stopthegrbullies.com has championed a number of authors and other individuals supposedly targeted by Goodreads bullies. In every case, the ‘victims’ and their behaviour are presented as harmless, innocent recipients of cruel and unwarranted criticism.
However, the reality is somewhat different:
Robin Sullivan is the owner of Ridan Publishing, a small POD press set up originally to publish books by Michael J Sullivan, Robin Sullivan’s husband. It also accepts books from other authors. Robin Sullivan markets herself as something of a guru on how to make a success of small and self-publishing. However, her advice and manner brought her into conflict with the owner of Absolute Write, Macallister Stone, who banned Sullivan from the boards in 2011. This led to several of Sullivan’s supporters—including Melissa Douthit—trolling Absolute Write, and being banned themselves.
In 2012, Jim C Hines drew attention to the non-payment of royalties by Ridan Publishing to one of its authors (and sadly, currently a cancer suffer), Ann C. Crispin. Though Sullivan subsequently agreed to return Crispin’s rights and pay outstanding monies, other authors have withdrawn from the publishing, citing lack of communication and other problems. Despite such serious issues, Robin Sullivan continues to attend conventions as an expert in small/self-publishing success.
James Austen is a gay self-published author. His attempts in 2011 to self-promote his book, ‘Raw Food’, at Amazon Forums in violation of Amazon’s Terms of Services ended badly, with him antagonising a number of regulars, and him blogging self-pityingly over at Goodreads about his experiences of being ‘bullied’. He also launched a vitrolic attack against an Amazon reviewer of his book.
In 2012 he went on a bizarre attack against Kat Kennedy on Twitter, using offensively ableist and misogynistic language, apparently because he mistook her for someone else. Austen’s attack was inspired by the creation of stopthegrcbullies.com.
Dougie Brimson is a former football hooligan and author, who has written about the culture of hooliganism from the inside, as well as fiction. He seems to have enjoyed some measure of success in the ‘real’ world so his recent forays into internet trollery would seem to be strangely counterproductive. He is a champion of the idea that there is an ‘Amazon Review Mafia’ composed of Amazon users who pursue and persecute self-published authors by writing negative reviews about them. He also concocted a bizarre notion that Amazon user ‘Anna Karenia’ was a user of multiple sockpuppets (a theory cheerfully promoted by stopthegrbullies.com) on weak and faulty circumstantial evidence. (‘Anna Karenia’ does not review at Amazon at all, nor at Goodreads.)
His personal modus operandi seems to derive from his hooligan days, and he has attacked people on Amazon and on Twitter apparently with the sole intention of upsetting them.
He claims to be researching trolling for a screenplay.
His own trolling got him banned from Absolute Write.
Carroll Bryant is a songwriter and self-published author. He claimed to be associated with stopthegrbullies.com at an early stage, only to say he was no longer involved. However, he is presently an enthusiastic supporter and reporter of ‘injustices’ at the site, particularly as they pertain to himself.
His fifteen minutes of infamy started when, in a (subsequently deleted) Goodreads blog post, he threatened to post a list of reviewers who accepted his books while apparently promising to review them—only to subsequently fail to do so. After a monumental meltdown in comments on his GR post where 49 year old Bryant’s predilection for teenage girls, his stalking of young women, threats and other highly questionable behaviour were all exposed, the post was deleted and he was banned from Goodreads. He subsequently posted the infamous list on his blog, and then this post was also deleted (a continuing pattern for Bryant.) At this point it was noted that some of the sites named and shamed had never heard of him, or promised a review in the first place. It was also noted that he was using someone else’s photo for his blog avatar.
Since then he has continued to complain on his blog, on stopthegrbullies.com, and in comments anywhere that will allow him to post, about his innocence and unjust malignment as a predator, even as he had continued to post threats against one particular teenager whose real name he has outed, and whose medical records he has threatened to expose unless she stops being mean abut him. (She just wants him to go away and leave her alone, but he ignores all her attempts to block contact and disengage from dealing with him.)
He’s a racist, misogynist, and attacks reviewers. Bryant is clearly an unstable and possibly mentally unwell individual so detailing his many acts of unprofessional behaviour is both too time consuming and unkind to contemplate. However his actions have led to at least one YA review site closing completely, and other review sites closing their doors to self-published works. His habit of comment bombing any site posting critical remarks is one reason this site does not allow comments (nor will emails from this individual be read or replied to.)
http://goodreadsfollies.blogspot.com.au/2012/07/indie-authors-melt-down-on-gr.html [NB: there is very likely a close connection between this site and the operators of stopthegrbullies.com, so proceed with caution]
M.T. (Michael) Dismuke
Michael Dismuke is a self-published author who posted a rant (originally under the user name ‘Shadow Wodahs’ on Amazon forums complaining that people who had downloaded his free books were not reviewing, liking or otherwise promote them. When Amazon users reacted badly and the conversation deteriorated, he was encouraged to run to stopthegrbullies.com for comfort by stopthegrbullies.com regular, G. Faso. At that point, the original post was changed to hide the whining complaint, and then Dismuke, after changing his user name a couple of times, deleted all his posts on that discussion. The version of Dismuke’s post used by stopthegrbullies.com was not the original one, although this fact was never mentioned.
Dismuke posted some inflammatory blog entries at Goodreads about his ‘unfair treatment’ but they and his site blog have been deleted.
Dismuke has another Amazon identity, Recurring Nightmare, under which he reviews and posts. He has two twitter accounts, and bizarrely, likes to converse with himself using the different names.
Emily Giffin is a best-selling author whose husband took offense at a (now deleted) one star review on Amazon by ‘Avid Reader’ of ‘Where we belong’ and posted a comment calling the reviewer a pyscho. Giffin posted on Facebook appearing to incite further criticism of this review, and praising her husband for his actions.
Another reviewer, Corey Ann Doyle, was angered by Giffin’s ‘acting out online’ and changed the rating of her review of ‘Where we belong’ from four stars to one star. Giffin then attacked Doyle on Facebook, and her assistant attacked Doyle on her review. Other Giffin fans joined in the attack. Amazon has now removed Doyle’s review.
Doyle subsequently received three anonymous phonecalls, one telling her to delete her review, and another telling her to kill herself for being mean to Giffin.
Giffin, despite claiming to have done so, never apologised to Doyle, although she did delete all her critical Facebook comments, though not before claiming Doyle had brought all the harassment and phone calls onto herself.
Simone Elkeles is a successful author of Young Adult fiction. In June 2011, Goodreads’ user Elle wrote a review of Elkeles’ book, ‘Rules of Attraction’. The review was written in the form of a pretend conversation between the author and reviewer, making fun of certain traits of Elkeles’ writing. The reviewer did, however, rate the book three stars.
In August 2012, Elkeles began to email and harrass Elle over email and private message, leaving critical comments on the review accusing her of bullying, that the reviewer was impersonating her (in what was very obviously a satirical and non-serious piece), and demanding that the review be removed.
Victoria Foyt is a sometime actress and self-published author, married to the screenwriter Henry Jaglom. Her book, ‘Revealing Eden’, ostensibly an examination of racism, received a torrent of criticism due to an abundance of racist tropes, poor writing, and the promotional videos for the book which showed a white actress in blackface. Dozens of reviews at Amazon and Goodreads expressed disgust at the concept and execution of this book, and hundred of blog posts and media articles have been written about it, most of these critical. Foyt’s defence of her book have only served to inflame matters.
Her husband posted a five star review of ‘Revealing Eden’ without disclosing he is, in fact, the author’s husband.
The promotion of Foyt’s book by the once well-respected science fiction magazine, ‘Weird Tales’, also caused a major controversy.
Gillian Bagwell is an author of historical romance fiction. Two of her books have been reviewed on Dear Author, but because she recently made a (apparently now deleted) Facebook entry promoting a post on stopthegrbullies.com, Jane Litte of Dear Author said she would no longer accept Bagwell’s books because of the risk to her reviewers. Litte stated when stopthegrbullies.com went live, that she would never review any author associated with the site, so her position is consistent with her previous statement.
Strangely, Melissa Douthit, posting as her ‘Johnny Be Good’ persona, claims Bagwell would be “much better off” not being reviewed by Dear Author. This indicates Douthit knows next to nothing about Dear Author’s position in the romance community (let alone that Jane Litte is, in reality, a prominent lawyer.) Since Douthit is obsessed with stopthegrbullies.com’s Alexa ranking, of which she is inordinately proud, she might be interested to know that Dear Author’s Alexa ranking is 70,801. By comparison, stopthegrbullies.com’s Alexa ranking is 313,449, and Douthit’s personal site is ranked 5,198,761.
To advise a romance author to avoid one of the most visited and important romance review and opinion blogs, and that they would be ‘better off’ without Dear Author, is both foolish and completely wrong.
Jamie McGuire is a formerly vanity published author who has had a huge breakout success with her book, ‘Beautiful Disaster’.
She has attacked several critical reviewers of her book, blocking or banning anyone who disgrees with her assessment from her Facebook and blog, and inciting her fans to attack critical reviewers.
Kiera Cass is the author of the highly successful Young Adult book, ‘The Selection’. Her book was reviewed by Wendy Darling at Goodreads and on her blog. Wendy’s review was then trolled by anonymous commentators, and Cass’s agent, Elena Roth, called Wendy a bitch on Twitter, while she and Cass plotted to manipulate the book’s ratings on Goodreads.
Wendy’s review is what led Melissa Douthit to out Wendy’s real identity and other personal details on her blog, and subequently to the creation of stopthegrbullies.com.
Melissa Douthit is a self-published author, career sockpuppeteer and internet troll. Big fan of paid reviews. She owns stopthegrbullies.com. See the home page of this site.
Ryan Winfield is an author who in October 2012, posted on Facebook about a competition he was running, offering $2,500 worth of prizes. Unfortunately, to enter the competition, readers had to leave a review of his book on Amazon, and this is a contravention of Amazon’s rule of not allowing payment for reviews.
After a flurry of criticism, and hate directed at the critics by Winfield’s fans, the Facebook post was deleted, not before one Amazon user posted a one star review on Amazon warning users about the competition distorting the review system.
This relatively minor faux pas in promotion would have disappeared into the bowels of internet memory, except for stopthegrbullies.com’s highlighting it and complaining about Winfield being ‘bullied’.
Caitlin Moran is a British journalist and author whose book, ‘How to be a woman’, is currently #154 in the Amazon.co.uk best selling ranks. However, the use of ableist and transphobic language, and other problematic issues in the book have meant that not all readers found it an enjoyable experience, particularly from a feminist perspective. Goodreads reviewer Ceilidh downgraded the book to one star “because the more I think about it, the more I realise how much this book, its blatant hypocrisies, the obvious yet un-addressed bias of the author, the lack of fact-checking and the entire “Vichy France with tits” joke piss me off.” She was far from the only reader to post her dissatisfaction about Moran’s book.
Ceilidh’s review was trolled by Moran supporters, and stopthegrbullies.com regular Goronwy/G. Faso/Annabeth Hole. Subsequently the stopthegrbullies.com posted a false claim that Ceilidh had downrated the book because Moran had blocked her on Twitter.
Eve Thomas is a British romance author who describes herself as a “mum, author, passionate campaigner and founder of The Eve Thomas Institute, World Peace Day and OneVoice.” Her novel “The Eyes” was published in 2012 by the notorious scam publisher, Publish America, but although she was apparently unhappy with PA and went to Absolute Write to complain, she later deleted her posts there (although the replies remain.) Proceeds from this and her other book, “Choices – The Darker Years” are supposed to be going to a women’s charity. Thomas thought this made her book immune from criticism, and when she received low rated reviews on account of the offensive plot and poor writing, she spammed the reviews with links to stopthegrbullies.com (which she later deleted along with some of her more outrageous remarks), and generally harrassed people. Some of those people who felt harrassed into reading her book left reviews stating that.
After receiving pushback on the spamming and promotion of a site which promotes the stalking of women, she made a defensive blog post claiming she was the victim of bullying on GR but that she had no connection with stopthegrbullies.com, and a second post claiming she had been threatened, and that the police were temporarily in charge of her Goodreads account (a palpably false claim.) Many comments critical of Thomas were deleted on these posts. She also clumsily tried to link her self-induced mess with the tragic murder of Reeva Steencamp.
Ruthi Kight is an American YA author. In February 2013 the cover of her book “Knotted Roots” (along with dozens of others) was mildly snarked in a regular feature by YA blogger Christina (‘A Reader of Fictions’). In March 2013, in a now deleted Facebook post (screen caps preserved by fellow blogger Kara in her status update), Kight objected to this snark, and gave license to a number of her author friends to abuse Christina both on the Facebook post and on Christina’s blog.
Kight and others later apologised, after their books had been negatively shelved by other YA readers and bloggers shocked at their behaviour. Unfortunately, Kight’s apparently sincere apology didn’t stop her running to stopthegrbullies.com to bleat about the ‘bullying’, thus destroying all the good will she’d created by her apology. She also deleted her Goodreads account.
Since Kight debuted at the bully site, Christina has received at least one private message telling her it’s up to her to stop the drama, by which, one assumes, she has to take her original post down or edit it.
What can we learn from these people?
If you’re in a hole, stop digging.