Tuesday, January 3, 2012

An Open Letter to Those Who Review on Goodreads

Dear Reviewers,

I love Goodreads too. I love it as a reader and as a drama-loving red-blooded twenty-year-old extroverted Aries, but I also love it as a writer.

I'm sorry that we've fucked up Goodreads.

I'm having a hard time writing this because I'm so fucking frustrated, and because I'm goddamn ashamed of how I've seen people behaving lately. I feel like this is Boy Meets World and we have to keep learning the same lessons every week and then we go back and make the same fucking mistakes.

I want to tell you that I get why there is vitriol towards YA writers.

We keep doing this shit to you, and I'm so sorry.

I'm not giving any links because this isn't an isolated incident, but in case you've missed what's been going on lately, the gist is that we invade reviewer space, whether on reviews of our own work or a friend's, and act like assholes.

While I don't support anyone's decision to act like an asshole, it's really stupid for us. I get that sometimes you want to take that writer hat off and be a real person, or be a reader. Hell, I still have internet spaces for real hannah, and they're not invisible; you can go friend me on Facebook and watch me exchange videos with my girlfriend and discuss Motion City Soundtrack with my mom and post half-naked pictures from Rocky Horror, you know? (Just drop me a note saying you're a blog reader so I know you're not a random creeper looking at my half-naked pictures from Rocky Horror, cool?)

But I don't really get to be a reader anymore, not fully, and that's just fucking reality. And maybe it's not altogether awesome, and maybe I miss it, but it's a pretty small price to pay for being a motherfucking author.

That doesn't mean I can't write reviews, even negative ones; I do sometimes, and there are some amazing combination writer/reviewers out there--Phoebe North, anyone?--but it does mean that if I go out there and comment on bad reviews with sarcasm and bitchiness and general asshole-dom, I make writer-hannah look like a fucking idiot.

What's more, I embarrass my fans, I disrespect people who support me, and I give YA writers a bad name, and that just isn't how this shit is going to go down.

I don't know why this is such a hard concept for some of us, and I'm so, so sorry that we're just not fucking getting it.

If we can't stand Goodreads, we shouldn't go there. But if we choose to anyway, it is fucking ridiculous of us to think that just because we get those sexy author profile pages Goodreads is suddenly our space to be assholes to people who are doing what Goodreads was made for: reviewing books and interacting with people who love (and hate) books as much as they do.

Don't get me wrong, I love that we have a space where we can obsessively refresh to see how many people have added our books and see what page people are on and read what quotes they've added (THIS IS MY FAVORITE THING IN THE WORLD) and cry over bad reviews and cry over good reviews and cry because this shit is stressful, damn it.

But we are guests here, and Goodreads is your space, and I'm sorry we keep being idiots about it.


P.S. to authors: I know that bad reviews can hurt. I know that sometimes bad reviews are objectively WRONG. Shut up anyway. If you're a decent person with a good book, your readers will defend the thing. And that's the dream. That's what Goodreads is for.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this. Really. I am just so incredibly disgusted by what went down both on twitter and goodreads that it's almost turning me off the entire genre which would be a very bad thing. So seriously, thank you. I needed this.

Leigh Ann said...

(no clue what went down, but it sounds bad.)

I wonder if the YA publishing world is lovey-fuzzy-touchy-feelier than the rest of the publishing world? And if by the time you actually get your freaking book published you've been loved on by your CPs and agent and editor and advertisers and whole book team and and and....everyone LOVES your book, right? It's not possible to NOT love this book.

Hm. Thank goodness, I'm used to people calling me a number of non-awesome things in other areas of life. So...if I ever ever ever get published, I'm hoping that plus my reality-check CPs will keep me in check.

But, onto more important things - You can see videos of you and your GF on Facebook? *goes to check Facebook* Oh, my. She is absolutely adorable.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this Hannah. You are an absolute legend.

hannah moskowitz said...

Thank you, dearests.

Leigh Ann--RIGHT??

Anonymous said...

Hannah, your decorum around this whole mess has convinced me to give your books a go. Except for the zombie one. I don't like zombies.

Thanks you for being one of the few authors who is still sane over this reviewing stuff. You have no idea how lovely it is to see an author on the side of reviewers.

Unknown said...

Thanks for posting this. I read once that every author should be present on Goodreads, but invisible. Otherwise it makes people feel skeevy. I take that to heart. I also read a blog post (from Ilona Andrews, I think) where she said the only appropriate author response to a review is, "Thank you." Sometimes I think authors need to separate the writer from the person, and when people trash our work, they aren't trashing us personally.

I'm not saying that's easy. It's just necessary.

I write for readers. If they take the time to review my book, good or bad, I'm honored.

Paul Anthony Shortt said...

I have no idea what happened on Goodreads, but I'm with you on this, Hannah. We don't have the right to tell people they're wrong or act like dicks towards them just because we might disagree with them, or something they've said has bruised our egoes.

If my book gets anything close to the level of attention yours do, I hope I can remain as humble and respectful as you even in the face of criticism.

Taneika said...

Hannah, WOW. Just, wow. You are a legend and as soon as I'm off my book buying ban, I'm going to buy them and read them. God, it is so refreshing to see an author back up reviewers. It's so annoying to see several authors claiming that if you write a negative review, you'll never be successful or even just crying publicly over a negative review (which is an actual review, not slamming the author!)

You have my utmost respect and I'm adding your books to the top of my TBR pile :)

Taneika @ Flipping Through the Pages

Taneika said...

Also, I'm not sure if it's correst, but according to Goodreads you're a year older than me. THAT IS AWESOME.

Lori M. Lee said...

I don't know what went down, but I agree nonetheless :) Very well said.

Unknown said...

Aww, thanks, Hannah--and thank you for speaking up so eloquently and empathetically.

Debra Driza said...

Thanks for speaking up, Hannah. And hey, you managed to find the words after all--I knew you would!


Rebecca B said...

This should be required reading for authors/writers. Seriously!

DawnRaeMiller said...

Bravo, Hannah for seeing bullying & calling that crap out. What could have been an engaging conversation turned ugly & intimidating. I admit, I was a coward to say anything publicaly as an author, but I learned a lot from you last night.

Lydia Sharp said...

Thanks for the post, Hannah. You have, once again, proven yourself to be wise beyond your years.

*love and hugs*

Anonymous said...

Every published author who ever checked out Goodreads should read this first. Heck, it should be linked to from Goodreads.

You are lovely, dear.

Aleeza said...

all i have to say is...as long as there're gonna be YA writers like you out there, i'll be reading the genre :)

Rebecca Christiansen said...

I'm pretty sure I know what recent incident you're talking about. I was kind of there. It was weird and uncomfortable and it makes me not want to read books of authors who crowd review comments and just kind of stand there, looking all imposing.

It's awkward.

<3 love you and now I'm going to go friend you on Facebook because I'm weird like that.

Eden said...

Thank you for this. It's always wonderful to have someone with a little swinging power tell the truth.

Josin L. McQuein said...

Good grief, I just read through the insanity on GR.

I don't understand why writers want to engage in arguments about the validity of reviews. All they end up doing is drawing more attention the review and turning the situation personal. It was worse in this instance as the writer and reviewer in question were getting the brunt of a situation caused by someone else.

hannah moskowitz said...

Lissa--thanks! I promise the zombies are ungory, though. They're more metaphorical zombies than anything. But don't tell the 12 year old boys that.

Taneika--hooray! I hope you like 'em, but obviously I'm not going to freak out on you if you don't, haha. I'm 20.

Phoebe--Post wouldn't have been complete without mentioning you, babe.

Sage--YOU are lovely.

Aleeza--that's the spirit! YA forever.

Becca--do itttt

Kat said...

Girl, you are such a real person.

Diana Julianna said...

YES! YES! Oh, Hannah, this makes me so incredibly happy that THERE ARE still authors like you out there. It's sort of blinding when you're crowded with the sort of insanity of you-know-what. Why can't everyone just be as understanding and knowing and wise as you!? You respect us, we respect you, fine deal. *sighs* *virtually hugs*

hannah moskowitz said...

*virtually hugs BACK*

Cai Young said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cai E Young (Alainn) said...

I think a lot of people forget that writers are also PROFESSIONALS, and they should behave as such.

You are a living reminder to always be badass and professional so thank you so much for this post. :)

hannah moskowitz said...

thank YOU, hot stuff.

Karen said...

It's sad that people don't *get* this on their own. If you were at a dinner party and met someone who bashed a book you wrote would you punch him/her in the face and get into a fight about why he/she was wrong, or excuse yourself and go get a snack?

Great word verification: editerse : )

Lynsey Newton said...

I do believe you are the Samuel L Jackson of the YA book world. I.e. the coolest YA author out there and you fucking rock!

Lynsey Newton said...

Just to *slightly* way in on this issue, I know exactly which incident you're referring to Hannah as I read through the entire thread yesterday. Can I just say that I hope we never forget that at the end of the day, it doesn't matter whether you're an author, a blogger or an agent, we're all still human and humans make mistakes. As such, I don't believe that the person making a mistake should be punished forever for it. So, what's say we try to go easy on each other for a while after all, we're on the same side aren't we? The passion for books that unites us needn't split us apart.

Rachael Allen said...

Wow, I love this post so much. This one and your post on how to write reviews are such a great guide for how to act on both sides of the author-reviewer relationship.

KTJ said...

Your post is amazing, after reading through several threads and incidents lately on goodreads I've been so sad and horrified with the way that some authors were treating reviewers and vice-versa.

I've only been blogging for over six months now and I like to be honest in my reviews. This all has made me think 'wow, do I really want to be a reviewer if they're being ostracized like this?' However, you're post and some other comments from other authors, reviewers and bloggers have put my mind at ease once more.

But I will say as an avid reader, I like to read both the positive and negative books before I buy a book.

Thank you for this post!

hannah moskowitz said...

Thanks so much, Kate! (and errbody)

David P Perlmutter said...

Just found you and great post..

Dave from London ( Living in Portugal )

Following you..........

Epiphany Renee said...

Hanna this post is amazing. I just read up on what is going on and I think this is a message to writers and conscientious reminder to reviewers to be critics with reason. We should never be nasty on either side. I know this will make me more aware of what I write and who I read.
Speaking of which this mess all ends well because I found you. You are a quiet but bright star in the YA community and your book Break shows the same style as this post. Much luvs, keep doing you!

Ann Summerville said...

I must have been living under a rock because I didn't have a clue about any of these. However, I did see a blog where there was a bad review and the author started commenting and saying the reviewer read the wrong version and she'd told him not to and then went on to give us all her credentials and why her grammar wasn't bad at all.
You're right as authors, we need to just step out of the way. Sometimes the review is valid sometimes it isn't - that's life. After all we don't all like the same movie do we?

Julia G. Darelle said...

As a witness of one of those Goodreads sh*t-fests, I salute you for your post. That's the spirit. I'm glad that there are writers who share my point of view on getting reviews - it's better to get negative ones than none. It means people are reading, people are taking time to tell other people about your book. I believe there was not a single instance when a negative review prevented me from reading a book if I was set on doing it. But there were a few times when I read a bad review and thought,"NO way! It couldn't be so bad!" and went ahead to read it. And more often than not, I later wrote my own review, pointing out the positive moments that were lost in other reviews. I hope that writers, especially those who just stepped into the craft, would read those negative reviews and learn why some readers were not thrilled; where the book got boring or silly or repetitive. There always be people who dislike a book no matter how good it is. But if the author looks past personal preferences and tastes and sees comments like "no character development" or "so many grammar mistakes I couldn't continue" - they would know that there is something objectively wrong with the story and they better work on it.

My friend asked me when we were talking about one of those Twitter/Goodreads screaming sessions courtesy of a few authors, if I wouldn't want to call names when someone tells people my book is trash. I can honestly answer, "Sure I would. At home, in a privacy of my bathroom with water running, I will yell all the insults I could think of about them and all their relatives. Then I'll get to my computer and re-read that review and make sure I am not missing the point. And if I can't manage a "thank you" I still won't dismiss it as an ill-meant personal message.

OK, I should get off my high horse here and go back to reading and writing. Thank you for your post.

LTM said...

you're absolutely right. Authors should not be responding to negative reviews on GR. That's what your mom/hubs/friends/boyfriend/cat is for.

What's been most surprising to me on GR, though, is the unvarnished meanness I've seen by reviewers. I can understand writing 'graphs and 'graphs about a book I LOVED. I've been known to stop total strangers and recommend books I loved.

Books I didn't love simply pass out of my mind into the mental ether. Or perhaps I just haven't read a book that was THAT BAD yet.

doubtful. :o)

imnotasquirrel said...

This is coming in late, but I just want to say that this letter alone convinced me to give your books a try. I know, I know, I should separate the art from the artist and just because someone is a jerk doesn't mean their writing is bad.... but hey, there's only so much time in the day so if I'm going to take a chance on a new book, I'd rather take a chance on someone who's, well, nice. :P

Jonathon Arntson said...

Yeah. I'm a dumb shit who has written some lame-ass reviews on goodreads. Though poorly-written, I have never engaged in ridiculous, high-schoolesque drama.

But, you see, the art of civil discourse cannot exist even at the place where people with the largest vocabularies hang out.

I wonder what Meghan Cox Gurdon thinks of Goodreads.

Anyway, beautiful response to something so messy and undignified, Hannah.

Unknown said...

Such a great review, Hannah. Thanks for addressing an issue I am at times shocked with. I could not agree more.

Dweller said...

Lovely. Thank you.

Christina said...

Thank you, thank you THANK YOU for this amazing post. I just got totally bullied by an author yesterday, and I just couldn't believe it. It's nice to know there are amazing people out there who really get it.