I recently made the comment to another author that “Goodreads is a nest of biting vipers“.
I kinda meant it. Sorry, not sorry.
See, here’s the thing. As an author, you have a moral responsibility not to be a public asshole. Let’s face it, you are a writing professional, you are meant to be taking the higher ground. We’ve all seen the author who disregards this adage and ends up as the internet poster child for public shaming. Oh yes. It’s not a pretty sight, and it never ends well. EVER. Because let’s face it, you will never win, you’ll say a bunch of shit that you will utterly regret, and even your mother will be tsk tsking you. If you don’t believe me, I have two books you should read So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed and Social Media is Bullshit. Great books. Spot on. Also very scary.
Because here’s the thing us authors don’t realize when we sign up for this gig
If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all
That, that right there, that utter morality bullshit doesn’t exist on the internet. All bets are off when you put your work on display. If you are a sensitive petal then being an author may not be the best career for you, and I say that as a sensitive petal myself.
Having said that, there are some rules that I live by that help keep me from slitting my wrists:
- Don’t EVER read your Goodreads reviews, ratings, reactions, etc. It’s fine to have an account, I’d even actively encourage you to set one up as an author because a lot of businesses and blogs require you to have one and it’s another outlet for readers to find you.
- Do not stalk the reviewer who shat all over your book and whatever you do, don’t send one single word to them. It’s not worth it, and they will gather all their p(r)etty friends, too, and make your life a living hell. You will be the unreasonable, egotistical maniac who needs to be put down. Not them and definitely not their review.
- Buy a bottle of wine and gather your pretty friends and have a whinge fest. You’re allowed.
- Focus on the important thing, like your positive Amazon reviews because Amazon is da king. Goodreads is the ugly stepchild to Daddy Warbucks, and if the haters wanna hate, that’s probably where they’re going to be – not Amazon. Amazon takes its reviews very seriously and if there are issues where you have a bonafide grievance, you’re probably more likely to get a result. Amazon knows that reviews sell things. Selling things is Amazon’s business.
- Before you quote me with Amazon customer support, let me state this disclaimer: If you have a ton of bad reviews, it’s time to do some introspective house cleaning so to speak – one bad review could be an asshat, many, many bad reviews probably means they have a valid point. Be opened minded to the criticism and be ready to fix the problem.
- People are people, and everyone has a bad day. It’s unfair that you got the brunt of it, but sometimes we end up being the punching bag for whatever freudian-bad-day-from-hell someone is having. Again not fair, but chock it up to the experience gods and move on.
- When in doubt, your books and even your fans will have your back. You actually wrote a book. Hell, maybe you’ve written a dozen books. Congratulations! You’ve accomplished more than that person who keeps saying “I’ve always wanted to write a book”, but never has. So try not to be hard on yourself. Be proud of your work and your fans. It’s more than many can claim.
I might actually get shafted over this post, but life isn’t without risks, and if I get one author who actually has a good laugh rather than a cry over their next bad review then it will have been worth it.