Regarding Goodreads new policy, To agree or not to agree…..

Published September 22, 2013 by G.L.

So Goodreads finally did it! They finally caved into the authors who behave badly and are now removing reviews based on this very fact. Libertad and I both have weird feelings about this. While I know it’s hard trying to go out there and be an author, traditionally published or Indie, I think in the end this is only going to eradicate what Good reads has worked so hard at, and that is becoming the one of the largest online book communities.

Maybe there are some upsides to it, but for now I can’t really see them. I probably can’t see the plus to it because I started out as a book reviewer and STILL review books on a regular basis. My “book blogging persona” I like to keep separate from my “Author persona”. Why? Because if we reviewed books on here(this being somewhat of an author/writing blog), It would make me feel like as an author I have to like every book i review to save face on my reputation.  Many book bloggers go into writing because they like to read so much. While I wrote stories waaaayyyy before i wanted to actually become a novelist, reviewing books on a regular basis made me realize what type of mark i wanted to make as a novelist. I don’t see enough diversity in my favorite types of books, that’s what drove me in this position we’re in right now! But  as a reviewer first, I’ve come to the understanding that not everyone is going to be in love with my writing, my stories or even me as a person!

There is no reason for authors to behave badly. In fact this is one of the reasons for this new update on Goodreads. Lots of reviewers will mention in their reviews if the author has a reputation for not being professional. And while I think it’s dumb for the review to solely revolve around the authors behavior and not the actual story, I’d like to know who i’m about to invest my time in. If I leave a bad review, are they going to hound me until I take it down? I’ve been stalked by authors before and I have to say, it made me stop reading their work. I’ve never mentioned things like this in my reviews but I know fellow reviewers who have and they are taking their reviews down without any notice and it’s just really unfair!

Let’s face it, we need reviews; therefore we need reviewers but this change just might alienate authors like me who want to reach out reviewers, whether they like me or dislike me, to read my book. Many of my book blogging buddies are already updating their policies turning down Independently published books, because it’s the Indies that give them the most problems! It’s going to come to the point where Indie authors are going to see a rise in reviewers who charge for their reviews. Do we want that to happen?NO!!!

We Indie authors NEED reviews but reviewers don’t necessarily need free books(even though they are a great gesture!)to review books. I buy nearly 60% of my books, so if the offers stopped coming in for me to review, it wouldn’t make or break me as a book blogger. But if authors find less people who are open to reviewing their independently published book, that could really hurt the Indie Author community!

Word to the wise: Accept that not everyone is going to like your book. When and if you read a bad review; Learn from it. If you’re going to obsess over it, figure out a way that it can help you grow as a writer. But don’t go stalking and trolling reviewers until you wear them down. I think maybe the problem is because we spend so much time writing, we don’t get out and develop any people skills. We stay locked in our houses all day trying to bang out that last draft. And social networking ,while helpful to others, is somewhat of a double edged sword.

We can reach out to readers a number of ways writers couldn’t do in the past, but the worst thing about social networking is that it’s easy to reach out to people who don’t like you and give them a piece of your mind. See it like this: You work in an office, you have a feeling your boss doesn’t really like you, but do you walk into his office and say things to piss him off? No, I don’t think so! You know he would fire you in a hot minute, he’s the boss and you just work there.

The publishing community isn’t that different. People who buy your books are your bosses! They may help you put food on your table  or support your writing career through buying your books. Maybe you’re not getting rich off it but you’re still making money on your passion. So if you stalk, troll or harass your “bosses”, they will fire you and will tell all of their friends not to “hire” you, and in the writing community, this could really hurt you as an author. No one wants for people to dislike their books, but reviewers don’t want to deal with annoying, overly sensitive authors. And now this whole goodreads update will be sure to lose a lot of faithful reviewers in the process.

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For any of you unfamiliar with the new policy, i’ve added the link for you to read up on it here

Not sure how the new update helps anyone but the authors who continue to troll.Any thoughts?

photo credit: mkhmarketing via photopin cc

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14 comments on “Regarding Goodreads new policy, To agree or not to agree…..

  • I couldn’t agree with you more. Authors are going to have to get a thicker skin. Critical thinking is what book reviewing is all about. Not only that, there are WAY too many five star reviews out there. Not every book is THAT good. I really think HONEST reviews give the reader insight on whether or not the book is what they want to read or not. Personally, I never go about trashing someone’s work. The author put their heart into the work. So, instead of publicly tearing someone up, I just let the author/publisher know that I will not be writing a review and why.
    By the same token, I WILL NOT edit or remove my review just to please the author. All my reviews are HONEST.
    This is not a good thing at all and I am really sorry to hear that it’s come to this.
    Thanks for the thoughtful post this morning.

  • Like you, I’m a book reviewer as well as an author. I consider myself a Reader first and foremost because I’ve been reading much longer than I’ve been writing. I have mixed feelings about GR’s new policy. While I believe abusive behavior should not be tolerated (by reviewers or authors), there is a big difference between being critical and being abusive. Are reviewers allowed to refer to an author as talentless? Doing so might fall under GR’s definition of rating the author rather than the book, but reviewers should be able to judge authors by their talent or lack thereof. Yes, I’ve seen reviewers create shelves with inappropriate or abusive labels, I don’t feel there’s anything wrong with a reader creating a shelf labeled “Won’t buy from this author,” or “Horrible writer.” It would certainly hurt my feelings if my book landed on such a shelf, but when I published my books, I knew people would be judging me on my ability as an author. Where will GR draw the line? How will they determine whether or not a review is based on the author’s behavior? Placing a book on a shelf labeled “Wont’ buy from this author” could refer to many things including author behavior. I’m curious to see how GR will police their new policies. Thanks for tackling this issue. Great post.

  • Very good point on indie authors, I think the ones who are being painted with the same brush as the indie BBAs are feeling the burn this new policy is causing, because let’s face it, this new policy was created to cater them.

    I know a few folks who swore off indie writers because of a bad experience with one and this new policy of GR is defnitely not going to show them in a positive light.

    As a reviewer, I come in contact with a lot of indie authors and for the most part, I found them to be polite, professional and overall pleasant to talk to, but I won’t deny that some small part of my brain is scared of running into “those” type of indies. The kind that go nuts when you don’t like their book, and yes, it does make me reconsider my stance on reviewing indies. Everytime I post a low rating and a critical review of an indie work, the thought that runs across my mind is, “Is this author ‘it’?”

    Thankfully, every indie author I’ve met so far has been nothing short of pleasant to me, critical review or no.

    But I just can’t remove that niggling voice at the back of my head that keeps saying, “You’ll meet one someday…”

    On the new policy…personally, I’m furious at it, mostly because they’ve started deleting reviews and shelves without prior notice. I myself got several reviews deleted despite the fact I take a very “author is dead” stance when reviewing. *shrug* That’s what back-ups are for. I’m no hotshot reviewer, but I wish they took the time to notify me or even told me WHY I got my reviews deleted. I put a lot of time and effort into my reviews and seeing them so unceromoniously removed shocked me.

    I get what GR is trying to do, but this is going at it in the worst possible way imho. They seek to create a “bully-friendly” atmosphere but all it did was make readers feel as if they’re being censored.

    Oh wow. Look at that wall of text. Anyway, hope you don’t mind the overly-long comment. Just my thoughts on the matter.

    • Thanks for commenting. I think it’s cool for those who weren’t affected much 😀 definitely no lost blood for those of us who weren’t affected. But I’m sorry to hear GR has gotten to many of us, and it is an unfortunate practice that may end up backfiring. Readers on threads are now marking every book that they read to which their shelves or review were deleted with one stars on purpose. Just to be able to distinguish which books to avoid. I’m sure this wasnt the goal, but the can of worms has been opened.

      • Oh yeah, I’ve heard of that. When their shelves got deleted, readers retaliated by 1 starring the books they wouldn’t want to read. Not to mention that dozens of reviewers have stopped reading and reviewing indies because they don’t want to risk a bad encounter with one. I’m pretty sure this wasn’t what GR wanted, but owing to the bad handling of the situation and readers feeling shafted by the new policy, it’s what happened.

  • Excellent information AND position. I am only beginning to “dabble” in reviewing, but I have made it a point, so far, to purchase what I review, even when offered a free copy. It makes me feel better when I review AND I feel free to write an honest appraisal of the work.

  • This is an excellent, well-thought out post, and yes, it DOES raise several issues, but that said, the reviews should be about the book, the writing style, world building, character development, etc. An author pours their heart into their writing and are exposed to the world’s criticism-good or bad. Honestly, if I had the talent or guts to write, I KNOW I would be crushed by a bad review whether it attacked me personally or not. There is NO reason, under ANY circumstance to mount a personal assault on an author. Conversely, there is NO reason, under ANY circumstance that the author should attack the reviewer for a poor review. I know of several reviewers who are “colorful” in their reviews. Is it their version of entertainment? Who knows. People need to be given more credit for being able to sift through the chaff to get to the helpful reviews. Authors need to suck it up and accept that their work may not appeal to everyone. That it may hurt Indie authors, MAY be a reflection on their reaction to negative reviews. Many/some of the authors with publishers behind them never even actually read the reviews, that is often done for them. Do I like the new guidelines as a reviewer? I don’t think I have anything to worry about. Would I like the new guidelines as an author? Again, if it doesn’t pertain to you directly, you should be relieved that the very few who brought this “ruling” down will be eliminated, whether they are a reviewer or author. My reviews are honest, and I state that up front to an author generous enough to offer me a review copy, if I cannot say anything positive about the book, the author knows before I post.

  • Lol, lack of people skills! I think sometimes, artists get very sensitive about their craft because its an expression of themselves. they take it like, you don’t like work then you don’t like me…which is not true, but how they may take it.

  • As a reader first, sometimes reviewer, and full time Indie author, I can see both sides to this issue.

    I prepared a very long response to the post and comments, but decided to blog on the issue myself rather than fill up your comments with my personal beliefs. 🙂 The whole thing was an extremely roundabout way of saying I believe GR is on the right track with moderating both reviewer and author behavior. Yes, a person should be informed before their content is removed, but the fact is, some content, both reviews and responses, are little more than thinly veiled cyber bullying and personal attacks. That kind of material has no place in a community like GR and shouldn’t be tolerated by the general membership or the management. The fact that it has been tolerated, and even encouraged in some instances, speaks very loudly about the professionalism of all involved.

    Hopefully they’ll get the kinks worked out and make GR a better community for both reviewers and authors.

    Thanks for a well-written and well thought out post. Very eloquent!
    Kenra

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