In the old West, the new gunfighter would call out the old gunfighter and one or the other would end in a pine box. In the new West of the Internet, a guy like Patrick Rothfuss does much the same except he uses friends and family to do the dirty deed. In 2007 when Patrick Rothfuss got up on his soapbox and ranted to stir up a mob, I had 100 published books to my credit, translations in over 20 countries and over 5 million books sold -- something Patrick Rothfuss likely knew when he came out swinging after his first book was published and publicly enlisted friends and family to do his dirty work.
And do his dirty work they did. My books were flooded with spiteful reviews. Hateful discussions were started in forums. Hateful posts were made on blogs. My fiction readers, who are mostly children, were harassed and intimidated. I received threatening emails, phone calls, letters. Who knew writing children’s fiction could be so fraught? I sure didn’t and I’d been a professionally published author since 1995.
Apparently, Patrick Rothfuss hadn’t done enough damage because he came out swinging again in 2009. Stirring to action, not only friends and family this time, but also his expanding fan base. Hateful discussions and blog posts became darker. Harassment of my readers turned to stalking. If the threats I had been received weren’t already bad enough, they became even worse.
Patrick Rothfuss’s motivation was likely the same as those who had gone before him: $$$$. Big franchises are big business, just ask Susan Collins, Rick Riordan, or J K Rowling.
But big franchises also are few and far between. There can only be so many big franchises. Something I’m sure Patrick Rothfuss absolutely knows. After all, he’s a guy who believes he has a major franchise and he may, but I also think he wasn’t about to let someone he believed he could quietly take out behind the barn, dig a hole, and put in the ground get there before him.
But Patrick Rothfuss was by no means the first who thought he could quietly take me out behind the barn, dig a hole, and put me in the ground. Why? Because the Internet makes it all too easy for unethical competitors to do and say just about anything they want to. They can do it anonymously, with pen names, with sock puppet accounts. They can do it through friends and family. They can do it through fans, others.
It doesn’t take much really. Just ask Patrick Rothfuss. A few public rants. A few quiet whispers. A few anonymous posts.
Dare to defend yourself? They howl even louder. Isn’t that right Patrick Rothfuss, David Louis Edelman, Jim C. Hines, Stephen Leigh, Victoria Strauss, Maureen Johnson, Tim Spalding?
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