Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

Something is very wrong with us, and it’s not bad reviews


It’s so much worse than that. Something is very wrong with us, and by “us” I mean the online community of (largely) women authors and readers. What is wrong is the “outing,” threatening, shaming, and silencing of readers who are perceived to be too critical of or hostile to authors. And for those in this online community who believe that this is not their concern or their harm, I would ask them to think again.

Several disturbing events targeting women have happened in the past few weeks. First is an app that allows you to beat the crap out of Anita Sarkeesian, a woman who makes videos about gaming. The app lets you beat this woman’s face until it is utterly wasted from violence, as part of the male gaming community’s ritual of threatening violence and rape against women who, in any way, best men in the gaming world. Then there is the story about a woman who left a comedy club after Daniel Tosh personally heckled her by suggesting she be gang raped when she vocally objected to one of his rape jokes. An incident featuring Eddie Griffin and a woman he is now referring to as a “dyke bitch” has just hit the news.

What all of these incidents have in common is the targeting of women for stepping out of the lines behind which we have historically been expected to stay – to refrain from criticism of men, to refrain from being outspoken, authoritative, aggressive, assertive, self-confident, brazen, in control, more competent than men, etc. And in each case, implicit or explicit threats are utilized as a means to scare women back behind those lines. Whether it’s being raped, beaten, or publicly exposed to ridicule, silencing, harassment, or shaming, each of these situations presents an invitation to violence, both to the women involved, and, by extension, to others who act out in ways that violate some behavioral code to which women are expected to adhere – polite, demure, uncritical, nurturing, etc.

Add to the mix the new website devoted to outing and threatening certain readers accused of being “bullies” on Goodreads.   [note: I am linking to author and blogger Foz Meadows’s post on the site, so as not to drive more traffic there. If you are also concerned about this, I suggest using only Google cached links]. Although there was a similar incident on Goodreads that has created a strong suspicion of the website’s owner, there is a public assertion of anonymity that makes the outing particularly and perversely disturbing, as are the claims of justice and accountability. How is what this website is doing to female readers a whole lot different than the incidents I recounted above? Short answer: it isn’t. It is part of a larger pattern of making women feel physically unsafe by exposing them to the threat and the possibility of actual violence, even if the person doing the threatening isn’t doing physical violence him/herself.

We have seen this kind of behavior before in the online Romance community. Remember when DeborahAnne MacGillivray went full-force against a reader?  Or Victoria Laurie’s aggression toward a reader and a blogger? Jane Litte has her own personal harasser, an author who used very similar tactics to somehow get Jane to be “nicer.” In the SF/F community, Will Shetterly found himself in hot water a few years ago when he outed a LiveJournal blogger with whom he had disagreed.  And let’s not forget the “Dixieland Mafia” incident involving a group of published authors who managed to hunt down the personal info of an aspiring author who had left a negative review of one of their books on Amazon.

Note that one main similarity among these examples is that it’s authors (public figures with books for commercial sale) going after readers (private figures who are responding to a commercial product), not the other way around (and while reader allies of authors might be involved in the GR site, I don’t think anyone believes a reader would be that invested in authors to take such a risk and spend so much time and energy on a site like that). And by “going after,” I don’t mean leaving a snotty comment about a book or about a comment an author left on Goodreads to a reader’s review or comment. What I mean by “going after” is pursuing the reader beyond the online exchanges, attempting to shut the reader up by threatening and or exposing their off-line life to danger and the possibility of violence or other unhinged aggression by crossing a hard, bright line away from snarky online exchange to real life stalking.

What could possibly be okay about that?

First, there is the accusation of bullying. When the GRB site put up banners of anti-bullying organizations, the organizations asked them to take the banners down. That is a decisive cut against GRB’s definition of bullying. As bloggers like Foz Meadows have pointed out

. . . bullying is not a synonym for argument, disagreement or pejorative reactions. Bullying is not a synonym for disliking someone, or for thinking their work is rubbish. Bullying is not even a synonym for saying so, publicly and repeatedly, in a place where that person can hear it – although that’s certainly unpleasant. Bullying is when someone with a greater position of power and/or possessed of greater strength repeatedly and purposefully attacks, harasses, belittles and/or otherwise undermines someone in a position of lesser power and/or possessed of lesser strength. In the vast majority of circumstances, bullying trickles down; it does not travel up, and in instances where the author in question is a super-successful megastar, to say they’re being bullied by reviewers is to ignore the fundamental power-dynamics of bullying. Even on the Goodreads system, where authors can see exactly what readers and reviewers think of them, expressing a negative opinion is not the same as bullying, because although the conversation is visible, it’s not directed at the author; they are under no obligation to respond, or even to read it at all. Feeling sad and overwhelmed because people don’t like your book and have said so publicly might constitute a bad day, but it’s not the same as being bullied.

Bullied individuals cannot just walk away from the bullying, because, for example, someone has posted their personal information online in tacit or explicit invitation for nasty pursuit. Bullying looks like this or this. It is not justice of any kind, let alone an eye for an eye, to do what is being done on the GR Bullies site. To make that association is to create a false equivalence.

And we should know better.

I say “we” here because I’ve seen a surprising number of comments online suggesting that what the GRB site is doing is fine and dandy, and that the readers being targeted deserve it, somehow. And we, as a community of women who can amass how many thousands of comments on the ethics of accepting ARCs and exchanging tweets with authors, or the real life effects of reading about forced sex, should know better than to stand for something that so obviously and intentionally targets and imperils the real life safety and security of other women. This is not the time to be sympathetic to people “getting sick of the high road,” or suggesting that “the two parties should fight amongst themselves and everyone else stay out of it.”  There is no reasonable justification for statements like “I, for one, am happy that there is a group of people who have called attention to the viciousness of a mob,” nor the passive posting of a link to the GRB site by someone in the guise of objective reporting (and could Jane’s recent email asking him not to post vast swaths of her blog content without permission or substantive comment of his own have influenced his GRB post?). The door to inviting, inciting, sanctioning, or providing a means for violence against women who have stepped out from behind the politeness veil has been kicked open, and it is changing the way we can talk about the reader – author relationship. When you really stop to think about what’s going on at the GRB site, even comments like this can feel potentially threatening and aggressive: “Read some of the blog posts there and then tell me those people don’t deserve to be outed.

We should be better than this.

While many, many authors and readers have spoken out against the bullying that is going on at the GRB site, we, as a community, should know better than to think that just because we may, as individuals, dislike others in the community, that talking smack about a book and/or an author’s public persona is in any way equivalent to hunting down someone’s public information, posting it online (or threatening to), and inviting any and all sorts of real life harassment of those individuals and their families, co-workers, dogs and cats, etc. Why would someone do that if not to make the targeted individual feel unsafe at every level? Would it be okay if readers started combing through the copyright records looking for authors’ real names, and then hunting down and posting as much private information as possible, gleefully using words like “justice” and “bullying” to rile up other readers against those outed authors? Because that is much more akin to bullying, and it’s equivalent to what GRB is doing to readers.

And it is already doing harm to the community as a whole, including authors who are not involved in the site. It is confusing the exchange of opinions and the writing of reviews with actual violence, making it even more difficult to have reasonable conversations about reviewing and the role of criticism more generally. It sowing seeds of suspicion toward authors about where they stand and how far they might go to silence critical readers. And beyond the obvious ramifications around readers feeling afraid to post honest opinions and reviews of books, it is generating hostility toward authors and readers who are offering equivocal opinions about how readers need to be slapped back or quasi-supportive comments about the goals of the GRB site (sometimes without having ever seen the site). And the last thing this collective online community needs is more unbridled hostility. Or more revenge outing.

As a community, we should not “stay out of it” or use our own personal dislikes as a justification for totally unjustifiable behavior. We don’t need to like the readers who are being targeted or agree with what they’re doing. We can think it’s crappy or out of line or undesirable. However, none of those thoughts could ever logically lead to an endorsement of literally targeting these readers for harassment. Can you imagine what a world created entirely from the logic that brands the GRB site as “justice” would look like? It would be incoherent and unlivable. It would obliterate the most basic social contract not to inflict intentional, undeserved harm on one another. It would be pure violent chaos.

And we can do better than that. We need to do better than that, not just to protect the integrity of the books and the book-talk, but to protect ourselves as women from even more vulnerability than we already face. Because, in the end, what this is really about is not reviews or criticism or Goodreads message boards, but threatening, punishing, and silencing women. And it’s not okay; it’s never okay.

isn't sure if she's an average Romance reader, or even an average reader, but a reader she is, enjoying everything from literary fiction to philosophy to history to poetry. Historical Romance was her first love within the genre, but she's fickle and easily seduced by the promise of a good read. She approaches every book with the same hope: that she will be filled from the inside out with something awesome that she didnʼt know, didnʼt think about, or didnʼt feel until that moment. And she's always looking for the next mind-blowing read, so feel free to share any suggestions!


  1. Ann Somerville
    Jul 24, 2012 @ 19:41:16


    In context, her quote doesn’t sound quite so damning:

    I have faith that anyone who is truly interested in me, my book, or my work overall will be intelligent enough to make their own decision, find out more about me, or move on. The sheep that can’t make their own decisions probably won’t enjoy my work, anyway.

    It’s exactly what Sirius said above, in fact – authors who get worked up about obviously vengeful or ill-thought out bad reviews, don’t credit their readers with enough intelligence to know when a reviewer has an agenda, or hasn’t read the book, or hasn’t given it enough thought or whatever. Drive by one star ratings on GR might drive down the over all book rating, but they don’t actually influence readers.

    In fact I would say the same thing as Thompson. I write books for readers who like to think, and if they’re the kind to accept bad reviews indiscriminately, then they’re not going to like my books.

    I don’t know Rachel Thompson, but I’m concerned that you’re damning her simply because she’s attracted a fairly ignorant commenter in Duffy. The only thing in her post that gets up my nose is “I, personally, would never write a scathing review of a fellow author’s book, knowing the effort we put into writing them.” Effort doesn’t equal quality (and the whole ‘credit for effort’ thing is a standard cri de coeur of the badly behaved self-published author). I don’t see why authors shouldn’t review books. Stacia Kane has said, I believe, that she won’t review other authors’ books, so Thompson isn’t alone, but I don’t agree with either of them on that point

  2. Kaetrin
    Jul 24, 2012 @ 20:18:24

    I agree with Ann. I think Rachel’s post was (mostly) a pretty sensible approach.

    Duffy seems to have resiled from her original comment (at least to some degree). Her latest refers to “1%” of bloggers. I’ve commented but they’re in moderation so I don’t know when/if they’ll show up. I didn’t like any of her earlier comments at all but I do appreciate that she has emphatically stated in her last comment that she does not agree with outing bloggers under any circumstances and does not hold with the StGRB site (of which AnimeJune and AprilC have made her aware via Twitter).

    It seemed to me that her initial comment was saying that if a reviewer didn’t like a book it was the reviewer’s fault for being “stupid” (reading “above her pay grade”) and lumped all bloggers who’ve ever written a negative review or not understood an author’s message in the same boat – which I thought was very unfair. However, she does seem to be backing away and I think she deserves some credit for that. I’m not sure I’d want to pick up any of her books after this, but she did regain one of the (many) points she lost, by saying StGRB is wrong.

  3. Merrian
    Jul 24, 2012 @ 21:28:56

    @Ann Somerville: I pretty much agree with you and you can see from my comment that I thought Rachel’s blog post was in good faith and I do understand the pragmatics of not engaging in craziness such as CD’s. My caveat is that I can’t shake my feeling about tone. Taken together I just didn’t feel good about reading a statement that everyone who doesn’t get me is a sheep. The putdown undermines her useful point that not every book works for every reader. For me that then ties her into Cassandra’s thing about reading above our pay grade. That last line of Cassandra’s in the comment isn’t separable from the paragraphs that went before. Laughing at a putdown of readers doesn’t endear an author to me. I object to the appearance of an emerging discourse among authors that suggests ignorance and stupidity on the part of readers/reviewers who don’t appreciate the glory of their work.

    @Kaetrin Yes, Cassandra has taken a step back and differentiated herself from STGRB and I am grateful for that. Sadly further upthread she has spent a lot of time explaining to other commenters how they are showing their stupidity by not understanding her. So overall I am still very unimpressed.

  4. Kaetrin
    Jul 24, 2012 @ 21:43:24

    @Merrian: Oh, me too. Like I said, I can’t see that I’ll be buying/reading her books anytime soon. Her aggression was OTT and it just got worse once you started calling her on it. Still, it does seem that AnimeJune was able to get through and talk her off the ledge a bit, so I’m grateful for that :)

  5. Julia Broadbooks
    Jul 24, 2012 @ 22:05:17

    @Janet: I think this is why such long and unwieldy posts are worth staying with. Despite the trolls and circular arguments, I’m never sorry that I spend the time reading through because sometimes I’m the person who gets her eyes opened to a whole new way of thinking.

  6. alexia banks
    Jul 25, 2012 @ 16:58:37

    I find these recent developments more than a little disturbing. But we, ladies, are not without recourse. We have buying power. If we stand together against this kind of despicable behavior, we CAN stop it. Money isn’t only the rude of all evil, it is also is the biggest single motivator of the entire western world. While sharing information in the blogosphere is a terrific start, we can also boycott comedians, websites and others who permit “fighting words” and “actions” against women. This deplorable behavior should not go unchallenged. Let’s figure out a way to address this as an organized united front.

  7. Miashin
    Jul 25, 2012 @ 19:12:19

    @alexia It’s fear of that very recourse that seems to have led to these extreem actions. These authors worry about people’s reviews or bookshelves discouraging sales and/or blemishing their work. Which is exceptionally ironic considering that reviews don’t really impact what I read, but their terrible behavior most certainly does.

  8. Negative Reviews and Bullying | C W Reynolds
    Jul 30, 2012 @ 21:47:18

    […] M Dickson, and L.M. Pruitt.  Some of the book blogs that have spoken out about the StGRB site:  Dear Author and SB […]

  9. Shay Jevons
    Aug 02, 2012 @ 20:39:16

    Something that StGRB site hasn’t brought out is this, that you don’t actually have to be an author to attract the wrath of some of the women they name. I review lots of books on GR myself and also read a lot of them. I disagreed with one I read where I had read the book myself. It wasn’t a bullying comment and I didn’t slag the reviewer off but I got ‘beat up’ in comments on that review, on other reviews, in two groups…. I don’t agree with StGRB, I don’t agree with hiding reviews, but one thing they got right is that some of those reviewers are truly nasty people who once one of them feels ‘insulted’ they will ALL jump on the bandwagon and go for blood.

  10. Ann Somerville
    Aug 02, 2012 @ 20:44:50

    @Shay Jevons:

    And you can totally back up this assertion with links, can’t you?

    Disagreement – even harsh and violent disagreement – is not bullying. If you can’t cope with that, get off the internet.

    There is *nothing* right about that site. Upto and including the fact they are currently championing the racist author of an incredibly offensive book, and a late middleaged man who is whining because the teenagers he harrassed, threatened and pursued, didn’t want to review his shitty books. The owners of that site operate in a reality unconnected with anyone else’s (anyone who isn’t a raging narcissist, that is.) They’re just grudgewankers on steroids.

  11. Loosheesh
    Aug 02, 2012 @ 21:28:46

    @Ann Somerville: “Upto and including the fact they are currently championing the racist author of an incredibly offensive book …”

    Oy, please tell me it’s not the book I’m thinking of! That book (if it’s the one I think it is) is wrong on sooo many levels, it boggles the mind that anyone would champion it!

  12. Jane
    Aug 02, 2012 @ 21:35:37

    It is exactly that book Loosheesh

  13. Loosheesh
    Aug 04, 2012 @ 17:57:48

    @Jane: The people over there need some head examinations :(

  14. alexia banks
    Aug 04, 2012 @ 18:03:33

    Reviews undoubtedly impact on book sales, but reviewers aren’t in the business of providing marketing services for authors. For the most part, they are book lovers sharing their thoughts and insights with other readers. As far as I’m concerned, this is how it should be.

  15. New Year Navel-gazing | Something More
    Aug 25, 2012 @ 20:23:41

    […] choices. But they are all attempts to control behavior and silence (mostly) women, a point Robin made back in July. In a few cases, the attacks on reviewers appear to have extended to threatening phone calls (which […]

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  17. Jaq D Hawkins
    Oct 07, 2012 @ 03:38:53

    Pushing back on trolling is a duty as far as I’m concerned. I don’t do it because they’re trolling me, I do it because they are trolling unchecked on Goodreads and pushing them to critical mass makes it impossible to ignore.

    I’m not talking about readers or reviewers. The people trolling my book pages on Goodreads have never seen a copy of any of my books. I am not their genre. They are purely trolling as a gang, because I had an off-site dispute with one person after she stalked me for over 5 years.

    Goodreads has lost respectability because of these errant children. Reviews there are meaningless, especially those written by BBA group members.

    While I agree that nastiness that goes into physical threats is intolerable, putting up with the sort of infantile nastiness that is bringing down Goodreads is also unacceptable as is the site’s refusal to clean up the mess. They would only have to ban a few of the leaders to stop the problem and stop giving them facilities to dirty book pages with their hate campaigns.

    A site that lets people freely vote down books they’ve never seen and litter book pages with negative comments and ‘recommendation lists’ with similar derogatory attacks is not deserving of author support, or of reader support for that matter. Genuine readers who want information about a book are not interested in reading troll dirt.

    My readers are not my enemies. Even those who post GENUINE lower rated reviews are appreciated. But trolling is ugly and childish, and if any of us, readers, writers or reviewers, tolerate it we become part of the problem.

  18. Ann Somerville
    Oct 07, 2012 @ 04:38:57

    @Jaq D Hawkins:

    I see that since your repeated attempt to get attention for your crazy campaign against Issendai has failed to gain any traction at Goodreads, you are now trying to flog the deceased equine here and drag a bunch of people who have no knowledge of and less interest in your vendetta against an innocent user, into the mess.

    Word to the wise (well, for some values of wise), Ms Hawkins – all you’re doing is broadcasting your nuttiness to a fresh audience.

    And since those *lovely* people at STGRB (including our dear, dear friend, Gyruleine on Vacation) will no doubt pick this out an example of an author being bullied, let’s be clear – this is an example of an author being a complete and utter bully. Making wild accusations, then trying to dump crap onto her head and make GR ban her for non-existent offences, while screaming ‘stalker’ (oh, what a tired tactic) based on no evidence at all, to justify her constant outbreaks of abuse.

    Since I understand you are now unemployed and trying to make a living on your books, perhaps you should stop trying to gain negative attention in a faint hope of selling more copies, and get on with writing some more books. That tends to be the best way to make anything approaching a living as an author.

    You’re not a man. There’s no money in being a dickhead unless you’re a bloke.

  19. Jaq D. Hawkins
    Oct 08, 2012 @ 05:54:15

    I didn’t mention Issendai by name [Edited by Jane as we aren’t going to be party to the outing of reviewers]. On YOUR head that one, I didn’t bring it up.

    I’m talking about the whole battle, Both of those groups and the others less visible that are trying to undo the nastiness the BBA group spread to anyone who as much as says ‘boo’ to any one member. It’s bringing down Goodreads.

    False ratings whether 1 star or 5 stars discredit the site. Using review space as a battle group is making it unfriendly to readers as well as writers.

    Swarm attacks turn it into a high school spitting match. If you’re happy to be part of the problem, no worries, I won’t disturb your hate fest with calls to sanity again. Everyone participating shares guilt. Everyone obsessed with these campaigns will be at fault when Goodreads stops getting advertiser support because reputable authors don’t want anything to do with the place.

    Be a child if you must, and thanks for the demonstration of what makes a dickhead.

    BTW, I’m not unemployed. I’m a full time writer and filmmaker with a track record. There is no ‘trying’ to be anything. I leave that to your immature friends who have only their own lists to look forward to joining when they finally self-publish.

  20. jane_l
    Oct 08, 2012 @ 06:15:05

    I think Goodreads is doing just fine. Let
    us keep it civil.

  21. Jaq D. Hawkins
    Oct 08, 2012 @ 06:28:38

    Indeed Jane, the reason I didn’t mention names was to discuss the subject without exchanges like the above. But that demonstrates what’s going on. Goodreads isn’t fine, and it won’t be with that sort of thing running rampant on book pages.

    It stopped being about reviews long ago. It’s like high school gang wars now, and it’s growing. It would be so easy to fix, yet they let it run rampant. Not a good business move.

  22. Ann Somerville
    Oct 08, 2012 @ 14:56:04

    Jaq D. Hawkins wrote:

    The people trolling my book pages on Goodreads have never seen a copy of any of my books. I am not their genre. They are purely trolling as a gang, because I had an off-site dispute with one person after she stalked me for over 5 years.


    Both of those groups and the others less visible that are trying to undo the nastiness the BBA group spread to anyone who as much as says ‘boo’ to any one member. It’s bringing down Goodreads.

    So, you’re really against trolling, and highschool behaviour, and people who apparently carry grudges from ‘off-site disputes’?

    Then you do this?

    Well, I guess that’s me told, then.

    You said “Goodreads isn’t fine, and it won’t be with that sort of thing running rampant on book pages. ”

    You’ll note I’ve never spoken to you on Goodreads, and in fact I first heard about your fight with reviewers there through Twitter and Cuddlebuggery. I’ve never reviewed, rated, or mentioned your books, nor have I ever expressed any opinion about your writing. The only person who has brought the kind of behaviour you claim to despise on Goodreads, to Goodreads…is you.

    Oh, and the only person outing a GR reader’s real name is you. Shame on you.

  23. Ridley
    Oct 08, 2012 @ 15:22:08

    First Will Shet.terly, now Jaq Hawkins.

    All we need is for DMac to weigh in, and we can all die of irony.

  24. Jaq D Hawkins
    Oct 09, 2012 @ 05:32:55

    “Then you do this?”

    You made it clear you approve of this sort of thing, so I’ve invited you into the club. Your attack on here certainly qualifies you for the kist. For the record, I’ve also flagged the list long since anddon’t believe that sort of thing belongs on Goodreads.

    But you can’t have it both ways. If you want to derail a civil conversation to make a personal attack and make it plain you agree with these actions, then be glad I only added 3 books. I couldn’t be bothered with more like your friends who have added all of mine.

    It’s called irony. Sort of like you knowing about my blog that mentions I’m giving up the day job. Are you doing he stalking yourself or just getting reports from the rest of the gang? Maybe that’s why you didn’t realise there are a lot more books on my page.

    Now, one more time, this discussion isn’t about me. It’s not about any one of your favourite targets.

    It’s about Goodreads and how this spitting war between you and the the other group are trashing the site. I don’t consider myself aligned with anyone on this, my interest is what it’s doing to Goodreads. Yours should be too.

    As I said in my first post on here, name calling and threats etc is unacceptable regardless of which ‘side’ it’s coming from. At which point you weighed in to do some name calling. :)

    My specific case is irrelevant to the larger issue here. I didn’t post to ‘make it about me’, you spewed.

    If you and/or Ridley have the capability of participating in an intelligent conversation, do feel free to join this one. Do you want Goodreads to be a high school spitting fest between you and STGRB and have all books your friends ever published put on your own lists and follow each otehr around the internet waging a no-win war for all sides, or are you prepared to think about the consequences of all this hate festing and become part of the solution rather than the problem?

  25. Ann Somerville
    Oct 09, 2012 @ 15:26:28

    @Jaq D Hawkins:

    “You made it clear you approve of this sort of thing, so I’ve invited you into the club. Your attack on here certainly qualifies you for the kist. For the record, I’ve also flagged the list long since anddon’t believe that sort of thing belongs on Goodreads.”

    Well, bless your heart.

  26. Even heinous arsewipes have rights » Ann Somerville's Blog
    Oct 13, 2012 @ 19:14:47

    […] Jaq D. Hawkins also thinks outing reviewers is just fine and dandy. […]

  27. So-called ‘victims’ of bullying » Readers Have Rights
    Dec 11, 2012 @ 01:12:45

  28. The so-called ‘victims’ of bullying » Readers Have Rights
    Dec 12, 2012 @ 18:05:56

  29. Smugglivus 2012: The Airing of Grievances | The Book Smugglers
    Jan 03, 2013 @ 09:31:53

    […] speaking, we had been largely ignoring the site apart from retweeting opinion pieces like Dear Author’s, Gossamer Obsessions’ and Foz Meadow’s at the Huffington Post. Then they posted an […]

  30. Shinjinee
    Jan 21, 2013 @ 23:08:25

    On another post on this forum, I read that some authors have complained about negative reviews affecting their livelihood. I won’t comment much on that, except to say that excessive author (and author fan) reaction to one negative review I wrote under a nom-de-plume was one reason I stopped reviewing for Amazon. Not only did the author complain to Amazon and have my review removed (for some obscure reason I can’t remember), but she and her friends also attacked me on a romance reader website I used to frequent. It left an incredibly bad taste in my mouth, and eventually I stopped revieweing and reading most romances. (And of course, I never bought any of the author or author friend’s books, even in the bargain bin).

    The point being, personal attacks on the author or the reviewer are not justified. IIRC, I criticized her plot plots and also pointed out that the hardback was really pricey. I suggested that readers wait for the paperback release. At that top, I was one of the Top 500 (maybe higher), so that might have influenced her overreaction. I did get a lot of support on the boards, and they deleted most of the initial comments that I never even saw.
    What was frightening to me (in terms of free speech issues) was that Amazon deleted my review without notification (I didn’t have a copy), without asking me for clarification. It kept her response up for a while until I asked them to take it down as it was essentially a personal attack on me including a threat of legal action, comments on my possible lifestyle, and the implication that I had begged her for a free copy. I had never even been in contact with the author or any author of a book I reviewed. I had subsequently established contact with other authors, and I am still in occasional touch with them although I have stopped reviewing but not reading nor recommending.
    Moral – 1. Keep a copy of your reviews and any correspondence (e-mail) with authors, especially new authors. 2. Word-of-mouth is pretty powerful. What she did to me got around and turned off many potential reviewers who deleted her from their must-read-and review lists (who knows? they might have written five-star reviews). 3. I personally lost respect for her and her supporters, as well as Amazon’s own review posting policy.
    I don’t write books or articles, but if I ever did, I think I would follow Maya Banks’s policy of not reading or posting on book forums. Life is too short and too busy.


  31. Soap
    Mar 19, 2013 @ 11:34:33

    If I had reacted like these authors to criticism of my PhD (both online and in person) I would never have achieved it. To me it says something about their writing – I mean what writer in their right mind is not their own biggest critic? Not these writers obviously. The things a writer criticises themselves for should far outweigh any criticism from Goodreads.

  32. Jaq D Hawkins
    Mar 20, 2013 @ 06:26:08

    I don’t critisise or ‘out’ reviewers. I identified a stalker (count ’em, 1) who had hounded me for years after noting that she had approached me under one name while slagging me off over a period of years under another.

    I even took the censored information (no identifiable full name or address info) down once she had seen it.

    There’s a BIG difference. It was never about a review.

    Jun 29, 2013 @ 12:35:13

    When I originally commented I appear to have clicked on the -Notify me when new comments are
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  34. Reactions against » Readers Have Rights
    Oct 05, 2013 @ 21:30:52

    […] Robin/Janet at Dear Author: “Something is very wrong with us, and it’s not bad reviews” […]

  35. Lizzy
    Jun 20, 2014 @ 16:34:02

    @Jeannie S.: It’s funny you mention the “Barney generation”. I’m just young enough to have watched Barney as a kid and to have gone through the constant ego-pumping and “self-esteem building” exercises in school. Tell us what’s your greatest trait! What’s unique and special about you? I hated Barney even as a small child because I felt the constant and exaggerated praise was phony. I’ve had problems with depression since about age 11, and this constant ego-pumping and praise only made me feel worse about myself. I want to be praised when I do things right, as does everyone, but phony praise and self-esteem building always made me feel worse about myself. It made me think that adults had high expectations of me that I could never measure up to. How can I be expected to be happy all the time? I had good reasons to be unhappy as a child. It also made me think that adults were lying to me and that I wasn’t special at all like they said I was. I can’t feel good about myself unless I have SOMETHING to feel good about.

    I actually read a psychology book that said that too much self-esteem building has negative effects on children – it makes those with self-esteem feel worse about themselves, and creates arrogance in children who have high self-esteem. Makes sense to me. The self-esteem it builds is fake and weak and entirely dependent on other people, not genuine self-worth.

    Sorry about highjacking the topic – on the topic of books, a lot of the STGRB authors seem to have a problem with narcissism and entitlement. It shows what happens when people are raised to feel entitled – they’re used to getting constant praise, so their self-esteem crumbles like a meringue if anyone reacts negatively to them. Learning a little humility and/or developing genuine self-esteem not based entirely on others’ opinions would do them some good. Sadly, if they’re behaving like this as adults, I don’t think anyone can convince them to change.

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