Book Reviewing Isn’t Simple – The Dark Truth of Author Bullying

Some are still biting the hand that feeds all of our promotion and publicity needs … This ongoing problem of bullying reviewers has to stop RIGHT NOW!! (See as well my blog post of a few days ago, Authors continuing to behave badly …)



*Ok, I’m honestly a little scared of posting this as I don’t want any more harassment from the wrong people…

The above picture pretty much sums up how I feel today.  I’m exhausted and drained from all the horrible things that have happened recently.  I’ve faced cold distant treatment, attacks on facebook and now I’ve been bullied privately, all because I wanted to be honest and help out an author.

Back in October I wrote this post A Tough Decision – Don’t blame the Book Blogger Blame Your Fellow Indies 😦 after facing a load of abuse from some indie authors.  In the post I talked about my tough decision to stop reviewing indie books, but several weeks later, after having only good communications, I took back my ‘no-indie’ policy and started receiving indie requests again.  BEFORE I go on I must point out that this post isn’t talking about all the…

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15 responses

  1. […] receive. If you haven’t read about some recent poor behaviour, here are two posts, one by Susan M Toy, and another by Rosie […]

  2. Oh I do feel her pain I have had similar also but I find not engaging and simply blocking authors who are being like that works fairly well. I understand her points around spelling and grammar I feel like that, a book won’t get above 3* from me even if the story is amazing if the spelling and grammar are bad. I’ve actually got one I’m reading right now with that exact problem.

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting! This problem may be much more far-reaching than any of us realized.

  3. Everyone isn’t a winner. Hard fact, but people just don’t want to accept it. Writing is very difficult, and even the best needs others’ eyes to catch what slips through – and stuff does. It would be foolish to think you don’t need a serious editor/proofreader.
    But then again with the social media/selfie mindset – anyone and everyone thinks they are a writer – and that anyone pointing out problems is just a meanie.
    Roughseas is one of the best and has it down: why would anyone want to put out a badly written book? Not fair for the reading public.
    A good reviewer isn’t a bully. They are careful with their words to authors, but fair to the book analysis for readers.

    1. You are absolutely correct, on all counts, Philmouse! And especially astute pointing out that it’s likely social media that has created this problem. Thanks for weighing in with your comments.

  4. Hi Susan,

    The blog about author bullying is so very heart wrenching to read about, and beyond that, so horribly disappointing for the woman being attacked. Bullies have power over us when we give them that power, especially when we allow them to go on and on. Best way to deal with that and to disempower them is to cut all ties and contact. Block them on all platforms. No one needs to subject he or himself to that sort of ongoing and unprofessional assault. Ever. Even the Dali Lama says there are times we must draw a line. Clearly this is one of those times.

    Still reading your blog! So just a wee reminder that I am ‘here’ even if I don’t often weigh in and comment.

    Hugs form YYC,


    1. So good to hear from you, Anne! I was telling someone the other day about the chapbooks you published for the literary salons. Many good memories!

      I suggested to the reviewer privately that she cut off the bullies completely by blocking them on all platforms. That what I had to do when I was being bothered by someone. Good advice for anyone having problems with online bullies. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  5. Wow. After reading this I wonder why ANYONE would consider reviewing Indie books! I know that I would have walked away far sooner than she did. No one needs to be abused like this! It’s just not worth it. A person’s mental health is at stake here. It’s just not worth the anxiety and depression to do this – especially for free!

    These Indie authors need a reality check. But worse – they are making all Indie authors look bad – and re-enforce the stereotype that all Indie books are not worth reading.

    I wish you all the best. If you refused to review any more books, it certainly would be understandable!

  6. Well you knew I would comment. I even commented on hers, she sounded so fed up.

    As reviewers I think we need to establish clear parameters: in her case (like me) she won’t settle for sloppy writing and appalling grammar. And I see no reason why readers should buy books to get a sub-standard product. It does matter when there are loads of errors. I’ve made it clear on my blog. A good book with loads of errors gets three instead of four stars.

    Some years ago, we had a service/brake fix on the Land Rover. Partner drove it out of the garage, tried to brake and they didn’t work. Returned to garage. ‘Oh we didn’t actually check them.” Jeez. So not proofreading won’t cause an RTA, but the principle is the same.

    We need more good reviewers out there, who are critical and honest, to withstand the whiney authors.

    1. Very true! Maybe it’s time to turn the tables and state, unequivocally, that reviewers review the books they do for the benefit of READERS, and not as a promotional favour for those authors who can’t be professional in all they do to produce that book.

      1. I think a large part of the issue is Susan, that people, quite simply, haven’t thought through what publishing a book means. Or even why they are doing it.

        So, many cheapskate, and don’t hire external help, whether graphic design, formatters, editors, proofreaders. Because they can’t afford.

        But why should a reader buy a poorly finished book? Unfair. Maybe people should start sending books back to Amazon and getting their money back saying this is of substandard quality due to …

        I don’t know what the answer is, but giving five stars to tosh or poorly/non-edited books isn’t it.

      2. True, roughseas. I think your suggestion has already begun – buyers have at least been complaining to Amazon about shoddily produced books. When my eBook formatter sent my file for One Woman’s Island in to Amazon, she received back an email listing a large number of spelling infractions they had discovered in the book and asked that these be corrected before the book was listed. It turned out the “spelling errors” were the differences between Canadian and American English. I’m Canadian and so is my editor, so we agreed to use Canadian spelling throughout all my writing. There were also a few foreign words used (French) that I had italicized in the text, to show they were foreign, but Amazon claimed they were misspelled, as well. Pity they’re not being tough with those books that truly are not edited by a professional at all.

        As for cheapskate authors who say they can’t afford to pay for professional editing services, I say that, in that case, they cannot afford to publish a book at all. They should definitely rethink why they would want to put out anything with their name on it that is of substandard quality. (And, anyway, there are ways to raise that money they require to pay for professional services!)

  7. I can understand the difficulty of a would-be author wanting to hear only good things when they have put their blood, (even if it is tainted) sweat and tears onto the page. However, for the author, it’s time to put ego aside and work on improving the craft of writing. That’s just plain rude to harass the reviewer. Trouble is, it’s so easy to fire off an angry email. Used to be you would write a letter, walk down to the post office, buy a stamp and you would then have time to reflect on the content of the letter. No knee-jerk reaction from a jerk. I apologise for all those people.

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