Monday, August 26, 2013

Goodreads Kerfuffles: The New Red Room

I was going to say "the new sex tape," but sex tapes are so Y2K...

It's been a while since I've opined on current events here on the blog. (Sorry?) But this latest round of Goodreads "reviewers" behaving badly and authors rising (sinking?) to the challenge, resulting in alleged rape threats and bullying accusations and debut novels being pulled from release... (or being released now under pen names?)

It all makes a writer say Hmm.

I've written a few books (see sidebar), and they're all on Goodreads, for better or worse.

Before Undertow was released in July, it got a big fat 1-star review on Goodreads... And it wasn't even one of my betas or critters! (It remains the book's only 1-star review amidst predominately 4- and 5-stars.)

A book I just finished writing on Friday (Aug. 23) got a 3-star review a few weeks ago on Goodreads, prompting me to wonder how this person was accessing my computer and whether s/he would be willing to finish writing the book for me, since I clearly wasn't doing a 5-star job...

Regardless of all that, I know if I engage, if I make any comment whatsoever, I'm risking a firestorm of abuse, harassment, name-calling, etc. It's the whole, "once you put your book out there, it's no longer yours" concept.

(But wait. My book's not "out there" yet...)

Before I hit "publish" on my very first book, The Truth About Faking, I got some sage advice from a then-rising author named Tammara Webber. (Yes, that Tammara Webber.)

Don't respond to reviewers.

Period. The End. (Nope! Stop arguing. Don't respond.) She was firm.

We live in a digital age, where anyone with a keyboard and an attitude has the potential to become a Superstar! (Remember Perez Hilton?)

It's all about the spotlight, writer-friends. When you "go there," you're signaling the paparazzi. You're shaking up the Mountain Dew can, popping the top and putting it slap in front of the hornets' nest.

In fairness, yes, there is a possible flipside... I also remember Paris Hilton. (And her spawn, Kim Kardashian.) They live for that stuff. Becoming a living train wreck has made those females millions.

In fairness, my experience with Goodreads has been largely positive. It can be a useful and fantastic, interactive reader- and writer- community. I've met awesome reader-friends there, and I know bigwigs like Coleen Hoover point to it as helping their success in reaching readers.

Sure, I've gotten my share of reviews I thought weren't fair. I've had the DNF rants, and I've even *gasp* replied to a few, late at night, after a glass of wine. (And promptly freaked out the next day and never returned to the scene of the crime... Sorry, Tammara! *hangs head in shame*)

It's a sad truth, but as a published author, my days of being an English teacher, a book club leader, a former journalist, and heck, even an American citizen with first-amendment rights are over.

I'm probably taking a risk simply writing this blog post, but shoop! There it is.

When I hit "publish" on The Truth About Faking, I began the mental mantra:

"Negative reviews and/or reviews I think are 'unfair' go with the territory. Get over it. Look how many negative reviews L. James gets for her Fifty Shades books, and she's laughing all the way to the bank."

We tell ourselves these things as authors, reader-friends. (Or we should, writer-friends.)

Two thousand reviews for Faking later, I actually have some one-star reviews I admire. The reviewer just really did not like my book, and s/he gave some solid, justified reasons why.

I read them, and at the end I mentally add, "And then I got my period."

('s a joke. C'mon... That's funny!)

Seriously, I respect them. I like seeing reviews from thoughtful readers. To me, it means I'm doing my job right. Not everybody's going to like my books, but if I've made someone think about a concept, a belief system, a mode of behavior, well, that's what I'm after, right?

I also appreciate that when we make the transition to living off our books' earnings, things like DNF reviews urging the whole, entire reading planet not to buy our books seriously sting. And reviews or ratings for unreleased books can push us over the edge...

Resist! writer-friends.

I mean, unless you want to try the sex tape in the red room approach. In which case, buckle up! It's going to be a bumpy ride~

I'd love to hear anybody's (thoughtful) thoughts on the matter.

And I'd like to take this opportunity to THANK all my reader- and writer-friends who take the time to leave thoughtful reviews of my books. As Blondie (and now 1D) says, "One way or another."

* * *

Heads up, friends! Watercolor is coming Oct. 3! That means Dragonfly is on sale for 99 cents! I'll share a little graphic I made here~

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And have a great week, reader-friends! 


Old Kitty said...

Lovely LTM! A dignified silence sometimes speaks volumes!

Take care

Jemi Fraser said...

I agree - silence is the best option - but it must be hard when the reviews are so unfair. A friend got a 1 star review from someone who pointed out she didn't buy the book, hadn't read even the excerpt but didn't like the fonts on the cover so she gave it a 1 star. *sigh*

Summer Ross said...

Reviews- the next scariest thing besides getting the contract and publishing. LOL It's good advice. I've had a good reader experience on goodreads. I don't ever check to see if my reviews have comments. It doesn't matter to me. I wrote the review to give my honest opinion and that's all. I haven't even kept up with all the scandal. I mean it's hard not to see it with everyone and their dog discussing it- but aside from your post I didn't really know what was happening. I don't pay a great deal of attention to stuff like this and news. It's both a blessing and a curse. LOL. Great post.

Bish Denham said...

It's all so very subjective... We have to have alligator hides and be blind as well.

LTM said...

@OK--I agree. Now I'm wondering if I should've written this post... LOL!

@Jemi--Stories like that give me the itch. Yes, EXTREMELY frustrating. :o\

@Summer--First reviews are WAY scary. It's true. But you'll find your "fans"--folks who love and understand your books, and they make it ALL worthwhile~ <3 (I kind of missed most of what happened last week. A writer-friend filled me in.)

@Bish--Too true~ <3

Matthew MacNish said...

Goodreads is nuts!

Hart Johnson said...

Oh, man--SERIOUSLY! I haven't looked at any review on those big sites for over a year. If somebody tags me for one on a blog, great--but I generally just SHARE rather than responding. It just seems safer. Those reviews before anybody could even have your book though? That's the pits!

Tracy Jo said...

I always have to remind myself about this with my photography too. Not everyone is going to like/love what we create. Someone told me...when you defend your art, it is taken away from you. I kind of like that and now I go the silence route. This is a good reminder as I am starting to write more could hurt when it's finished! Lol! Thank you - great post!

Anne Gallagher said...

I'm on Goodreads, but haven't witnessed any of that hoo-ha. I guess I'm not in the right rooms. It's a shame when people act like children.

I did respond to a reviewer once, and that did change her mind about my books, giving them a 4 star instead of the 2 star. I also revised all of them (due to her reviews) so it's worked out for me. But I did learn a valuable lesson -- NEVER respond to reviews again.

Unknown said...

That's a fear we all live with, but it just comes with the writing process unfortunately. But isn't there a saying . . . there is no such thing as bad publicity? At least it is publicity right? And didn't JK Rowling take some hits from churches? Shortly after that, her career took off. Now if I could only get some buzz going on my book. I co-authored it with my 10 year old son and thus the main character has a strong, but funny teen-saracsitc voice. I'd love it if word about it spread. Our book, Mason Davis and the Rise of the Storm Makers, is available on Amazon and Barnes and Nobles. The book has had some success, but we could still use help getting the world out there. Thanks. And I agree with you. Ignore the bad comments - your work is wonderful just the way it is.

LTM said...

@Matt--you said it all there, boiee! ;o) <3

@Hart--Keep doing what works for you (b/c it's working!!!) <3

@TJ--I can't imagine ANYBODY not loving your photography. It's gorg~ <3

@Anne--As for ME, I've had largely positive experiences there. But I follow that "don't engage" advice hard. And I agree w/you a thousand percent about adults acting like kids. :o\ <3

@Karen--Maybe. Sometimes this goes beyond bad publicity, I'm afraid. Hey, Karen, please email me at I was going to send you info about where you might start looking for MG contacts, but your ID isn't linked to any email address... (just a tip--make it EASY to find you if you want to be found!) <3

Jessica Bell said...

Sigh ... yup. yup. yup. I'm still being targeted, too. Rascals ...