Monday, July 23, 2012

The Legend of Carroll Bryant

There is nothing harder to watch than a promising author ruining his career. This past weekend, that author was Carroll Bryant, and I felt like a blog post was in order to discuss what his story means for myself and the rest of the independent author community. Before I go over the lessons, let me first recite the legend.

Carroll Bryant is an independent author of YA fiction who has written three books, and up until July 2012, he had established a decent rapport with readers, as evidenced by two YA books with greater than 4.0 rating on Goodreads. At the time of the writing of this article, Children of the Flower Power had 29 ratings with a 4.06 rating, and Last Flight Out had 18 ratings with a 4.08 rating. In addition, he had over 240 fans on Goodreads. To put that in perspective, somehow I only have 3 fans on Goodreads. Granted, I have not been focusing on the forums like he had been, but that only reinforces my point: he was an author with a lot of promise who had been doing very good work and building a steady following. That all changed this weekend.

What changed his path? Well, I'll start you at page eight of a Goodreads thread that still recounts the events. The original thread where much of this happened has unfortunately been deleted by the Goodreads admins. There's also a play-by-play as this went down on Absolute Write.

In a nutshell, here's what you'll find there:
  1. Mr. Bryant makes several blog posts about airing a list of bloggers who have been taking free copies of books in exchange for reviews and interviews on their blogs but have not been coming through. He gathers some supporters, especially from sites like Stop Goodreads Bullies, and many others try to convince him that he is handling this incorrectly.
  2. Mr. Bryant posts a list of 6 Blogs.
  3. A woman named Jude comes forward with a counter-story
    1. She was running a book blogging site for YA authors and was smitten by false photos of him and a profile that claimed he was much younger
    2. She was 17 at the time that he courted her online. He is in his late forties.
    3. He flew to Mexico to try to meet her and she refused him
    4. He stalked and harassed her to the point that she made her Goodreads profile private and discussed the situation with her book blogger friends who refused to review his books after hearing of his behavior
  4. She posts images that show him telling her to kill herself
  5. Mr. Bryant returns to the Goodreads blog and confirms the story and admits that the list was posted with a false pretense but claims his points still stand
  6. Mr. Bryant then goes on to essentially say all publicity is good publicity and that he will take a look at the numbers after the weekend is over.
  7. Mr. Bryant then demands everyone take down posts about him within 2 days or else. He then backs down from that and removes his threatening posts.

At the time of the writing of this article, Mr. Bryant's books Of The Light, Children of the Flower Power, and Last Flight Out are ranked at #201,184, #631,579, and #715,653, respectively, in the Amazon paid rankings. I am going to assume that the "numbers" he is talking about are his blog hits because what the paid rankings tell us are that the book has not sold any units in over a month in some cases (1 sale will drop an author's ranking into the 30k-40k paid rankings on Amazon). This means that throughout the thousands of page views on his blog, not a single purchase of his books was made. Additionally, each of his books have been placed into "do not read" shelves by hundreds of readers on Goodreads.

Why This Legend Affects You

In short, Mr. Bryant's actions affect all independent authors because his story has caused many previously self-publisher-friendly book bloggers to adjust their review policies to indicate "no self-published work will be accepted." Look at the comments to see why I say "many," as they are an indication of the trend. Why is that a big deal? It is a big deal because readers trust these bloggers to detail great books that they have read, and our ability to get our books into their hands has already been greatly reduced since the Howett debacle in March 2011.

What we independent authors do online has an impact on not only our own opportunities but also the opportunities of the entire independent author community. Please think about that when you are responding vitriolically to a scathing review on Amazon or Goodreads. Please consider that when you debate with readers on public forums. Everyone, and I include myself here, messes up, but be genuine, be respectful, and think about the legacy you are leaving online.

Can you talk about controversial topics? If you are an author of adult fiction, probably--especially if it is relevant to your books. However, if you are a YA author, probably not. Think about your audience. Keep your ego in check and understand that reviews are for readers and not authors. The best thing we can do is hope that readers understand our perspective.

Bad publicity is NOT good for sales. I was going to say "rarely" but I honestly am not aware of any, so I changed it to "not." As evidenced by Mr. Bryant's sales (and Howett's sales for that matter), this kind of controversy is NOT beneficial to paid sales, and in fact can cause an indefinite and even permanent stagnation of sales. In truth, he may not even be able to give away his books to readers at this point--judging from the "will-not-read" readers on Goodreads. And none of us want that kind of legacy.

74 comments:

  1. I agree with you wholeheartedly, Rex. It's sad to see this type of behavior in anyone. When I published my first novel in 2007, I kept telling myself that I am also the product, which means I have to always present the best of me to everyone at all times. You not only sell books, you sell yourself. The damage done for Carroll may never be reversed.

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    1. What's really sad is how prevalent the behavior supposedly is. If you take a look at the Bookish blog link, she now explains that Carroll's behavior was the last straw in her ability to accept self-published material--not some brand new crazy thing. There's an overwhelming lack of professionalism from authors in general, but the vast majority of it is apparently coming from self-published authors.

      It's made me think about possibly going a traditional route on my next series, just so I can step out of the self-publishing stigma for a bit to continue to build my brand. I haven't even really tried to push my books a traditional path before. When I first started looking into this, Howett- and Bryant-caliber blowups had not happened yet amongst self-publishers. At that time, the Amazon forums welcomed author discussion, there was no silly online war between authors and readers on Goodreads, etc. The environment seems to be getting caustic for new self publishers. Established self publishers are doing fine, but for the new generation of self-publishers just entering the market, bad decisions by the few have affected us all. Very disappointing.

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  2. Cheer up! Despite stuff like this, authors like Amanda Hocking ahd Hugh Howey and all our other friends and co-workers (heehee) are presenting an alternate image of the self-publisher as simply a self-starting author. Yeah, there are some bad apples, but at least we have some good ones too.

    Outside of the publishing world, people who read and buy a lot of books but don't blog about it have NO IDEA about all the drama. I have a friend who's a big reader, and she said she was turned off by GoodReads because the reviews never tell her what she wants to know, which is whether or not she's going to like a book. For her, and many readers, that's all that matters.

    Discoverability is still an issue, of course, but I imagine there will be more paid advertising opportunities over time.

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    1. Hi Dalya!

      I agree. There are a lot of great self-publishers, and every once in a while, we'll hear about one. Most readers don't come across the drama, but they do frequent these reading blogs. And without their help, we do have some problems with being discovered. Additionally, I've heard from many readers who have had absolutely awful experiences with authors after reviewing self-published works.

      You mentioned Hugh Howey. He got featured on Boing Boing, which is pretty darn rare, because he's a rare talent, and that's when he really started rocketing up. The movie option with Ridley was the second stage rocket booster that sent him into the stratosphere. This is not a typical story, and certainly not a typical self-publisher. Neither is Hocking, for that matter.

      The vast majority of book bloggers that start out reviewing self-publishers overwhelmingly deal with authors who are nowhere near as nice, talented or restrained as Hugh and we see the scars of these encounters all over the place. Goodreads is certainly baring that to the world, but so are the review policies of many bloggers.

      The truth is that I'm not mad or sad about this. I'm disappointed. There's no obvious solution to this, and I'm not entirely sure I'm even phrasing the problem correctly. New self-publishers enter the market every day. A new blowup over a review or lack of review probably occurs every day, and we only hear about a few.

      I'm merely observing and reporting things as I see them. If even one author thinks about what book bloggers are going through after reading this post, then I think I've done what I set out to do. Expecting any kind of measurable change is a farfetched goal, I think.

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    1. Not sure why you deleted your comment because you had a good point. Readers and authors both lose when good self-publishers get less exposure. Readers may not find the books they ultimately would have wanted, and authors have a harder time getting their books into the hands of genre readers. We all lose in that situation. You're right!

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  4. Well said, Rex. And I whole-heartedly agree. An indie friend of mine keeps saying "It doesn't matter, it won't affect us at all. You shouldn't care about what people think." The reality is, this DOES affect us. We already push hard against a stigma; for others to further this stigma is disheartening. I'd hate to see a world where the platforms that allow us to self-publish begin pulling support because of situations like this that keep occurring. We depend on those platforms, those bloggers, and the readers to keep us afloat. They are what matter -- not our egos, not our opinions. It seems many authors are losing sight of this.

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    1. Thanks, Heather! We're definitely fighting uphill on this one, and someone keeps leaving banana peels everywhere!

      I absolutely appreciate all the readers and bloggers who have continued to give us a chance, and I hope that such good will continues into the future!

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  5. Well said post. I hate to admit that I am one of those bloggers that changed my review policy. There are a lot of great Indie Authors out there, and this insane individual is still going crazy over other bloggers as last updated on his blog. I am mentioning to you that I linked this post back to my blog under the main reasons for no longer reviewing Indie Author works. He is the equivalent of Voldemort in the book blogging world. Even his friend "Ira" is now against him. I hope he finds peace and stop treating others so horribly. Thank you for posting this.

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    1. I think Ira (or Hira) is trying to remove herself from the online craziness than she is actively against him. This is very likely due to the discussion she had on AW (the one where she was claiming to be someone neutral in the situation and the mods outed her as being Ira). The AW folks were actually very, very nice to her and seemed more interested in her getting out of whatever relationship she might have with this guy.

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  6. Hi Rex,

    As a book blogger myself I stayed away from ALL author-requested books for quite a while, because who wants someone sending you abusive emails when all you're trying to do is maintain a hobby?! I accept books for review now, but that anxiety never really leaves, at least not completely. Luckily for me I've only dealt with fantastic authors and publishers who are intelligent, talented and thoughtful who have all encouraged me to publish my reviews regardless of whether they're positive or negative. It's sad to think that these wonderful authors are having their own records tarnished by a few bad eggs who are taking things to scary extremes.

    Anyway, I just wanted to comment and say how important blog posts like this one are in helping reviewers feel OK accepting indie authors. It helps break down the divide that people (bloggers and authors alike) are trying to set up between us, ultimately spoiling everything for everyone.

    So thanks for the great post, and good luck with your writing!

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    1. Thanks, Kayleigh! I appreciate you coming here to discuss a very scary situation (speaking of your anxiety with interacting with authors who may come after you). And I especially appreciate your strength in going on despite what a few bullies might try to do.

      There's a wonderful world of readers, bloggers, and authors out there, and I hope you get your fair share of beneficial interactions with authors (to go along with the inevitable bad experiences). Thanks for the well wishes and have a great rest of the week!

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  7. Hi,

    I'm a traditionally published author who has started doing some self-publishing. (Not YA, mind you.)

    There's only one possible response to a vicious, excoriating review: a polite private email, saying "Thanks for taking the time to review my book. I'm sorry it wasn't to your taste."

    If you can't say that, say NOTHING. Pretend you never saw the review.

    People who take the time to review books rarely get positive feedback on negative reviews. Especially from the author. These reviewers provide a valuable service.

    I would MUCH prefer an independent reviewer think "Gee, Lucas' book was trash, but the guy himself is pretty decent." That leaves the door open for the reviewer to change his mind in the future -- maybe not this book, but the next one, or the next, or another 10 or 100 down the line.

    Plus, if your self-control is so poor that you blow up at a reviewer, you will never make it as an author.

    Michael W Lucas, www.michaelwlucas.com

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    1. Well, you actually covered both of the possible responses. After some experience with trying to respond, extremely politely, to negative reviewers to thank them, I've discovered that there are two reactions to this kind of polite action: 1, the person responds as you have noted, and 2, the reviewer becomes completely freaked out and believes you may take this to the next level and start stalking them.

      Curiously, the more vitriolic the review, the more likely the case is #2, so I would be careful. I remember a specific scenario that I am still ashamed about to this day (and yes, I'm now publicly airing it). I had a review from someone who claimed that one of my books was the worst book they had ever read, and so I contacted them through Goodreads or Facebook or something else--I can't remember. I apologized for wasting their time with the book (and I really meant it), and I offered to send them a copy of any of my other books or all of them for free to make up for the time that they lost and thank them for sharing their honest opinion of the book with other readers.

      I never heard back. And that made me curious. I started asking other readers and authors what they would do if an author behaved in this manner, and no matter how sincere you are in this, the reaction is almost always fear and maybe even shame--which is not the reaction I would ever want out of a reader, even one that absolutely hated my work. I remember reading a blog by an author who had used this technique specifically to shame the reviewers into upping their reviews to something higher. I know that people are doing this, and I sincerely do not want a reviewer to ever feel pressured into misrepresenting their feelings about a book, so I do not respond--even if it is to try to address a falsehood in a review, which absolutely does happen.

      At the end of the day, I tell myself that reviews are for readers and that by putting time and energy and frustration into reading and responding to reviews, I do my dedicated readers and fans a disservice. Anyway, that's my personal opinion about responding to negative reviews. However, it's by no means a universally agreed upon thing, and there are many authors who do and are successful.

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    2. Hey Michael, my situation had nothing to do with getting a bad review. Get your factys straight. Thanks.

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    3. The article is about the environment we find ourselves in regards to book bloggers, and I mention the Howett review response to a popular blogger. Michael is not talking about you. He's talking about the advice to not respond to reviews like Howett did.

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  8. Again, all I can say is wow. I mean, one indie author single handedly screwed it up for a lot of other indie authors out there. Great. Way to go. Sorry, don't mean to be snide or snotty, but this is a huge hit to indie authors. I don't review all the time, but I will continue to review indie authors. I'll be linking back to this post in my blog, if you don't mind. I posted a bit on this yesterday.

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    1. Like I said, I definitely empathize with you on this. It's disappointing to see an author behaving in this manner and it's even more disappointing to see him continuing to go in this direction, as evidenced by his recent post on his blog--which I'm not going to link to because I think it's further enabling the behavior.

      But thank you so much for continuing to review independent authors. You are awesome!

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  9. Rex, I was briefly friends with Carroll Bryant when I was on Goodreads, and ended up unfriending him not too long after. Sometimes he would write these vitriolic poems and rants that didn't sit well with me, and I could feel the negativity coming from them. I've also seen him liking and commenting on the user pictures of young women. I mean, there's nothing wrong with doing that in theory, but he did it quite often and they were always young. I had no idea that he's been lying about his age and appearance, and emailed all those terrible things to that 17-year-old girl in Mexico. I hope she just runs far, far away from him because men like him are trouble. Just from his blog posts and the way he interacts with others, it isn't hard to figure out that he has rage and control issues.

    Still, I am disappointed, too, especially for the people who've been harassed by him, and for self-published authors who want reviews in the future. I don't think I've seen so many book bloggers change their review policy they way they have recently. I wished these self-published authors learned from their mistakes, but even that might be hoping for too much, judging from what's been going on this past year.

    I might produce controversial, polarizing work, but I also know that professionalism is important as a public figure. This is why I've kept a relatively low-profile, drama-free presence on the Internet. But I do believe you're right when an author talks about controversial topics. My book got lumped in with YA, when it really shouldn't have, and the fact that I tweeted and blogged about certain topics may very well have been my own undoing. I admit it. Certain people don't want anything to do with me, and that's fine. I've always felt that because it was my space, I can tweet about sex, politics, abortion rights, whatever, the same way a book blogger can review a book however they want. But I am also very aware of the consequences of doing that. Still, I would never, ever attack a reviewer, or do what certain authors have done to bloggers as of late.

    Sorry this is so long. It's nice to meet you and discover your blog.

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    1. Sorry to hear that you experienced bad vibes from him, and I hope you don't carry around guilt about not voicing your concerns earlier. Nothing here is your fault. I have known many people with personality disorders ranging from manic-depressive bipolar to paranoid schizophrenic, and the truth is that they can be incredibly nice, caring and affable when they're not having episodes. From his blog, I know that he is taking medication to keep him balanced, and from listening to his songs on his Youtube channel, he seems to be a good songwriter, guitarist and singer. He certainly has redeemable qualities--which is one of the reasons I wrote this post. It's unfortunate to see a talented person wreck his legacy.

      Miss World looks like a great book, and if I were a reader following your Twitter feeds or blogs, I think I would be expecting a raw and direct approach to controversial issues. What I have been doing on my twitter feed is posting what I find interesting in the news, especially articles that show the seedier sides of the status quo. On my reader blog (http://rex-jameson.com), I tend to talk about humorous things I have found on the internet, new books or editions that I am writing, trips that I have taken (like the one I recently took to Beijing), movie reviews, and just general content that I tend to get sucked into on the web (like random funny videos). I like to read about those things online, so I figure readers might like that too.

      I think everyone's different, and there are a million different ways to communicate well with our audiences. The only really bad thing that we can do is alienate our audience. I'm reminded of Anne Rice's blowup in her Amazon reviews. I stopped reading her books after I figured out the hard way (i.e., by reading her newer books) that she was no longer using an editor, but if I had still been a huge fan when I had read that rant, I would have found it hard to identify myself as one of her fans. What we authors do online can certainly shame our fans, and if Carroll Bryant had fans before this episode, I'm pretty sure he has shamed each of them into not being fans anymore.

      It's nice to meet you too, and I'm not sure if you can tell, but I certainly don't look down on long replies ;D.

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    2. I actually want to read your book, from your comment here. I had not heard of it before - but I have no problem with controversial topics.

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    3. Yeah, I like the description and reviews for Miss World. Definitely one for the TBR list!

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  10. Fantastic post Rex! I came across it in a discussion about the great Carroll Bryant fiasco. I was one of many who initially tried to reason with him and explain to him rationally why his idea was a bad one...that we would turn off bloggers who did things as best they could by harassing a few who didn't. When it became clear that he had no intention of being rational, the conversation declined rapidly.

    As a blogger and reader I have seen many issues from self-pubbed authors but I refuse to hold all self-published authors responsible for the bad actions of some. I will still happily take self-pubbed books but if the author acts like a jerk...it won't stay a secret.

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    1. Stefani, you are awesome. I appreciate your resolve. Hopefully, we'll see more book bloggers take this kind of approach and publicly out the bad apples. In fact, I think this may be the only type of reaction that can slow the rate at which poor author behavior happens. No one likes to be publicly humiliated, and if new authors see this happen consistently, they're much less likely to engage in or repeat the behavior.

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  11. This is a pretty good recap of everything. There's a lot of rumors running around now about everyone involved in the scandal, some of which are pretty awful, so I'm glad to see a more clear version of events!

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    1. Got any links to where this is being discussed by the principal players? Is the AW thread? I haven't been back there in a few days.

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  12. I thought I'd add one more thing- one of the blogs on Bryant's list (A Cupcake and a Latte) has closed her blog and her other accounts without any warning or any sort of contact with anyone else. From what I've heard, her friends are worried since they haven't heard anything from her as far as this goes. I'm a little concerned about this as well since Bryant has become entangled in the whole STGRB site, which now has a reputation for cyberstalking and harassing people. I'm sort of worried that between Bryant and the STGRB site, they've bullied her to the point where she just didn't feel like it was worthwhile to stay on the reviewing circuit.

    She might've not received any bullying and just decided to drop out due to her own personal reasons, but the timing is a little disconcerting.

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    1. I agree. It's more likely that her dropping her online presence is being caused by harassment. I won't conjecture concerning who is causing it, but I wouldn't be surprised if you're right about the culprits.

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    2. I don't have anything to do with that. Maybe she closed it out of guilt. I am the only one who is being cyber-bullied.

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    3. There were several bloggers on Mr. Bryant's list that I have followed for some time - on their blogs, twitter and facebook. And none of them have any idea who this guy even is.

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    4. And what is your definition of "several"? Jennifer? There is only about four of them listed. That's more in the area of a few, not several.

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  13. Well this post just made my day. Not in a good way, mind you, but I'm glad you wrote about. Well, not glad. You know what I mean. I'm not glad it happened, but since it did happen, I'm glad you wrote about it, because writers need to know about this kind of stuff, and we need to make an effort to Not Be That Guy.

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    1. ... also, I'm very surprised to learn I've had a blogger account since 2011. Which has nothing to do with anything relevant... but I'm very surprised.

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    2. Yeah, sorry to be the bearer of bad news on this one :(. Liked your writeup on your blog though. Funny stuff!

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  14. There was no courtship. I didn't fly to Mexico and she "refused" me. Once again, people who only think they "know" the story, who don't even know the half of it.

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    1. Caroll, I read most of your blog up to the point this happened--before you deleted many of the posts. I followed your posts on JH, read some of your poems, and watched your Youtube videos of songs you claimed were about her.

      You got hit hard by the relationship failing. Are you really trying to deny that that happened?

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    2. There was only one song I ever wrote "for her" out of 20 songs. I wouldn't call that a lot. She and I did have a friendship that she broke off but she kept emailing me for months after. Even offering the Spanish in my new book. But I grew tired of her odd behavior and temper mental manner towards me so I ended up blocking her from emailing me. Then all of this broke out. (After she befreinded one of my friends to get to me through our shared blog) Coincidence? I think not.

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  16. Oh, and I didn't stalk anyone. If anything, she stalked me a few weeks ago when she befriended MY friend and manipulated my friend to let her in as an admin on OUR shared blog. Now that is stalking.

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    1. I don't doubt that she lashed out at you, and I have no idea if she's extremely manipulative or not. All I know is how the rest of the blogging community and readers saw this story going down, and how you responded to it--feeding it into a wildfire. We (you and I and all self-publishers) have to do better at engaging our readers. I know you have said that you have enough money from your song-writing or whatever you did to last you forever. You don't have to write another book or depend on new endeavors in any way to survive. This is what you claimed when this story first met the light of day.

      The rest of us self-publishers do need more income to continue to pursue our dreams. This kind of publicity hurts all of us in promoting ourselves and shining light on great independent authors who are trying to make a life for themselves. We're already at a disadvantage. We don't have the money or marketing machines that the Big 6 or larger presses have. Without the book blogger and reader support of self-publishing, we're in a much worse spot.

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    2. So this is why you took the side of the bullies? I write something about what is going on and I get attacked for my "free speech"? - Trust me, nobody on Gooreads is "professional". If things are hard for Indie authors, they made it hard for themselves by not sticking up and not sticking together. Giving in to a bunch of children/bloggers/bullies/whatever you want to call them. And if STGRB is using the same tactics that these bullies used against me, then great, I call that karma. And maybe a little justice. I didn't ask anybody to get their nose into my personal business. They made that choice on their own. And they still do not know the truth. You have to live with the consequences of your choices. I live with mine just fine. One little note about your Amazon ranking theory, does it include over-seas sales? I am out on more than just Amazon, a lot more. And most of my sales come from abroad. (Other countries)

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    3. Carroll, it's the internet. I'm sorry you can't take back what you've posted to your blogs (Goodreads and Blogspot) when you aired your dirty laundry to the public. I'm cataloging the events that transpired so other self-publishers know why they're now forbidden from sending their works to dozens of blogs, and what they should probably learn from this. Your very public episode has closed a lot of doors to us.

      As for the rankings, your UK rankings indicate similar lack of purchase activity (150k, 400k, and unranked--i.e., no sales registered for Of The Light). What countries are you selling more in? I mean honestly that doesn't matter. Are you trying to claim that your blog posts over this whole mess drove sales significantly and that you would recommend similar activities to other self-publishers? Please tell me that is not what you are saying right now.

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    4. I'm not taking back anything I posted. All of this got out because of the people at Ansolute Write, not me. I just merely responded to it. Like this post. I don't know the guy on this blog yet he found it in himself to post a story about something he doesn't know the whole truth about. I didn't make him. He did it on his own like everybody else does it on their own.

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    5. For the dozenth time, this is not about you. This is about the effects your drama has had on the rest of self-publishing. Absolute Write is not the source of this story. Your Blogspot and Goodreads blogs were the source of the drama. Absolute Write simply has the real-time reporting of what went on at Goodreads.

      This is a non-story, Carroll. Let it die, man.

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  17. You would have thought I killed the Pope or something. LOL Good day to all.

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    1. No, you didn't kill the Pope, and this isn't particularly funny. It's only funny if you do not care about the impact this has on the rest of us, and you are as comfortable in your career as you say you are. This affects more than just you, though.

      You have a great voice and are a gifted guitar player--I lived in Nashville for most of my life, and I've met a lot of aspiring songwriters and singers. My roommate in college was a gifted singer and guitarist too, but he never broke out in Nashvegas. I am going to assume you remember how difficult it was to get noticed (unless you got really luck and managed to land a contract or songwriting deal immediately) and that you have watched many young musicians and songwriters fail. They waited tables, drove limousines, and went into karaoke bars in the hopes that some manager just so happened to come in with his wife or something (I kid you not, this is a common tactic in Nashville--and managers do not go into these honkeytonks, btw, possibly because of all the singers/songwriters who try to do this).

      We're basically in a similar situation as self-publishers except we're looking for readers to notice us--not managers. And we only have so many venues to make ourselves known. We can try free promotions and giveaways, but everyone's doing that nowadays. And we can try book bloggers who readers trust. If we sour the latter relationship, we lose a major launching board for new self-publishers. We should be wary of this!

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    2. I know it's not funny. But all the other people who are being hurt by this - hurt themselves by attacking me. I have every right to blog about what I want to blog about. People say that it wasn't the truth, the same can be said for this post. The punishment far exceeded any crime. Is it awful what is happening to all involved? Yes. But they vrought it upon themselves when they decided to get involved. There are only two people who know the truth. (Elsa and I) Three if you count God. - Everyone else needs to mind their own business.

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    3. The collateral damage caused here extends beyond you and your attackers. Neither I nor any other self-publishers can submit works to the bloggers you've offended--many of whom had nothing to do with the 6 bloggers you initially posted. We have a lot of book bloggers now scared to work with us out of fear of being publicly harassed and bullied.

      This will die down once you let it. The repercussions for the rest of self-publishers are likely to be longer term, but hopefully we can convince more bloggers to open up to us through quality books and showing the reading and reviewing communities that we sincerely appreciate their efforts.

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    4. I am trying to let it die down but see how many people keep responding to this post? And everywhere I go to promote my books, there are people right behind me to post links to this and other articles. YOU people are not letting it die down.

      Case in point, this link here. (If it gets posted) A guy on Kindle Boards posted a review of sorts on my new book. Five minutes later, a girl posted the link to this blog/story.

      There was no call for that.

      Here is the link: http://www.kindleboards.com/index.php/topic,125124.0.html

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  18. BTW - my trips to "Mexico" were trips to California to visit record labels. In case anyone forgot, I also write songs.

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  19. I'm still trying to figure out why my personal life is anybody's business to begin with? In short, it's not.

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    1. The internet isn't a private journal. Once you write about it all over the web it no longer become's just your business. Especially, as Rex is trying very hard to explain to you, as it's affecting a great number of people who don't deserve to be hit by this.

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    2. Because you're running around the internet making it everyone's business, dragging your tale of woe into every discussion however tangential.

      What's going on here by your own account is a 48 year old man complaining that a bunch of teenagers have been mean to him on the internet. Even leaving aside the sordid details and your disgusting conduct towards those young women, the situation you are complaining about should be beneath anyone's dignity to even notice, let alone wail about in multiple locations. For god's sake, man, pull on your big boy's knickers and show some common sense.

      You accused me elsewhere of being on the side of the bullies. Well, yes, I'm on the side of those who are critical of you. Their accounts accord with my own observations of your behaviour in real time, and you're the one busily deleting evidence and bullying others into silence. So my sympathy is with your victims. The fact you are using a bullying site to continue your harassment wins you nothing but scorn.

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    3. If your personal life isn't anyone else's business, then you shouldn't make blog posts about it. Blog posts are public. You made blog posts about JH and even interviews where you made mention to the 17-year-old girl. You wore that part of your personal life on your sleeve.

      Like all internet events, the furor over this will eventually pass. I'm just explaining why once-friendly book bloggers are now blacklisting self-publishers. Authors have a right to know because the blacklisting by these blogs will likely continue indefinitely.

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    4. Sorry Rex, she wasn't 17. Mor elike 18. Big difference. it's misinformation like that - that gets people fired up. I see you know nothing about the truth either.

      Sorry Ann, I wasn't the one going around the internet talking about it. I only deal with my blog - it is you and your friends at Absolute Write who put this out all over the internet. (And Jude.) Who's real name is Elsa by the way. And victims? I have no victims because I haven't hurt anyone. I have no idea where you get this victim thingy. ???????

      Kayleigh, I already explained that I am not the one going around the internet talking about this. I do feel bad that others are being affected by this, but it has nothing to do with me. The nest I can tell, these people made the choice to "get involved" with my personal business. (And by the way, how does so many people claim to know the "story" about me and this girl when i haven't told anyone anything, much less, any details?) Seems to me she is the (was the one) who talked about our relationship.

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    5. I'm not sure if that seventeen versus almost eighteen would have made all that much of a difference in the response from the readers at Goodreads. The age-thing seemed to come from concern that a much older man was using false images of himself to lure a teenage girl into a liason. At one point, you had admitted to that, and that is what appeared to cause the Goodreads administrators to delete your blog and profile there.

      As for "victims", any self-published authors who cannot solicit a review from a popular book blogger after this incident is directly affected by your actions.

      As for who keeps bringing this up, new blog comments for this post were non-existent for the past two weeks until you brought this conversation back here. If you let this lie, it will assuredly go away with time--if you really want it to. Readers, for the most part, want entertainment from their favorite authors, and if you stop putting energy into this online drama and channel it into good works, the readers will probably thank you for it. The easiest way for you to climb out of this hole would be to use a pseudonym, but even with a new pseudonym, I'm sure you'll be just fine if you keep writing good fiction.

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  20. Good points, Rex. I'm very saddened that some book bloggers have now shied away from ALL indies.

    This incident does not make me ashamed to be an indie. I am proud of who I am and what I write, and I LOVE having control over my books. I refuse to let one person ruin it for me.

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    1. Absolutely, Tara! Like they say... The great thing about self-publishing is that anyone can do it. The bad thing about self-publishing is that anyone can do it. We're getting a lot of press over the latter, unfortunately :(.

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  21. ... wow. And I had wondered who the heck this "Carroll Bryant" person was that was commenting on HuffPo so obnoxiously about their tale of woe and bullying.... On a post that had nothing to do with them. -.-

    Now I know. And now I understand a lot more about the "Stop GR Bullies" website and the whole concept of "bully reviews" on goodreads and amazon too. Internet, this is why you can't have nice things. :/

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    1. I meant to add but now can't edit, that the crash and burn that is happening with Victoria Foyt is very demonstrative of this same issue.

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    2. Yep, he's the guy, but I think Victoria's issue is very different. She wrote a book that was somehow praised by critics, but readers have voiced some very astute concerns about the usage of racial imagery (the "pearl" versus "coal" and "cotton" thing).

      As far as I know, she hasn't aggressively gone after readers who disagree with her book or her online persona. From what I've seen, she seems to have tried to do damage control on FB and her blog, but it simply hasn't addressed the main issues that readers have brought up. Her situation is probably--though remotely--salvageable. I think she would have to make changes to the book, however. I have a feeling that, as the first book stands, the current racial slurs are likely to cause problems for any attempt at extending the series. Just my opinion, of course.

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    3. I think Victoria's issue is comparable only so much as that she has posted response articles on FB and HuffPo calling her critics "racists" for suggesting that the book is racist, and has refused to engage with any of the real criticism of the book, instead insisting that it's only people "judging a book by it's cover" and not actually reading it. But there are those who question whether the "Stop GR Bullies" website's support of her book is coincidental. I know that's conjecture and perhaps not worth getting into.

      But I'm also uncertain about the extent to which there are actual critics who have enjoyed the book, and to what extent those reviews and awards that she keeps referencing is just fluff (I keep seeing several mentions that the Eric Hoffer Ward is a bought-award?)

      I know it's natural to pick and choose what reviews that one wants to highlight, especially on promotional materials that are there to help with book sales. But when I went to look at the amazon reviews, for example, all of the positive reviews were from people she sent the book to for free specifically asking for reviews. I understand this is not an uncommon practice. But the wide disparity in the reviews doesn't look well either for the book or perhaps even for book reviewers. And I wonder what those things means for reviewers and for self-publishing...

      Anyway, that's how I found them to be related.

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    4. I didn't realize she was responding to reviewers or had joined the STGRB movement. I definitely see where you are coming from now.

      The Eric Hoffer Award has a 50 dollar entry fee. So does the Pulitzer (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pulitzer_Prize). The EFA has nowhere near the prestige, but I think the award was started in good faith and an entry fee does not imply a rigged system. That being said, the EFA is nothing like a Pulitzer at all as far as recognition or competition.

      As for giving free copies of books to bloggers for reviews, this is a very common practice, and it by no means guarantees any kind of favorable review. I once received a two star because the reviewer thought the book was going to be horror, despite category, reviews, blurb, and cover showing a different categorization (certainly not horror). She was angry at me for supposedly tricking her, and I can understand her disappointment--even though I don't believe I could have done anything to avoid it. You definitely have to take the good and the bad together with giveaways. My experiences with book giveaways to both readers and bloggers have been overwhelmingly positive.

      The best opinion I heard of the disparity between the blogger reviews for Victoria Foyt's book before July 27 and after is that people were unconsciously overlooking the "pearl" versus "coal" issues in the book due to white privilege. I think the bloggers assumed the author was being genuine in her message and the predominantly white female bloggers related more to the underlying "beauty and the beast" theme that the author told them was there, rather than the poorly-done racial dynamics ("pearl" versus "coal" versus "cotton"). If you want to read more about it, I found the Absolute Write thread very helpful (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=250845). And yeah, I do believe she may have used my rather wayward defense of a possible "coal" versus "pearl" symbolism in that thread when she typed her response to critics on her FB wall.

      In a cold, post-apocalyptic world, maybe the symbolism would have worked. In a hot, post-apocalyptic world? Absolutely doesn't make sense. The symbolism is either poorly constructed or maliciously constructed, and your guess is as good as mine as to which one Foyt is culpable for.

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    5. Can't really say whether she really has joined the STGRB movement or not (but they have a post up about her book.) But her responses have definitely been out of hand, and the defender-comments in some threads (like on the Frisky article) just scream sock-puppet-esque. They may very well not be, perhaps some people really did like the book, and can't imagine how it's racist.... But that tone is definitely all over the place.

      I can definitely believe that reviewers were suffering from white privilege problems when they neglected to note the racist undertones of the book. I've come to the conclusion that many people are just totally unaware of how problematic images of PoCs still are in the media, and simply focused on the romance thread. And I can sort of understand it if I look at it in that light. I even think a 10 years younger version of me might not have grasped it nearly as well as I do now.

      I think most of the comments in the first two pages of that thread are a lot of what I've thought/read in other places too, so I'm going to stop reading.

      ... But yeah, returning back to the "Coals" vs. "Pearls" continues to make me question the intent behind the book, no matter how much "good intentions" seem to be there on some level.

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  22. Thank you for writing a post that was lacking in all the heated emotions going back and forth on Goodreads. I review on my blog and goodreads - and I will continue to review and host indie authors, until I myself get burned. I have worked with a ton of really great indie authors who have been friendly, helpful, and just overall nice people. Carroll Bryant did turn me off and disgust me but I don't judge all indie authors by his actions. It wouldn't be so bad if he didn't continually snivel on any site he can about how he was wronged - and get confrontational about it when anyone disagrees. Personal life aside - the way he interacted with readers made me not want to read his books. Not everyone is going to like what you do in any career - and you have to take the criticism like an adult.

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    1. Thanks! And thank you for not letting the bad apples get to you! I can't promise that this will be the last bad apple, but there are many authors out there who appreciate what you are doing. Cheers!

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  23. I just found this article and wanted to say thank you. As a reader I tend to steer away from writing reviews, mostly because I just barely have the time to read let alone review something. But I do get my book recommendations from blogs. After reading this I am going to go out and write reviews for all the self published works I have read and liked.

    There was a book I loved loved loved and it was that authors 1st book of a series. I immediately went out found their website and followed it like a crazed fan girl. Almost 5 years go by and finally book 2, squee! Then back to said website to check up on author because I was just too excited for the next one. Right there under FAQ the author had a rant about fans asking why it took so long for each book to come out being that the author was a full time author and only had these two books, no others. It put me off the whole series. I understand that the author must have received a lot of fan mail complaining about the long wait in between books but to just put a rant against your readers out there... I made a pledge to never give this author any of my $$ again. I was so disheartened. Now its been about 14 years and the first book is now offered at Audible as an audio book. I have an endless debate on FB and with my hubby looking for advice about my vow to never give this Author $$ v. my love of that first book and how most of my book reading is done via my ears these day. Love of the book won out and I got it. I could not even finish listening to the book, it was ruined for me.

    So very long story short how an author behaves to their readers has a direct connections to readers buying their work. I really wish there was a list out there of all the authors who support the STGRB site or who just plain bully their readers because just thinking that I might have supported an author who does this makes me sick.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, maedgerton! I appreciate you taking the time to write reviews for the self published books you've enjoyed. That not only means a lot to the authors, but it's also likely to help a lot of other readers too!

      I'm very sorry to hear about your disappointment with the author who ranted at his loyal fans in the FAQ page of their website, but I'm glad to hear it hasn't made you bitter toward authors in general.

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  24. Thanks for posting this. I have been looking for my friend who runs Cupcake and a Latte, and followed your link to find her listed as one of Carroll "bully" bloggers. I can't express my shock at seeing her name listed there. Cupcake is without a doubt one of the nicest people I know online. I've worked with her for several years on many different projects and have always been impressed by her love of literature, her professionalism as a blogger, and her dedication to giving equal time to indy authors.

    If she felt it necessary to post something against this author, I have to imagine that he must have done something that inspired her anger. She's simply not the type of person to lash out without reason or to gang up on anyone. In fact, she's one of the first people I'd turn to if I needed help.

    Sadly, Carroll's response looks as if he has enjoyed sparring with the bloggers in question, and as a result of whatever transpired, Cupcake is now gone. She deleted everything associated with her blog and her identity as a blogger and book lover. She has erased herself...an act that simply doesn't make sense.

    One thing is for certain, Carroll's notion of any publicity is good publicity is somewhat well grounded. If he had not done whatever he did to cause Cupcake and a Latte to stand up to him, causing all of the events that have since transpired, I would never have heard his name or known he existed. Unfortunately, I can't remember his last name at this point and haven't got the energy to "scroll up" to find it.

    If you happen to hear from Cupcake and a Latte, can you please let her know that I'm looking for her?

    Thanks!

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    1. Someone posted about this on July 28th, and that was the first time I had heard about Cupcake and a Latte deleting her online presence. It's heartbreaking, and I know a lot of people followed her blog and appreciated her blog.

      I don't think anyone has heard from her since the 28th, which is a shame. She should not let something like this stop her from doing something she had enjoyed. If you do hear from her, I would love to know (and I hope she is doing well).

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  25. Obviously, you do not know the whole story. Getting famous off my name? LOL Good luck with that.

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    1. I only reported what was said as the events unfolded back in July. This is not the type of story I would honestly like to be associated with. However, my hope is that it explains why many bloggers refuse to review self-published books at this point.

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  26. Just to add a few points to this,

    a) You're never going to get the absolute truth from one party on anything. This situation or others. It's like taking a suspect's claim that they did not do anything wrong. Taking only Jude's claim on what happened is her 'take' on the events, but are they entirely truthful and not exaggerated? We will never know because we don't know the whole story.

    b) GoodReads profiles are AUTOMATICALLY private if you are under 18. For her to have to 'make' her profile private implies to me she lied about her age.

    Just some observations that I think should be taken into account.

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    1. Hi LoonyAlana,

      The point of this post was to explain to new authors why most book bloggers now refuse to support independent/self-published authors. The description in this article of what happened was compiled from Carroll's GoodReads blog--the one that is now deleted--and not any other blog, most of whom have taken down their posts and even their blogs due to harassment. At one point, Carroll had come clean about this, and his story has almost completely changed since then, seemingly to try to erase or muddy the history of what happened.

      Unfortunately, he's missing the point. I've kept this story up because it is important that other authors understand why we are in the crazy, hostile environment we are in with book bloggers. In truth, it has gotten worse since this incident because of attacks on book bloggers that have caused many of them to close their doors completely due to harassment, depriving readers of trusted outlets for reviews of books.

      This post is about the environment we now find ourselves in and why. It's also a cautionary tale of what we cannot do, as authors, to our readers, bloggers, and reviewers if we want to stay relevant, visible, and professional. Readers deserve to have their faith in authors rewarded. We authors have taken some serious blows recently in respectability and fidelity due to sock puppetry and various other nonsense. It is my hope that we cease this kind of silliness and get back to entertaining readers with our books, enticing reviewers back to us, and stopping our downward spiral into mediocrity, obscurity and insanity.

      Cheers and thank you for sharing your thoughts and concerns,
      Rex

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