with your interpretation, they can not control how people read their books.

Don’t be chased away from book discussion and book reviewing.  When you remove or change your review out of shame – then the troll has won.

Try to remember that, no matter how big the drama or event, it will eventually settle down.

Kat Kennedy

Kat Kennedy

Co-blogger at Cuddlebuggery
Kat Kennedy is a book reviewer and aspiring author in the Young Adult genre. She reviews critically but humorously and get super excited about great books. Find her on GoodReads.
Kat Kennedy

24 Responses to “How To Respond To An Author or Troll Attack”

  1. Fangs for the Fantasy

    Agreed wholeheartedly on all of this.

    I do double emphasise on keeping your cool

    I know it’s hard in the face of extreme provocation but NOTHING will make the author troll look terrible and you look awesome so much as the author losing their ever loving shit while you respond with clam, rational professionalism. When the author’s drama hits goodreads or similar sites (like, for example, cuddlebuggery) they will look all the worse and you so much better
    Fangs for the Fantasy recently posted…Cover Snark: POC ErasureMy Profile

  2. Jenni @ Alluring Reads

    Great post! I have not been trolled yet (thank goodness/hopefully it stays that way) but if the situation should arise I’ll defnintely reference abck to this. You guys are like superheroes for your fellow bloggers and we really appreciate it!
    Jenni @ Alluring Reads recently posted…Becoming A Butterfly Tour StopMy Profile

  3. Rachel Hartman

    Oh man, you know what would be awesome? A TV show: When AUTHORS Attack!!! (Does it need more exclamation marks? Probably.) I wanna be on it, dressed like a Klingon (I already have the hair for it) and wielding a bat’leth.

    I’m shocked that this happens as often as it does. And so sorry. Authors, for their part, need to learn not to take things personally and frankly, what to do when they feel hurt. I promise you, I have felt hurt by 5-star reviews. When you put a piece of your soul out into the world, it’s vulnerable and even the most innocuous stuff can hurt it. Authors owe it to themselves to find a responsible way to handle that hurt, because it’s going to happen even if the book is universally beloved (and no book has ever been universally beloved in the history of books).
    Rachel Hartman recently posted…Prog rock poulticeMy Profile

  4. Tellulah Darling

    It’s sad that this happens. As a reader I don’t love everyone’s books, so as an author, I don’t get to expect everyone will love mine. Readers and reviewers help our stories exist. I thank you all for what you do. 🙂

  5. Julie@my5monkeys

    Great post and I have only authors go crazy during the summertime. One was over a frakin star on goodreads. Other than that I had an author not to post my review of her book because the kindle copy was crappy, she left a comment on my review 🙁 because of poor quality. UGh
    Yes to all those and I did go to twitter about the star question.
    Julie@my5monkeys recently posted…Books wanted by me ( BEA12)My Profile

  6. Karylle

    This is a great help and I have never tried this actually.. Anyway, thank you for the help and the information posted here..
    Karylle recently posted…Hosted SharepointMy Profile

  7. Sarah (saz101)

    “You are always jus­ti­fied to write a crit­i­cal review or a book or blog about your read­ing experience.” and “Don’t be chased away from book dis­cus­sion and book review­ing. When you remove or change your review out of shame – then the troll has won.”

    I’m lucky–I’ve never been in this circumstance, but then again, I’ve not posted many negative reviews… mainly, I think, because I’ve not been reviewing as long as many others, so yeah… but this advice is PRICELESS. Bullying–whether from bloggers or authors, or ANYWAY is cowardly and small, and trolling is, well… lame. Thanks for this post! ♥
    Sarah (saz101) recently posted…The Hunt, Andrew FukudaMy Profile

  8. Mandy

    If someone writes a review on an authors goodreads page, the author automatically gets a notification about the review. They’re not trolling. While I am sure there are some who do, just remember that authors do have feelings as well and there are some who do act out and say things they shouldn’t yes, but I also think they have the right to defend themselves if the review goes beyond disliking the book and becomes a personal attack, which some reviewers do. As a reader, I’ve seen reviewers who have called the author stupid or made fun of them for some way. It should never be able to anything but the book.

    In saying that, no author should attack personally back either. They have the right to have an opinion as reviewers do with their work, but personal attacks are not on.

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