All This ZonAlert & Fiverr Report Nonsense…


Over the past eight months I’ve received a steadily increasing number of emails, comments, and PMs about several websites discussing online author shenanigans. These websites claim a number of reasonably popular authors are purchasing reviews, making up fake awards, and engaging in sockpuppetry.

A number of commentators believe Robert Stanek is behind these websites, reasoning (among other things) it’s awfully suspicious websites dedicated to exposing fake reviews, sockpuppetry, and author shenanigans would *not* mention Robert Stanek among the list of accused. Also, these websites really don’t like Melissa Foster, and Robert Stanek HATES Melissa Foster.

I’ve resisted writing about this for some time because I have very little interest in policing the online shenanigans of authors (Stanek being the exception), and I don’t have any direct evidence linking Stanek to these sites. However, unlike whoever is behind these websites, I try not to make claims unless I have, you know, actual evidence backing me up that I’m willing to show.

The brave freedom fighters behind these website have no such scruples, even though one of them is supposedly a former newspaper editor:



I will (briefly) be discussing some things that appear on the following websites:

Yes, I am linking directly to them. No, I don’t care that I am giving them traffic. Bad ideas do not survive when they are exposed to light.

So these websites.

Shame On You

This website has essentially no original content on it. All it does is host copies of content that appears on “The Fiverr Report” website, like this and this. In addition, it states:


Right, so the person who started this website is also the author of The Fiverr Report. And where is his content being published?


Gotcha. So really, this website is just an empty shell devoid of content, almost as if it was only created to attempt to lend an extra layer of authenticity to two other websites.

Kindle Readers Beware

This website has an article on fake writing awards with a list of supposedly fake awards which is identical to another, slightly rearranged list of awards on Zon Alert. This article links to Shame on You which states Melissa Foster was outed for her fakery at Zon Alert.   So, again, another website with no original content.

So, multiple websites that all link to each other to add a thin layer of authenticity and increase SEO. Subtle.

The Fiverr Report

The first article on this site states:


Yes. Yet ANOTHER fucking website created to link to Zon Alert.

Interestingly, this website doesn’t just link to Zon Alert. It also pirates their content. The article on the left appeared on the Fiverr Report, on the right appeared on the Zon Alert.


Whoever the so-called “authors” of these websites are, they make no bones about the fact that they’re responsible for and own these websites. Why, then, are they taking their own content, giving it the most cursory of rewrites, and re-publishing it on different websites? Seriously, if these are a group of people dedicated to peeling back the curtain and exposing the dirty secrets of online publishing and author shenanigans, why are they taking such a fucking stupid route of doing it?

I could go on about this, at length, but let’s just get to the point:

Carolyn Arnold



…Okay, fair enough. Do you have a link? Maybe some analysis? A screenshot? If she was openly discussing this shit on social media wouldn’t you have some documentation to SHOW what she was doing? Wouldn’t that be a lot more convincing then you just telling us she did things?


To be clear: this author is claiming to have a smoking gun. THEY HAVE SEEN THE EVIDENCE OF AUTHORS SWAPPING PLANS TO WRITE REVIEWS OF EACH OTHERS’ BOOKS AND UPVOTE EACH OTHER. Do they have any evidence of this? …nope. Screenshots? Nope.

Now, I know nothing about Carolyn Arnold. Maybe she’s actually done all of these awful things, but I’m not going to take the word of some random anonymous blogger just because they claim to be telling the truth.

Here’s a tip, if these authors are even remotely interested in being credible. When I argued, on my website, that Robert Stanek was misrepresenting and lying about the professional reviews his books had received, I went to the library, looked up the newspaper article on microfiche, and posted a copy of it onto my website so anyone, with a single click, could see precisely what I was arguing. If you want to hide behind a veil of anonymity you must be prepared to back up and source every single thing you’re saying, otherwise there’s no reason for anyone to pay any attention. And that really is my problem with these websites. There isn’t any evidence.

Here’s a list of authors supposedly pulling shenanigans that doesn’t have any evidence backing it up.

Or this one, about Hugh Howey and Melissa Foster supposedly buying their way onto Amazon’s bestseller lists…also, without any evidence.

Or maybe this one, about Hugh Howey buying reviews and pulling other shenanigans:


Do you have any proof of this?


No. It hasn’t. I spent some time on Google and the only references to his fake reviews is from your shitty website where you refuse to provide a shred of analysis or any proof to substantiate your claims.


That NY Times article doesn’t mention Hugh Howey, though. Do you have any evidence that Hugh Howey has bought a single fake review from that website? No? Okay then.

Here’s the thing. I hate fake reviews, I hate online author shenanigans and I hate anything that makes it more difficult for readers to find good, well-written books that they enjoy. If the authors listed on these websites are actually guilty of half the things these sites claim they are, I would like nothing better than to see them publicly outed for who they really are.

So, to the author[s] of these websites: put your money where your mouth is. If you actually have the smoking gun, let’s see it. I’ll be the first to share your damning, hard-hitting evidence of author shenanigans. If you don’t have it, or aren’t willing to share it, then do all of us a favor and shut the fuck up.


  28 Responses to “All This ZonAlert & Fiverr Report Nonsense…”

  1. *applauds*

  2. It’s the Patrick Rothfuss thing times eleventy. Stanek was all “Patrick Rothfuss gets his friends and family to write fake reviews.” Now he’s all “Hugh Howey gets his wife to write fake reviews.” Both blogs used the word “enlist.”

    Oh, and sources, coz I HAS them.

  3. *Cracks knuckles*

    Aiight…let’s look for connections between William R. Stanek, aka Robert Stanek, and the author known as Carolyn Arnold.


    She appeared on his blog back in April 2012.

    Also in 2012, she promoted him on twitter.

    This search also brings up a retweet by Carmen DeSousa. Carmen DeSousa appears in the Fiverr Report/ZonAlert blogs. She also appeared on Stanek’s blog. He’s a Facebook friend of hers. She once left a cheerful comment on an Stanek interview hosted by a Jennifer Chase.

    That name also appears on ZonAlert/FiverrReport. Okay, this is getting weird.

    Jennifer Chase, Carmen DeSousa, and someone named Sandra Wolters. Yup, Wolters is also on Zon Alert.

    Okay, stop everything. I’m gonna see how the names that appear in this early Fiverr Report post connect to Robert Stanek.


    I took the names in this post about Carolyn Arnold and cross-referenced them with Robert Stanek.

    Collette Scott

    Betty Dravis

    Richard Hale

    Joanna Lee Doster

    D.A. Graystone

    Ashley Fontaine

    Zach Fortier

    Stacy Eaton- can’t find connection to Stanek,but connected to others on list
    Todd Bush-can’t find connection to Stanek,but connected to others on list
    Kenneth Hoss -can’t find connection to Stanek,but connected to others on list

    Ann Swann

    JA Hunsinger-can’t find connection to Stanek,but connected to others on list
    Karen DeLabar–can’t find connection to Stanek,but connected to others on list

    Kirkus MacGowan

    Linda Hawley–can’t find connection to Stanek,but connected to others on list.

  5. Did anyone else notice that “Publishers Weekly” was incorrectly written as “Publisher’s Weekly” in the Fiverr Report/Zon Alert article… the same error that Stanek and his sockpuppets constantly make?

  6. A number of the names are currently members of Stanek’s Go Indie
    Facebook group. I wouldn’t be surprised if more were at some point.

    Ann Swann
    Carmen DeSousa
    Kirkus MacGowan
    Joanna Lee Doster
    Sandy Wolters

    On a more amusing note, it’s hilarious how Betty Dravis recently liked a bunch of bad Goodreads reviews of Ruin Mist.

  7. If all this is Stanek’s work, then he had gained enough expertise in sockpuppetry not to be as blatantly obvious as his previous sockpuppeting. Pity that he improves in sockpuppetry, rather then writing. Makes me wonder whether he actually cared about his ultra-generic quasi-medieval fantasy “Ruin Mist” fare at all, or only viewed it as a way to gain fame.

  8. Funny thing… I checked the authors on those listings and I actually bought some of their stuff, as it looks interesting and currently on sale for Kindle or with Amazon Prime, so if Stanek is trying to gain readers, he sure is. Just not for himself.

  9. I just read the July 1st post. Let’s find the connections between Robert Stanek and BV Larson, shall we?

    I liked Larson’s first Haven book well enough, but not enough to continue right away. The books are so much like Stanek’s Kingdoms and Dragons books. You can tell Stanek was a huge influence for Larson’s Haven. The Haven books have rotating scenes, the same type of flow etcetera etcetera. If you like this, I think you should read Stanek’s books to see where the inspiration came from.

    There’s more where that came from. The Amazon profile, ShortyB, has all the hallmarks of a Stanek Sock. There are even other socks agreeing with Shorty. It’s so classic. Anyway, it looks like Robert Stanek thinks BV Larson ganked his swag, or whatever the kids call it these days.

    July 1st isn’t the first time BV Larson appeared on ZonAlert. He’s on the big list of “authors who have purchased over 500 reviews.” I remember reading his response months ago and feeling bad for the guy.

    As one of the names on the list, I’m shocked and annoyed. I’ve publicly and privately lobbied against purchased reviews, urging Nader Kabbani in person (he’s the Amazon KDP VP) to crack down on the practice when I meet with him. They have done some work in that direction, but not enough yet in my opinion.

    Thanks to Tom Harris for alerting me. I’ve tried to contact the author of this article and make a rebuttal…no response yet.
    -B. V. Larson

    Pretty sure he’ll never get a response.

  10. Sock “believes” some other poor schmuck is copying Stanek.

    Fun Tribute.

    Very much like Stanek’s “Kingdoms and the Elves of the Reaches” which
    was first published in 2001/2002. Rathbone changes POV within chapters
    in the same way as Stanek, taking the reader rapidly into the shifting
    story of Catrin, Chase, and Nat as Stanek does for Adrina, Vilmos, and
    Seth. His GreatLand is akin to Great Kingdom, the similarities go on,

    If you’re bored and want to laugh at some probable sockpuppets, here’s a by no means comprehensive list for ‘ya. Some of the socks are still active, posting reviews this year.

    B.T.,flVamp, Micky J., Joan, YancysMom, WizardGirl, Mighty Girl,KaiNLauren,
    Oxford42, Bobbie B

    Okay, bored now. I’m going to stop pasting. There’s just too many of them. There’s a bunch in this thread alone. Holy crap.

  11. Hugh Howey made a breakthrough with Stanek on the Robert Stanek front page on this site. I don’t know exactly what the hell happened over there, but Stanek apologized for everything he’s done, and admitted to having aspergers, whatever that is.

  12. If that was actually Stanek, which I’m not sure about. The Howey account could be real though.

  13. I wondered why Hugh Howey started to openly acknowledge Stanek’s role in all this. Then I saw the July 3rd Fiverr Report post. It dug in with the crazy, and added even more names to its lists. I recognized one of the new names and was pretty annoyed myself.

    By the way, the post still maintains that Brandon Sanderson buys reviews. Shaking my head.

    I can’t find the Zon Alert Twitter account anymore. Interesting.

  14. Have you considered adding rel=”nofollow” to the links in HTML (can come right after the <a, with spaces on both sides, or before the next > bracket with a space before but not after) so that the search engines will know you’re not endorsing the sites? Otherwise, those sites will be ranked higher when people search for “fake reviews” (and especially for “author shenanigans”, since you use those words so often).

  15. The Twitter is still there:


    That bizarre sockpuppet message board thinks Joss Whedon based an episode of Dollhouse on a Stanek story.

  17. “Hugh Howey made a breakthrough with Stanek on the Robert Stanek front
    page on this site. I don’t know exactly what the hell happened over
    there, but Stanek apologized for everything he’s done, and admitted to
    having aspergers, whatever that is.”

    Where? Could you please post the link?

  18. There isn’t a direct link to this article from the home page. Just letting CF know.

  19. No he didn’t. That was Howey talking to a troll. If it was really Stanek apologizing, then those fake-ass blogs would be gone by now. Instead, Zon Alert now claims Hugh Howey is a raging racist. Its source? A “former co-worker.”

    ZonAlert claims Kindle Readers Beware put it in touch with this coworker. Yup, it still claims the blogs are totally separate. LOL. So, yeah, I’m pretty sure this co-worker isn’t real.

    …we’d like to say the integrity of this blog is important to us, as is the quality of our in depth research into these important issues. We publish no reports or commentary without first verifying primary sources and second seeking credible confirmation from additional sources.


  20. Hugh Howey has a lot of haters because of his Amazon love. However, none of these crazy accusations have gone viral. No one favorites or retweets Zon Alert’s tweets. The account only has 13 followers, and at least one of them is a sock.

    Says volumes.


    A couple of months after Stanek posted those fake reviews, he appeared on Larson’s FB page all friendly-like.

    He did something similar with the Kboards. A few months after the ZonAlert and Fiverr Reports popped up, he joined that place and tried to make friends. What a sociopathic thing to do.

  22. Just to illustrate how sociopathic Stanek got at the Kboards….

    A year ago, Hugh Howey wrote a blog post titled “Very Small Rocks” in response to the Fiverr Report accusations.

    A few months later, Stanek posted this on the Kboards:

    For the record, I don’t know why some people think it’s funny to run
    around spreading nonsense about me, except that it seems to puff them up
    while pushing me down.

    Recently, I read something about where
    someone said something similar about Hugh Howey and how he responded
    that some people like throwing stones at giants or such. Some people
    *do* like throwing stones at giants.

    Nonsense sites like
    conjugalfelicity have been was used to break down support for my work,
    to get readers to stop discussing, reviewing, or otherwise talking about
    my work. Whenever that fails, they attack readers directly on any site
    where readers dare to talk about, review or otherwise support my work.

    See the bold bits. Wow. That is some nerve right there.

  23. Clearly he is more enamored with being a writer than actually writing. His Ruin Mist books are copy paste jobs for the most part, simply upping the number of ‘books’ he has without the chore of writing anything else.

  24. Also, these websites really don’t like Melissa Foster, and Robert Stanek HATES Melissa Foster.

    You can add his 9/15 GoIndie blog post (donotlink) to your links. Robert Stanek added Melissa Foster to his “architects of hate” list.

    It’s a funny post. Long. Brings up Patrick Rothfuss again. (Yes, he uses the word “enlist.”)

    I wonder if Stanek wants to be associated with ZonAlert. Maybe he thinks it helps cultivate his new anti-fake review image.

  25. That probable sock also follows William Stanek and Witch Rants. LOL.

  26. That almost certainly was a troll posing as Stanek. I suspect almost all of the people claiming to be Stanek in the various comments sections here are – they are either too calm and apologetic, or so over-the-top in their anger that they’re blatant parodies.

    Plus Stanek doesn’t strike me as being on the autism spectrum. IMHO, he’s just your average narcissistic sociopath. He fits almost every category in the sociopath checklist to a T.

  27. There were a few who posted as “Bob Stanek” or “William Stanek” or something else that was obviously meant to stand in for him, but there were others I’m sure were Stanek himself. For whatever reason, they all used girls’ names (he’s posed as “Samantha G” a lot on Amazon and “Steph” on goodreads) and they all were just the sort of bashing he’s left elsewhere.

  28. Another thing i noticed about these sites is that if they are writing about someone’s “crimes” they will repeat their full name over and over. It’s not “when Melissa Foster won the award she paid off the judges with her money” it’s “when Melissa Foster won the award Melissa Fister paid off the judges with Melissa Foster’s money.”
    It’s clear this is done so that their name shows up as often as possible in search results, linking to those fake reports.