If you don’t know, Goodreads is basically an online platform where readers can keep track of books they read and want to read, and rate them, and write reviews, and communicate with other readers and (in some instances) authors. I don’t really hang out there much, but I’ve been poking my nose in a bit over the past few months because SHIT is going DOWN and I love a good train wreck.
It’s pretty much insanity. I’m not going to link to any of the incidents because I don’t want to give any of them more traction, but take my word for it when I say shit is cray cray. Authors have been calling Goodreads reviewers cows and bitches in emails and on Twitter; authors and their friends have been going on massive negative rants on Twitter and blogs about Goodreads and reviewers in general or specific; authors and their agents and their friends have publicly stated they’re going to try to skew review rankings. The list of stupidity pretty much goes on and on.
Dear authors: we remember this shit. Really. I will read any book, regardless of author actions, if it is amazing enough, but if I see you being an asshole I will remember it and I will read your book last and I will get it from a bargain bin because I don’t like giving money to assholes. Especially if you’re an asshole to other bibliophiles. It’s just not cool, guys.
In the name of promoting peace and decreasing stupidity throughout the internet, I offer a few guidelines for the world of online book reviewing. Not all of these are directed at authors.
1. Authors should not comment on reviews of their own books. The only possible exception is to thank the reviewer. But no trying to explain something the reviewer missed, or telling them they’re wrong or missed the point. And no getting your friends to do it for you. You’re not going to convince anyone to change their mind, and you look bad. Just don’t.
2. Authors should not ask their friends to help skew review rankings, either on Goodreads or Amazon or wherever. It’s totally understandable to want to “sink” bad reviews, so that the good reviews are near the top to help sell your book, but ethics aside you don’t want to deal with the public backlash if you’re found out. And seriously, have the sense to not talk about it on Twitter, and be careful with emails. Once you hit “send,” it’s no longer yours.
3. A reviewer not finishing a book does not make that review invalid. I hate when I see people say this. Hate. Basically, the sentiment is “your review is invalid because you didn’t finish the book so you don’t know everything that happened—you can’t judge the entire thing.” Well, no. Not finishing the book is kind of a judgment in itself. If a person dislikes a book enough that they stop reading, what happens at the end does not matter because the rest of the book wasn’t strong enough to carry the reader to the end. I want to stop seeing this argument.
4. No personal attacks, by reviewers or authors. File under: be nice on the internet. (Or, you know, everywhere.) Just don’t be that person.
Basically, it all boils down to this: authors, don’t shit on reviewers. Reviewers aren’t simply book-lovers (i.e., the target audience of an author), they’re hardcore book-lovers, they’re people who love books enough that they want to critique them and analyze them and talk about them with their friends. They’re the book-lovers other book-lovers look to for guidance. And they will remember.