This one has had a relatively small impact, but follows familiar patterns, and reveals anti-reader, anti-consumer attitudes we've seen before.
Author Elena Maria Vidal has written several self published Historical Fiction novels, set around the time of the French Revolution, including one about Marie Antoinette which the blurb for the book claims is "...based upon the author's thirty years of research. Whenever possible the historical persons speak for themselves out of memoirs and letters." According to her bio she has an MA in European History.
A couple of readers with expertise in the subject matter, including The Just About Average Ms M, have posted their less than favorable reviews regarding Ms. Vidals novels, in part pointing out what they believe are significant historical inaccuracies.
Some of these reviews go back a couple years, some are more recent. These reviews have been targeted by a few of Ms. Vidal's fans (and/or possible sock puppets), posting unpleasant things in the comment section. Additionally Ms. M's own books, which I understand are academic in nature, have been victim to one-star retaliation ratings. Of course this activity cannot in and of itself be held against the author, without any evidence she's party to it.
However, a few months ago Ms. Vidal posted a blog post on her blog (recently now deleted) entitled "Trolls on the Internet and Negative Reviews" in which she attempts to paint herself as the victim of "bullying" and "harassment" due to these negative reviews. She claimed, in essence, that the other reviewer, who I won't name here, posted negative reviews of her book due to some personal vendetta against her. As evidence she cited the fact that this person had years previous held discussions with her via her blog regarding their mutual interest of French history, as well as debating such issues with her on one of her book reviews on Amazon. I've spoken briefly with this person and he's stated he enjoyed discussing the topic with someone who was mutually interested. I would not be surprised if these conversations became heated or adversarial.
I don't believe this person was motivated by malice to post negative reviews, but out of disagreement with historical facts and claims presented in the content. Regardless, Ms Vidal clearly feels otherwise. She admits to having contacted this person's place of employment to inquire if he had a "history of violence."
Independent of this Ms M., who is an expert in the subject matter, also posted negative reviews of Ms. Vidal's novels.
In her blog post complaining of these reviews, Ms. Vidal writes,
"There are reviews which are a genuine critique of the work which can actually help the author improve. I have had many such reviews and they have helped me to grow as a writer. But reviews of the one-star variety are not meant to help a writer become more proficient at his or her craft. One-star reviews are meant to destroy. They do not care about helping anyone's writing skill, They do not want the writer to ever write again."
As you can see she is another who believes consumer reviews are to be "genuine critique of the work" which in my opinion Ms. M's at least obviously are, and that their purpose is to "help the author improve", and "helping" the author's "writing skill" which of course is not their purpose at all.
Additionally, according to her, one-star reviews serve no legitimate purpose, and posting them must be due to malicious intent toward the author. I must wonder then why she thinks both Amazon and GoodReads offer their users/customers the option of rating a book 1 star. According to Amazon and GoodReads it's to allow their users/customers the ability to express "I Didn't Like It", according to Ms. Vidal it's "meant to destroy." and an effort to cause the writer to never write again. Which of course is utter bullcrap.
In this blog post Ms. Vidal also posted links to multiple reviews by these two reviewers, both on Amazon and GoodReads, calling these reviewers out and making it easy for fans to target them for harassment. Some did make the attempt, and both GoodReads and Amazon deleted such comments from the reviews due to TOS violations. In one place where she provided links she stated,
"I am linking to this to show how determined and obsessed they are to bully and harass me. It is psychological terrorism and terrorists need the light shown upon them."
Please note, she's referring here to negative book reviews.
Last week a couple GoodReads users posted as "Discussion Questions" of her books accusations of "persecution" and harassment of this author, referencing the blog post. Those questions have now been deleted and the users who posted them are now no longer GR users. I suspect this is due to GR action, per TOS, but I cannot be sure.
As many of us are aware, all of these are common tactics some authors employ in an attempt to intimidate readers into removing, and not posting, book reviews that displease them. Failing that, it is designed to discredit the reviewers so that readers and potential readers, disregard them and are taught not to post such reviews themselves.
In short - an attempt to subvert the purpose of consumer reviews as independent, unbiased, honest, consumer opinion.
Within the last day Ms. Vidal reported on her Facebook page that GoodReads has removed her account and she is no longer a GoodReads Author. I have confirmed this is correct.
"Now this is strange. I received a message from Goodreads saying that I have been banned. It seems that some people complained about my "abusive" behavior! I assumed then that my entire author page had been taken down. But it's still there, although I no longer am a "Goodreads Author." https://www.goodreads.com/aut…/show/150437.Elena_Maria_Vidal What is really weird is that they took down all my reviews of other authors' books! I feel bad because those authors sent me their books expecting a review! I just want people to know if my review of your book is gone, it is not my doing!"