How Are YOU Feeling About Goodreads These Days?

Every few months a publishing story goes viral and sets everyone’s underwear afire. Currently it’s the story of Lauren Pippa, an author who posted her debut novel on Goodreads to be added to readers’ shelves prior to its release, only to receive a one-star rating from some Ass-hat who obviously hadn’t read it yet. When she inquired about the rating, directly with the Goodreads member, she was met with a crap-nado of verbal bullying, as well as a campaign amongst some members to consistently rate her book poorly. This led to Ms. Pippa’s recent decision to not publish her debut at all. A sad day indeed. You can read all about it here.

As a result, throngs of readers and authors alike are coordinating a grand exodus of sorts, vacating Goodreads in droves and urging others to do the same. I won’t be one of them.

Why?

Because Goodreads is one of the few places left on the internet where there are still READERS! The market is so saturated with authors hiding in trees, very still and dormant like locusts. Then a lone reader comes strolling through, and all the authors stir at once, simultaneously flapping their wings, chirping “Buy my book!” noises, and they scare the poor chap off. And that’s why we all end up marketing to each other. It’s exhausting.

I’m not trying to be an Ass-hat like the person who started the storm of bullying. I’m just trying to keep it real. If we’re being honest with ourselves, this behavior is not typical of Goodreads. At least, not to my knowledge. Perhaps there are a handful of other people who can attest to people needlessly low-balling their ratings on books they may or may not have read, but that happens on Amazon, too. Additionally, bullying, happens all across the internet, even here on good ol’ WordPress. Sure, Goodreads doesn’t have an anti-bullying policy in place and they should and that’s why I’ve signed this petition. But, again, if we’re being truly honest, isn’t one of the cardinal rules of publishing to not respond to bad reviews? Ever? Do you think all of this would have happened to the author if she just would have seen the one-star rating on her not-yet-released-book, mumbled “Ass-hat” under her breath, chugged a glass of wine, and watched an episode of Catfish on MTV? Probably not? I hate to blame the victim, but she might have stoked the flames a little. The trolls that lurk behind the curtains of Goodreads saw an easy mark and took advantage. And now the world is missing what could have been a great talent. And putting aside all of my quite possibly unpopular reasoning and finger-pointing, a loss is still a loss.

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37 thoughts on “How Are YOU Feeling About Goodreads These Days?

  1. I really enjoyed this post, especially since you used “Ass-hat” twice. 😉 But I agree, people are going to get crazy no matter what and we authors shouldn’t let a weirdo ruffle our feathers to the point of fleeing one of the top sites in the world. Well said!

  2. Maybe I’m a bitch for saying this, but if you can’t take assholes then maybe you’re not in the right business. Not everybody is going to like your book, some people are going to downright hate it, and for seemingly no reason. It’s hard not to take it personally sometimes, but not publishing your book at all because of one asshat? I would like to think I would want to publish it even more, because I’m not going to be told by anyone to stop. Why should you? There’s a market for just about anything you could imagine.

    • I didn’t understand why she didn’t publish it and just delete her account from Goodreads? But I agree. People are harsh. I’m not gonna lie, and my husband will tell you that I get overly upset when someone trolls my blog or not so vaguely mentions me in theirs, but what can I do? Nothing. If you don’t have haters, you’re not doing it right, right? He sat ne down and told me people were gonna be mean and they were gonna be mean from behind their keyboards and I wasn’t gonna be able to beat them up and I was gonna have to hold my head up and not be confrontational. That’s the business.

  3. I really hope she didn’t decide to just — do away with her book? Hopefully she’s just going to go through it and scrutinize some more, but to give up, and quit, over someone who didn’t even read it? Like others have said, we have to know, some are not going to like or care about what we have written. And some of them hate themselves and the fact that they can’t finish their own novels, and take it out on everyone else. You never know what’s going on in someone’s head … which is why you’ve got to know deep down, beyond all that self-doubt and junk we tell ourselves, that it’s all for a reason.

    Feel bad for her. But maybe she needed to step away and sort of think about things for a while. We’re all passionate, we’re all (mostly all of us are) hypersensitive; these are things that have to be compartmentalized once we click “publish”

    😦 poor girl, though. That’s really messed up. Adults bullying? Really?

    (And I read this whole article!!) 😉

    • According to her website, she’s seriously decided not to publish. I hope it’s a rash decision and she changes her mind down the line. But the other hand, maybe someone close to her sat her down, just like my hubby sat her down, and asked her if she was ready to face this kind of criticism. I said I could do it. I knew I wouldn’t like and I wouldn’t people see me not liking it, but I said I could do it. Maybe she realized the opposite about herself and decided she couldn’t do it. It takes a certain strength to be honest with yourself like that.

      You’re right though, some people do things, bullying and all that mess, and who knows why, what’s going on in their lives that they feel the need to lash out to make themselves feel better.

  4. People need tough skin to be involved in the book business. That being said, the comments directed towards her sound unjustifiably bad. The bullies are ultimately the problem here, though sometimes it’s best to ignore those who wish to put you down.

  5. Sadly, it’s something we, as writers, have to get used to. I’ve had that happen myself. Launched a book on amazon and had a review posted in less than 10 minutes! They even had the nerve to get their money back from a free book.

  6. You make the same mistake many people do. there is a distinction between a book review and a personal attack. The trolls work very hard at trying to make everyone think every time an author responds to vicious personal attack they are just whining about poor reviews.
    Go to any amazon forum with BBA in the title and ask why so many insulting remarks towards authors. Then tell me the ensuing vicious attack on you has something to do with reviews or books.

    • I don’t believe you understand the gist of what I was saying. The original bad act was a one star rating, in effect, a review, in its most basic form. My supposition is that had the author not responded to that, not asked them how they could have rated her book so low when it wasn’t even out yet, the intense, and wholly unjustified bullying that ensued might not have followed. That’s all. I am in no way saying she deserved those comments or that treatment. I am simply saying, as authors in a very critical business, we need to fight the impulse to react or risk inviting WORSE criticism. Thanks for stopping by.

  7. I agree that she could have deleted her Goodreads account and still published the book, but it also seems that she admitted that she’s not cut out for the kind of criticism authors face (at least not yet). It’s unfortunate what happened to her, and the actions of her bullies are shameful, but thicker skin is required for this field.

    I admit that I was so depressed by the reviews of the short stories I published, I went and unpublished them. But after I finished wallowing in self pity and sent a whiny email to a friend of mine, I went back and rereleased all my stories. All of the original lousy reviews are still visible, but I moved on. My friend also sent back an encouraging email, one that I keep hanging up where I can always see it.

    • You can’t delete a Goodreads author account. The author page stays, as do the reviews and the shelvings and the ratings. All Goodreads do if you try to delete your account is place a statement at the bottom of the author page stating that the author has not ‘claimed’ their page yet. Some authors have done this and left, but the attacks on their books and themselves continue.

    • Well, one of the commenters after you just informed me that you can’t delete an Author account from Goodreads, which sucks a great deal. So there’s that…

      I didn’t know you unpublished then republished your short stories, but I’m proud of you and you should be proud of those stories! (They are very well written and will definitely serve as intriguing teasers to larger related works in the future.)

  8. Good post, I stumbled upon this situation earlier when someone e-mailed me telling me that I should leave GoodReads as it was full of trolls, and couldn’t believe how far it’s gone when I came back this evening, especially as there only seems to be six bad ratings (unless others have been removed). It just shows how quickly little things can blow up on the internet.

    It’s really sad to see GoodReads being dragged down in a lot of posts as well. It’s always been a great site to be on and interact with readers, and in my experience trolling is few and far between on the site. I hope everyone involved calms down and things blow over.

  9. Great article. The positive thing about a bad review is it’s telling you someone else besides your mother is buying your books. I’m not sure about the value of Goodreads rating system.

    • Haha, yes! And it tells other people, too. I’m always skeptical of books that ONLY have four and five star reviews. Like really? Not a single person had a negative thing to say? Look at all the best sellers. Their average ratings are closer to three stars because more than just their friends and family are reading their books. Haha. Thanks for stopping by!

  10. Pingback: Clarifying Between Bullying and Critiquing Book Reviews | Falls Into Writing

  11. I took a hard look at GoodReads and decided that I don’t have any use for the site. I don’t want them shut down or anything, I just don’t see any reason to be active on it. I did try it for a while, I even had a GoodReads giveaway, but in terms of places for an author to promote work, I think my time and effort are better spent elsewhere.

    I don’t care if an unpublished book is getting one star reviews or five star reviews–they both prove that the system is flawed.

  12. Pingback: Goodreads Modifies User Terms to Prevent Author Bullying, Reviewers Outraged

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