So yesterday, I spent the day doing that. WITD is now a YA contemp novel. It makes me a bit nervous because I've never considered myself a contemp author, but I hope it works out. It wasn't as hard as I expected, changing it over. So I'll wait for some more edits from CPs, and then I'll get to sending out, hopefully!
So today I thought I'd share some of my thoughts about Goodreads. For those of you who don't know, Goodreads is a kind of social media site where readers rate and review books they've read. There are also giveaways, online book clubs, creative writing sharing centers, and lots of opportunities to interact with authors. My profile is here at this link. You can also see what's on my "Currently Reading" shelf on the right sidebar of this blog.
For those of you who don't know, Goodreads is also commonly the subject of controversy, whether it be about Amazon as a bookseller (a major controversy of its own right), the way people communicate, or what the merit of the ratings actually is. So I thought I'd talk some about my opinions on Goodreads and whether it's a good social media site to join or not, both as a reader and as a writer.
I joined Goodreads last year out of curiosity more than anything. Many of my writing friends and those I follow on blogs are on Goodreads, and as a reader and writer, it seemed like a good place to go. I think my greatest interest, as with Pinterest, Tumblr, and Twitter, was how I could create a platform for myself, a place to speak with readers from when I'm someday published.
But the longer I was on Goodreads the more I found myself... uneasy about it. In particular, I was upset by what I found, quite commonly, when I went to look at books I wanted to or already had read. As the site is designed for, I would usually look at the review. And what I found was a horrible cesspool of blatant CRUELTY.
For some reason, when people meet the Internet, they find the need to start ripping things down, and apparently that (very incessantly) includes books. Now, I understand not liking a book. I understand leaving a low rating or a negative review. I've done it before. I don't like every book I read. I don't like every book that other people like. I don't like Lord of the Rings, for example (the storyline's great, the writing, not so much.)
But there is a difference between a negative review and outright BULLYING. To help explain this, I'm going to capture a screenshot of the first review (not by a friend or someone I follow) that shows on one of my favorite books, Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi.
- to have one shelf on Goodreads designed for books you don't like, although I'm really not sure WHY you would want a shelf of books you don't like, but hey, no judging.
- to name that shelf something like "books I don't like" or "1-star reviews"
- to explain logically and calmly why you don't like the book. For example, many people dislike Shatter Me because of the very loose plotting, because of the somewhat cliche nature of the general story, and because of the risk Mafi took with her unique writing style/formatting (a risk I personally think paid off, a risk I love - but that's why it's a risk, it doesn't work for everyone.)
- to focus on the book itself rather than on the author or the readers of said book.
Here is what is NOT okay, and what this review is a perfect example of. It is NOT okay for you:
- to have MULTIPLE shelves dedicated to books you dislike, and to put any book you dislike on every single one of them, just to emphasize your great dislike of the book.
- to name those shelves cruel or emotionally-centric things like "brain cells went bye bye", "my vomit is nicer", and WORST OF ALL, "author y u no destroyed."
- to fill your post with, yes, explanations of why you don't like the book, but stated in a cruel way, interspersed with plenty of insults, pictures of "stupid people who like this book", and full of general cruelty, emotionally-driven junk, and also CRUELTY.
- to focus your review most especially on the author and readers of the book, by indicating those who like the book are stupid, worthless, and uncultured, that the author is a bad, stupid person, and most especially, by saying things like "This author/these readers should die." It is NEVER okay to say things like that online, in a place where those very authors and readers go to share thoughts and get an idea of what others think. IT IS NOT OKAY TO MAKE DEATH-RELATED THREATS TO HUMAN BEINGS BECAUSE YOU DIDN'T LIKE THEIR ARTWORK.
Let me repeat that in another way. IT IS NOT OKAY TO BE CRUEL TO PEOPLE OVER BOOKS.
So I quit Goodreads, because I was so upset and so disgusted about these reviews.
Now I'm back on it, partially out of convenience, partially because I really like their giveaways. I'm slowly getting back into the process of rating and reviewing books the way I did before, but with more care than before. Because of the nature of these other reviews, I find it necessary for me to be even more careful about my own reviews. I will never make a shelf of books I don't like. I won't even rate books 1 star. And I try not to read reviews anymore, because there are so many of these awful hurtful ones out there.
So this blog post, I guess, is me calling out anyone who thinks this sort of review is okay, who DOES this sort of thing on Goodreads, to any book, to any author, at all. Because you need to know that it's NOT okay, and it never will be. It's my hope that someday, we'll be able to stop the posting of these cruel reviews and let Goodreads become the place it's meant to be - a place for readers to share their thoughts in a fair and rational way, and a place where writers and readers can interact without being bullied like this.
Thank you guys for reading that, and please do come back next time, when I play a Facebook song game with one of my book characters!
Image via Goodreads.