Okay, as you may have gathered, I’m about to throw in my few pennies’ worth over the recent uproar concerning Goodreads and a certain self-published author in the m/m romance genre. I’m not, however, using this space to name names or cast stones. For one thing, the topic has already been debated widely across various social networks, and others have said it far better than I ever could. For another, authors who stoop so low as to create fake Goodreads profiles with the intention of shouting down any reviewer who dares give them less than a perfect rating, don’t need my help in sabotaging their careers. They’ll manage that all by themselves.
No, it isn’t the childish behavior of this particular author that especially troubles me. There will always be those who are prepared to resort to underhanded and unprofessional tactics in an effort to get ahead. It’s just a fact of life. Sad but not too surprising. What does disturb me about this whole business though, is what may result from it. I couldn’t help noticing that some reviewers, after being attacked in response to a fair critique of this author’s books, have been intimidated into removing their reviews from Goodreads. Well, my heart sank through the floor, as I’m sure many of yours did too.
A reminder to any author who has ever lashed out at a reviewer for writing a less than favorable review: reviews are not for your benefit. People don’t post them with the aim of boosting your ego, or to tear into your self-esteem so that you spend the next week alternately ranting against the offending reviewer and crying yourself to sleep at night. Their sole purpose is to provide other readers with an honest assessment of the book, so that they can make an informed decision as to whether it is something they might be interested in spending their hard-earned money on. A bad review, though undoubtedly hurtful, is in no way a personal attack on the author, and no reviewer, under any circumstances, deserves to be berated for it.
Let’s imagine for a moment that this were common practice, that authors routinely threw a fit every time a reviewer wrote anything disparaging about their work. What would we be left with? A world where authors hold all the power, and reviewers are too afraid to speak their minds. The only reviews posted to sites like Amazon and Goodreads are those endorsed by the author, which, so far as would-be readers are concerned, are utterly pointless. And if reviews aren’t helping readers choose their next book, the main casualties will inevitably be the authors themselves.
So, to all you wonderful people out there who give up your time to share your thoughts, good and bad, on the books you read, this is my heartfelt plea. I’m begging you, both as a reader and an aspiring author, not to stop. I’ll get down on my knees if necessary, just so long as you keep on doing what you do, and never let yourself be bullied by those few petty individuals who labor under the delusion that hounding reviewers is the proper way to behave. You possess more integrity and generosity than these so-called authors will ever have, and I love you all. Thank you for everything you do.