The Number One Literary Hazard Today

Internet-Troll

No one likes to become the target of negative criticism.

In a recent article about the forms of literary criticism a writer can expect to encounter these days, its author described the most unsavoury element, the internet troll, perfectly.

Here is what he said:

“There are two types of negative criticisms you will get. The worst are the trolls, the angry, the jealous and the unskilled. They tend to be easy to spot because they will offer nothing of substance, no intelligent commentary. Insults may be tossed out, pointless comments that are lacking any substance about what was written. It happens. It will continue to happen.”

Over the last few years, more and more of these sick individuals have surfaced. The above aptly describes what awaits anyone, be they a new writer, or in the case of an established one who through necessity or frustration with their publisher, parted company with them to become an independent author, or Indie. Whether or not there is any truth to the rumour currently circulating within the writing community that a lot of the troll attacks are actively condoned by publishers, some major online book sites and a few disgruntled establishment authors, whose books are no longer selling, the fact remains that the troll attacks have quadrupled in the last two years.

I grant you that in a lot of cases, constructive criticism of many of the new books published independently today is fully justified. You will find that they are chock full of glaring errors, such as incorrect spelling, poor grammar, and as often happens with quite a few, no editing whatsoever.  Despite all of this, it does not justify the merciless attacks meted out by the more cretinous type of troll. Until the use of avatars and pseudonyms on the internet is outlawed once and for all, the world of literature will not become a troll-free zone. While both forms of anonymity still remain, these cowards will continue to lurk in the more unsavoury corners of the Internet, waiting to pounce on their next victim.

Were I to offer any advice to a new writer today, it would simply be this – under no circumstances ever participate in any form of free giveaway of your book, no matter how much you are encouraged to do so. Why – because that is when you will come to the notice of the trolls. They never ever pay for a book like any normal human being, preferring instead to get a copy for free.

While a lot of media attention is drawn to the vicious troll attacks against vulnerable young people on social media sites these days, I would argue that the often vulgar and downright abusive attacks delivered by the faceless cowards within the shadows of the literary world are equally as harmful. As yet I have not heard of a writer being driven to commit suicide, but sooner or later it must happen. Writers are like anyone else when it comes to being hurt by what the trolls say. Not all are level headed or adult enough to simply shrug it off.

You have been warned…

11 thoughts on “The Number One Literary Hazard Today

  1. I hear ya, Jack. I so appreciate the honest, well-written reviews I’ve received. Even if they’re not glowing, you can tell when a reader actually has READ and wishes to review the work, not just rant and rave and draw attention to themselves. Down with trolls!!!

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    • Thanks for commenting Mysti.
      I see absolutely no difference whatsoever between a teenager being hounded online to the point where they can’t take any more abuse and commit suicide, or a writer being mercilessly crucified by a vicious moron with an axe to grind, do you? 😦

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      • I totally agree. Bullying is bullying, no matter who’s involved and what platform they’re using. I think it’s even more pathetic, though, when the bullies are adults. They should know better.

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  2. Very well put Jack. Great Article. You forgot to mention that both goodreads and Amazon are aware of the serious troll problems and refuse to do a thing to stop them. Just Saturday I had trolls publish my home address in the Amazon forums in one of the most vicious attack on an author to date. Amazon’s reply was that stalking, bullying, harassment, defamation and libel as well as posting confidential sensitive personal information such as home addresses of authors are all within their guidelines. The whole story is in my blog.

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    • I didn’t forget Rick, I merely chose not to actually name them as is my right.
      I find it difficult to accept that Amazon has added what you mentioned into their guidelines. To do so leaves them wide open to a major civil lawsuit. I could believe it if you said that it was included in their unofficial internal guidelines. No major corporation would actually publically condone such behaviour. After all, we all know that what corporations say privately differs from what they say publically.

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  3. Thank you for this article Jack. You are so right to warn writers about the free giveaways. Also, I liked the explanation between a troll attack and a serious review. In this day and age manners have seemed to become mute. People don’t realize an opinion still needs to be voiced in a non-insulting manner in order for it to be received.

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    • Thank you for taking the time to read the article and to comment Robynn. I am of the opinion that the whole troll issue needs to be tackled coolly and calmly, rather than to sink to their level, which only results in a slanging match. 🙂

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