Saturday, February 11, 2012

My experience: Someone will always try to shoot you down!

Here’s a story that will curl your toes!
Once upon a time, there were two reasonably successful Indie authors (I was one of the authors) who met on a writer’s site, Authonomy. They supported each other for quite a few months on the site and eventually both ended up on the Ed’s desk where a Harper Collins editor reviewed both books.
The thing is that after I reached the Ed’s desk I went through the other author’s book to ensure that it was the best it could be before it was thrust in front of the HC editor the following month.
His MS was full of passive sentences and adverbs. When these were highlighted he sent me an email that said, “Mel, I’ll be forever indebted for your advice, I had no idea about overusing ‘ly’ words or eradicating passive sentences.” He even went as far as to name me as editor on his book.
In October 2010, I was the one who told him about uploading his MS as an ebook, again he was very grateful for the advice. I sat back and watched his book shoot out of the starting blocks and rise up the chart to just outside the top 100 in the UK. No one could’ve been more delighted to see his success.
We were both busy promoting our own books and the daily emails to each other dwindled. Then in May 2011 my thriller Impeding Justice took off in both the UK and the US. My rank in the UK reached as high as #37 and in the US #234. Then a funny thing started to happen, suspect one star reviews started to appear on my book. I was beside myself and contacted Amazon who agreed they were false and had no hesitation in taking them down.
I contacted this other writer and told him that I thought another author ‘had it in for me’, his response was “Don’t be ridiculous why on earth would they effing do that?” I then told him that Amazon was monitoring my account.
To my amazement the one stars miraculously dried up.
So everything went along hunky dory until I received a devastating message on Facebook this week.

Here it is:
Mel, I’ve just read Impeding Justice and thought it was a fantastic read. I went to the tags on your page and wanted to tick all the relevant ones. What I found there both appalled and shocked me. I’m just letting you know that I’ve reported someone for leaving derogatory tags on your book.
I’m amazed that this person, who has always come across as a genuine and charming gentleman on the forums would stoop so low. I’m one of his biggest fans and am flabbergasted he would treat a fellow author, someone who has invested their valuable time to make him a better author, in such a disgusting manner.
If I recall rightly, didn’t you used to be named as his editor at one time?

End of message.
The lady in question sent me a link and there was the evidence for all to see.

Impeding Justice (Revised version) (DI Lorne Simpkins thriller (Book Two)) by Mel Comley
Avg. customer review:    (51)
Download: £0.72
4 used & new from £0.72
Tagged on May 2, 2011
(Name of person here) Tags: pedestrian crap, another spammer, spammer, rape
He added these tags after giving my book a five star review, I hasten to add. Here’s the review.

5.0 out of 5 stars Great stuff! Horrific, taut and powerful!, 11 Oct 2010
(Name of person)Cheshire, England) - - See all my reviews
This review is from: Impeding Justice (Revised version) (DI Lorne Simpkins thriller (Book Two)) (Kindle Edition)
A fantastic novel, full of surprises and tension that grips from the first page. This could be a huge hit. I am a friend of the writer, I want to make that clear, but I did read the book before we became friends and genuinely feel it is great thriller writing that is engaging and accessible. I loved it.

End of review.
As you can imagine this little stunt and vindictive behaviour has absolutely floored me this week. So much so that I almost pulled my books from Amazon. But then in the end, who would be the winner if I did that?
Along with his fan writing and complaining to Amazon, I also wrote and this was part of Amazon’s response. The rest of the email is personal and involves what further action they’re considering.

Dear Melanie,
Thank you for letting us know about the Tags that do not follow our guidelines. I've removed the Pedestrian Crap and Another Spammer, because these were from another author and they should disappear from the website soon.
However, the Tags rape and spammer were tag by several people and the Tags themselves are within guidelines and will not be removed. I apologise if this causes you any frustration.

End of email.

I have since noticed that my other thrillers have had tags attached that are also derogatory and if Amazon don’t remove these I will have no hesitation in taking the matter further. To do something so public is a very foolish deed.
This whole episode has left a very bitter taste in my mouth, and whereas in the past I’ve bent over backwards to help other Indies out with advice or promo ideas, I will not be doing it in the future.
Sorry guys, but through one person’s mindless and vindictive actions I’m wary about helping anyone in the future.
Just as a word of warning to other Indies out there, be careful of other’s envy!


  1. It's a sad story to read, sadder that it's true and happening. This is a pattern you can see growing in various popular ebook forums which are dominated by writers and it's incredibly sad to see.

    I have no advice but can only nod my head in understanding. It is a big reason why I've generally always been so hesitant to get strongly engaged with other participants in the same "field".

    Wishing you the best of luck in resolving this matter in such a way that allows you to feel comfortable in continuing with your excellent work. In the past (and still to this day) you have provided a lot of encouragement, enthusiasm and useful guidance without the typical "you owe me" stickiness that it seems so many others express in their false platitudes of kindness. It's been a pleasure to watch you in the last 18 months rise to where you have through your endless hard work.

    Wishing you to the best.

  2. Hi, Mel

    Sorry to hear this happened to you. I had some odd tags on one of my books, too. Can't remember which one it was, but they disappeared on their own.

    So you can follow up who left which tags on a book?

    And by the way: it's writers' site, dammit! :-)

    1. Stella hover over the tag and you'll have your answer. That's why I think he was so foolish to do something so public.

      As for the mistake in writers' site, maybe I'll run my post past my editor next time. ;-)

    2. Never knew you could see that, never cared, to be honest. Hm... silly person. Public or not, it's not a good character trait, jealousy, that is.

      And re writers' site: you're not alone, there are plenty of people doing it. haha.

    3. By the way, the hovering doesn't give me anything but a number on how many people have tagged the book. No names.

      By the way, I'm particularly surprised that it's Carl you're talking about. Never had him down as a vicious guy. I think I never spoke to him, but he was never unpleasant. Weird world.

    4. And there was me not using names, Stella! lol

      If you hover it goes back to who placed the tag, therefore giving you a name! ;-)

    5. Not with Firefox, it doesn't.

      But then, I don't really care. Never check my tags. I think the one time I stumbled over the weird tags was when I wanted to add/change mine.

  3. Hi Mel,

    I am shocked and saddened to hear what you are going through. It sounds like cyber-bullying and is likely a crime (depending upon your location). I would say look into that, especially since you know the identity of the person involved. You could press charges, sue or both.

    I hope things get better for you and the justice wins out.

    1. We'll see what happens with regard to Amazon, if they don't take the tags down I will be looking into the matter further.

      Thanks for your support. x

  4. What a sad story. What could this person possibly gain? Don't give up helping people, Mel. This is sort of foolish (and vicious) behaviour is rarer than your correspondents think. Helping other writers is a part of you that you don't want to lose.

    Unlike your friend above, i do have some advice. Writer this person a nice little saying, "I know you realise that you will be never be as good as I am, but that was the status of our talent at birth. It is futile to hate me for it."

    Andre Jute

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Mel, I'm so sorry to hear that happened to you. You are the first person to encourage other authors, help them and give advice, even though it takes up a lot of your time, and you never once ask for anything in return. Jealousy is a sad thing, and if it makes you feel any better, I know you're not alone in being targeted by other people like this. It doesn't make it right, though. It's appalling. At the end of the day, you and plenty of other grateful people know exactly what you're about! I'm proud to call you a friend :)

    1. Thank you, Sibel. Your words mean a lot to me. x

  7. Hi Mel,

    You're one of the nicest authors, and this is so upsetting to hear. You always help other writers, and it's so nice to watch your success grow. I'm so sorry this happened to you. But you have the backing of lots of us.

    I just learned about tracking tags, so I just tracked my own awful tags on two of my books. I'm not the only one this person is doing it to. The whole history is on Amazon. It's nice to know who's doing it to our books.

    Tagged on May 14, 2011
    Honeywell's Tags: spammer, shameless self-promoter, needs a clue

    Those were placed on my books and I always wondered who did it.


    1. Thanks Pam. ;-)

      Get in touch with Amazon, if it's another author they'll take them down.

      I've now had 3 of the four tags removed but the other one was put up by a customer. When I tracked that back this one customer has written 5 x 5 star reviews for another person I've helped in the same way as the person above.

      Guess I'll be writing to Amazon again later. People really are silly to do such things, especially on the internet where anything and everything can be traced. ;-(

  8. Cheshire, England? Well it isn't me, I promise. And I only know one other person from this vague neck of the woods and I really, really hope it isn't them.

    But rise above it all, Mel. You're better than they are.


  9. Wow! Mel, I am shocked anyone would do that, but then I'm also naive and like to think others would not want to harm fellow authors.
    I'm fairly new to the indie community but have been treated with respect and honesty thus far. I love to help others as much as I can and posts like yours are much appreciated. This will definitely make me stronger and alert.
    Thank you and I hope the matter gets resolved amicably for you:)

    1. Thanks Marta, the only thing I would say is yes help others but don't spend endless hours doing it as I did.

      As writers our time is extremely valuable. Our time should be used for our benefit not others.

      I'll never help someone else edit their book again. I have to pay good money for an editor, why shouldn't they?


    2. Sound advice. I stopped investing too much time in helping others a while ago. I will still help friends (and so should you,by the way; one incident doesn't mean everyone is like that.), but I got easily caught up in order to help and my own writing suffered. So it's me first, then others. Unless they pay me.

    3. It's going to be hard but at the end of the day we have to be more selfish with our time! ;-)

    4. I'm astonished by what you have gone through, Mel - and appalled that this has been done to you. How can such a writer live with himself? Even so, there is still much that's good in the world - yourself for instance.
      But it is indeed a sobering lesson for us.

    5. Thanks for your kind words, Harry! xx

  10. Wow Mel - just goes to show you never really know people! If I were you I'd be heartened by the fact that this guy knew a real writer when he saw it, and probably knew he couldn't compete with you on a level playing field. Don't let one rotten egg spoil your day. Keep on writing top drawer stuff - that's the way to silence a rat!

    1. Thanks Joe, yeah you're probably right! ;-) xxx

  11. Mel I am so sorry you have been going through this, but you are handling it like a pro and in the end that is what's going to matter! Don't let that nasty nutter get you down!

    1. Thanks Marie for your support and kind words. ;-)

  12. Mel, I'm horrified. I had no idea. I can only imagine how awful that must have felt. I'm so sorry. I've no doubt you will succeed your way out of the funk. Best wishes.

  13. Thanks Chris. Sorry for the delay in responding. xx