The Great Goodreads Scandal

Hello my darlings,



So, I was writing not too long ago (getting nowhere, really. I need some serious inspiration). So I decided to check Facebook to see if anything new had happened in the five second entirety of my absence. Then I stumbled across the scandal of the moment. I became interested in it solely because so many of my author friends were making mention of it, one way or another.

As always, here is the original blog post for reference. 

Now, I don’t know much more than what I have read from the past 3 of her blog posts, but from what I understand what happened was this: she put up her book on Goodreads before it was published. Someone gave it a preliminary low rating, even though they did not have an ARC. She asked why someone would do that, or how it could happen, and she gets the reply that some people will rate the book based on interest as opposed to content (an interesting bit of information, to be sure).

Cue onslaught of attacks. Her book is being added to lists entitled “author should be raped in prison” and the like. Clearly, this is inappropriate and immature behavior. I never knew Goodreads would allow that sort of abuse, but apparently it is protected beneath the “freedom of speech” section of their rules. It is something I can understand, even if the entire situation is in extremely poor taste.

However, due to this situation escalating so quickly, and underneath the pressure of contempt and abuse, the author has decided to cancel the release of her book altogether and has no plans to release in the future.

I feel no need to voice my opinion in depth, as many people already expressed similar sentiments. I don’t think she should cancel the release of her book, I feel like that is just letting the bullies win.

But of course, I am more interested in hearing about what YOU think about this. How would you handle this situation, if it were your book under fire? I have dealt with poor reviews before but never anything of this magnitude. I wasn’t even aware that this sort of thing happened. I would like to think that I could practice what I preach and not let it bog me down. But please, comments and opinions are welcome. I have such mixed feelings about this situation!

Your most adored,



11 thoughts on “The Great Goodreads Scandal

  1. I would think that a good rule of thumb would be to not read the reviews, especially if they’re from anonymous voices on the internet. People with nothing to do band together and blast your work (before reading it) and you should pull the book completely? No. Nope. Nope. Nope.
    If you’re going to be a writer you need to do either one of two things: (A) Don’t read the criticism (because seriously, not everyone is going to think that the work you love is as great as you do. Maybe their criticism holds merit, but really, you’re not going to learn from it. You’re just going to feel like a failure) and (B) Grow a thick skin and say to hell with what other people think. Greater writers than the one you mentioned dealt with criticism, poor book sales, poverty and starvation…but they kept writing because that’s what writers do.
    If you worry about what anyone else thinks and, worse yet you try to tailor your writing to suit their interests, then you’ve failed at the most fundamental aspect of writing – the expression of your soul. YOUR soul….not theirs.

    • I know it is hard for a lot of writers to not take criticism personally. I suppose it gets easier when you start receiving more positive feedback alongside the bad reviews. And I imagine there is the fear of having your reputation damaged beyond repair before you really get a chance to prove yourself. Some authors have an incredibly thick skin, however. Anne Rice has shared some of her more negative reviews that would have made me cry were they attached to my work.

      • I do feel bad for the writer. It’s a shame that anytime someone creates something (whether it’s writing, art, music…) there’s always going to be people around to make them feel like failures. It’s an impulse I’ve never really understood. It’s gotten so much worse since the internet gave everyone a voice – you can be much more cruel when you have anonymity to hide behind.

  2. What the heck is wrong with people? I just don’t understand what motivates a person to make a list like that, to hurt someone they’ve never met, and for no reason.

    She probably shouldn’t have responded to a low rating any more than you would a bad review, but it was an honest question (seriously, rating based on interest? Who does that?), and that’s no excuse for any of this abuse. So sad. I hope she comes back and releases the book.

    I don’t think “freedom of speech” needs to allow bullying. Is this a common thing in the sludge-smeared depths of goodreads?

    • I know what you mean, rating a book based on interest alone is absurd. Some people don’t think about how their ratings and reviews affect authors. And it seems like a very high-and-mighty gesture, as if to say, “I don’t even have to give it a chance to pass judgment”.

      Personally, I don’t think Goodreads should allow the rating of books before they come out. (Or there could be a feature where the author tags people who have ARC’s, and Goodreads only allows them to put in a rating until the book is officially released).

      I don’t think this is a common thing, but I didn’t know that this was really a thing at all. I don’t venture out onto Goodreads very often. The majority of my networking is done on Facebook and this blog. (And honestly, unless I am reviewing their book, does anyone really care what I am reading?)

      • I saw a suggestion that I liked, saying that they could have two rating scales, one for interest and another for rating after reading. The interest one would be for private use (though people can already use shelves for that), and the ratings would be part of the book’s average star rating.

        Someone else said that Goodreads ratings aren’t meant to be reviews like Amazon starred ratings are, and using them to rate interest is actually valid, but I haven’t looked into that.

        I’ve been learning so much about the Goodreads community this week…

  3. I just read about this on another blog, but they didn’t post some of the bookshelf titles. That’s sick. Goodreads should really set something up that checks for bookshelves of hate or have a report button on them.

    • Goodreads needs better management in general. I think they are under-staffed. They are a great website if you are independent and can solve every problem on your own with some deductive reasoning and two or three hours’ dedication. But when the rest of us run into a problem and go to them for rescue… it’s like going to see the Oracle at Delphi on a holiday.

  4. Seems Goodreads has some lazy admins, b/c every message board I’ve been a member of has strictly prohibited abusive behaviors and banned those who did not comply. And no, I wouldn’t cancel the release,

    • I know, right? I’m wondering if she wrote Goodreads and they just didn’t respond right away (because they do take a week or longer to respond, let’s be honest). It’s unlikely that they would just let that continue. There has to be a misunderstanding somewhere.

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