Books Magazine

Goodreads and Reviewer Backlash

By Gpangel @gpangel1
GOODREADS AND REVIEWER BACKLASHThis past week I received two personal emails, one from a book tour promotional group and one from an author, that expressed dislike for the book club site Goodreads.  One of these emails went on a long diatribe about how terrible and cruel Goodreads reviewers are. I mean this person just let rip. The other email was much calmer, but still snuck in a remark about Goodreads reviewers. On Facebook alone,  in a one week span of time I saw 10 separate post by authors bashing Goodreads reviewers or complaining about trolls, and one broached the topic of Amazon trolls.  I often hear the phrase:  "The Amazon reviews are OK, but the Goodreads reviews are awful.   As a reviewer I post the same EXACT   review on Amazon that I do on Goodreads.  So, I don't really get that.  But, I would like to remind everyone that Goodreads is a book club site that primarily caters to readers.  The reviews there are meant to be seen by other readers.  These reviewers are regular people, with regular jobs, that like to read and discuss books.  These are not freelance reviewers or folks that write for publications.  Yes, they do blog, and often cross review on other sites. But, this is a pastime for them and not a paid occupation.  Yes, there are trolls.  But, they are not exclusive to Goodreads.  They are everywhere.  So, speaking for myself only,  I want to point out that I do not review for money or any other method of payment.  I am given a copy of the book for review purposes, but that's all.  I spend the time to actually read your book.  I then spend almost the same amount of time writing the review, then I post the review on GR, AZ, Librarything and my personal blog.  I read,  review, post, and then promote all over social media and repeat.  I try my very best to put a positive light on the author and the book. I have in my entire life posted about 3 or 4 one star reviews.  I never ever bash an author in the review.  I stick to what works and what doesn't.  I work my butt off for authors free of charge and hope that I can help get you some recognition and help you sell books.   I don't write reviews for a pat on the back or with the expectation of getting something in return. However, I have been on burn out a few times and had a "Field of Dreams" moment a time or two when I asked, "What's in it for me"?  But, my main concern is this:  I have found myself feeling angry, frustrated and just plain depressed recently.  When I sit down to write a review I feel a panic attack coming on. Why? Well, I'm afraid of a reprisal, afraid of being sued,  afraid of hurting someone's feelings, afraid of being bullied, afraid.. just plain afraid.  Authors are often in the dark about what actually goes on with reviewers.  They are genuinely baffled as to why people are willing to rate a book using the star system, but it's like pulling teeth to get someone to write a comment or leave a full review. Well, one of the reasons is they are afraid to .   When I go on social media sites and see authors publicly bashing reviewers it doesn't encourage readers to do more than leave a star rating.  One author actually published a review they took issue with on their timeline and of course the author's fans and friends took great delight in picking the review and reviewer apart.  Well, frankly I don't ever want to see one of my reviews show up on an author's timeline being smashed to smithereens. I have seen snarky remarks posted by seasoned authors who have most assuredly seen their fare share of good and bad reviews, who should know better than to respond to negative reviews or lump all reviewers into one category.  But, it seems like authors are becoming more and more aggressive in their post and while they plead for reviews they turn around and bash the very sites reviews are posted on.  I see post all time that encourage readers to "hug an author, write a review"  on FB but I never see an author make a point of encouraging reviewers or offering support for reviewers.  Again, I don't do this for something in return, but it's getting to the point where I wonder why I do this.  I am told that most authors are so grateful it makes it worth it. I'm not feeling that too much these days. It's all negative and very little positive feedback for reviewers.  It's just discouraging. I know most people don't read and write reviews as often as I do and they don't take it as seriously or personally as I do, but I am generally concerned about the growing animosity between the reader and author and between the authors and reviews sites.  I know some reviewers think they know more about writing a book than an author does, and sit up on a throne of superiority, but I'm not like that. I have never written a book and so I am in no position to judge, but I do write about my personal take on the book, what worked for me, what didn't. What I liked , what slowed me down, and so on. I always look for the most positive aspects and focus on those if  I can.  Not all books are 3-5 star books.  I am not going to lie or mislead the reader if it's not.  I have a reputation to protect and if I don't write honest reviews people will not trust me.  So, please reviewers:  write a review using critical thinking, not personal bashing.  Authors: Take the high road. DO NOT respond to negative reviews, do not post about them on social media.  You don't like when your work is bashed, so don't bash the reviewer.  If you are given a negative review and you respond with fury, you are putting yourself on the same level. YOU are THE professional.. act like one. 

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