So, I have a self-published book, well two actually. A friend and I wrote them together, self-published them, and eagerly frequented the Goodreads page to see what people thought. To our surprise, we received mainly 5-star reviews. We weren’t expecting them, as I really don’t think our book is perfect. There is a lot I would change and I think the sequel is a huge improvement (and yeah I’m pretty proud of that improvement). But anyway, I digress…
One day while checking how our book was going I saw one review that just said something along the lines of “What a crock. These reviews are obviously paid for.” I was shocked by this, as firstly, I didn’t know that paying people for reviews was actually a thing people did, or that someone would make such a damning claim without any evidence what-so-ever, besides the fact that we self-published our book.
Anyway, understandably upset, I did the stupidest thing you can do. I defended myself (although very politely). Bad Idea. Very bad idea. This Goodreads user (and her army of troll minions) descended upon me. She then decided to read the preview of the book, decided she didn’t like it, and informed Goodreads that all our reviews must be fake. This was devastating. We contacted Goodreads to protest, and they informed us that although they investigated and found nothing suspicious, the word of one of their librarians meant more than the 18 other people who liked and reviewed our book, who then had their reviews and accounts deleted. This was based on the opinion of one person, who is notorious for attacking self-published authors, who admitted in her review that she didn’t actually read beyond the preview of our book. It also didn’t matter to Goodreads that one of their top librarians also read and rated our book 5 stars (luckily they didn’t delete this review). I almost never mention my own book now because I am too afraid of these people. I am too afraid to promote my own book because I know if people like it, they will be attacked. We even cancelled all our Goodreads advertisements out of fear. And we had done nothing wrong. Keeping this particular Troll (who causes Goodreads frequent trouble with their vocal objections to Goodreads policies on preventing threats to authors) happy was more important to them. They took the side of a notorious troll (who also lists rape and beastiality as things she likes reading about on her profile page. This is how evil these people are!) without even caring that in her review she admits that she only read the preview.
That’s when I learned something important things about Goodreads.
- All Goodreads users are not created equal.
- Goodreads actually loves the drama and nastiness of these Trolls.
- Goodreads Trolls come with a bucket-load of minions and they are trained attack on cue. In fact, they love it. Their master treats them with nastiness and hate and it whips them into a joyous frenzy that makes me want to vomit.
Since all this happened I’ve had people message me to say that they loved our book, but are too afraid to leave a review in case their account gets deleted as well. I tell them not to worry about it and that if they really loved it, they are welcome to leave a review on Amazon instead. But I really find it infuriating that these trolls have moved from just attacking authors to frightening other users as well, to the point where people are too scared to review a book because they think they will be attacked.
These people are terrible human beings. They think that destroying an authors career is a game and that attacking and terrifying reviewers in fun. One of the worst ones I’ve encountered is actually an author themselves and seeks out other (often self-published) authors to destroy. Just this morning I spoke to a young reviewer who had been viciously harassed by one of these Trolls, and when she tried to ignore them, the minions descended. These people are awful and they do not stop once they have a target. I’ve seen the same person who attacked me attacking so many others. Over and over again. AND I’M FREAKING SICK OF IT.
I get that some people do put up fake reviews. I’ve found people doing it before. But people are generally smart enough to realise when a review is fake. All five stars, all posted within a short period of time, all from profiles that have only reviewed the one book. Clear signs. If you want to flag these reviews for Goodreads to investigate, fine. But attacking authors or other reviewers for ANY reason is unacceptable. Especially when your only reason is that someone liked a book when you didn’t. This DOES NOT mean that a reviewer was paid for their review, or that the review is fake. All it means is that people have different tastes. And you want to know what really bothers me? That it’s really obvious from many of these trolls reviews that they are reviewing books they haven’t actually read. Their reviews are actually the fake ones! It makes me want to scream and burn Goodreads to the ground (as much as one can physically destroy an electronic, virtual entity anyway).
So what can you do?
Well, I do actually have some solutions for you.
If you’re a reader/reviewer:
- Learn to spot them.
- They review billions of books and a simple calculation will inform you that this kind of book consumption is actually impossible.
- They like putting in quotes that they then make fun of, rather than quotes they like – this is to try and prove they’ve read the book. They will always be from the start (usually the preview because they don’t actually read the whole book) of the book. Sometimes there are page numbers that will help you detect this.
- They have an army of minions, which means their reviews are usually at the top of the book’s review page due to all the hate-frenzy.
- They will often tell you upfront in their profile that they are an asshole.
- Ignore them. Before I realised this happened, I was put off from reading some really great books. Don’t let them put you off. You might be missing out on something you will love.
- For the love of all things holy do not follow them just because everyone else seems to be. Don’t give them more power.
- And finally:
THERE IS A BLOCK USER BUTTON!!!!
Seriously! There is. This button not only stops people viewing your profile, it also means that when you go to a book that they have reviewed, their review (and any comments they have made) will be hidden. They will also not be able to send you messages.
Sounds great doesn’t it? It is, but it’s kinda hard to find though. I’ll talk you through it.
- Go to the monster’s profile page
- Scroll all the way to the bottom
- Try not to vomit as you pass their posts
- Click the ‘Block User Button’
- Confirm via the pop up
- Rejoice at your new-found freedom!
If you’re an author:
- Just don’t check your reviews.
- If you must, absolutely don’t respond to them. UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES! Even if they are good reviews and you want to say thank you. Just don’t.
- Also block trolls so you wont see their bad reviews and thus your sanity and/or self-esteem may remain in tact.
So there you go.
These trolls and their army of minions cannot be fought or reasoned with, and Goodreads is dedicated to supporting them, but they can be recognised and simply ignored.
So there is some hope yet. Hooray!