If you don’t like Goodreads…

When I was writing my “if you don’t like” post, the subject of authors commenting on negative reviews didn’t even occur to me. Goodreads is a great example of a place where it’s appropriate (for authors) to withhold opinions. Leaving a comment on a positive review is often seen as intrusive. Scolding a reviewer for mistakes, bad language, or a snarky attitude on a negative review is *really* not a good idea. If you think the reviewer is in the wrong, just let it go. The more popular you are, the more negative reviews you’ll get. It’s nothing to worry about.

Reviews are for readers. Goodreads is for readers. Go there and talk about books you didn’t write. Give some deserving author a 5-star review.

I’ve commented on my own reviews many times without incident, and even though I don’t see the problem with respectful responses, I’ve decided to stop. I don’t want to make readers uncomfortable or stifle conversations.

When I was a newbie author, just starting to navigate the waters of online blogging, negative reviews made me feel bad. Even critical comments on positive reviews stuck with me. They still do, because I care about improving my craft, and I consider any kind of feedback useful. I didn’t stop reading negative reviews because they hurt a little. I read more and more and MOAR negative reviews! I think I got over the sting. Now, I consider them a badge of honor. Critical reviews are the best. I love diverse opinions and disagreements, as you know Bob. When my book is the topic of any discussion, nice or not-so-nice, I’m thrilled.

I also like it when people buy my books. Word of mouth = sales. So I really, really don’t understand the pushback against negative reviews. They are discussions. THEY SELL BOOKS. The End.

If reviews bother you, but you want to continue reading them like moi, here’s my advice. Try *writing* a review, negative or positive. See how long it takes. Note how difficult it is to articulate a book’s strengths or weakness. You might feel the strange urge to get snarky about that annoying flaw. If you post the review, watch out for the typo you missed! Wait for the comments to roll in. You probably won’t get any.

My point is that reviewing is time-consuming and mostly thankless. Reviewers build audiences, like authors. It’s done out of love for books, which we all share. I don’t thank reviewers in the comments or via email anymore, but I can show my appreciation by being respectful.

Authors should be respectful, but reviewers are under no obligation. I’ve seen some reviews that cross the line into attacking an author’s appearance or calling the author names. Remember that GR is a social media site, and that some users are teens having conversations among friends. If you feel that a reviewer has violated the terms of service, you can flag the review.

This shouldn’t have to be said, but UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES should an author ever “out” a reviewer’s personal information or threaten a reviewer in any way.

If you don’t know about the “Stop the Goodreads Bullies” scandal, there’s an epic thread at Dear Author, and a nice wrap-up here by Foz Meadows.

Comments

If you don’t like Goodreads… — 6 Comments

  1. “UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES should an author ever “out” a reviewer’s personal information or threaten a reviewer in any way” Amen to that. I love Goodreads but I use it as a reader, not as an author. I love being in a community of people who are reading freaks like me. I love tracking what I read (yeah, I am a list maker what of it?). Best of all I love seeing what others are reading. Still some of the negative/gif crazy bad reviews reek of mean girl to me.

  2. “I also like it when people buy my books.”

    That’s the part that always baffles me about authors complaining about negative reviews. If you’re books are selling, why does it matter? Don’t get me wrong, I can imagine how much it sucks to read bad things about your books, and by all means, vent to family, friends, and fellow authors about it, but wouldn’t the sales number make up for that?

    By the way, the first book of yours I read was one I had heard of through a DNF review, so there’s another data point for you.

  3. Actually, there have been a few instances where I’ve gotten something wrong about a book and the author corrected me. I was glad they did because I don’t like to put out erroneous information.

    If that correction is something that will change my mind about how I felt about the book I will edit or append my review to reflect that and state clearly why.

    However, if I had a neg feeling about a book and that correction had nothing to do with what I felt wrong about the book, I don’t like to be told “you misunderstand what I was writing.”

    I think it’s perfectly OK for an author to correct a reviewer on a technical mistake– I say the character is 16 when actually the character is 20—but I think it’s still risky territory to go into to for an author. Not all bloggers are like me who don’t mind being corrected on that level.

  4. Avery, I love GR also. It’s like a giant library with lots of friends.

    Hi Las. Thanks for letting me know! That DNF review got a lot of comments and attention.

    Leah, I don’t mind author comments of any kind on my reviews. What matters is the reviewer’s comfort level, not the author’s. Even a simple correction can make some reviewers uncomfortable.

  5. “See how long it takes. Note how difficult it is to articulate a book’s strengths or weakness. You might feel the strange urge to get snarky about that annoying flaw. If you post the review, watch out for the typo you missed! Wait for the comments to roll in. You probably won’t get any.”

    Ha! that sounds like my blog – how did you know?! *grin*

    In the famous words of Carla Cassidy, author of Pregnesia – “any publicity is good publicity”. Negative reviews don’t lose sales – bad author behaviour does. I’ve added a few to my “do not buy” list just this week :)

    Well said Jill :) (and congrats on the great review over at DA for Caught in the Act).