Recently, though, we’ve been seeing a nasty element emerge from the so-called ‘sock-puppet’ scandals. ‘Sock-puppetry’, for those of you unaware, takes place when someone invents an online persona and uses that persona to write five-star reviews of their own work for Amazon, for example.
In itself, and while unethical and possibly illegal, that practice seems to me to be more pitiable than anything else. And if that was as bad as ‘sock-puppetry’ got, then I could easily live with it.
Unfortunately, power corrupts, etc. Ever since Stephen Leather announced at Harrogate that he used ‘sock-puppet’ accounts to create a word-of-mouth buzz around his books, it has become - via the good works of Jeremy Duns and Steve Mosby, for the most part - more and more apparent that ‘sock-puppetry’ can also involve a writer penning negative and malicious reviews of their peers.
This behaviour is utterly disgraceful, and it needs to be stamped out immediately.
Yesterday, Stuart Neville (above) blogged about his own experience of being targeted by a ‘sock-puppet’. To wit:
The issue of author ethics has been occupying many minds recently, not least of all mine. After ‘Leathergate’, the revelations about John Locke’s buying of reviews, and the most recent allegations against RJ Ellory, I’ve been agonising over my own position in this. As I’ve detailed before, I have been attacked by another author using ‘sock puppet’ accounts on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com. I’ve had a good idea all along who was behind it, but until now I’ve preferred to keep that information to myself. But given all that’s happened in just a few weeks, I feel keeping quiet is no longer an option. So here goes:For the rest, clickety-click here …
I believe the author who has targeted me, along with Declan Hughes, Laura Wilson, and others, is Belfast crime writer Sam Millar. It’s possible I’m mistaken, but I feel the evidence is overwhelming.
On a personal note, I first heard this story about two years ago, and blogged about it then, albeit without naming names, this on the basis that the story was Stuart’s and it was his to tell. Since then, Sam Millar has not featured on these pages.
Ironically, I got a call from my publisher on Friday, to let me know that Sam Millar had requested a copy of SLAUGHTER’S HOUND, which he intended to review for The New York Journal of Books.
I have asked my publisher to politely decline Sam Millar’s request, but of course Sam Millar is entitled to review the book if he chooses. Whether the NYJB will now carry Sam Millar’s reviews is another matter entirely.