Tuesday, 26 March 2013

The STANEK Post

I swore a long time ago that I would not discuss the antics of Robert Stanek on this blog. There is simply not enough time in the world to give publicity to trolls and pretend-authors when there's so many good books to read out there. On the other hand, when someone starts writing lies about you online, some sort of response is required.


Who is Robert Stanek and what are his antics?
This would fill many, many blog entries of many tens of thousands of words. Fortunately, other people have already done this. This is the most exhaustive series of entries on the subject.

Briefly, William Robert Stanek is the self-published author of many technical IT manuals. He appears to have been genuinely successful at this. He has also written several fantasy novels, although it is difficult to track how many since the numerous titles for books in his bibliography seem to be retitlings and rejacketings (most recently for YA editions) of the same couple of books. According to Stanek many of these books have been bestsellers, although the evidence for this is scant. Stanek is widely-suspected of writing the many hundreds of five-star reviews of his books on Amazon, Audible and other websites himself, due to the similar diction and writing style of almost all of these reviews (many of which have now been deleted). The situation was notable enough that, ten years ago, the multi-Hugo Award-winning critic David Langford published an investigation into Stanek's antics in his SFF newsletter Ansible, which resulted in him being threatened by Mr. Stanek's alleged 'lawyer'. Since then Stanek's antics have been discussed on quite a few blogs and forums (including by myself, on Westeros.org, SFFWorld and maybe one or two other places). However, I have not devoted too much time to this because - admittedly - I knew Stanek's MO was to come after people who had criticised him online. I thought I got off lightly when he merely suggested that I (and Pat from Pat's Fantasy Hotlist) should be shanked in prison.

However, a couple of weeks back (see above link) he posted a lengthy rant about how he'd been treated and falsely accused of things online (oddly, his own antics went unmentioned, like the shanking thing). Fair enough. Everyone has the right to defend themselves and when I was linked to the article today, I was hoping to see a coherent defence of Stanek's actions and an explanation for them. Unfortunately, what we got was the same old spiel of confused gibberish. Particularly interesting were the following claims (poor grammar and punctuation left intact):
The timeline here is important because in May 2002, the following appeared in David Langford’s Ansible: “Amazon Mystery. Authors of fantasies on sale at Amazon.com have noticed a rash of oddly similar customer reviews that rubbish their work and instead recommend, say, George R.R. Martin, Robert Jordan, and Robert Stanek. The number of Big Name commendations varies, but not the plug for self-published author Robert Stanek. Who could possibly be posting these reviews (many since removed by Amazon) under a variety of names? It is a mystery, but Ansible is reminded of how Lionel Fanthorpe's pseudonymous sf would often mention those great classic masters of the genre, Verne, Wells and Fanthorpe.”

Note how they twist what they’ve done into something I’ve supposedly done to them--this is a constant tactic. I assume this post was written by David Langford friend and blogger, Adam Whitehead, as Whitehead then took to his blog to rant about how I was supposedly writing fake five-star reviews of my own books using sock puppets. As Whitehead is and was the self-professed #1 fan of George RR Martin (and is even credited in one of George’s books), all the sock puppet one-star reviews mentioning George RR Martin were suddenly starting to make sense as they were all likely written by Whitehead and his friends.
It should be noted at this point that I did not have Internet access at home until October 2005, never met George R.R. Martin until the same month and was not mentioned (along with about thirty other people) in any of his books until 2011. Also, I would not claim to the title of "#1 Fan" of anything, due to no longer being nine years old. Much more to the point, rewinding to the very first post on his blog will reveal that I did not start it until late 2006. It would have been hard even for me to have mentioned Stanek on the blog four years before it existed. In addition, until today Stanek's name has not even been mentioned on this blog (as a cursory Google check confirms). My comments about Stanek were limited to a couple of mentions on a few forums over the years and that was it.
Around this time a new group got involved as well, including authors Patrick Rothfuss and David Louis Edelman. Rothfuss and Edelman trashed me on their blogs in 2007, trying to enlist their fans in trashing me and their fans did begin trashing me in a big way. Blogger Patrick St. Dennis of Pat’s Fantasy List, Rothfuss’ #1 fan and friend, set to trashing me in his blog as well. Others joined in and quite a few who were directly associated with fantasy publisher Tor.
Another cursory Google check of Patrick Rothfuss's blog suggests that Rothfuss has also never mentioned Stanek in any of his blog posts (Stanek alleges Rothfuss also trashed him on Facebook, which again I can find no evidence of, but tracking down information on Facebook can be a lot trickier). David Louis Edelman did indeed post an article about him, and Pat has certainly not been shy about mocking him, but the dig at Tor Books seems a bit random.

I posted the following response at Stanek's blog (repeated here in case it is deleted from there):

Hello, Mr. Stanek. Normally I don't respond to such drivel (and I even ignored it when you suggested I should be knifed to death), but when someone starts talking lies about me online, I do feel the need to correct them. It's even more unwise to lie about things that are ridiculously easy to check.

1. I didn't have a blog in 2002. I didn't even have the Internet until 2005. If I was reviewing your books I would use my name. Unlike yourself when you trash other authors using sock-puppets and fake Amazon accounts, I always use my own name on my reviews. This is because I have integrity.

2. The article was written by David Langford. That's why it appears on David Langford's website, which is the creation of David Langford. That might have been a clue to the fact it was written by David Langford.

3. I have never in seven years even mentioned your name on my blog (though do not be surprised if this changes in the near future). Please provide the URL of the article in which you are mentioned or withdraw this claim.

4. Your name has never appeared on Patrick Rothfuss's blog, according to a Google search. Please provide the URL of the article in which you are mentioned or withdraw this claim.
A response is awaited.

UPDATE: As anticipated, my comment to his post was removed, as he clearly is happier running away and hiding than standing up for himself. The comment has been reposted, and I continue to await a substantive response.

42 comments:

Johann Pollard said...

Holy crap this guy is like a bad STD. Just when you think we're rid of him he comes out swinging, foaming at the mouth. Bloody troll. You'd have thunk he'd have gotten the hint that no one will ever believe what he says. Well, his imaginary fanbase might, but that's another story.

ediFanoB said...

You did the right thing.
But why should he answer? He lives in his own world where everybody who does not share his opinion is an enemy. And enemies never tell the truth.

Weirdmage said...

I read Stanek's post...That is a very long post referencing a lot of things supposedly happening online, and not a single link. I bet I could come up with a much better "author conspiracy" theory in a day or two of googling.
Stanek seems to be the prototype of a self published author who believes he deserves success, and who has the delusion that his lack of success must be a conspiracy.

Anonymous said...

Robert Stanek - pioneering the way for frauds like M.R. Mathias to rob unsuspecting readers of their cash.

RobB said...

One of the more amazing things about that post of drivel from "that guy" is he makes claims about several personal attacks he suffered online, yet he does not provide links to any of these attacks.

Anybody can say "somebody called me a poopy head at Westeros" or "Pat said I smell like rotten lettuce on his blog." (See I just did.

But what the hell does "a person with SFFWorld credentials posted to i09" mean?

Anonymous said...

How on earth does he have 100,000+ followers on Twitter? That's more than twice as much as Brandon Sanderson. Did he create a load of fake Twitter accounts as well?

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous A fair assumption, in my highly unscientific method, I just dd a cursory check on his 100 or so most recent followers. Nearly all of them followed between 300-several thousand, but were themselves followed by 2 or 3. I'm not sure if that makes them bots or not, but when all of them are like that....

Kenneth

Anonymous said...

You can buy Twitter followers - as well as Facebook likes (of which he has over 130,000).

Caligula_K said...

lolz

Jamie said...

His most heinous crime is wearing white socks and black shoes with shorts - that is simply unacceptable.

Anonymous said...

M.R Mathais is Stanek's heir, it's true.

Look at Stanek's 100,000 likes on facebook. Hordes of non-English speaking rent-a-likes. Random Indonesian conversations having nothing to do with Stanek or his books spill across his FB page.

Mathias auto-tweets the same marketing slogans over and over to a legion of twitter-bots that never reply :)

Why post this annonymously? Because both of them will come after you (with or without shanks).

The Writer said...

Oh, Robert Stanek. You hilarious, delusional man. You should consider it an honor to be incorporated into his mythos of persecution and paranoia.

Anonymous said...

At least Mathias has received a few legit reviews that are good. The people at fantasy book critic love his stuff.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to see Hugh Howey's take on this guy. Howey's is pretty much the perfect example of how an indie author should promote himself, and his success speaks for itself .

RobB said...

By the way, that person with "SFFWorld credentials" is you Adam, i09 linked to a post you made in the forums: http://io9.com/5300748/how-much-damage-can-a-maniac-and-his-army-of-sock-puppets-do-on-amazoncom

Stanek also had a war of words with Victoria Strauss, a well known advocate of author rights and smiter of bad publishing deals/publishers

Tony Laplume said...

The funny thing about all this is that Stanek has obviously made himself a name one way or another, and that none of this really matters. But it's still fun reading about!

ptolpa said...

This made me look up some of 'that guy's' books on Amamzon. Books reviewer E A Solinas starts with 'I want to hurt this book. I want to hurt this book the way it has hurt me' and is hysterically funny. Apologies if this results in unintentional support for the writer.

Neth said...

Well, best of luck in this. I hope it all just fades away. If it were me Stanek had accused, I'd have a hard time deciding what to do - ignore it, angrily rant and rave, or do a sound, rational defense full of actual facts (as you chose).

But be on the look out for his mythical lawyers and their magical legal briefs!

MarkS said...

I truly believe that guy is psychotic.

Ezekiel Monbeau said...

Didn't win a distinguished flying cross either a Robert Stanek recieved one in 1953. For the Korean War which doesn't really fit in with his book about the first Gulf War.

http://militarytimes.com/citations-medals-awards/recipient.php?recipientid=301358

Guess he stolen some else glory there to, hopefully a relative at the very least.

Ignore him Adam he's a delusional knob.

Anonymous said...

An angry ginger faced man.






Nearly Headless Ned.

polishgenius said...

Er, what happened to the original Westeros topic where this came up? Shady legal territory or something (obviously if that's the case this comment is gonna go too... :P)?

RobB said...

The coward removed your comment Adam, much to you complete and utter lack of shock:

[Addendum] The consummate hucksters strike again and in only took them two weeks to come up with a response. You'd think they'd come up with more creative nonsense in two weeks. LOL. :-D

Derfel said...

He's already deleted all the comments. He forgot to refute the points raised, I'm sure that will be forthcoming very soon...

Adam Whitehead said...

Actually, the military medal thing appears to be accurate (going by the article I linked, someone did some digging). Someone of his name did receive one, but as part of a unit citation, not an individual award.

Adam Whitehead said...

Thanks to the power of copy and paste, it's back now :-)

Thaxll said...

I really can't grasp behavior like this. For this level of self-delusion there has to be a mental illness involved ...

The man should get himself checked out by a psychiatrist for schizophrenia or something.

Space Cadet Juan said...

In a way, it's almost too bad that you even had to address this situation. I can truthfully say that in my 35 years of reading and enjoying a wide variety of SF & F lit, I had never so much as heard of this guy until you wrote about him here. By dignifying his claims with a response, you're actually getting his name out there!

Geeds said...

Check out the facebook account - 133000 odd likes - but the most odd thing is that the most popular place to be liked form is Jakarta - now unless he is published in Bahasa it probably means every ex-pat in the city is liking his books - or that a 'published as an IT genius' can set up some fake likes if you use a city many people in his country will have never heard of!

Anonymous said...

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

Robert Stanek is such a fun guy. I remember Pat of Pat's Fantasy Hotlist raving about Stanek's antics a few years ago. I must admit it made for very entertaining reading; now he's targeting Wert.
I truly hope he goes after some of the other bloggers too and soon. Would be really fun to see all you guys battling that buffoon.

bibliotropic said...

I think I've heard of a couple of his books, but haven't gotten around to reading them yet. I knew nothing of the guy's history or background until today. But I did approach this with a skeptical mind, and read his post before yours just to see what he said.

And wow, it really did come across like a very long rant consisting of little but, "Wah, I'm so good but all the other authors are out to get me and keep me down, and all the reviewers are in cahoots with them!" Yes, authors can get a lot of trash from reviewers and other authors, but dude, seriously, if your books are as good as you claim, they'll stand on their own. And if they don't seem to be, then maybe the problem isn't the evil conspiracy of bookish types. -_- Ugh, seriously, that post was incredibly unprofessional even if any of it was truth!

Plus you refuted him quite nicely with little more than a few simple facts and questios. Funny how it often doesn't take more than that to rip such a flimsy argument apart, but sadly, you probably never will get a response to your concerns.

Anonymous said...

I find it funny that he deleted your comment a second time and said it was you who did it.

Andrew said...

Stanek spends a lot of time trying to make criticism about him disappear. From the early days of having Amazon delete negative reviews of his books, to sending legal threats from fake lawyers to bloggers and message boards.

The David Langford Ansible affair is well known. Not so well known: Four years ago he forced the author Stephen Leigh to remove a couple of the most comprehensive analysis of his tactics at that time. He wrote the founder of Wikipedia to remove the corrected Stanek article which mentioned that he is self published. Stanek stopped discussion about his dubious self promtion tactics on sffwolrd. He probably played some role in crapauthors.com demise.

And now the most recent discussion about Stanek has been removed from the Westeros literature forum.

Granted it may have been just to stop giving this awful man more attention. However, with is sock puppet army still pumping out fake reviews and false hype on sites such as Goodreads, BN, audible.com and various educational forums (where he pretends to be a teacher who recommends Stanek's children books) - I think people should still be warned about him.

I wouldn't be surprised if you start receiving legal threats soon. Or sites like http://conjugalfelicity.com/robert-stanek/ to go offline someday.

As a side note, my local library has recently acquired four of his self published books. What a waste of tax payers dollars.

Anonymous said...

Man...I got suckered into buying one of his books on Audible. Great reviews...$10. I thought: why not try a new author. I didn't know he was a sock puppet. Damn it.

Anonymous said...

A shocking (or not so)amount of his 5-Star reviewers have their profiles set to private. Like who puts their Goodreads profile on private?! So fake

Anonymous said...

I think we all also need to realise that he quite obviously has some mental health issues and needs some kind of help. I'm not saying that to be mean, I am genuinely sad that it appears there's no one to help this poor soul.

Yeah he's being destructive, but it's mostly self destruction and that's just plain sad. He doesn't need to be laughed at, he needs genuine concern and an open mind about his troubles.

JebusJones

Andystoteles said...

Your comment was deleted again, and he has replied in a fashion. You and Pat are now "Huckster Kings"©.
And the theory is that you deleted all your slandering posts about him because you now have some sort of secret bond with GRRM. This i so damn funny i just might pee my pants.

Adam Whitehead said...

Hey, I got a response out of him, and it was even more incoherent than I was expecting.

Also, where's my huckster crown?

Anonymous said...

oh well. Lets hope that Stanek doesn't flip someday and goes after his critics in person. At least you are protected by an ocean.

He does seem to give you credit (or implies that you have balls), unlike cowards who are anonymous in their criticism or have their minions / fans do their dirty work for them.

JohnB said...

Ha, just looked up the definition of Huckster.

" In the United States, there developed a connotation of trickery – the huckster might trick others into buying cheap imitation products as if they were the real thing."

Pot, kettle & black. I am starting to think that this buffoon is a comedy genius.

Brandon Smith said...

I checked his blog, Adam. And AGAIN he deleted your comment. Sometimes I wonder if he himself is some sort of fictional construct.

Fucking lunatic. It's guys like him that made me completely swear off self-published literature.

Adam Whitehead said...

To the last commentator: that sounds about right, but sadly may be libellous so I didn't risk posting the comment. But my sympathies for getting that kind of treatment.