Adventures In Troll-Land

forest_trollsI’ve been noticing a lot of complaints lately in various indie publishing forums about a proliferation of one-star reviews that seem more hateful than helpful. We probably give these screeds too much credit by calling them reviews at all, since they don’t pretend to be thoughtful assessments of the books in question. The “reviewers” are more accurately called “trolls” because of their bad intentions. Their obvious goal is not to educate the public about the quality of a book, but to destroy the average star rating attached to that book so that no one will take a chance on it.

Who knows why they do it? Anonymous forums bring out the worst in some people. It’s the same sort of vitriol that fills so many online political discussions these days. Right-wing ranters in particular seem full of resentment for anyone more accomplished or educated than they are. I suspect many of the one-star trolls are the same sort. They’re dismayed to see authors managing to do something that they’re too afraid or untalented to do. Or if they’ve managed to put out a book themselves, they’re afraid of competition, so instead of playing fair, they set out to destroy others. Either way, they lack the guts, decency, and patience needed to be successful at the self-publishing game.

Amazon is no help in dealing with this menace. For its own obscure reasons, the company devotes major effort to killing as many five-star reviews as possible while letting the one-star industry thrive. So my advice to authors and readers alike is to ignore the rating system. Pay attention instead to reviews and blurbs that seem to reflect a thoughtful reading of the book. As for the trolls, pity them. Cherish your dumbest one-star reviews. I have a nice collection now, including the one who declared my book a “waist” of time, and the poor dear who skipped over large portions of it because it gave him/her a headache. Deny them the power they think they have over us.


8 thoughts on “Adventures In Troll-Land

  1. I was tracking with you until you did the same thing trolls tend to do. You used hyperbolic statements about your enemy. That trolls being the same as right-wingers. And by doing so, inferred that only right-wingers had their “crazies”. Every political party on this planet has their crazies. Some tend to be louder at times when they feel like they’re losing, but still… I myself am not a right-winger, persay, but your argument lost a good deal of credibility when you felt the need to villify a political party in your attempt to stop trolls from villifying indie authors.

    1. Sorry, I didn’t mean to step on any political toes. I was raised in a politically conservative family myself, and my intention wasn’t to malign an entire political party. When I referred to right-wingers, I meant the extreme type I frequently encounter online, who continually distort President Obama’s positions and are ready to believe any lie about him, no matter how ludicrous. These people are apparently so enflamed by his skin tone and his funny-sounding name that no rational discussion with them is possible. But I’ll concede your point that maybe politics shouldn’t have entered into this particular discussion. Thanks for commenting.

  2. Better yet, ignore one star reviews, and don’t give them air time. Turn the cheek, move on, write a better book in the future. You’ll only get yourself down by ruminating on it. People will do what they do. We can’t stop them.

  3. I think things are better now – because Amazon wants the CUSTOMER happy, and bad reviews were widely disliked by the readers.

    This works in our favor over time, and the bad reviews are often so bad they actually make people want to read the book.

    But ratings are unfortunately helpful (to get paid-for promotion slots), and those low ratings can really hurt. It takes me a long time to get each new review, and I can’t easily offset negative ones with a slew of 5* reviews, so I’m unhappy with that part of the system.

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