So like many authors, I’ve noticed the rise in “reviews” at Goodreads for books that are not out yet. Not even with ARCs issued. Books that aren’t even written yet in some cases. So I wrote to them about one such review (just stars, not text) of a book that hasn’t even gone through copy edits yet. (Edited to remove the book name from the post. I don’t want to sic people on anyone, I was just making a specific reference).
I don’t take issue with people not liking my books and I make it a policy NOT to respond because people like what they like and that’s how it goes. I don’t ask for shitty reviews to be removed, hell I didn’t even argue with the woman who claimed I use rape as titillation in my books and that’s one of the worst things I can imagine someone saying about me (AND it’s not true). I can’t control how people react to my work and pretty much, it’s not my business anyway. Reading is intensely personal and that’s why I love it. Who you are and what you’ve experienced will absolutely affect how you read it. I know this in my own reading. Anyhoodle, I’m tangenting.
I do take issue with people going out of their way to rate books that aren’t out as a way to attack an author. I don’t think it’s very conducive to author participation at Goodreads and I certainly don’t think people who do this can group themselves with the vast majority of readers who can manage to not like things without lying or being stalkery over it.
But back to Goodreads and my contact with them. Now sometimes those early stars can be a mistake, a book is reviewed but the reviewer was mistaken about the title, etc. I usually just ask because this happens (and because I want to be sure no early copies of some draft aren’t out there somehow). But now, when you try to say anything to anyone there goodreads wants to slap you for something some dumbshit author did at some other time. But whatever. So I said, Hey, this book hasn’t even been copy edited, I know this person can’t have read it. Sometimes it can be a mistake or they rated the wrong book, but she can’t have read this book to rate it either way.”
I’m going to paste the response I got because I want authors to see just how much Goodreads respects what we do:
Thanks for writing in with your feedback. While I can understand your frustration, it is not a requirement that a user read the book before rating it. While we would like it if our members reviewed as many of their books as possible, we cannot force them to.
So, to cap up:
it is not a requirement that a user read the book before rating it
Also, her last sentence makes no sense.
So, if you have a book up at GR and it’s not even written yet, someone can review it all they want. Because that’s Goodreads idea of community. Now, if I were to respond to be sure it wasn’t a mistake, GR has no problem telling ME to be nice, but apparently the niceness only goes one way at Goodreads.
It is unprofessional to allow people to DELIBERATELY go and lowball (or highball for that matter) books that are not available. Do you know what’s creepy? When you find out that someone is going around lowballing books of yours that aren’t out yet. The same sort of people who like to go to every negative review of your book and get involved in EVERY SINGLE negative thing they can find. It is creepy and scary to think some total stranger is so obsessed with you that they seek out opportunities to bring harm to you.
It’s not mandatory to like anyone or any book. But if you find yourself engaging in behavior designed to harm someone and you do it all the time, please stop. If it infuriates or makes you feel violent when you read my books or even think about them, for god’s sake, read books you DO like. Do you intend for me to think you’re a stalker and find you creepy? If so, go you I guess, but though I normally ignore such behavior, if you do this on purpose you’re a piece of shit. Yes, I’m sure people will get mad and all, but people who PURPOSELY bully to frighten or harm someone are pathetic.
Goodreads is worse than that because their policies are very one sided and not even one sided to anyone’s benefit. I STILL get spam even though I had to put a note in my friends request to say if you’re gong to spam me don’t friend me. What is Goodreads doing about that, huh? How about the metric ton of “buy my book” spam, or “look at this review of my book” spam? What community values and goals are met and enhanced by the way Goodreads does things?
This is the same site wherein a reviewer not only attacked an author’s weight and appearance, but included a link to the author’s website so others reading the review could go and join in. First of all, shame on every single one of you who participated in this like you’re in 5th grade. And second, shame on Goodreads for responding to the numerous complaints with a “meh, it’s her opinion” reply. Goodreads used to be a great community where you could talk with readers and authors who were there as readers. It used to be a place you could actually discuss books without calling anyone fat or mocking someone’s appearance. Now it’s focused on the lowest common denominator and apparently an appalling lack of basic behavioral expectations.
So spam on authors, and keep on rating books you’ve never read to live out some fantasy relationship with a total stranger in your head (and not even the good kind like I have with Michael Fassbender) because apparently it’s open season at Goodreads