First off, you need to read something, from a lovely aspiring author named Lauren:
For those who want to understand what's happening with my book & Goodreads.And now, Lauren has decided to cancel her book release because of the bullying that is going on. And you know what? I can't blame her. I get ribbed for writing in "New Adult" because people think it's a gimmick, or that the genre is a flash in the pan. Fine. Ribbing is one thing; bullying? Totally different.
Long story short, I didn't understand the rating system on Goodreads and was confused how someone who didn't have my book had rated it 2 stars. My book is yet unreleased and this person did not have an advance copy. I asked about this on a Goodreads message board and it was explained to me that people can rate as a way of expressing their interest in the book. I was all too happy to move on then.
However, I was then attacked by people for asking that question. People started to rate 1-star to prove "we can rate whatever the hell we want."
My book was added to shelves named 'author should be sodomized' and 'should be raped in prison' and other violent offensive things, all for asking a simple question as a newcomer to the website.
Goodreads can't do anything, because they allow this behaviour. No seriously, it is highlighted in their ACTUAL RULES that this behaviour is acceptable. Apparently readers can get as offensive and bully as much as they want because it's their freedom of speech.
My book rating is subsequently taking a serious hit and my book isn't even released. It's incredibly upsetting and disheartening that I'm being targeted for asking an innocent question. I've contacted Goodreads directly and nothing has been done because, again, this is acceptable behaviour.
Goodreads was a brilliant idea when it started-- you could find books that your friends were reading and after so many of your own ratings it would start to make some suggestions for your books. Star ratings should not be allowed on a book that has not been released. Where is the logic in that? If you're interested in the book, shelve it. If not, move along.
Now, the worst part about this is that the terms and conditions on the site are absolutely contradictory. One one hand, you agree not to:
post User Content that: (i) may create a risk of harm, loss, physical or mental injury, emotional distress, death, disability, disfigurement, or physical or mental illness to you, to any other person, or to any animal; (ii) may create a risk of any other loss or damage to any person or property; (iii) seeks to harm or exploit children by exposing them to inappropriate content, asking for personally identifiable details or otherwise; (iv) may constitute or contribute to a crime or tort; (v) contains any information or content that we deem to be unlawful, harmful, abusive, racially or ethnically offensive, defamatory, infringing, invasive of personal privacy or publicity rights, harassing, humiliating to other people (publicly or otherwise), libelous, threatening, profane, or otherwise objectionable...And then in the same TOS just a few paragraphs later, they state:
Goodreads is not responsible for any public display or misuse of your User Content. You understand and acknowledge that you may be exposed to User Content that is inaccurate, offensive, indecent, or objectionable, and you agree that Goodreads shall not be liable for any damages you allege to incur as a result of such User Content. Goodreads may provide tools for you to remove some User Content, but does not guarantee that all or any User Content will be removable.So? Which is it, guys? Either you can or you can't. This is an enormously popular website; it has a lot of merit to it, being (ostensibly) unrelated to any of the big book stores. But did your admins just decide that they weren't going to police this website at all? No oversight, just hey whatever. What is going on here is libel and defamation of character. You can get sued for this stuff. Dragged into court and made to pay restitution. And you'll plead not guilty. Except you are. You allowed this to get out of control; can you imagine what if feels like to have your book-- your baby, the literary child you have nurtured from an idea into a fully formed and edited manuscript ready to share with the world- put on a shelf called 'author should be sodomized' and 'should be raped in prison'. Not just once, not twice, but over and over and over.
There are smear campaigns run against Indie authors, yes. But the worst I have seen previous to this was to say that we were violating the Right to Free Speech and should all be erased. Well, fine, and you clearly don't understand Free Speech. And we really do expect people to hate our books. We all have different tastes, we all have different expectations, we can't please everyone.
But this... this goes beyond the pale.
I am sorry that no one out there will get to read Lauren's book. I don't even know her personally at all, and I want her to send me it so I can slather praise on it. Writing a book is not easy, and if nothing else-- if I hated it, if it was bad-- I would never wish ill upon her or her creation, and I would tell her, "We may have differing options on what is good in the written word, but you saw it through to the end. -- Well done."
Goodreads will be coming off of this page immediately, and I'm shuttering all connections to the website. If you've left me a review there, thank you. I will not be using Goodreads unless and/or until they figure out this bullying.