When we write and self-publish books, we put ourselves out there, we become available to the general public, the praise, thanks and good reviews. As with all things in life there’s always a flip side, one of bad reviews and criticism, but what happens when basic negativity turns into harassment and bullying? Indie author Chrissie Parker shares her experience of being on the receiving end of some unpleasant treatment and how she coped.
How It All Began
In 2014 I published a book set on a Greek island, it was received favourably and had a lot of support. One of those supporters loved it: he gave it a five star review and always spoke favourably. He was also a member of a Facebook group I administer relating to the same island. Last year things suddenly changed, and he had to be removed from the group.
That was when the harassment started.
He now runs his own Facebook group. I’m not in it, but readers and friends are, and as screen shots I’ve received show, he often uses me as expendable fodder in his posts. I’ve been slandered, called a liar, and there are posts where uses denigrates my books, uses its title in negative posts and generally belittles me. His fellow admin (who use multiple fake accounts), has joined him in the harassment, and for months they have slowly chipping away using me as target practice. I’ve even received unwanted blog comments from fake email addresses such as [email protected], using my own name as sender name.
These cowardly actions have all take place from the position of a “safe chair behind a keyboard”, making it incredibly difficult to resolve/deal with.
How I Followed Advice
I’ve spent months following every bit of advice given:
- Try to message the person and ask them to stop. No, didn’t work, in fact it only encouraged him further.
- Block them, ignore them and they’ll go away. I blocked them, had no contact and tried to ignore, but they continued anyway.
- Report to Facebook. Sadly Facebook’s reporting system isn’t up to much at all and facebook refused to intervene.
In the end I contacted the police. I went through all the history and evidence, and they advised it was civil harassment but not criminal. Legal advice was sought. I was told that their actions fall under the 1997 Harassment Act and I could go to court and get an injunction, but it would cost.
I was also advised to shut down my social media and change my author name/branding so he couldn’t locate me online.
My Assertive Reaction
To be told I would have to spend hundreds of pounds, remove myself from social media and change my author name and branding to stop it was both upsetting and frustrating.
I don’t have the money for a legal case, and changing my author brand and the way I work because of others selfish actions is something I just refuse to do.
I spoke to two trusted friends, and they made me see that the problem doesn’t lie with me. The problem lies with those who are doing this to me, and whether I like it or not, I’ve absolutely no control over them.
The only life I can truly control is mine, so that is what I’ve chosen to do.
I’ve told friends and readers not to tell me what these men say or do. I’m still on social media, but I’m careful about my engagement. I know these men still lurk in the shadows, in fact as I write this one has posted about me again. In the meantime I carry on with my life and try my best to follow some advice given by professionals:
- Don’t engage
- If necessary, report
- Hope that in time they’ll get bored and leave me alone for good
- Carry on with life and don’t let them affect me
I’m not a victim, they probably like to think I am, but I never was.
Yes, they’ve annoyed me, occasionally they’ve upset me, but they haven’t broken me and neither will they.
They think that because I’m an author that I’m an easy target, but I’m not. I’ve a strong voice and personality, and will stand up for myself if necessary.
Ultimately, I’m a writer who will always write, and will do so under MY name, that won’t change.
Readers will continue to find me on social media, and I will release more books.
My career is too important to change who I am or what I do because of keyboard bullies.
Whatever happens in the future these men will not win. I simply will not let them.
OVER TO YOU Have had the misfortune to be bullied online? How did you cope? If you have more advice to add to Chrissie Parker's, we'd love to hear it.Why #indieauthors don't need to put up with online bullying - by @Chrissie_author #selfpub Click To Tweet
OTHER USEFUL POSTS ABOUT MANAGING YOUR ONLINE PROFILE
From our Author Advice Center Archive
Look up “Morgalla sucks” on facebook and you’ll find my stalker (a former fan) and her friends. Not just there, but also LiveJournal and reviews on amazon. For seven years she was at it.
Someone asked why they care, after all you’re Steven King, but that is the point, it’s a power play, you’re a bit player with no power.
I was going to suggest that you harass him back but that kind of thing can destroy you. The person who started this is a psychopath who gets great joy out of this. You and I won’t.
I too have an online business and I’ve started being much more careful about what I post especially on political issues
Thank you for all your comments, it’s a shame these things happen, but sometimes it’s life and we just have to deal with it as best we can. It’s frustrating that social media companies can’t be more supportive, but (fingers crossed) things are now calmer and it’s stopped.
Well done for rising above it. These people feed on your reaction. When they realise they are no longer getting any reaction they may go away but who cares? They are nobody. You are somebody.
Here are two things to try: If he or others in his group are still leaving nasty comments on your blog and Facebook page and are using fake names, then the logical thing to do is to protect your blog and Facebook page by changing visitor comments and page post settings from anyone can comment to needs approval to post. This way your fans can still post but with your approval. You get to pick: Just tell your fans you are doing it to give them a more personal and individual experience on your site.
Also, Facebook is a groupthink organism so privately and individually use messenger or by email contact your friends and family who you trust that are members of his group, write out a polite statement to them of what he had done to you and copy three of the worst irrational posts he has made and ask for their help to report him for bullying you, Facebook may ignore one bullying voice or complaint but usually not a dozen or more group users making the same complaint.
I hope this helps you – no one should be bullied online
I second that, ask family friends, trusted assoicaites to report the group as a hate group. FB is weird about that kind of thing, sexism racism terrorism are all fine. How and why they ban groups is an unkown but it’s worth trying
Start a FB group call Morgalla sucks is a terrorist organization
Very professional of you. Thank you for sharing your story with us. Apparently Facebook has decided the fiction I post on one of my blogs is much worse than your stalker. (sad grin) They blocked it two years ago because someone reported it as being abusive. To this day, they refuse to lift the block. Here I was thinking, “Well, it’s not fair, but at least they’re being tough on anyone who’s being abusive, even if I wish they’d tell me exactly what I’d done so I can avoid doing it again. Only they let your stalker go. Guess the Forbidden Cauldron is much worse than he is. Yes, the blog used to be called Cauldron of Eternal Inspiration. It’s now the Forbidden Cauldron. Yes, I decided to use the block to promote myself. 🙂
(Think I’ll link the Forbidden Cauldron to this entry today rather than the original Cauldron. Yes, I’ve got two, one at wordpress and one at blogger. The blogger account is the one that’s blocked. There was a publisher, a blog that required blogger, and I already had a wordpress account. Hence two Cauldrons. :))
That’s the best approach, I agree: look into options like reporting and blocking, then just get on with things and avoid all contact. It soon drops out of your mind, which gets filled up instead with other projects and positive interactions and support from fellow authors and fans. All public figures have to deal with unfairness, but hopefully it always gets outnumbered by much nicer things. Onwards and upwards and bets wishes for the future.
Good for you, Chrissie!
My mother taught me as an over-tall spotty kid in ugly NHS glasses never to rise to bullies. It’s just any on their part and I’m sure she was right.
Oh yeah, this has happened to me before, back in the early 2000s before social media really got rolling, even. I just cut contact with those people and loftily ignored them. After all, any press is good press, right? It sure didn’t hurt Harry Potter, and there were people burning those books. I’m still here, writing away, and all those people who harassed me are gone, their various accounts shut down. By ignoring them, you deny them fuel for their fire. They’ll get bored and go after someone else.