Most of us in the Indie writing community have heard about the recent drama on Facebook. There was an accusation made against someone, an Indie Designer, Lee Ching… that accusation (unsubstantiated as far as I know) led a group of 80+ people to attack the accused through messenger. The messages alledgedly ran the gambit from accusing her of being a theif, to encouraging her to take her own life. From what I understand, the attack was relentless, to the point that this talented individual tried to take her own life. Thankfully her cousin found her in time, and she is, I hope, recovering, which I’m sure will continue, at least emotionally, long after she is released from the hospital.
I don’t know Ms. Ching, but I do remember a time that someone, another Indie author, who is now one of my best friends, was attacked by several individuals on Goodreads. It occured because she had the audacity to express her opinion. I know about this first hand, becasue it occurred on my book’s review thread. A 1 star review was left, which isn’t the issue, the reviewer made mention of several incidents that didn’t occur in the book, which led several people to make the statement that if the reviewer couldn’t be bothered to pay attention, maybe he shouldn’t have left a review.
The bullies, under the guise they were defending the reviewer against bullies, attacked. But they didn’t attack everyone who had an opposing view to the reviewer, they only attacked my author friend, who only said she agreed with the assessment of a blogger that it appeared the reviewer hadn’t been paying attention. They targeted her.
These individuals attacked her facebook, her twitter, her blog, whatever they could find. They left vitrol everywhere, it was relentless. She’s a fighter,and fought back which only fueled their attack. I advised her to walk away. I’m not sure that was the best advice, but it was taking a toll on her well being. They eventually relented, and kudos to the reviewer, who actually asked them to stop. But God forbid, someone come back to the original thread and support this author. Like true trolls, they lurk in the shadows, waiting for an oppurtunity to strike, and they will.
They didn’t know this writer. What they felt they did know was that because of her profession, she shouldn’t have an opinion about another book. They felt that she couldn’t possibly be unbiased. They felt she shouldn’t have a voice. When I researched who they were, I discovered they felt it was their right to target Indie Authors, yes, target them. they wanted to take them down. Why? I could never figure it out. Eventually theses 3 individuals (yes, 3) moved on to bigger game. But in their wake, they left destruction and while I don’t dwell on it, I’m reminded of it everytime something happens in the wake of bullying. This incident with Ms. Ching is such an event.
There is no evidence that she stole anything. It’s my understanding that she used a stock photo, which most designers use, especially Indie. Quite often if the photo isn’t manipulated enough, some covers will look the same, it doesn’t mean anyone stole the cover of another individual, it just means the designer did what they were asked, or liked the image as it was. but let’s play Devil’s Advocate, what if she did steal it? Then you send a cease and desist letter, you report her to the publishing companies. You don’t go on the assault.
Street Teams are few and far between now because of the bullying tactics employed by more than one author out there, encouraging their “fans” to go after other authors. And even if the authors didn’t encourage bad behavior, they did nothing to stop it.
Accusations are everywhere. I saw on the other day where one author accused another of publishing her book. It wasn’t true. The Publishing platform had made an error as both books had the same title. When the accused author contacted the platform, they agreed to fix immediately and apologized and when she explained to her accuser what happened, the accusing author would not relent, still accusing her of stealing the book. To my knowledge, she still has yet to apologize.
I have thought long and hard about writing this post. We live in a society of innocent until proven guilty, yet many people have forgotten this. The pitchfork mentality is running rampant and Social media has led many people in the world to believe that because its the internet, it’s okay to do whatever you want. Those people think that the anonymity of being “invisible” gives you the right to say whatever you want, whenever you want… it’s not.
If someone has committed a crime, then report them to the authorities. If someone’s behavior is blantantly unacceptable, let your friends and family now, so they are aware. If someone posts something you don’t like, feel free to tell them in a “grown-up”, respectable way, then walk away. Everyone has an opinion, and chances are you aren’t going to agree with a lot of them. Freedom of speech is Freedom of speech, even when it’s hateful and ugly, but that doesn’t mean you get to attack and harrass someone because you don’t agree, or you feel they did something wrong. Again, if they did something crimnal, report them to the appropriate entity.
I have been a part of the Indie Author community for 8 years now. In that time, I have seen my fair share of ugliness, but mostly, I have seen the comraderie and beauty in our community. We need to get back to be professional adults. We are writers. We tell our stories. We are not in competition with each other, even though some will say we are, but we aren’t. We all have our own style. That goes for all the other professions in this community as well. Editors, Proofreaders, Marketers, Bloggers, Swag and Cover Designers. We are a family, and while we fight, and disagree, there should always be respect, admiration and love for one another.
From this day forward, temper your words wisely. Don’t fly off the handle, and say something that you might regret. Stop making assumtions about things until you have the facts… the facts, not someone’s opinion about what may or may not have happened.
And remember, words are powerful weapons, and as easliy as they can build you up, they can tear you down. They can rip out your heart, and crush your soul.
Use them wisely.