A few days ago, some of us were horrified to find a site pinpointing authors who had fake awards and fake reviews.
Some of the definitions were a little blurry but we found it disturbing that someone would devote so much time to bringing down other authors. No evidence is offered. All quizzical statements and a lot of coming soons.
We're not mentioning the site here because we don't want to direct attention to it. We sat and pondered what it would be like to have your work discredited like it was "yesterday's chutney"(to quote Dr.Rajesh from The Big Bang Theory).
Be careful what you wish for.
We've had an interesting few hours. Apparently, the Quality Reads Book Club and all its members are fake. After more than 20 years of doing what we love, we are fake because we don't have enough online profiles or digital footprints as it is called.
We started the book club in our kitchen, reading books we wanted, when we wanted. When members moved away and new ones joined, we exchanged postcards, wrote letters and sent books as gifts. We didn't have a reason to change things and if this morning's incidents indicate anything, we should have left it that way.
Last year, we wanted to understand more about eBooks. Our grandchildren were talking about it, there were newspaper articles about it. But we couldn't grasp the concept.
This is when we met Pandora and came to know about Orangeberry. After discussing it from every angle, we came to the conclusion that we would like to take the book club online.
It's been manic. Some of us started 8 months ago, some of us less than 6 months. We don't know how most people understand these things so fast. Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus ... to name a few.
For the most part, we've been taking things slow. Each member does one step as he or she understands and does so at a pace we are comfortable with. Not all of us can commit 8 to 10 hours to blogging. We work with two different blog tour companies so we know the books that come our way are of high quality, even if they are self-published.
This morning, we found out through a few book club members that a forum known as the Absolute Write Cooler had identified us as a fake. Apparently, this is because we don't have an "existence that isn't associated with this book blog. No one reports going to lunch with her, she didn't show her pet at a local cat show, she hasn't participated in a Walk For Life, she isn't listed in a graduating class."
Correct me if I am wrong, but my book blog should be about books and what I want to include. If you do not see what you want to see, that doesn't make me fake.
Then came the next disturbing element of this unfolding drama. So we've been certified as fake. The forum moderator HapiSofi bashed the book club in more than one thread. She was applauded for her 'detective' work. Absolute joy, that people find so many useful ways to spend their time. But one thing, was missing.
Where is HapiSofi's contact information? From as far back as 2012, three characters appear in every thread together. HapiSofi, James McDonald and AliceShortCake. Then there are names like Old Hack, VeinGlory and Torgo. Again, no contact information, no social media links for most of these profiles.
Torgo hasn't updated his blog since February 2006 http://torgoblog.blogspot.com/
Old Hack goes by the name Jane Smith, on twitter. How original is that? At the time of writing this, her website has displayed "error establishing a database connection" for more than 14 hours.
[Update September 26/9] The Admin for the Absolute Write forum / website has some interesting background too. http://forums.writersweekly.com/viewtopic.php?t=8199 Which ends in the following quote "Due to the people who are owed money by this MacAllister Stone / AbsoluteWrite, and because of this retaliatory action, WritersWeekly must recommend writers / instructors avoid doing business with this website."
[Update September 26/9 - 4.11 p.m.] We're not the first ones to be scorned by this forum. Here are more interesting snippets from Complaints Board. Read that back now, I said snippet(S), to mean plural. http://www.complaintsboard.com/complaints/absolutewritecom-this-has-to-be-the-worst-writing-community-i039ve-ever-encountered-c607205.html
[Update September 26/9 - 4.20 p.m.] Bob and I just came across another link. Before we share it, we would like to stress that we do not understand what was the incident that sparked this particular website or its contents and we are only just familiarising ourselves with the GoodReads policy change and why it had to be so. It is related to bullying and Absolute Write, so it has my vote http://www.stopthegrbullies.com/category/absolute-write/
Maybe that's what un-fake people do while the fake ones like us, drive ourselves frantic about posting on time and meeting review deadlines that make us feel like we were back at work instead of retirement.
Apparently all of these people are credible sources of information on this so called forum because they have posted in the forum thousands of times. How about when they were newcomers? Did they automatically start with 20 to 30 posts? Or did they have to slowly build up the number of posts?
What if HapiSofi, James McDonald and AliceShortCake are all the same person? I see different images, different numbers of posts but no immediate proof that they are different. Everywhere one goes, the other two seem to follow.
We don't want to put our personal information on our blogs and we will slowly understand what is happening. Calling us fake when we are trying isn't going to help anything.
Since the book club came online, we've discovered some fantastic new authors, reviewed some really great books and purchased even more books we would have previously ignored.
On this note, here are a few changes, we are implementing with immediate effect.
- Quality Reads UK will no longer accept self-published books for reviews via our site. Unless you are with the tour companies we work with (Inspired Kathy, Orangeberry or Goddess Fish), with an agent or a publisher, we have had enough drama. We still have about 30 books that were submitted via the site. We will review these and after that no more.
- All book club members will only accept fresh content for every post unless these are blasts, for which I understand most tour companies have a standard HTML code (I think I got the terminology right).
In 6 to 8 months, we've discovered plagiarism, forced ourselves to learn things with time we could have spent with our children and grandchildren; and we are harassed on a daily basis about when reviews are going to be posted. So enough.
To quote Dr.Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory, "It's only been three years; here we are in bed together."
Different people move at different speeds, if you don't like what you see, then jog on, love. We'll keep reading our books and we'll keep discovering this fantastic world of online blogging, we may not be able to keep up with everyone else but that's our business, not yours. And it most certainly, does not make us fake. If any of the three people followed our blogs, they'll be able to see it.
On this note, to the authors who have been called fake on a recently formed site and to our book club members who feel more than a little down today knowing that their hard work has been laughed at, fake also means - Fabulous, Adventurous, Kind and Excellent.
We appreciate each of you, and don't let a few people with too much time on their hands get you down.
[Update September 26/9 - 4.50 p.m.] This list of sites may be helpful for other authors. We snapped it (took a screenshot) from this site http://www.stopthegrbullies.com/
[Update September 26/9 - 10.15 p.m.] From James Noel, The Reading Cat Blog - "We have discussed the matter with most of our members at length and this is what we will do. Time, finances and PayPal permitting, those of us who can will make a donation to the forum. They have a yellow button at the bottom that enables this.
It is my assumption that the recipient of this payment, which is one of the moderators or owner of the forum, will be able to view our different home addresses and verify that like Michael and Janet we are all different people. We are but book lovers who are not used to this world where privacy doesn't seem to exist and blogging requires more understanding that we are used to.
It is also our sincere wish that he or she does this without revealing our addresses to the world but I'm not entirely certain that will happen.
My PayPal Transaction ID: 3EN88757HC5121806
(Full post and) image is at his blog http://thereadingcat.blogspot.com/2013/09/absolute-write-donation-verification_26.html
[Update September 29/9 - 5.15 p.m.] The plan to make donations didn't work. The site owner said we didn't have to do this and an unverified PayPal account doesn't prove anything. I wonder if we'll soon have to send a copy of our birth certs if we want to review a book?
[Update September 29/9 - 6.05 p.m.] A full list of our member database is being posted to http://www.qualityreadsuk.com/p/members.html We're awfully behind on posting book reviews and I have several pages more to type so I (Eliza) will finish this as soon as I can.
[Update September 29/9 - 6.10 p.m.] Someone sent us this article today, and we really wish more people would adopt this but that's wishful thinking, I guess. The title of this post is 5 Tips to Online Communication: Avoid eHate - http://writerswin.com/5-tips-better-online-communication-avoid-e-hate/
[Update September 20/10 - 4.10 p.m.] We came across on Anne Allen's blog and it is very beneficial. To pinpoint, why we have linked it to this post on our blog, here's a quote from the article "Absolute Write is no longer recommended. I used to suggest looking there for info on bogus agents and scam publishers. These days, it's so dominated by bitter, bad-tempered snark, you'd probably be safer with the scammers." Here's the link to the full article http://annerallen.blogspot.com/2013/10/the-laws-of-amazon-jungleeight-rules.html