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Goodreads Reviews are NOT Good Reads by Byron Rider

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Authors write for many different reasons. Some write for the joy and pleasure of putting their thoughts and ideas down on paper. Others write to entertain the public. Many authors use revenue from their book sales to supplement their income.

There is another side to the life of an author that most people don’t think about: the dreaded reviews.

Don’t get me wrong; there are honest reviews on many book review sites, both positive and negative, but there are also reviews that are so wrought with vitriol and vehemence that authors feel diminished, exhausted and, in some cases, may question their value as an author, or even as a human being. Yes, some reviews are so horrible that they can make an author break down in tears. Is that their intent?

One such book review site is Goodreads. As an author, I have seen reviews on the site but I really don’t peruse it anymore. However, many of my fellow authors still take time to read the reviews that have been posted. They have been less than pleased with the remarks being left regarding their hard work.

Review sites do not typically offer guidelines for reviews. Nor do they provide accountability and oversight for any of the reviews that have been placed on their site.

Some of the biggest offenses within the un-monitored review platform include:

Didn’t like the genre: Authors all write what they are interested in. That means there is likely an audience for their titles. But it also means that not all audiences will appreciate the genre. For those readers who liked the writing, but not the genre, please do not leave a review regarding the plot. You won’t have a positive opinion and it is not constructive.

Didn’t read the book: Reviewers will read the reviews of others and create one that is a compilation of the other reviews. There is no constructive information, nothing new, and no value can be gleaned from such a review.

Started but did not finish the book: If a reader has not taken the time to reach the end of the story, their review is incomplete and does not offer useful or informational comment about the book.

Didn’t want to be kind: Yes, there are people out there who are just so unhappy, for whatever reason, that they need to spread their dissatisfaction. Anonymous review forums are perfect places for angry reviewers to spew their hatefully charged insults.

Competing authors: Seriously, why would an author try to knock down another author? Still, a few do this. It is distressing on more than one level. Most indie authors prefer working in cooperation and support of each other, rather than at odds with their cohorts. Some, however, may feel jealous or superior and feel the need to impart their sage wisdom in the form of insulting reviews.

Difficult to read: Not all authors have the benefit of quality editors. These authors are usually new at their craft and are putting their feelers out to see if anyone might read their story. Sure, they may not be English majors and may have difficulty disseminating their information in the written word. In this case, I would suggest that the author be contacted via email or Facebook. Don’t put your corrections and grammar suggestions in an open forum.

Negative reviews: This does not mean an honest and respectful review that was informative regarding some of the problems within a story, perhaps the plot was weak, or character building could be stronger. That is not what hurts the feelings of an author. The author who reads: “this was a big fat piece of junk. I would never recommend this author to even write my first grader’s puppy story.” might question his worth as an author or person. This type of angry review is not helpful and it can create angst in an author.

Regardless of the review site, there will be those who are incapable of putting forth a respectful review. This can really upset an author who did nothing to warrant the vitriol. If the review sites were more proactive and worked for the authors whose works would benefit or fail due to the reviews, they would be working to produce guidelines and have a monitoring or approval process in place to keep the hurtful and unhelpful reviews from seeing the light of the Internet.

I would implore Goodreads and other open forum review sites to realize their responsibility in providing useful, honest, and respectful reviews for both the public and the authors to use as honest and constructive opinion. Remember Goodreads, and reviewers. Authors are people, too.


Byron Rider is a self-publishing author, a college Psychology professor, and an avid reader. He hopes that his books entertain his audience, and that readers give all indie authors a chance.

Read the Cross Club Trilogy, available on

Sometimes it takes patience to reach that happily ever after.


Cross Club
Matt steps into a club to have a beer and comes out with a new outlook on his vanilla life. Does he want to step up into a world of BDSM, where Masters have control over their slaves? Does he want to keep his life the way he wants?

Meeting Sir, Anaconda, and Vlad, awaken a part of Matt that he didn’t know existed and isn’t quite certain he is ready for. Can he resolve those confusions in his mind?

Double Crossed
Matt still feels apprehension. After all, how can a corporate manager just give someone else control over his existence? He has responsibilities?

When Matt presumably leaves Anaconda to return to his old life, Anaconda decides to revert back to that which he knows. Little does he know that his dreams are about to give him a whole new set of ideas about what is going on with the men in his life?

Cross my Heart
The third and final book in the trilogy has Matt in a bad way, thanks to his previous adventures at the hands of someone jealous.

Now, it’s his turn to be coveted by another, and who will feel the brunt of this jealous act? The story of Matt and Anaconda twist and turn, and involve their friends, Jon, Sir, Vlad, and a new friend, Yuri, in a new and twisting bout of angst and frustration.

Surprises come in all kinds!

  1. mansfield says

    Excellent article, Byron. I completely agree with everything you have said and am one writer who no longer logs into Goodreads. I find the nastiness and petty little cliques that build up some authors (friends???) and put other authors down tiresome and immature, and above all, of no help to anyone – author or reader. There is nothing constructive in nastiness or childish one-liners putting a book and/or author down. I am finding more and more authors who, like me, have nothing good to say about goodreads.

    While reviews are fairly useful for promoting a book, they don’t necessarily correlate to sales. One of my most criticised books has been a nice little money-maker. Whereas another of my titles, which got great reviews on many different sites, didn’t sell half as well. This illustrates that while some reviewers think they have a certain amount of power, they don’t really. At least not when it comes to the popularity of a book. However, as you stated, Byron, they do have the power to cause upset and grief, and perhaps put people off doing something they love. Do I even have to say you’d have to be a pretty messed up person to get off on doing that?

    The best advice I ever got was “Don’t read reviews. Let your sales show you how well you’re doing.”

  2. zarah says

    It’s a good article, but as a reader who likes to review books I can’t really agree with all of it. I, for example, review everything I read, good bad or otherwise. And I read all sorts of things, some of it not my preferred genres. I review the books as my own form of book diary, just for myself. This article assumes every reader/reviewer is reviewing for the purpose of promoting or denigrating the books they review, as if we’re all involved in book sales in some fashion. This isn’t true. I could make the oft repeated, ‘reviews aren’t for authors’ quip, but I’d rather point out that many reviews aren’t even for other readers. They fulfill personal needs for the reviewer themselves and thus it’s ridiculous to tell them when they should or shouldn’t be able to review a book or how. A site like Goodreads has the potential to gather hundreds or thousands of reviews on a book (though I realize many books have less) if a reviewer writes a review you dislike for whatever reason, it’s going to get averaged out in the mass in the end. Why agonize so much over it?

  3. Sean Kerr says

    excellent article and so very important to all of us!! thank you so much Byron for your work in this area and for helping to show that it is so unnecessary to be nasty when reviewing. thank you

    1. Byron says

      Thank you, Sean.
      The world is angry and hurtful enough all on its own for people to go out of their way to hurt others.

      Thank you for your kind and supportive comments.


  4. Patricia Strehle says

    I’ve always considered the Goodreads reviews as the “walmart” of reviews.

    My opinion is. It should be run like uber. The reviewer can rate you. But, you can rate the reviewer. That way…. we know. Is this a person. Who rates things always horrible? Has a vendetta against a genre? It should go both ways.

    1. Byron says

      Thanks, Patricia.

      It seems to me that we could all learn a lesson in civility and conversation rather than confrontation.

      1. ian cadena says

        I like your idea!

  5. maggieL says

    I liked this article, it was a good insight into how negative reviews impact on an Authors.

    1. Byron says

      Absolutely, Maggie!

      It is important for reviewers to realize that there is a person at the other end of that book that he or she is being so hateful with.


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