Don’t Feed The Troll

Beware Of Trolls

At some point in your writing career, you’ll start publishing your work. If you publish online, you’ll get reviews. Some will be good and some bad, since no writing is to everyone’s taste. Even Shakespeare’s Hamlet can get bad reviews from high school students.

But every once in a while, you’ll get a horrendously bad review like, “This was so vile, it made my eyeballs explode and run down my face”, “Do me a favor, put the pen down and walk away”, or “Don’t write anything ever again, please just kill yourself.” These aren’t authentic reviews, they’re the work of a troll.

Trolls write bad reviews for entertainment: to pick a fight, stir things up, or get a rise out of someone. In some cases, a troll will trash the work of an author they consider to be a rival.

What Trolls Do

They give bad reviews to books they haven’t read.

They criticize in general terms, like “It had no plot” or “I wrote better than this when I was in second grade” but don’t describe what’s in the book beyond what’s in the blurb.

They express outrage over things they claim are in your book, but aren’t.

The reviews might be extremely disturbing, for example, listing sex acts they claim they were offended by, which aren’t in the book.

Some of the reviews left by trolls describing how outraged they are about (the thing they say is in your book, but isn’t) are extremely disturbing.

They attack the author personally.

“Next time, do something useful instead of trying to write, and I do mean ‘trying to write’, not ‘writing’.”

They obsess about a minor point.

It’s likely they don’t care about whatever it is, they just like to argue.

They berate you for opinions you don’t actually hold.

False accusations of racism or sexism are common. One author was accused of being an apologist for rape even though there was nothing in her book about it.

They take a grain of truth and twist it.

The person took something you said the wrong way and claims to be upset about it. They completely misunderstood what you were trying to say. They took it out of context, or didn’t catch the irony, or were operating from a mistaken belief.

You might think, if only you could just respond to them to explain, the misunderstanding would be resolved. But contacting them would be a mistake. You think you’re speaking intellectual to intellectual, but you’re not. You’re speaking intellectual to troll.

They give a one star review and write multiple long paragraphs tearing your book to pieces.

On the plus side, if they attack the contents of your book, then they’ve actually read it and had some kind of reaction to it. The possibility exists that this troll is another author who sees you as a rival.

How to Spot a Troll

How to tell a legitimate reviewer from a troll: The language of a troll’s review has a tone of meanness. The comments may be condescending, dismissive, mocking, or openly cruel. Remember, the goal of a troll is to provoke a response.

How to Deal With Trolls

Don’t feed the troll. Do not reply to or argue with a troll, that’s what they want from you. Block and ban

In general, it’s almost impossible to remove troll filth from your page, even with the “report as abuse” button. Unless the attack is on the author vs. the book, the site won’t even consider it.

Trolls are like scratches on your car: unavoidable, annoying, hard to fix, but ultimately not very important.