independent

Monday 21 April 2014

Crime writer RJ Ellory admits posting fake book reviews online for past 10 years

English writer Roger Jon Ellory, who is known as RJ Ellory by his fans. Photo: Getty Images

RJ ELLORY, the bestselling crime writer exposed for writing fake Amazon reviews praising himself and criticising rivals, has admitted to doing it for over ten years.

Amid a growing worldwide backlash against the "underhand tactics, the 47 year-old disclosed that he had written at least a dozen posts on the internet using pseudonyms.



In a series of messages to fans and rivals on social networking sites, he repeatedly apologised for his actions on websites such as Amazon and vowed he would not “avoid responsibility”.



The author, whose 10 novels have sold more than a million copies, also admitted his attacks on his rivals including Mark Billingham and Stuart MacBride were unwarranted.



The writer of A Quiet Belief in Angels and a Simple Act of Violence, has faced a deluge of criticism from fans and authors worldwide this week, many of whom have taken to the internet to voice their anger.



In a letter sent to The Daily Telegraph yesterday, a group of 49 of Britain’s leading authors, including bestselling writers Ian Rankin, Lee Child, Susan Hill, Val McDermid and Helen FitzGerald, also condemned the "abuse".



After their outspoken attack on the so-called “sock puppeting” practice, the backlash continued to mount today as authors from across the Atlantic joined the chorus of condemnation.



A number of best-selling American writers publicly supported the letter including Anne Rice, the author of gothic fiction and erotica, Karin Slaughter and Michael Connelly, both crime authors.



Ellory, a father–of–one who has won a variety of awards including Crime Novel of the Year 2010, did not respond to repeated requests from for comment.



His literary agent, Euan Thorneycroft, added: “Roger has no further comment.”



But in his messages on Facebook, posted over the past two days, Ellory wrote: “Thank you. Your kindness is immensely appreciated. I cannot, however, avoid responsibility for what I have done, and I do not intend to.



“Over the last ten years I have posted approximately 12 reviews of my own books, and I also criticised a book written by Stuart MacBride, and another by Mark Billingham, both of whom had done nothing to warrant such criticism.



“This I regret deeply, but time cannot be turned back. I have apologised for what I have done, and I hope in time that we can move beyond this.”



In reply to a fan who wrote to him on Twitter urging him to “please keep writing”, the author replied: “I will, of course, and thank you.”



It comes a few days following a public apology for his "lapse of judgment”, after was exposed for using pseudonyms to write fake glowing reviews about his "magnificent genius" online while criticising his rivals.



The writer, whose real name is Roger Jon Ellory, admitted he had used fake identities to write about his own work and giving himself five–star ratings while simultaneously criticising his rivals.



He was compelled to apologise after Jeremy Duns, a British spy author now based in Sweden, aired the accusations on Twitter last week.



Duns, 38, MacBride, 43, and Billingham, 51, all said that they accepted Ellory’s apology and said they were “moving on”.



In their public letter, the bestselling writers, who have collectively sold millions of copies between them, warned that fake book reviews were rife on the internet.



Condemning the "abuse" on websites such as Amazon, they also warned readers to be aware of the "fraudulent" practices of some writers, arguing that the widespread use of "fake identities" was causing untold damage to publishing.



The Crime Writers' Association, whose almost 600 members include Ellory, a former board member, have also condemned the "unfair" practice and con–firmed they had launched a review.



An Amazon spokesman has not responded to requests for comment.



Andrew Hough, Telegraph.co.uk

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