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When a group of unethical competitors worked to destroy my good name and
reputation online, it wasn’t difficult to trace the nonsense back to source in
each instance. My day job is as a computer expert and technology writer. In my
spare time, I write children’s fiction. As one of the world’s foremost
Internet/computer experts and a former intelligence analyst for the National
Security Agency while serving in the military, digital forensics and analysis is
something I know absolutely.
These competitors were largely unsuccessful when they started this nonsense and very frustrated with their failure, as evidenced by many of their posts during this period of time. They in fact spent much of their free time in forums and discussion boards, as evidenced by their posts by the hundreds in various message forums over many years.
These competitors had not a clue about the changing state of publishing. They were simply disillusioned, disgruntled, and angry. They needed an outlet for their frustrations, and somehow I became that outlet. That scapegoat for their bottled up rage and resentment.
As I’ve written about in Authors Who Trash Competitors, the nonsense began with fake one- and two-star reviews being posted to my books. The third review ever on Amazon for Keeper Martin’s Tale began: “I’ve been had. This is nowhere near a 5 star book like all these reviews claim.” A flood of fake reviews was followed by an article from David Langford in Ansible, where in typical fashion these competitors tried to turn something they’d done to me into something I supposedly had done to them. The claim was that I was writing fake 1- and 2-star reviews of other authors’ books when in actuality these were the people behind the 1- and 2-star reviews being dumped on my books.
The lies of these competitors led to all sorts of additional nonsense. Suddenly, I was being trashed everywhere these competitors could think of online: Terry Goodkind's forums, SffWorld, and beyond. Soon after I was being trashed on several author bashing sites as well with fun names like cr*p authors and dog sh*t—sites set up by certain authors and their friends to bash authors they disliked and/or wanted to ruin for whatever reasons.
The nonsense morphed into how I was supposedly writing fake favorable reviews of my books. How supposedly if it wasn’t me it surely had to be my family and friends writing the favorable reviews.
Soon the nonsense became about how supposedly anyone who liked my books and was talking about them anywhere online had to be me. How supposedly if it wasn’t me it surely had to be my family and friends talking about my books.
When The Kingdoms & The Elves of the Reaches was Audible.com’s #1 bestseller for 12 consecutive weeks, the attacks became about how supposedly none of my books had ever been a bestseller anywhere. How I was never a bestselling author—and on and on. (This was in 2005, btw. A time when I had 100 published books to my credit, translations in over 20 countries and over 5 million books sold.)
When The Kingdoms & The Elves of the Reaches was recommended and reviewed by the library staff at VOYA magazine—the leading magazine for YA librarians—and written about in several printed books, including The Complete Idiots Guide to Elves & Fairies and The Ancient Art of Faery Magick, the attacks became about how supposedly none of my books had ever been reviewed in magazines or recommended in print sources. How any mention I made that print sources had were lies. How my books weren’t even available in libraries—and on and on.
Starting to see a pattern here? Because I certainly did. It was Disinformation 101 and it worked because they spread the nonsense everywhere they could online.
Knowing their pattern of twisting the truth around, turning something they did into something I supposedly did, I began to trace back to source exactly who was talking about these competitors online, who was writing these competitors reviews and commentary. I suspected the answer would likely be that these competitors were writing their own reviews and commentary or that they knew the persons who were—and my suspicions were proven true.
I found a wealth of single-use / throwaway accounts. I found many accounts used just long enough to work these competitors names and books into discussions, then faded out. I found accounts that traced back directly to friends and family. I found accounts that traced back directly to these competitors.
A wealth of single-use / throwaway accounts also were used to trash me online. Accounts used just long enough to work my name into discussions to trash me then faded out also were used. I found attack accounts that traced back directly to friends and family of these competitors. I found attack accounts that traced back directly to these competitors themselves.
For over a decade these competitors have used these and other unethical tactics to tarnish my good name and reputation while trying to position themselves within the industry. They’ve hired promoters to spread falsities while spreading praise for themselves, set up fake websites to do the same, compelled others to disparage. They’ve used intimidation and harassment to prevent readers from talking about my books in public forums. They’ve coerced distributors into dropping listings, hired lawyers to send notices—and much more. They did this because they thought I was an easy target. They did this because they thought they could get away with it.
Isn't that right? David Langford, Stephen Leigh, Jim C. Hines, Victoria Strauss, Maureen Johnson, David Louis Edelman, Patrick Rothfuss, Tim Spalding, et al.
Thanks for reading,
William Robert Stanek
(c) 1995 - 2014 William Robert Stanek