Facing the Dementors
August 14, 2011 Leave a comment
For the uninitiated, Dementors are those ghastly demons who suck all the happiness out of you. They thrive on negativity and relentlessly instill unspeakable doubt in those upon whom they prey. They can impose the ‘kiss of death’ and suck the soul and very life out of their victims, leaving nothing but a zombie where once lived hope and passion and happiness. Dementors are, of course, the creation of Author JK Rowling for her Harry Potter series.
I refer to them here because I think there exists within the writing community a pack of Dementor-like creatures who prowl cyberspace looking for victims. You might recognise them if you have had a book published electronically. They the ones who target specific authors in specific genres and zoom in multiples times to slam the author’s ratings. They conduct campaigns to rate the book with one star, often offering no comments to back it up.
Reading and writing are very subjective things. What one person enjoys, another detests. It’s the same with any creative pursuit. People’s tastes and preferences vary hugely.
And to reflect this there is a great variety of work out there, as expected. But not all of it is as polished as it might be. I’d have no problem if when rating a book the reviewer offers constructive criticism. But the Dementors to which I am referring are not targeting the books they feel do not belong online. They offer no such criticism, if they review at all it mostly has nothing to do with the quality of the writing or the content of the book. It’s personal, and it’s nasty.
When people browse books online, they generally go for the highest rated or most downloaded. And it’s here to which the Dementors zoom. They band together to ‘mass rate’ with one star, thereby dragging down the book’s overall position―probably to improve the position of their own books which may be in direct competition to the targeted book.
Why? The best I can come up with is this issue of competition. And jealousy. Awful, huh? Many authors don’t have big publicity budgets behind them so rely on their own capacities to promote their work. And they work incredibly hard over long periods of times to create and distribute their work. As anyone who has ever written a book knows, an author is not made overnight. And despite rejection after rejection and suggestions to ‘get a real job,’ and general negativity ―often self-imposed― they persevere. That there are people who in the writing community who think the only way to succeed is to destroy someone else’s dream, is just miserable.
There are eBook distributors popping up across the cyber world as the popularity of ePublishing increases. Some are more vigilant than others at noticing the occurrence of this unethical and destructive practice. Smashwords recently deleted the accounts of those identified as participating in the practice and rectified the ratings. Other distributors are not so proactive. Authors need to be vigilant and notify their publisher and/or distributor if they become aware of the practice. Not just for their books, but for their writer colleagues as well.