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View Full Version : Self-Pubbed Author Trolled by a Waterstones Employee



Jess Haines
09-12-2012, 11:40 PM
http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/sep/12/waterstones-bookseller-trolling-self-published-author

I can't say I'm very sympathetic to this author. By wandering into Waterstones to leave business cards in a bookstore that clearly was not carrying his material before (see in the article how Waterstones offered to put his book in their ebook store), he was inviting some criticism. I'm not surprised they threw out his cards, especially if they were left around unsolicited.

Trolling him was clearly taking it too far, but to ask for publicity on top of being carried by the chain boggles me. To ask to have his book mentioned on Twitter and Facebook makes me wonder how his interactions with the staff at the physical store actually went. Most people who work in this industry that I know wouldn't go to all the bother of making socks like this to troll the guy's book with bad reviews just because of a few annoying cards left around the store. What did he do to rile them up so much?

Would very much like to hear the other side of the story from the employee(s) at the store who dealt with him directly...

Anyone else have thoughts on this?

Susan Littlefield
09-12-2012, 11:52 PM
Large chain stores don't take self-published books, so he should have not went to Waterstones to try and promote his book. He should have approached local independent bookstores in his area because many of them do take local authors, many self-published.

As for the Waterstones employee trolling- that person ought to be fired. That's unprofessional behavior.

veinglory
09-12-2012, 11:53 PM
I think the Guardian has sunk to a new low covering this and linking to the book's point of sale. They are basically saying, you throw a tantrum, everything throws a tantrum, and you all get publicity--yay!

Alexandra Little
09-13-2012, 12:31 AM
He shouldn't have been trolled, but he was being quite the special snowflake. He left his cards in a store that doesn't carry his book, then Waterstones was actually pretty nice to offer to sell it as an ebook, then he asks them for publicize his novel as well? Really now?

I'm not surprised that the Guardian has basically given him free publicity, but then again I haven't been impressed with their book section for a while now.

veinglory
09-13-2012, 12:45 AM
The title could equal read, troll trolled by troll. When they offered etailer listing by way of apology, he demanded promotion as well. Oy.

His other reviews don't look terrible 'real' either. They just happen to be 5-star so he doesn't mind.

Alexandra Little
09-13-2012, 01:13 AM
A troll got trolled by a troll sounds about right.

shaldna
09-13-2012, 01:21 PM
Wow, that sounds just like a child having a tantrum - and seriously, he expected Waterstone to promote his book for him following all this?

Mac H.
09-13-2012, 01:37 PM
By wandering into Waterstones to leave business cards in a bookstore that clearly was not carrying his material ...It was worse than that - they weren't business cards advertising him - they were cards he left at Waterstones that were directing people to purchase products from Waterstone's main competitor!

It's like leaving advertising at McDonalds that say "The Burgers are better at Burger King" and then feigning outrage that McDonalds choose to throw out the brochures!

Mac

KTC
09-13-2012, 01:58 PM
Large chain stores don't take self-published books.

This isn't right in all cases. Canada's country-wide chainstore Chapters has a policy...a % of shelf in each store is available to local authors. The books can be self-pubbed or from small pubs who are not in their ordering system. ( I don't know W's po-po)

I'm not self-pubbed but I don't want to come off as being against it. That said, I've had some bad experiences with some self-pubbed authors. Some have chips on their shoulders and consider themselves entitled. It sounds like this author is one of them.

Torgo
09-13-2012, 02:26 PM
Large chain stores don't take self-published books, so he should have not went to Waterstones to try and promote his book.

Oh, Waterstones do, now and again, with children's books at least. I can think of a couple of examples: Janey Louise Jones, Hugh Montgomery... I'm sure there are more. But (a) it's rare and tends to be a local branch stocking a local author and (b) this guy went about it completely the wrong way.

I do find it kind of hilarious that the bookseller went and trolled the Amazon page in revenge - completely unacceptable, a sacking offence, but funny.

Anninyn
09-13-2012, 02:31 PM
Yeah, having worked in retail (though not bookstores) I have to say a person would have to be a lot worse than he's suggesting to get this level of revenge - retail workers get used to a lot of crap (sometimes literally). But if he was appalling, never letting them do their job, demanding etc I can see an angry worker deciding to give him a taste of his own medicine.

Phaeal
09-13-2012, 06:00 PM
Another example of why it's stupid for anyone to initiate or get involved in an Internet shitstorm. The author shouldn't have left his cards at the bookstore, but removing the cards was all the employees had to do. Attacking the book online? Ridiculous. Leave it alone, even if the author was unpleasant during any face-to-face encounter.

Now the employees have embarrassed their employer and gotten their target a lovely big forum for his complaints.

Win to the author, I'd say. Whose novel premise, about replacing the Royal family with talent show-chosen neo-Royals, is actually amusing. Execution, of course, must be all.

veinglory
09-13-2012, 06:06 PM
I think the bookseller might have issues too, as s/he reposted the troll review multiple times even after Waterstones leadership got involved (assuming the story is accurate).

Buffysquirrel
09-13-2012, 06:10 PM
The Waterstones that used to be local to me had a special bookcase for independently-published books. Mostly though by that I think they meant small presses--this was before s/p really took off in such a big way.

Susan Littlefield
09-13-2012, 06:39 PM
This isn't right in all cases. Canada's country-wide chainstore Chapters has a policy...a % of shelf in each store is available to local authors. The books can be self-pubbed or from small pubs who are not in their ordering system. ( I don't know W's po-po)

I'm not self-pubbed but I don't want to come off as being against it. That said, I've had some bad experiences with some self-pubbed authors. Some have chips on their shoulders and consider themselves entitled. It sounds like this author is one of them.

Kevin, I am so happy to hear some chain stores take self-published books, because I've been hearing all along that they don't. Our local booksellers, as well as coffee shops and art centers, do take them. My community at large is very supportive of all local authors no matter how they choose to publish.

Susan Littlefield
09-13-2012, 06:42 PM
Oh, Waterstones do, now and again, with children's books at least. I can think of a couple of examples: Janey Louise Jones, Hugh Montgomery... I'm sure there are more. But (a) it's rare and tends to be a local branch stocking a local author and (b) this guy went about it completely the wrong way.

I do find it kind of hilarious that the bookseller went and trolled the Amazon page in revenge - completely unacceptable, a sacking offence, but funny.

He did go about it the wrong way. He sounds like he's pretty arrogant and demanding, in my opinion.

M.Macabre
09-13-2012, 11:30 PM
As for the Waterstones employee trolling- that person ought to be fired. That's unprofessional behavior.

That was my reaction. The author was extremely misguided to begin with, and probably dealt with the situation ungracefully at best, but he doesn't deserved to be trolled or harassed. They should have just thrown the cards away, call him and tell him to never do that again, and be done with it.

Torgo
09-13-2012, 11:40 PM
He did go about it the wrong way. He sounds like he's pretty arrogant and demanding, in my opinion.

I think he's just as likely to have no idea it's bad etiquette. Never attribute to malice what can adequately be explained by cluelessness!

Jess Haines
09-13-2012, 11:46 PM
Yeah, having worked in retail (though not bookstores) I have to say a person would have to be a lot worse than he's suggesting to get this level of revenge - retail workers get used to a lot of crap (sometimes literally). But if he was appalling, never letting them do their job, demanding etc I can see an angry worker deciding to give him a taste of his own medicine.

Right, this is the point I was getting at. Just what did this bad boy do, hmm? He seems quite good at pointing fingers at Waterstones, but I would be very interested to hear the other side of the story.

More thoughts on this thread, not enough time to post. Argh! Will be back tomorrow.

fireluxlou
09-14-2012, 02:29 PM
Waterstones does take self-published titles, but you have to go through Gardners their stockist and supplier, and give them up to 70% discount on your books for them to be put in Waterstones and other shops they supply too. I know this from research for a paper. :) That's why there is a section in Waterstone's for local authors.

waylander
09-14-2012, 02:44 PM
I think he's just as likely to have no idea it's bad etiquette. Never attribute to malice what can adequately be explained by cluelessness!

Possibly, but the author is described as a PR consultant so he really should know better.

Torgo
09-14-2012, 02:52 PM
Possibly, but the author is described as a PR consultant so he really should know better.

Hahaha really? Oh dear.

nkkingston
09-14-2012, 04:32 PM
Oh lord, have you read the comments on the article? He doesn't stop. Even though the mood is largely against him, he just keeps on plugging his books.

veinglory
09-14-2012, 06:38 PM
His Amazon rank isn't terrible, so maybe this approach is being rewarded.

Susan Littlefield
09-14-2012, 06:42 PM
Possibly, but the author is described as a PR consultant so he really should know better.

I agree. I have my doubts he was clueless.

JimmyB27
09-14-2012, 06:48 PM
As for the Waterstones employee trolling- that person ought to be fired. That's unprofessional behavior.
There was no professional relationship between the author and Waterstones. I don't see how it has anything to do with them if one of their employees acted this way on her own time.

LindaJeanne
09-15-2012, 06:29 PM
I'd also like to hear the other side of this story.

As others have said, retail employees put up with so much on a daily basis that the situation as described shouldn't have even pinged on the employee's radar.

I can't help but suspect something happened to make this personal. I can't imagine that the employee was repeatedly trolling the author because s/he took umbrage on behalf of their employer.

James D. Macdonald
09-15-2012, 07:06 PM
Maybe, "Here's a hundred quid, mate. Be a good sport an' go on Amazon an' pan my book, eh?"

This guy's publicity effort worked just fine. He got an article in the Guardian!

crunchyblanket
09-16-2012, 02:24 PM
Maybe they're right when they say there's no such thing as bad publicity.

Polenth
09-17-2012, 02:19 AM
Kevin, I am so happy to hear some chain stores take self-published books, because I've been hearing all along that they don't. Our local booksellers, as well as coffee shops and art centers, do take them. My community at large is very supportive of all local authors no matter how they choose to publish.

Large book stores aren't taking a moral highground against self-publishing or anything like that. If they think it'll sell, they'll stock it. If they don't, they won't. That usually means they'll stock local interest stuff, such as local history or collections from local writing groups. But sometimes an author with a general novel can have success.

Celia Cyanide
09-17-2012, 04:08 AM
There was no professional relationship between the author and Waterstones. I don't see how it has anything to do with them if one of their employees acted this way on her own time.

But isn't it a bannable offense here at AW if you do this?

JimmyB27
09-17-2012, 12:26 PM
But isn't it a bannable offense here at AW if you do this?
Trolling someone at Amazon can get you banned at AW?

Aurelee
09-17-2012, 01:28 PM
Well I suppose he got what he wanted out of the Waterstones, they did in the end get him a lot of publicity.

Stacia Kane
09-17-2012, 03:47 PM
Trolling someone at Amazon can get you banned at AW?

NOTE: All of this info is to my knowledge; i.e. I do not speak here "officially" as an AW mod, nor do I claim special knowledge of policy. All of the below is info gained from being a regular member here; it is info any regular member can/would have. Do not take this as a mod stating policy.


We ban for "guestbook sliming," which is--used to be, since very few people have guestbooks on their sites anymore--showing up at, say, a PA author's website to post comments about how PA sucks, they're stupid for going with PA, their book probably sucks, etc. etc., and/or just being insulting in general (I use PA authors as the example because that's where the rule comes from).

I can't say whether that applies to Amazon or Goodreads or whatever else. And even then a blanket rule cannot cover all of the possible permutations.

But in general we as a community do not approve of trolling, and we do not approve of trolling innocent authors simply because they made a publishing decision we feel isn't a beneficial one--again, PA is (I believe) where the rule came from. Of course bad reviews do not automatically equal trolling, and commenting on situations does not automatically equal trolling, etc. etc.



Do you want to be in a community with trolls?

Buffysquirrel
09-17-2012, 04:28 PM
If the story as published in the Graudin is correct, then the employee's connection with the author originated in the workplace. Further, the employee was identified as someone who worked for Waterstones, which then creates a connection between the bookseller and their behaviour. Once Waterstones were dragged into it, it became their business.

JimmyB27
09-17-2012, 05:13 PM
Do you want to be in a community with trolls?
Well, we all need someone to throw stones at and feel superior too. ;)

In all seriousness though, so long as they behave here, I'm not that bothered what they get up to elsewhere.
But more on point, we aren't talking about AW, we are talking about a business which has to adhere to employment laws. Is it really ok for a business to fire someone based on their behaviour outside of that business? I don't believe it is.

Torgo
09-17-2012, 05:14 PM
Well, we all need someone to throw stones at and feel superior too. ;)

In all seriousness though, so long as they behave here, I'm not that bothered what they get up to elsewhere.
But more on point, we aren't talking about AW, we are talking about a business which has to adhere to employment laws. Is it really ok for a business to fire someone based on their behaviour outside of that business? I don't believe it is.

Hey, we got a diktat from the CEO a while back telling us that we couldn't discuss a particular movie on our social network accounts. Out personal ones.

Terie
09-17-2012, 06:00 PM
Well, we all need someone to throw stones at and feel superior too. ;)

In all seriousness though, so long as they behave here, I'm not that bothered what they get up to elsewhere.
But more on point, we aren't talking about AW, we are talking about a business which has to adhere to employment laws. Is it really ok for a business to fire someone based on their behaviour outside of that business? I don't believe it is.

First of all, did anyone say the employee was fired? I thought Waterstone's said they'd taken action. It couldn't just as easily have been a verbal or written warning. Or did I miss something?

The company I work for has very strict guidelines on how we use social media hosted by the company -- guidelines that don't apply to non-employees using the same media. I don't see why Waterstone's shouldn't also. Hypothetically, if, for example, they already had in place a policy that employees aren't allowed to create sock-puppet accounts on the Waterstone's site, then an employee who did so would be in violation of the policy, regardless of the reason. It all depends on what their policies are.

JimmyB27
09-17-2012, 06:06 PM
First of all, did anyone say the employee was fired? I thought Waterstone's said they'd taken action. It couldn't just as easily have been a verbal or written warning. Or did I miss something?
No, no-one said any such thing. All this came from me replying to someone who said they *shoud* be fired. Sorry.


The company I work for has very strict guidelines on how we use social media hosted by the company -- guidelines that don't apply to non-employees using the same media. I don't see why Waterstone's shouldn't also. Hypothetically, if, for example, they already had in place a policy that employees aren't allowed to create sock-puppet accounts on the Waterstone's site, then an employee who did so would be in violation of the policy, regardless of the reason. It all depends on what their policies are.Social media *hosted by the company*. Last time I checked, Amazon wasn't hosted by Waterstones.

veinglory
09-17-2012, 06:15 PM
Employers are trying to have more influence on social media use in general. I would never sign something about my general internet use. But there are guidelines for my job that I have read that basically said, 'don't say nasty things about us' and 'don't do stuff that will reflect badly on us'.

Terie
09-17-2012, 06:39 PM
Social media *hosted by the company*. Last time I checked, Amazon wasn't hosted by Waterstones.

Oops. My bad. I misremembered and thought it was on the Waterstone's site.

jjdebenedictis
09-17-2012, 06:59 PM
Employers don't own us; they rent our time. I think an employee who got fired for leaving malicious reviews on a book could have a very good case for a wrongful dismissal suit.

After all, the employee's not demonstrating criminal behaviour, just a bad temper and some lack of class. None of it stops him or her from being a good employee.

The only thing about this matter that should concern the company is that the employee's actions have been tied to the company in the media. The company might ask the employee to use a pseudonym in future, but they really don't have any right to dictate how the people who work for them behave in their off-hours.

Torgo
09-17-2012, 07:15 PM
The company might ask the employee to use a pseudonym in future, but they really don't have any right to dictate how the people who work for them behave in their off-hours.

It appears the reviews may well have been written without any first-hand knowledge of the book. So they're deceptive and spiteful and might suppress sales of the book (though I doubt it was selling like hot cakes even before the reviews went up.) There's no way I would condone one of my colleagues doing something like that, and I don't think 'please use a pseudonym when you're fraudulently trashing a writer's work online' really cuts the mustard.

I don't know if you can legally fire someone for this, but to me it speaks of bad character.

Phaeal
09-17-2012, 09:15 PM
The company might ask the employee to use a pseudonym in future, but they really don't have any right to dictate how the people who work for them behave in their off-hours.

Many companies have a clause in the contract or employee guide that states that the employee is expected to avoid "behavior unbecoming" both on and off the job.

Employers also can and do expect that employees not attack the company in public, including the social media. In health care, one must also be very careful not to discuss patient information, even if the patient's name isn't stated. I've known people to be reprimanded or fired for all of the above.

In general, the expectation is that you don't shit where you get paid. Or, if you do, expect repercussions.

third person
09-17-2012, 11:33 PM
Internet + controversy = free advertising.

Mission accomplished?

jjdebenedictis
09-18-2012, 01:15 AM
I don't know if you can legally fire someone for this, but to me it speaks of bad character.Oh, I agree completely. :) The writer might have been an ass, but the employee may well be his match.

JimmyB27
09-18-2012, 01:44 AM
Oh, I agree completely. :) The writer might have been an ass, but the employee may well be his match.
As far I understand it, the employer has not fired her. It was one person in this thread that suggested she should be fired, and I responded to that post. Wish I hadn't now - seems to have spawned a horrible derail of misunderstanding...

Buffysquirrel
09-18-2012, 02:10 AM
Eh, no, I don't think they should be fired. But if you bring your employer into disrepute, you have to expect them to sit up and take notice.

nkkingston
09-19-2012, 05:45 PM
Waterstones have fired a guy for stuff he wrote on his personal blog. It was about the business, though he anonymised it. There was a bit of a stink about it back then. I'm guessing once it came out that the reviews were from an employee the author met at a Waterstones store whatever clause in the contract they pulled on the blogger could have applied again.