Being An Author and Leaving Reviews

Approximately a week ago, one of my favorite authors answered a reader’s question on Goodreads regarding why she’d deleted all of her many (spot-on and often hysterical but always honest) reviews.  She replied and confirmed that she would no longer be writing reviews as it has led to stalking, trolling, deliberate low ratings on her own books, and in truth, full-on harassment.

I’m going to pause here and say that NO, once again I won’t be providing links for this.  If you know who I’m talking about, you know, if you don’t I’m not going to provide a giant neon arrow pointing toward an author who has unfortunately been targeted to the point where it was impacting her professionally and personally.

This author also made the good point that has been brewing in the back of my mind as well…I don’t remember the last time I left a review for a book on Amazon since it became book-eBay.  About the only time you see a genuinely thoughtful review was when it was cross-posted from a blog and/or Goodreads.  And so years ago, many migrated to Goodreads, where the reviews were more honest (and funny, with sparklepony GIFs), a community where the authors were free to interact without fear of reprisal.

I don’t know and I can’t say if Amazon now basically OWNING Goodreads has changed that atmosphere, or if it was just a matter of time, but Goodreads is slowly turning into Amazon.  Bullying, selective moderation, and yes, retaliation has been creeping in for a while now.

It makes me sad that the author I mentioned before has decided to stop reviewing in light of it, but I can’t say I blame her.  To be honest, it’s crossed MY mind more than once.  I’m brutally honest in my reviews, but if a book is hideous, I don’t Tweet my review or blog it.  I’ll leave a review, yes, because THAT’S THE POINT, but I’m not going to use social media to get people to read my often-snarky reviews, because at that point it becomes about ME and MY FUNNY MEAN REVIEW GO READ NAOW.

At the same time, though, I’ve wondered if it paints a giant target on your own back as an author.  Right now TTB and Pistils are small potatoes compared to other indie authors, but it takes one pissed-off fangirl to start a riot.  I’ve read multiple books from one author who is notorious for targeting what she considers to be bad reviews/reviewers and basically throwing them onto her social media with a go get ’em! attitude.  Have I ever reviewed one of her books?  Nope nope nope, not with a ten foot pole.

If you’re an author, do you ever self-censor when it comes to reviews or worry about retaliation?  And as a reader, what do you think about authors who leave thoughtful but negative reviews…is it integrity or detrimental to a community?

And lastly, to the author I write about…you go girl.  Just keep writing cuz you love it and cashing the checks cuz it pays the bills.  Take that load off your shoulders, as authors I think we all understand.



Add Yours
  1. A Writer With Something To Say

    This is the first time I’m hearing anything about this. I’ve been out of the loop due to school and work, but it is sad that people can’t review honestly anymore. Hope the reviewer and author will be okay with their own writing.


  2. ameliabishop

    It’s interesting that you describe Goodreads as a more honest and safe place for authors. I have felt the opposite, and pretty strongly, for more than a few years. Long before the amazon buyout.

    Goodreads is a site I only visit when I’m feeling particularly masochistic. It is truly a dangerous place for authors. Leaving a review is only marginally worse than reading them.
    Those sparkly-gif snarky reviews are really only cute when they are not about your book, or your friend’s books. Even if they are sometimes true and funny, there is an undercurrent of cruelty to them that is difficult to read, for me. Frustrating, too, because so many of them are really not about the book, but about the reviewer attempting a comedy routine.

    It’s sad because I am a reader, too, and I like to find new books based on reviews, and to leave reviews myself, but the environment there is toxic (to say the least) and the threat of retaliation is real, from both authors and reviewers.
    Luckily, I am such a small-potatoes indie writer that I have never been the target of either “funny” review writers or other authors.

    So in answer to your question, yes, I absolutely self-censor. I only review friends, and I clearly disclose the relationship in my review (“I was lucky enough to beta read this book” or whatever) and I only review books I honestly liked, and very rarely. And usually I review on amazon, not goodreads, for many reasons. Is that detrimental to the community? I don’t know. Maybe? But I think as soon as I started publishing my own work, my priorities shifted. Sure, I am still a reader, but I am a reader with a bias. In the same way company employees can’t enter the corporate sweepstakes, I think authors have an affiliation to the publishing/production side of things that will always taint their reviews.

    Lots of author-reviewers manage to walk that tightrope, and do well, but I have never had very good luck or balance.

    Great post! And I hope your friend keeps writing (and reviewing, if she wants) and survives the negativity with her heart and career intact. There is no excuse for harassment.


    • Kate and Britt

      THANK YOU for the honesty in your reply, this is exactly what I wish we all had a forum for. Agreeing to have differing viewpoints and yet mutual respect for others’ experiences and opinions.

      “In the same way company employees can’t enter the corporate sweepstakes, I think authors have an affiliation to the publishing/production side of things that will always taint their reviews.” Very good point, I’d never thought of it that way!

      And agreed, as much as we all have strong opinions about books we’ve read (paid or free) there is NEVER an excuse for harassment. I can’t even wrap my mind around haranguing someone regardless of their writing quality or reviews.

      Thank you for your thoughts!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Dixie Minor

    This is a great discussion, and I am so glad you posted this!lately I have been rating only the books that I feel I can rate highly, and not writing that many reviews. I do feel differently now that I am a writer, and I am a lot more cautious, and tend to leave the in-depth reviews to people who are mainly readers or reviewers.i tend to agree with Amelia Bishop. Thank you for a great discussion!


    • Kate and Britt

      I used to leave reviews (or at least a rating) on everything I read, now I only write one if I genuinely have something to say, whether it be praise or some form of constructive criticism (or both). If all I can think of is “I liked it!” or “Wow, I don’t know where to start with how awful this is” then I don’t bother…plus if something is genuinely that unreadable to me, I don’t finish it. Life is too short! Thanks Dixie!!!


Comments are closed.