Badly Behaving Entrepreneurs Put Badly Behaving Authors to Shame
As an author myself and being part of the online book and business communities, I have heard my fair share stories about the free-for-all between readers, reviewers, and authors. Oh my god, I hate drama. I stay out of it but watching the train wrecks still is bad for my mental health. People are making lists and taking names on all sides. It seems like we are back in middle school folks. He-said-she-said shenanigans and this-person-said-something-mean-to-me nonsense. Oh wait, are we in kindergarten now?
Throughout life all people have had mean things said to or about them, but people can and do get through it. I’ve had to do it to survive what I’ve been through early in life. The whole wounded ego thing is real. When you get consumerism and commercial interests involved it gets worse. That’s when we have stories like these.
There’s a lot of things that authors and entrepreneurs can learn from each other in a lot of respects. Today’s authors are essentially entrepreneurs. But it seems that there are some things that the business world can learn from the author community, especially on one key area: dealing with negative reviews.
Okay, there are some slight differences in how this should be handled in either case. Unlike businesses, authors can actually benefit from negative reviews in sales and other areas and should never respond to a negative review even to say thank you. Best example: 50 Shades. Despite what you may feel about it, the criticism and controversy did drive the sales. Authors really can’t “make it right” with the customer/reviewer if it is a subjective, content-related issue that they didn’t like. It’s really not good to respond at all (bears repeating–lick your wounds in silence and offline in private). However, if it is a purely business-type issue (book received damaged), then the author can behave like an entrepreneur and make it right.
Business practices are mostly OBJECTIVE (other side of the spectrum) except if someone just doesn’t like the brand or the taste or something (Pepsi vs Coke). There are clear rights and wrongs in both areas (authors and business) that you simply do not cross. One place both can intersect is: don’t blast a negative/critical reviewer on their blog or a public forum. It has the chance to go viral and never ends well for the flamer, but it does wonders for the blog. It has happened to many times to count in the book loving community. Now everyone is walking around eggshells around each other. New and up and coming authors like me have entered the cafeteria during and after the food fight.
Yelp is the business world’s equivalent to Goodreads in the author world. Yelp is mainly for consumer reviews, but businesses probably feel that businesses should be on Yelp so there is that whole issue about businesses interfering with customer reviews kind of like how readers feel about authors being on Goodreads. I can see both sides. As time has gone on from Amazon’s purchase of Goodreads, the community and other things for both readers and authors have gone downhill ever since, but that is another blog post.
People should be free to express their opinions–good or bad–about anything, especially unethical practices. People come from all kinds of backgrounds and some people will get nasty if they have incredible ire for something. Been there, done that. The business can do a couple of things: 1. Improve their business practices/products 2. If appropriate, make it right with the customer in a professional manner. 3. Ignore it. I have written negative reviews about companies on my other site NAG, and I have a couple more I am working on writing now.
Of course, there are stories of stalking and the sharing of personal and public information, fake accounts galore in BBA commentary… There may be a BBA profile. Now these two badly behaving entrepreneurs have done all this and then some.
Well, it seems that Linda Ellis wants to get back into the online fray again. She is STILL in the poetry trolling business. Ugh. I have written my own critical analysis of her business setup already, so click if you want to check it out. Not only is she a badly behaving entrepreneur, she is also a badly behaving author. Of the top BBA stories of all time like Kathleen Hale or Jacqueline Howett (I won’t revisit, Google that stuff). I am still so surprised that Linda Ellis hasn’t been put on the BBA list, and maybe that’s because she has never had a flame war with a reviewer on Goodreads or on their blog in the literary community. I do wonder, though, if anyone may have shared the poem and reviewed it/talked about it on their blog when they were hit with one of her extortion letters and its confidentiality statement, which threatens them into silence.
Just like the ghastly acts of Hale and Howett that gave them some fame for a time, Ellis has in some ways become a bit of an internet celebrity of sorts, but it hasn’t quite hit the fan as much as it has for them. Just like the STGRB debacle and scandal here in the bookish community, this woman alters screen captures and evidence to fit her agenda on websites and blogs, but Ellis has taken that to a different level by taking and using it against one of her critics, Matthew Chan, and into the Muscogee County Superior Court. Who, by the way, later filed an appeal against the judgement to overturn it that eventually led to the GA Supreme Court–which should have never happened IMHO. The video of that whole debacle is in my critical analysis. That didn’t go well, and her lawyer was publicly embarrassed in court by her own client’s shenanigans.
Her biggest critic that really began to pull the light on this scandal is April Brown. She even wrote a book about it which I have read and reviewed, and I have read tons of commentary across all kinds of sites and blogs and even Blog Talk Radio Shows. Wire tapping, Google Adword smear campaigns, bogus DMCA takedowns that resulted in DDoS (illegal), lying, stalking, spying, racketeering… The list goes on. What this woman has gotten away with and not been arrested or worse is mind boggling. Jacqueline Howett went batcrap crazy on a reviewer and ended her career in a day. Ellis has been doing crap for YEARS and still going. Is it because Ellis plays the worlds smallest fiddle better than Charlie Daniels plays the real fiddle? Something. Really is something.
The Dash extortion scheme has definitely lost its steam, but until more of the mainstream media and the business and reading communities get a hold of the story, Linda Ellis will still get more letter recipient targets and speaking engagements that nets her more targets. I’m not out to end her author career; I am about ending an extortion career. Extortion and enforcement aren’t the same thing. If she was wildly successful in an ETHICAL manner, she would be on this blog in a better and cheery light. There would be no Dash Extortion Scheme.
Some of the opportunities this woman has squandered due to greed and selfishness boggles the mind. Opportunities that every author I know of would give anything for including me. She even tried to sue an entire school district here in GA, because a teacher shared the poem for class! WHO DOES THAT!! Ugh! *headdesk* I would give anything for a teacher to share one of my novels for their class. If I found out I would thank the teacher/school and even ask if I could do a presentation. She had a golden opportunity–that’s just one of many.
A lot of things that makes her a BBA is much worse than any other BBA I have ever known or heard of, and she is also a BBE (badly behaving entrepreneur). She takes the flame wars offline and into court and makes threats and contacts the critic’s place of work, family, friends, acquaintances, business associates, etc. She even tries to destroy the businesses of her critics and silence them. She spreads libel. She is still the only BBA that I know of that threatens to sue her fans as well as strangers for $7,500 for sharing a $10 poem at funerals. To the grieving family. To my knowledge she hasn’t sued any book bloggers yet (there had to be), but I know bloggers in general have come under the knife. Flaming with critics on public forums over business ethics (I don’t know if literary criticism is relevant at this point anymore) and threatening fans and strangers with a $7,500 settlements along with the other egregious stuff should earn her the #1 spot on the BBA list–I don’t know WHY it hasn’t yet. Even while the STGRB author(s), Hale, and Howett did will live on in infamy for flaming with reviewers and readers, Linda Ellis tops them by illegal activity and doing something no author does: demanding money from readers and fans via settlement demand letters. Don’t share the Dash anywhere. Who knows if anyone has reviewed the poem on GR? Her books are on Goodreads with decent ratings, but she’s not an author there. Has she tried to sue anyone for quotes there? It would be fair use, of course, but she sends letters anyway regardless.
She’s coming into the limelight again and inserting herself into a heated discussion with ELI members and a new copyright troll Joel Albrizio, who I will get to in a sec. Maybe she missed the drama and got lonely? Maybe she hasn’t sunk her career down far enough down the commode to oblivion? If it ever does finally give, what took place with Howett and Hale won’t hold a meter stick to the shit storm that would erupt. I might with this latest fail.
Joel Albrizio and his company Adlife Marketing and Communications have made their way into the copyright trolling and extortion scene by sending out invoices and settlement demand letters for $8000 for food photos. ELI has become very well known for helping folks navigate the murky waters of copyright law while still protecting the rights of both consumers and artists alike. Other people started coming forward about this guy and his demands and tactics.
So, when new stuff comes to the forums with the folks that come in, the power members start researching and writing on their blogs, and they have their SEO game on, so if you Google his name the articles are on the first several pages. Robert K at Copyright Trolls.com began to write about Albrizio’s business ethics or lack thereof on his blog and criticized him. People also left negative reviews online. If you are part of the book loving community and reading this, you can easily see where this is going. It has happened too many times.
Robert tends to use colorful language and pictures on his blog that some people may take offense with, so if you can’t stand the heat, stay out of his kitchen. His blog is his own personal online space and he is protected by free speech. He isn’t writing libel since he does document his arguments with screen captures and commentary from lots of different people who are REAL. No evidence of doxing.
Joel, who doesn’t seem to have gotten the memo about how to or not to respond to negative reviews (especially about unethical practices), went and began commenting (read: fuming and ranting) on Robert’s blog back in October. Robert documented each everything play by play. Other members of the forum came to Robert’s defense. Linda Ellis stuck her nose in it like a goob. Joel wouldn’t stop commenting on Robert’s blog and even contacted him via email and phone. Eugene Volkh at Washington Post got wind of the story who is also an Ellis critic. Joel still in the fray. Unlike some people, he didn’t know when to stop and hasn’t since. After the kerfuffle on the blog, Joel had since took it off his blog and into email and even the telephone where the next stage of this goes down.
So, he threatens by phone that he will “ruin Robert’s Life” and “destroy him” since “he doesn’t know what’s coming”, but it is still documented. And since then a smear campaign site/blog called the Voices of Jupiter, Florida (VOJF) sprung up shortly after. Everyone knew it was Joel and set out to prove it. Boy, did they ever. He has been using fake accounts (women I might add–not flattering), sock puppets, proxy servers, but still had been sniffed out, but he still denies doing it. “I’m not your blogger,” he says. Yeah right. You know what else? He grabbed an image off of Google Images for his fake account (documented and the photographer has been identified) and uses it for his libelous sock puppet. And what is he threatening people and accusing them of and demanding $8K for each photo? Un-freaking-believable hypocrisy. Right now the saga is continuing. For commentary:
Joel is using his fake accounts to not only harm Robert, but his family, friends, and the whole nine yards. Fine detective work sniffed out what everyone already knew with definitive proof. He has been shown to twist and fabricate evidence and Ellis has jumped on board to help this “poor unfortunate soul” (I can hear Ursula singing when I write that). Well, the combined idiocy between the two of them will hurt the both of them in the long run. Doesn’t look good already.
To add, Joel Albrizio claims to he a writer and a photographer. I don’t know if he is a published author or not. That could put him in a BBA category as well. He is a BBE for darn sure.
We’ll have to see how this plays out.
About the Author
AK Taylor is an award winning YA author who has been writing novels since age 16. Beekeeper, outdoor sportsman, avid adventurer, and animal lover. Taylor lives in the backwoods of Middle GA where she continues to write stories.