It is the want of many writers to become published ‘authors’.
At least, if they’re like me anyway.

I have a burning ambition to see the words ‘published author‘ somewhere in my bio.

Not just that, but I want to see my book on a shelf in a book shop somewhere. (I entertain dreams of sneakily signing copies and putting them back on the shelf as a surprise for the person who buys it!)

I want to see a physical manifestation of the literal thousands of hours of work that I’ve put into creating the ‘Songbird‘ series. I want a book I can hold in my hands. I want pages to turn and, more importantly, I want to see somebody who isn’t me, or a family member of a friend, turning those pages.

I want a TV show or movie adaptation.

I want the ‘Casting Call‘ area of my website to become a hotly debated topic as Hollywood starts putting faces and famous names to my characters.

I want to be mentioned in the same breath as George RR Martin, JK Rowling, JRR Tolkien and Stephen King

What?

WOW!

Wow, indeed, Mr. Wilson!

Well, that didn’t take long to happen, did it?

You can see by my response how overwhelmed I was.

I mean, it IS a ‘Least-favourite authors of 2020‘ list, but goddamn if I’m not on there right alongside one Stephen King. Esteemed company, I’m sure you’ll agree.

I was shocked. So shocked that I thought that this epic moment in my journey to become a published author needed to be looked at in more detail. This could be it. Where it all starts! My epic journey to recognition. To being a bonafide Twitter celebrity.  So… Let’s take these guys in order of Twitter popularity/.

First up:

@JeffPerlman

Jeff Perlman (verified) 62.8k Followers

According to Wikipedia…

Jeff Pearlman (born 1972) is an American sports writer. He has written three books about baseball, three about football and one on basketball. He was the author of the infamous John Rocker interview in Sports Illustrated. In October 2011 he released his fifth book, a biography of Walter Payton titled, “Sweetness: The Enigmatic Life of Walter Payton.” It spent four weeks on The New York Times Best Seller list.

I like sports writers – I’d totally read a book on Walter Payton.

Next up:

@TejuCole

Teju Cole (verified) 252k Followers

According to Wikipedia…

Teju Cole (born June 27, 1975) is an American writer, photographer, and art historian.
Cole is the author of a novella, Every Day Is for the Thief (2007); a novel, Open City (2012); an essay collection, Known and Strange Things (2016), and a photobook, Punto d’Ombra (2016; published in English in 2017 as Blind Spot).

Admittedly, I have no idea who he is.  Sounds like an interesting chap, though.

So, to the third on this illustrious list:

@Shteyngart

Gary Shteyngart (verified) 571.3k Followers

According to Wikipedia…

Gary Shteyngart (English; born July 5, 1972) is an American writer born in Leningrad, USSR. Much of his work is satirical.

Brief and to the point. I can’t pronounce his surname (not without it sounding like a rude form of yoghurt!), let alone know anything about him. Not much there to go on, but I’m sure he’s a top notch writer… I mean 571.3k people can’t be wrong, can they?

And now the big daddy of the list:

@StephenKing

Stephen King (Soooo Verified) 5.7M Followers (yes, MILLION)

According to Wikipedia…

Stephen Edwin King (born September 21, 1947) don’t be a complete numpty you know who Stephen King is. He’s Stephen King. Fucking Stephen King. Honestly, why are you even looking on Wiki for him anyway. He’s famous. REALLY famous and you’re just making yourself look like an cockwomble for coming here to search for him. Now go search for something sensible instead or sod off! And Jon apologises to Stephen King for referring to him as ‘big daddy’ and any connotations that that may suggest!

Yes, I’ve heard of Stephen King and his works.

And then…there’s me. On this list that has four other people, with almost 6.6M Followers between them, is little old me…currently sitting at 4,321 Followers (my OCD loves that number and I am NOT making it up!  Look here’s the proof!)

For a minute there I figured my claim to fame might just be that I FOLLOWED more people than they did combined…but that idea was ruined!  Thanks for nothing Jeff Perlman! *sigh*

Don’t bother looking for me on Wikipedia, I’m not on there… I looked, and I’m none of these people…

Not me Sir. None of the above!

Now, let’s take a quick look at the person who created this list. Who is it? How much influence do they have? Is my career in trouble before it’s even started?

Hmmmm…

Wow.

Well, they have 1 follower. So, I’m assuming that’s one book sale I’m never going to make.

Don’t laugh! That one person could be the difference between me being a New York Times Bestseller or…well…not being a New York Times Bestseller. Maybe merely being a bestseller in another, lesser city. Like Cleveland. Or Scunthorpe. 

Joking aside for a moment, I truly don’t understand the meaning of this post.

My first question is… 

Who was this aimed at?

I can’t imagine this post even made the smallest of blips on the radars of those other accomplished authors. It flew past their notice like a leaf on the breeze. So, in that case, was it aimed at me?

I mean, I’m the only one who reasonably stood a chance of even seeing it. Right?

So, if that’s correct then was this guy ‘trolling’ me?

And, if so, why?

You can see from his REDACTED Twitter header above that he only follows 49 accounts. He’s practically halfway to Stephen King numbers on that one, so I’m pretty honoured to be a part of that 49. Something, therefore, must have caught his attention on my bio to make him click that follow button.

Maybe he likes my occasional #WritersLifts? Maybe he enjoys my wicked sense of humour and epic gif-fu! Maybe he’s been to my website and enjoyed the content.

Oh, my!

Maybe he’s here now…reading this blog post!  Suddenly this all got very meta!

Anyway, before I could utter the immortal Twitter words ‘Follow Back’, his tweet appeared and put me on a list of his 5 Most Hated Authors of 2020. I put up the response above, to which I got a further reply:

“Sorry, I’m picky!”

Picky?

Well, that much must be true as he only followed 48 other accounts apart from mine. Stand by for incoming STATS!

I did a very thorough Google search for the number of Twitter accounts currently live. Clicking diligently on the very first link I found, I got this number – courtesy of ‘Oberlo’.

Statistics courtesy of Oberlo! Thanks Oberlo. 🙂

330 Million.

And this guy only follows 49 people.

That’s some pretty fucking rarefied air I’m breathing.

So, you can imagine how much it hurts to be turned on like this.

**Deep breaths**

Anyway, it was blatantly a deliberate, targeted attack.

So, my second question becomes…

Huh?

This is more a question that pertains to the nature of the attack. It’s impressively subtle. So subtle that at first I didn’t realise it was an attack at all.

So, let’s take a moment, everyone, to take a look at how well constructed this ‘troll’ is.

It’s very short and to the point, which means it skims across your attention. The word ‘Favourite’ kind of jumps out first, plus the date. 2020. Plus ‘Stephen King’ is on the list, so you assume it’s a bloody good list (even if you don’t recognise the other names at all!). It’s only when you read closer that you notice the qualifier of ‘Least’.

This is the Georgi Markov version of trolling.

For those who don’t know who that is…let me explain.

Georgi Ivanov Markov was a Bulgarian dissident writer.

On 7 September 1978, Markov walked across Waterloo Bridge spanning the River Thames, and waited to take a bus to his job at the BBC. While at the bus stop, he felt a slight sharp pain, as a bug bite or sting, on the back of his right thigh. He looked behind him and saw a man picking up an umbrella off the ground. The man hurriedly crossed to the other side of the street and got in a taxi which then drove away. The event is recalled as the “Umbrella Murder“.

When he arrived at work at the BBC World Service offices, Markov noticed a small red pimple had formed at the site of the sting he had felt earlier and the pain had not lessened or stopped. He told at least one of his colleagues at the BBC about this incident. That evening, he developed a fever and was admitted to St. James’ Hospital in Balham, where he died four days later, on 11 September 1978, at the age of 49. The cause of death was poisoning from a ricin-filled pellet.

So, there it is folks…I’ve just had the Twitter equivalent of a ricin pellet shot into my thigh without even noticing.

I was attacked, without feeling attacked.

So, my third question is…

Why?

I mean…why?

It’s not as if it hurt me in the slightest. I’m honestly more baffled by it than anything else. At this stage in my ‘career,’ I’m querying, that’s all. I have a book, but outside of a few friends, no one has read much more of it than I’ve previewed on this website. Certainly this person has not read any of it. So, it’s not like I have a target to lash out at.

I’m not going to be hurt that I made the ‘least favourite authors list’ if I haven’t actually published anything yet. It’s not going to sew self-doubt, or hurt my potential book sales (apart from possibly that one follower…but being positive about it, maybe that person has a mind and opinion of their own!).

All it really did was provide me with fodder for this blog.

So, I guess after all that I owe them a tiny debt of thanks.

So, REDACTED, if you are reading this…when I get published, I’ll send you a nice signed copy of what is likely to be your least favourite book of whatever year it may be.

Love and Books

P.S. Honestly, I love this guy for giving me an awesome idea for today’s blog. And for the hilarity it caused for me and a few Twitter chums. Honestly, with the world going to Hell-in-a-Handbasket at the moment, we could do with all the levity we can get. So kudos to you Redacted. Kudos indeed!

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12 Comments

  1. Simon

    Reply

    You know what they say – any press is good press. If I saw this tweet go by, I would be interested to know just who these people are, especially if they’re being mentioned alongside Stephen King. This curiosity would lead me to go check out the rest of the authors on the list. It might serve to boost your status instead of taring it down. There’s something to be said for reverse psychology!

    • Jon Ford

      Reply

      Ah if only I was published so that there would be work they could read and make their own judgements!
      But you’re right. That and this blog post may have brought people here who otherwise wouldn’t have come. 🙂

  2. Theodora

    Reply

    Hey I love reading your blog! Your content is inspiring and it makes me want to start writing something as well! Twitter can sometimes be a messy place and some people just don’t know how to respect others. Considering the names this person has also listed, I guess you can take it as a compliment instead 😀

    • Jon Ford

      Reply

      Hehe, I had to take it as such, it was just so bizarre!
      I keep telling everyone that’ll listen that I have been mentioned in the same breath as Stephen King!
      (I don’t tell them in what context… 😛 )

  3. Olga

    Reply

    I’m sorry to hear that… Honestly, I don’t understand the culture of trolling. If you have critical comments, it’s totally fine. Just tell me what you think and most likely I will appreciate the comments because they help me improve. But simply trolling is just disrespectful.

  4. DonnaN

    Reply

    Ha! To be mentioned in the same breath as Stephen King is an honor. After reading this, I wish you had your first book published too. It would be funny to send him one! Thanks for the laugh today. The way you handled this troll was great.

  5. Paula

    Reply

    You bring up a good point, Jon. A lot of people just skim Twitter. If they see this post, they may see the word, “favourite,” and assume that this is a list of someone’s favorite authors. This could actually work in your beneift!

    It is puzzling, though, as you noted, as to why someone would target you. I’d be curious as to why this person put you on this list. Did you ask him why?

    • Jon Ford

      Reply

      No, I didn’t want to get drawn into something.

      I just decided to use it for fodder for an amusing blog post and hope that, as you say, some casual twitter skimmers see my name and check out my profile. 🙂

      • RaeY

        Reply

        Smart thinking Jon! Maybe people will see favorite or even just think the entry is funny and check you out. It could possibly get you some new fans, once they read and check out your account. Then again, you said he didn’t follow many people or have many followers.

  6. Amina

    Reply

    I would see it as a part of getting closer to success. It feels like to me that the hate comments are always positive correlated with how successful you are. I mean, the more people like your work, at the same time there are more people going to disapprove you. I personally don’t think they are doing something right of course, but I guess in a way it reflects that you are getting closer to what you want to achieve as well!

  7. Isla Davies

    Reply

    Well, you know you’re relevant when you finally have a “hater”. Congratulations! Really, I love the classy way you handled it! I find least-favourite lists to be mean-spirited, but you basically just scored some free publicity, so I’d call that a win.

    • Jon Ford

      Reply

      Well, they didn’t have that many followers so I’m not convinced I got much free publicity. But I did get a blog post out of it, so I’m happy enough with that as a win! 😀 Thanks Isla.

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