Goodreads Sucks and is Not Worthwhile

Goodreads Sucks

Goodreads sucks. It’s as simple as that. The site is filled with trolls (malicious posters), false reviews and badly behaving authors.

Goodreads sucks and in fact is so back it makes me sick to my stomachLet me explain by Goodreads is bad. It’s supposed to be a place where readers can find out information about authors and books, with good consumer reviews. Instead, it’s filled with vitriol and malice.

I’ve been on the internet before it was called the Internet – back in my day it was called ARPANET and consisted of less than a thousand systems (we called them nodes.) During the intervening years, I’ve experienced just about everything that can be experienced. I even remember the first worm (a type of computer virus) – the Morris worm, the first spam message, and the first major search engine – AltaVista.

Okay, now I feel old.

I’ve experienced most of the platforms from the old CompuServe and AOL message boards to the modern-day social media giants such as Facebook and Twitter.

Goodreads and Manners

Never have I experienced such negativity and just plain bad manners as on Goodreads. The place appears to be filled with “Goodreads trolls” who seemingly have nothing better to do than pounce on authors.

Goodreads is owned by Amazon, but as far as I can tell, it is run by a nebulous group of volunteers called Librarians. These folks, for the most part, have been helpful, friendly and competent. It’s just odd that you don’t email or call a support group if you need help. You drop a message into a forum and a librarian will pick it up and take care of you. This seems strange to me, but so far it’s worked for me. I prefer the concept of a dedicated group of PAID support people.

The problem with Goodreads is the overwhelming abundance of negativity concerning reviews and comments. You’ll also find an overabundance of Goodreads trolls, or people who attack books because they are just plain negative individuals.

First. Goodreads is strange in that you can “review” a book but not leave any explanation. A reader can click one button to give a one- or two-star review without explaining why. This really sucks. What didn’t they like? There’s no way to know. Were they in a bad mood, did they not like the plot, did they find a grammar error? Who knows?

Goodreads is filled with trolls which are malicious individuals who take joy in degrading authorsThese kinds of “hit-and-run” reviews are worthless to readers and writers. Readers aren’t given a way to judge what was wrong and writers are not given a chance to improve their work. There is no value of any kind to this method.

Second, when text reviews are left, they are quite often extremely negative. Not just negative – I’ve found Goodreads reviews tend to be vicious to the extreme. It’s almost as if there’s a conspiracy to write negative reviews and torpedo books. I’ve heard this referred to as Goodreads reviewer bullying.

In my mind, there are very few books that should ever receive a one-star review. That means, to me, that there is NOTHING good about the book. Surely there’s something good. In fact, few books even deserve two-star ratings. After all, someone spent a lot of time and effort to write it, and they deserve some kind of acknowledgement at the least for their efforts. Sure, first books can be rough around the edges, but does that mean they deserve a one-star rating?

Most books deserve three stars – that’s the middle. It means “it was okay.”. It wasn’t bad and it wasn’t great. It was average compared to other books in the same genre or category.

Yet looking through reviews on Goodreads, there is a huge preponderance of 1- and 2-star ratings (usually without reviews).

I know a lot of authors, hundreds of them, and I’m meeting more every day. Not a single one of them deserves those kinds of reviews or ratings. They all work hard on their books to produce the best possible product that they can. Sure, there are some books I don’t like because it’s not my taste or whatever, I just don’t leave a review at all.

Their books may not be great, but they are not 1 star – which translates to “worthless garbage.”

For a while, I spent a large amount of time trying to figure out Goodreads and I finally gave up. The site is confusing, the ratings horribly inconsistent, and the hostility almost palpable.

I’ve given up. Goodreads sucks. I’ve found it’s just not worth the time and effort. There are far better places to engage with readers, authors and my audience.

So why isn’t Goodreads working?

I feel it’s because of the lack of intelligent moderation. Contrast this with Quora with it’s “Be Nice Be Respectful” policy. On that site, if you show too much negativity towards someone or you engage in harassment, you get warned and then you get banned. This ensures the people talk civilly to one another and show some form of respect.

This is why Goodreads isn’t working and is not worth the time and effort to even sign  up.

What do you think? Leave a comment below with your experiences.


See also

Richard Lowe

112 thoughts on “Goodreads Sucks and is Not Worthwhile

  1. J.D. Popham Reply

    Many authors see negative reviews as unnecessary and hurtful, and would like to see them done away with altogether. This view ignores that fact that reviews ought to be written for potential readers and not as unpaid promotional material for authors and publishers. I would argue that negative reviews are critical to readers as they otherwise have no way of knowing whether a book is well written.

    That said, I believe a rating with a written review should carry more weight in the aggregate rating score than does a rating without one.

    I don’t use Goodread to select the books I read in part because I don’t find its aggregate ratings to be a useful measure of whether or not I’ll like a book. I prefer to follow individual reviewers (rarely book bloggers who often seem to be trying to audition their way a publishing job) whose taste I’ve found aligns with my own.

    Some good thoughts here. I think the key to dealing with bad reviews (I’ve had my share) is to develop a thick skin and only read the bad ones if they’re by a reviewer you respect.

    • Richard Lowe Post authorReply

      Thanks for the thoughtful comment. However, I’ll add a few points. Negative reviews, especially unfair or biased ones, hurt sales of books. And there is a relatively new problem of “review bombing” where a group will gang up on an author they don’t like and post hundreds or thousands of negative reviews. Now that gives me an idea for another article. 🙂

  2. John Reply

    Just a headsup. You can delete this comment after reading if you want to. I wrote out a long response and the first paragraph shows up, but when I click “Read more” the button doesn’t work. I’ve tried it on two different browsers which are on two different computers. Only get the one paragraph.

  3. John Reply

    You’re right that Goodreads sucks! I have a book on there that took me about 15 years to write and edit. Researched it thoroughly (it’s a science fiction novel, but has a lot of science in it). Got every last typo out of it that I know of (and that took my rereading of it about 20 times). Most reviews were positive and I was getting about one review or rating per week. I was happy.

    Then along came a lady that admits that she only read an eighth of the way in. Then she slammed it. Lied about it. Gave (twisted) spoilers away. I wrote to Goodreads multiple times asking them to remove it. Nope. Replied that people like to read negative reviews. Since she wrote that awful one I haven’t gotten a single additional free review. Not a one. She killed it. Crickets. All that work. It took her maybe a minute to write that tripe. 1 minute killed 15 years of hard work. Oh well.

    Another thing is that the site is just plain impossible to navigate! If you edit a book, for example, they then keep two copies of the book. This, of course confuses readers. Why they heck would any author want multiple copies of their work right next to each other? And if you edit it again they’ll keep three copies! Go into a library and every bestseller had multiple edits. That’s what naturally happens when you write! But libraries respect the author. They don’t keep multiple edits of the same book next to each other on the shelves! That would be insane! They keep the latest version. I know, I worked for one about 5 years. And if you make a new cover, Goodreads will then keep that and the old cover as well! What? Why edit then???

    At the head of Goodreads, those in charge (and I get the feeling that it’s only one or two people) have an antagonistic relationship with authors. Their help pages are full of warnings that changing this or that (editing) is “against Goodreads policy”! I have talked to some kind “librarians” there, but most of these people are mean and rude too – kind of like Craigslist volunteers.

    Amazon really needs to start over with Goodreads; fire the bozos now running the show; make new policies that are actually understandable and author friendly, and at least if the reviewer admits that they only read a fraction of the way in DON’T LET THEM REVIEW!

  4. Sasha Gray Reply

    I agree that Goodreads sucks. I’ve been dealing with the issue of Goodreads automatically assigning all of my books to another author so that every single time I publish anything new i have to contact Goodreads about it. This has been negatively affecting my book sales for almost a year, and it keeps happening despite Goodreads swearing every time that they’ve fixed the issue. Worst of all is the fake author knows my books are being listed on their profile with them as the author and owner and she doesn’t say anything about it because it helps with her book sales–she’s an old fat lady who self-published one and only one book over 4 years ago. And it irks me because Google searches of my books and of me have now become permanently infected by this mistake, and Goodreads is to blame. Goodreads is the WORST!!!

    • Lady Velvet Peterson Reply

      I’ve had this problem, too. Over six months ago, I contacted their librarians, and nothing was done. Goodreads was the only place I have my books that did this. I rebranded because I was worried it would cause issues in other places, but you can’t do anything without a damn librarian to change stuff. I refuse to put anything new on their site and will not bother with this poorly run site.

  5. John Kolchak Reply

    GR is the new Kiwifarms or 8chan or any other troll factories. I was review bombed by a bunch of vicious idiots for leaving a less than flattering review of another book. In the space of hours, all of books have sunk to a 1 star rating, which is the equivalent of claiming I am illiterate. I have contacted GR over 20x for which I received AI automated responses. GR is one of the last places on the internet that has NO moderation and by virtue of ignoring these grievances actually encourages trolling, spamming, hate speech (I was told “This is America, go back to where you came from”), ad hominem attacks (“Garbage book, garbage human”) and harassment on Facebook, and attempts at review bombing on Amazon, B&N, etc. GR refuse to take down all the fake reviews of my books, despite even me contacting their VP Suzanne Skyvara directly.

  6. Max Alberts Reply

    Uncredentialed, functionally illiterate individuals crowd Goodreads and pull all the oxygen from the room. Talk about the dumbing down of an enitre planet!

    • John Kolchak Reply

      Yup. But as dumb and horrible as they are, they wield exceptional power through their collective power especially when they can gang up together and face no disciplinary action. Mob rule.

  7. Mark Gorney Reply

    I agree with a lot of this (and thank you for saying it), including the ubiquitousness of one star reviews. I disagree though that there are no one star books. Sure there are, just as there is lots of one star stuff (including Goodreads users 😉

    • John Kolchak Reply

      See your 4-5 star books go down to 1 star – all of them – by people who didn’t read them in the space of 8 hours and get back to me.

  8. Francine Reply

    I have no idea where to complain or leave a crap review for Goodreads. It’s just crap! I really want it off my Fire!

  9. Morda Bey Mihaly Reply

    My point of view is best said by Matt P. I am using goodreads occasionally to get ideas about books I have read and have a strong feeling about or books I have heard about and feel like tapping into more opinions about. So GR for me is a source of opinions and I feel myself able to find the opinions among the multitude that might turn out useful for me to find out more about the book in question. This means I ignore most of the stuff in the opinion section, especially the no text just stars type.What I am looking for is someone who has thoughts about the book, and then I am weighting this opinion against my own experience (if I have read the book) or prejudice (if its about a book I only heard about). I am looking for an opinion written convincingly in a style that I myself would have used. With the above in mind I find GR useful in aggregating opinions of all depth, color and style.
    That said, I abhore social networks, all forms of marketing and even online stores like amazon. Thats my personal way of trying to stay away from things I dont find useful for my personal goals, but the opinions: free, uncensored and searchable are something I find a great value in.

  10. Anon Reply

    I absolutely agree with you, Richard. I mean, there are bad books out there, that’s true. People who pen them by some formula for bucks only. They are full of typos, badly written and do a disservice to thoughtful authors. They seem o be in the majority. Wikipedia says that more than 2,000,000 books are published each year. So these books just keep flowing down and burying the good books.

    But other self-published books are the victims. On both ends. They are lumped in with these bad books though. I think that if books we consider “classics” were published today, they would be lambasted and never would get off the ground because of that.

    It took me a decade or more to write and edit my book with a lot of thought and pain. Then I started getting reviews. Mostly they were good. But then I got one horribly lying review and the ratings and reviews since have dried up. It’s been about 2 years now. So one person’s malicious and dishonest review can materially affect the book from then on. One review that took a minute to write can destroy 10 years of hard work.

    I wrote GR about it multiple times and the answer from them was crickets. No answer. I pointed out that most people seem to gravitate toward and believe the bad review and think that the good reviews are false and to be ignored. That weights the bad review a lot more than being just one review. Of course if the book has a lot of typos or is obviously bad you should be able to call that out somehow. But the present system of just letting any old troll review a book equally with honest reviewers affects writers who rely on that book.

    I also agree that I cannot figure out their system. It’s un-understandable. Everything that’s written is kept, as if for some big secret archiving project. They don’t let authors revise their books and give that to readers, but keep the old and new versions on the same page. WTH? Why revise then? Even libraries let authors revise their works and offer those rather than all the older copies as well. They say people should be able to keep the version that they bought. I say phooey. Let authors revise. Let them offer those to readers.

    Then there’s the big money they now demand for you to have a give away of your books. From nothing to WOW! YOU WANT HOW MUCH?

    I get the feeling too that GR is run by a group of volunteers who have hostile attitudes. Kind of like the cretins who run Craigslist. Just jerks. In my years of interacting with them I’d say that 1 in 10 was a nice person and helped me navigate the unintelligible site. 9 out of 10 though were creeps. This hostile environment to authors makes me wish I had never subscribed to upload my book to GR a long time ago. But it seems too late now.

  11. David Rubenstein Reply

    I am not a writer — I have been an avid Goodreads user for 14 years. I am a co-moderator of the “Science and Inquiry” group. I have posted ratings for over 1500 books, and at leasat 750 detailed reviews. I have read thousands of book reviewsl — that is the main reason I use Goodreads, to get good recommendations. For that purpose, I find Goodreads to be tremendously useful. I ignore ratings that are not backed up by a long, well-thought-out review.

    I have rarely encountered trolls (fewer than 5). I have never encountered nastiness of any kind. I have occasionally seen ratings (good and bad) for books before they are published, with no reasons attached — that always looks suspicious to me.

    Occasionally Goodreads institutes policies that are unhelpful. Sometimes they listen to complaints, and they repeal those policies.

    I realize that this blog site is intended for writers. In my “Science and Inquiry” group, we have a special discussion forum for writers who want to advertise their books. To be honest, the majority of those books are not very good. But nobody tries to troll the authors, or behave uncivilized. I have only read (and deleted) a single unkind message, in 14 years!

    • Ed Ward Reply

      This seems quite the 180 from your review 2 months ago. What changed? Did they correct the issues you mentioned in the previous review?

    • John Reply

      Hmm, the only thing wrong with this is that all of the studies on reviews say the 1 negative review = 40 or more positive reviews. That’s where people immediately go. The negatives. So one bad review can kill a book that 40 people gave 5 stars to. No wonder Goodreads keeps them. They get the clicks. Goodreads is not a house for good literature, but a scam site.

  12. Zev de Valera Reply

    I came across your post when I did a search: ‘Is Goodreads Illegal?’

    I agree with all of your points (even the stars with no review, which I am guilty of myself) and I have a few more to add.

    When I self-published my first book, I had no idea GR existed until a reader told me about it and let me know that my book was being discussed and reviewed. Initially, I thought this was exciting. I did not question how my book got there or how GR worked.

    I signed up to be a ‘Goodreads Author’ . This title means absolutely nothing. If I am a GR Author or not, my books are on GR as soon as they are published and once they are there I am not allowed to remove them. I learned this the hard way when I ‘unpublished’ a book that I published through Kindle Direct Publishing. GR refused to remove the image of my book from their website – even though the buy links were deactivated. I was annoyed, but did not pursue the issue.

    Just recently, the publisher of three of my novellas folded and the rights to those books reverted to me. I decided to combine the novellas into one book and create a new cover. I was told by GR that even though the works are no longer the property of the publisher and I own them, I cannot remove the old images from GR. WTF? I OWN these books and the cover art.

    GR is not a public library. It is an advertising platform. If I choose not to have my books appear on GR, I should have that right. At the very least, i should have the right to decide what covers/editions of my works appear on GR. I’m not a lawyer, but I think GR policies violate intellectual property laws.

    • Ed Ward Reply

      Try sending them a cease and desist letter. An actual letter that is sent via some means of tracking, with a signature required. As you said, you own these items. I see major sites all the time that have to remove items due to copyright complaints.

      Don’t give up!

  13. Charlotte Glass Reply

    I couldn’t agree more. I had a book on Amazon and got all 5 star reviews. As soon as I put it on Goodreads, the first and only review I got was a 1 star review, with no explanation. Also, the “reviewer” had read less than half the book. I complained to Goodreads, and they’re going to take a look at my complaint but I doubt anything will be done. I also did a Giveaway and got absolutely nothing back for the money I spent. I might as well have thrown it in the trash. Plus all these so-called “challenges” like read a book that has the color pink on the cover. Why would I do that? The moderators or “librarians” are very nice but the whole site is just awful. It depressed me to be a part of it.

    • Victoria Reply

      The exact thing happened to me and then fake accounts were set up to one star bomb the book. The fake accounts look really fake.

  14. Bob Reply

    Very nice to read this. Apart from goodreads I have had great reviews. On goodreads I got a 1 star. That was it. No comment. I agree, very rarely should any book deserve that. Not sure how useful book reviews are at all either, apart from spreading illwill and bad feeling. We all have different tastes. One person’s meat is another person’s poison (modified saying for PC purposes).

  15. David Rubenstein Reply

    Since joining Goodreads in 2007, I have had a different experience, mostly positive, until this week. I have been a co-moderator of a group called “Science and Inquiry”. Most of the books I read are non-fiction. I have rarely come across pointless 1-star ratings or damaging reviews. My involvement with this group has been very useful, as we host monthly recommendations and polls for the “book of the month”. And from those recommendations, I get very good advice about what book to read next. I don’t want to waste my time reading mediocre books–there are lots of great books out there, and I want to spend my time reading the best ones.

    But in the past weeks, Goodreads silently changed the default privacy settings. Goodreads groups can no longer broadcast messages to all the members–messages are only seen by “friends” of the moderator. I am not a friend of most members, so our messages disappear into the ether. As a result, all the groups suffer from a lack of participation. No longer do I get the wonderful Niagra of great book recommendations. So, Goodreads has lost its usefulness to me.

    And the thing is, despite complaints, Goodreads just doesn’t care. I am just glad that Goodreads has a method to export all of my hundreds of reviews, in CSV format. I am searching for another home. 🙁

  16. Joshua Souza Reply

    I think the worst aspect of Goodreads is that it’s half-review site, half-social network, so the reviewers tend to matter more than the actual review. And surprise, surprise, a lot of the popular reviewers tend to be harsher than regular reviewers, because a lot of internet people find negative reviews more entertaining. Doesn’t matter how good or bad the review actually is (and I know at least one popular reviewer who has time and time displayed a lack of understanding the material he’s reading), their reviews always end up on the very top. The worst are celebrities who 1 star books with one line, who’ll still manage to have it shot up right to the top.

  17. Chris Reply

    This is a great post – and to add to the part about reviews. I hold open readings for writers, so they can come and read out their (unpublished) work and get feedback on it.

    These are completely open and every session people turn up who I have never met. But over a period of almost 2 years there has never been a person who has given horrible feedback, 1 out of 5, or called work rubbish.

    It’s always been constructive and whilst sometimes it’s been not what the writer wanted to hear – it’s always been of help to them.

    It’s real face to face interaction with people, and for some reason it’s so much more mature and just decent then some of the feedback you get online.

    Also, some of the writers when they first attend read back pieces that are okay, but definitely need some work. A few weeks later they return and their work is so much improved.

    But if they had just posted it as it was (as some writers might do) they would have gotten some negative criticism and may even think they writing is no good, when they just need to refine and work on it a little more.

  18. Marie Reply

    Goodreads was not a site I used often, but when I did use it, I signed in with Twitter. My author account and books are set up under that account. Now, you can no longer sign into Goodreads with Twitter. They say if you previously logged in with Twitter, email them. I did but got no response. I can’t use it now even if I wanted to. Honestly, I don’t miss it, but they should come up with another way of logging into your account since they discontinued Twitter.

  19. Melissa Norris Reply

    I couldn’t agree with you more. Goodreads encourages mediocrity in the worst way. It is flooded by high school students who neither the education, nor the background to offer apt reviews, and often these are the accounts with the most activity. I have seen books written in obviously opposition to bigotry called bigoted because reviewers simply failed to read the entire book. I have seen multi-award winning novels raked over the coals simply because Jane Doe in 8th grade found them boring. I sincerely wish the site had never been invented, and the impact it is having on innovation and genuine talent disgusts me. Thank you for this article.

  20. Matt P Reply

    I think goodreads has some problems but I think you go too far. By your logic, there should only be 2 through 5 stars, but then 2 stars just becomes the new 1 star.

    First off, the biggest issue I see with goodreads is how obvious it is how many people didn’t read the book or try. This is so obvious in how there are hundreds to thousands of reviews for books before they are released. And no, I don’t mean advanced review copy. This is dumb. It basically just turns into a blog about the book.

    So, self publishing is a thing. Some of those books the author DID NOT work hard on. Some of them are cash grabs. Reviewers should be able to identify these. Also, why the participation trophy mentality? If I hate the book, it doesn’t mean you didn’t work hard on it. It just means I hated every moment I had to read it. Why would I give you more than one star if I couldn’t stand reading your book?

    I’ve read a couple hundred books of various genres. I have DNF’d only three. I have read through a very large number of books I did not like, I don’t like not finishing books. But if I am bored to tears every time I try to read a book and it feels like a chore to pick it up, it is getting one star. Sure the author might have worked hard on it. I am not saying the author was lazy with my one star; I am saying I did not enjoy the experience of reading it whatsoever. One of the books was fiction in a series I love that was the most boring story and characters I’ve every met. Another a non-fiction that I can respect what the author tried but it also bored me. The last was an opinion piece and it became obvious half way through that every point was going to be assumptions and I got tired of reading “obviously this means ____”.

    If your book is a chore to read, it gets one star and it deserves that, at least from me. If other people enjoy it, they can rate it higher.

  21. Kari Wszolek Reply

    Useful opinions and comments here. I’m a hobby writer, yet still take my writing and reading seriously, and haven’t found the quality of reading or serious communication on Goodreads that I want. I’m seeking better websites, and I’d be happy to pay member dues to a good group rather than try to ‘climb the ranks’ on Goodreads, which is all really just looping back to make Amazon some money. I mean, I know Amazon hosts the site and all, and I’m not saying there aren’t some good authors and beta readers there (have managed to get a couple of good beta readers), but I don’t think it’s a serious literary venture. I sometimes offer to beta read (for free), but even then I only get about a fifty percent response. I don’t know, I guess I don’t have a strong enough profile, so maybe writers think I’m going to steal their work?

  22. Lisa Ehrman Reply

    I agree with you. As a book blogger/reviewer, I work hard to leave reviews that are helpful to the reader, but always respectful and kind. Most of the reviews I leave are 4-5 stars. I love books. But, I have trolls marking each of my reviews as Inappropriate. People are horrible.

    • Melissa Norris Reply

      I absolutely agree with you. Goodreads encourages mediocrity, and it’s turned into a high school social event with immature reviewers who simply don’t have the experience necessary to offer an apt opinion. It’s disgraceful–the negative impact it has on truly brilliant work. I am routinely disgusted by Goodreads.

      • European Qoheleth Reply

        You seem pretty keen on saying they’re in high school for some reason.

  23. Cozen Reply

    I find this article maybe accurate but wholly biased one sided. What you’re article lacks is a different perspective that isn’t argued in here. You put all the blame on Goodreads members and none on authors themselves. As a Goodreads member since 2013 I can see all of your reasons have valid points. But here’s the side you haven’t considered in this article.

    1. Authors are as bad if not worse when it comes to manipulating it’s readers and paying customers (see the Fiverr Report). It is known that authors stack reviews and ratings (having friends/family put many 4 or 5 as to push down any negative 1 and 2 stars they don’t like and want others to see), stuff ratings (having family/friends/or actual paid companies to leave 5 stars reviews), stalk people who write negative reviews (see Kathleen Hale), plagiarize other authors (see recently exposed author who plagiarized MANY passages from other writers – than defended herself by implicating it was her ghost writers fault since she doesn’t really write any of her books – image my deadpan face here), authors bullying other authors and readers, or their content is so bad it is obvious no expense or other efforts were made to have it edited. And that brings me to number 2.

    2. Today self-publishing has made it possible for anybody to publish anything. And I do mean ANYTHING. As a paying customer, I get upset when I pay more than $3.99 to read a book that is filled with editing and spelling errors. The “Some Assembly is Required” needs to be tact on to these books because that’s how if feels. I have found that it is I who end up being an editor that pays them. Since Kindle allows me to highlight, make notes, and send them to my GR page, I tend to point out a lot of their mistakes. Boiling it down, I’m paying them a ridiculous price for being their editor. How is that fair to a paying customer?

    3. After 8 + years and 1,600 + books read, personally, I’am burnt out writing reviews. I try to put DNF at what chapter, but the motivation is currently lacking. I’ll still place a star rating, but I fear that while I enjoy reading, it takes an extraordinary amount of issues with a book for me to write a review. I’m hoping to get out of that rut sometime soon.

    4. To say that there is no reason for 1 and 2 stars is naive. There are books out there that go beyond a line and does not need to be sheltered by your ideology. Romance books where the leading characters end in a lHappy Ever After” but includes one character beating the other in a way that is not BDSM or stimulating in anyway is one of my lines that do not get a higher rating than 1 star. And believe me when I say there is a lot of books out there now that push a boundary in a way that is not creative or skillful.

    Here’s my rating:

    5 stars – I’ll read it over and over again
    4 stars – Good and enjoyed
    3 stars – Meh
    2 stars – a collection of issues that made the book not likable (editing and content)
    1 star – Seething mad I bought it or took time out of my life to read it. Usually it’s the content that crosses a line like beastiality, rape, abuse, or incest. And they are out there.

    5. And the most important one, I find it is more informative to look at the 1 and 2 stars reviews than to look through thousands of one lined “It’s the greatest” emoji, emoji, emoji GIF. That’s not really helpful in determining if I’m going to enjoy a book. I discovered over time the quality of the books I read has has gone up since 2013. So I can tell whether a book is not going to work for me. If enough random people say that the leading character is STTL (too stupid to live) I will not buy it and avoid causing me undo anxiety. I also will not waste money or time on it.

    So, why do you ask? Well there are many reasons: financial side being a customer who doesn’t want to be sold a defective product, not contributing to an author who engages in unethical, under handed, and bullying tactics to sell their books, and to also let other readers now what worked for them and what did not. That’s why Goodreads still exist. Maybe it’s not what it once was but as the times are changing and we discover more about what’s happening in and out of books as well as with these authors, so does Goodreads change.

    I hope I brought some additional points of view to consider regarding Goodreads. But the issues you brought up are not the sole reasons GR is a mess. And there is no way to fix anything until there are only honest people left. And that’s just fiction if you believe it all sides can be that Utopic.

    • Charlotte Glass Reply

      The word is “its,”, not “it’s” readers. “It’s is only used as a contraction.

  24. John C Reply

    I just deleted the Goodreads app. I majored in English. I am not a troll. Authors are not their works. I rarely used it, but after writing a fourth negative review, I failed to see the point. I read extensively, precociously, mostly in Mystery and Science/Fantasy genres, and have been doing so for 50 years. I’d been reading material by internet authors, and another couple of authors who just weren’t great. Part of the problem? Horrendous editing, or a deliberate authorial choice to eliminate real editing in favour of volume and online sales. At least one of the authors seems like a great and generous human being, but that doesn’t improve the quality of his work. Yes, some of that work deserves a two, when compared with well written, well edited work by genuinely professional authors.

  25. Mark Snyder Jr Reply

    Goodreads has my novel listed as having 8, I repeat 8 editions. This is completely inaccurate…I revised my book and I am republishing it this spring, so, at most, it should have four editions. I just hate how they act as though they are some official on my novel. Even Bowker would disagree with their tally of 8 editions…My new novel isnt even an edition of my first book. I am just frustrated that they simply dont care how this looks for me as an author…it will confuse people for sure.

    • Anon Reply

      Oh yes! Mine too. And try to get them to keep only your last revision and your talking to a wall.

  26. Violet Reply

    Interesting debate. Goodreads seems to have started out as a useful site that promoted reading and the discussion of books and then devolved into a rather more mean-spirited place now owned by Amazon. Any time there is a rating system, people will use it differently as many enthusiastic ‘Goodreaders’ have pointed out here. It was really interesting to read how and why different participants use the site. All of the reasons are valid, but it’s fair to point out that Goodreads is used very differently now than it initially was. Some bookstores use the Goodreads rating system on their site, which surely influences who might take a risk on buying a book by a new or newish author. No comments there, just the average rating. Further, it’s not all that clear how the rating is achieved — I don’t think it’s a direct average of all scores, throwing out a few top and a few bottom numbers. Worse still, an author is also rated by somehow averaging the stars for all their books. Reviewing and rating a ‘commodity’ is one thing; pretty insulting to rate a person. What does it even mean? Can the author opt out? No. I’ve been a Goodreads member since 2010 and am a published author. I do tend to only spend time reviewing books I like (3 star and up) as I prefer to share my positive experiences of books rather than drag a book or an author. If I give 2 stars I always write a review and try to pinpoint what didn’t work for me and flag my tastes in hopes that it will help a fellow reader. But there are definitely trolls on Goodreads and I’ve learned to avoid Goodreads when writing as it’s too negative. Example: a Goodreads Librarian who gives 95% of the books she reads 1 star except the works of Nabokov and the one book she wrote? How was that person made a librarian? (And how does she have the audacity to compare herself to Nabokov?) Or the “Future Critic” who gives out stars without any written review. There are also jump-on-the-bandwagon 5 star reviewers who flag that a certain bestseller has an implausible plot, character journeys that lack credibility and cardboard cut-out characters, but as it’s ‘fiction’ (albeit social-realism) that’s OK. Well, at least they explained the negatives, but it shows that the rating system is if-y. Goodreads might have started out as a kind of international bookclub or a place to keep a personal record of what you’ve read, but it’s now a sales tool, owned by Amazon and those ratings are now used by some booksellers. Indie authors won’t benefit much from the platform now (especially if they have to pay to be included) nor will books published by smaller independent publishers without a massive marketing budget. The monopolies win again. If it were a private book club just for readers, it wouldn’t affect writers at all. Sadly that is not the case.

  27. Nathan Daniels Reply

    Wholeheartedly agree.
    The site is full of wannabe literary critics who think theyre professionals and a whole slew of general assholes who, if theyve had a bad day, go on to GR to dump a bad review about a classic.

    Here’s an example on Bleak House by Charles Dickens, considered widely and consistently to be one if the greatest novels in the English language.

    “I have to give this snoozefest a 1 star because i hate the boring Victorian era and archaic prose and i couldn’t get beyond the first chapter. – Not for me.”

    This isn’t a book review. The idiot hasn’t even read it and doesn’t like the genre anyway and is therefore not in a position to review any 19th century works.

  28. euler's number Reply

    It’s not always about trolling.

    Goodreads uses a “reception” not a “quality” star rating. A good or excellent book can receive the one star “I did not like it” rating because…the reader didn’t like it. Hover your mouse above the stars to see the exact wording.

    • Charlotte Glass Reply

      But for starters, don’t you think that reviewers should have read the book? I saw the KDP pages on my book go to 100 pages and then stop. The book is 280 pages long. One way to cut down on trolling is to find some way to make sure that the reviewer has actually read the entire book.

  29. sassycat Reply

    I agree with many of your points but one thing you have to realize about the stars (and what most major goodreads users understand) is that a starr ating without a review is totally meaningless and nobody pays it any attention. Because not everybody uses goodreads in the same way. Some will 1 star a book that isn’t even out yet… but it’s because they want to read it but not that much. so the stars for them are a way to organize their folders based on how much they really want to read a book. That can seem unfair to authors but it’s just how some readers use the site because for many it’s really just about organizing their reading and TBR lists and nothing more.

    • Charlotte Glass Reply

      But that should be made clear, which it isn’t. There should be a set of rules and regulations for reviewers. I know on Amazon, one person used to review a book several times, or “buy” the book under different names, that upped the 5 star count. Amazon stopped that, so some of these Goodread practices can be stopped too. Jay-z hires people to sit at computers and “buy” his wife’s albums. Everything is monetized in this country. I think we just need to get rid of “likes” and “stars” and have discussions instead. On Goodreads, rather than setting up challenges like, “Read a book that has pink and orange colors on the cover,” how about “read a book from the following list of historical novels and then have a discussion?

  30. Naomi Reply

    I‘m not a fan of Goodreads either — I just deleted my eight-year-old account this week. But criticism like this seems to assume two things: 1. Everyone uses Goodreads for the same thing, and 2. Everyone has the same rating system as you. Regarding 1.: many people use Goodreads to recommend and get recommendations. Many do not. I never found the recommendations on Goodreads to be helpful, so I used Goodreads purely to keep track of my reading, for my own records. I used the star system in the same way. 2. Saying „In my opinion, no book deserves one star“ is silly, because not everyone is using the same star system you are, and it’s unrealistic to expect them to. I don’t believe I ever gave a book one star, but my system was as follows:
    ***** Loved the book and would read it again.
    ****Liked the book and would probably read it again.
    *** Glad I read it, but won’t be reading again.
    ** A couple decent points, but overall a disappointment.
    * Did not enjoy any of it and will not read it again.

    It‘s very sweet to think „Someone spent time on this so it doesn’t deserve one star,“ but then two stars basically IS one star, for you. Though I rarely write reviews, and never angry ones, I never used Goodreads to coddle authors, of which there is sadly no shortage. Giving bad authors participation trophies just encourages more of what we’ve seen in the last decade: people who have neither writing talent nor interesting stories clamoring for the prestige of being published, so they can brag to their old classmates.

  31. Clemens P. Suter Reply

    Great points, I fully agree. I am writing a review about Goodreads for my website, and I will quote you, if that’s OK. It is really a pity, a good reading platform would benefit all.

  32. Philip Barragan Reply

    Mr. Lowe,

    Thank you for your helpful post about Goodreads. After being trolled by a vicious, relentless reviewer, it’s not where I want to be anymore.

  33. Misty Reply

    Thanks for this insightful post! My sister raves about goodreads. But having just glanced at the user reviews, yikes! It definitely attracts trolls and people looking to dump their frustrations out on the authors. I don’t want to support that.

  34. Cansu Reply

    I agree, I haven’t been on goodreads for too long, but I understand that there are some really harsh ratings going on there. Personally, I don’t care. My lowest rating is 3 stars so far, and I just use the site to keep track of what I have read, to improve my English skills and to read some good and delightful quotes, and to feel like I achieved something ? ? even if it is keeping record of what i have read. This is important to me especially since I have no college nor work right now 🙁

  35. Mike Reply

    I don’t use it now because they removed the feature to automatically share to Facebook, which I enjoyed immensely and I also enjoyed seeing others’ automatic posts. They removed that feature for no good reason and it ruined it for me other than for a storage device.

  36. Eleanor Whippet Reply

    I’m thinking of leaving Goodreads myself, even though as a GR author, it’s my main mode of promotion. The latest 1-star review I got included a comment from the reviewer about my political affiliations, mocking that I wasn’t a democrat and then calling my book “tripe” – and to a certain extent, this is justified by Goodreads. There are many things as an author that I find frustrating on the site – for one thing, Goodreads has issues with disambiguation and authors with pseudonyms; Goodreads will allow “classic authors” to have all of their works fall under a common name as the primary author, everybody else, even if their preferred author name is common knowledge, cannot request this. It causes confusion for the readers, and it’s unnecessary. Self-publishing has opened the floodgates to everything that isn’t a book appearing there, from rough drafts assigned ISBNs to personal photo books intended only for the creator’s immediate family as a novelty gift, and authors are finding these things appearing on their profiles. The GR Librarians are typically helpful – but there are also a few Librarian equivalents to a grammar Nazi who’ll report you for the smallest mistakes, even if the Librarian is in fact in the wrong. One Librarian moved a bunch of books to my profile that weren’t for official sale just because they had ISBNs; Goodreads had to get a paid contact support member to remove the offending books, but Goodreads then warned me that because the books had ISBNs, they would probably be re-added by another person or book aggregator. Another Librarian reported me for disambiguating myself from an author who had the same name as me; I offered to send Goodreads legal records of every title I had ever published, and Goodreads said that they get a lot of flagged author accounts all the time, and not to worry about it. I don’t think that the Librarians, who are largely unpaid, untrained volunteers, should be given so much power. Many of them mean well, but it’s very annoying when they abuse their power. After all, once you lose your author account, you lose it for good.

    As a reader, my experience is even worse. The comments sections on reviews are just a bunch of people looking for a debate where there simply isn’t one, a million people lining up to tell you why your opinion is wrong, fake accounts that seem to exist purely for the purpose of leaving 1-star ratings (most of which have no accompanying reviews), and people trying to promote their own books. While Goodreads once allowed indie and self-published titles to get into the hands of readers through affordable advertising and free giveaways, Goodreads recently decided to start charging an arm and a leg for these services – so, as a reader, the giveaways are a lot less fun to enter and the likelihood of winning has gone down a great deal. The Goodreads website frequently crashes and runs into problems with overloading. Its system of shelving is very limited, and books are often tagged by members to determine what their genres are, so this impacts recommendations and affiliations with similar books. For instance, you often see “science fiction” listed as a genre for fantasy books with no sci-fi elements in them whatsoever, or fiction books categorized as non-fiction and textbooks.

    Since I’m now moving into the territory of using my married name instead of my maiden name and re-publishing my books under my new name, I’m running into a lot of problems on Goodreads as an author, and as a reader, the website just bugs me. It’s not fun like it used to be, or engaging or interesting. It’s boring and annoying and poorly-managed. Its standards for categorizing books, authors and genres make no sense.

    • Richard Lowe Post authorReply

      Goodreads is a cesspool. I haven’t even visited the site for over a year. If it causes you so much distress, how about finding other channels or social media that you do enjoy and that work for you instead of against you?

      • Eleanor Whippet Reply

        I’ve considered it, but when it comes to social media sites that are all about books, Goodreads has a monopoly, and Amazon swallowed up the others. Amazon already took over Shelfari, and LibraryThing is fun but lacking in its own ways. There’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and I’ve tried starting up book groups on those, but they quickly attract the same trolling, rudeness, political banter and problems that Goodreads has. I think this is why Goodreads makes no effort to do any better. It knows that it doesn’t have to. People will never leave it in high enough numbers to impact its growth or to make it reconsider its many issues, because it’s really the largest (and one of the only) social media communities for books that also has an extensive catalogue and the ability to connect with authors on such an approachable level. I do wish that somebody would take any of the good qualities of Goodreads and move it into a better web platform, but this is unlikely. Amazon owns Goodreads, and Amazon is also beginning to take over the bookselling and publishing industry. Amazon doesn’t want an independent community, and it doesn’t want authors or readers representing themselves on their own terms. It wants to boast the largest digital catalogue of books, with a few basic social media features incorporated in. Goodreads always insists that books and reading and writing are subjective and personal, yet they’ve really limited the ways in which readers and authors can express themselves (while seeming to have no off-button for fake 1-star ratings, bullying, politics or raging anger).

  37. Errin Reply

    The whole premise is odd, ungainly/unmanageable for me as a reader and bizarre for me as a writer. The premise that anyone who can read (2nd or 3rd graders can do this) should malign or elevate a writer’s work? That we are beholden to sociopolitical issues first and story is an afterthought? I can’t breathe with all the ridiculousness and imagination policing.

  38. Anne Reply

    goodreads also sucks bc you are forced to allow it access to your camera and microphones. the app has permission to take pictures, record video and to record audio. amazon will not allow you to turn it off or uninstall from kindle fire

  39. Patrick Reply

    I don’t agree. I’ve always been impressed with the reviews. Also, as far as I can glean, they are monitored by the editors.

    • Victoria Reply

      no, they ain’t. I have fake accounts bombing my book on there and wrote the editors and no one responded.

  40. Mayara Reply

    Hello Richard! I just reached your post by accident while searching something else. I do understand what you mean by 1 star and no explanation, that truly sucks, but I overall had a completely different experience with Goodreads. I’ve often been lured in by too many “OMG THIS BOOK IS AMAZING I LOVE IT AND ALL ITS CHARACTERS” 5 star reviews only to find out the 2 to 3 star reviews with “characters are flat, story took way too long to pick up pace” were actually correct. Nowadays I try to read all the negative reviews first. And if I think I can handle these flaws or find they sound a bit exaggerated, then I go ahead and read the book. It’s been working so far.
    Interesting how people can have such completely different experiences on the same environment.

  41. Patricia Bourque Reply

    63 books + 20…Good on you!! I’m 75 and finished my first novel, “When You’re Young and In Love” – earned my living as a professional artist all these many years. About Goodreads…It’s a hodge-podge. Too much on it and every day I receive an email saying ‘New discussions on Goodreads’. I wanted to be in on discussions, but these are not. Every single one posted is an author flogging his/her book (and some of them are real doozies). No discussions that I can discern. I agree with everything you said. I’m still trying to find my way around the whole marketing thing, but I’ll check out Quora. Thanks for your candid remarks. And, one last thing. It’s a b**ch to try and put your cover on the Goodreads site. They don’t make it easy.

  42. M Joy Vitale Reply

    I am a longtime SF, F, and Horror reader. Amazon has always been my own personal touchstone for anything to do with e-books and book reviews.

    I found Goodreads to be altogether too “fluffy”, the readers/reviewers just weren’t up to par with those found on Amazon.

    I’m a solitary reader, book clubs are an anathema to me, and I found the whole Con thing to be disorienting and confusing – don’t want to be a part of ANY “groupthink” – but I digress.

    We fundamentally agree – Goodreads DOES suck, but we took different path to reach the same conclusion.

  43. Erwin Sniedzins Reply

    Before the internet – well done! It’s a bit like me – before the PC and Xerox.
    Just was invited to be part of Goodreads. Wanted to check the pros and cons and landed here.
    Working on several non-fiction books that I want to make into trilogies since my Mt. Everest expedition days such as the Three Pillars of Love Make Mt. Everest Your Stepping Stone and Syntality. I’ve already produced a best seller in the ARPANET days and award winning poetry.

  44. Jean Reply

    Hello Mr. Lowe,
    This has been my exact experience with Goodreads. How can you rate a book that you haven’t read? It doesn’t make sense. I revised my book and bookcover but Goodreads keeps the old one up. I revised it because I realized I should. So, why don’t they move the old one?
    Also, one person said that Goodreads is only for readers. If that’s the case then why does it show up when you google the book title? It’s out there for everyone to see – yes, even the author. Just sayin – then why isn’t it private only for readers?
    I think Goodreads is designed to destroy (self-published) authors. It’s easy to figure out that authors are trashing other authors and that’s a low life and mean thing to do. You know, small self esteem (Oh, by the way, I liked your picture of the troll. Good picture). They are destroying each other and the one’s of us that really have good intentions and are serious about our work. I only have a few reviews and the legit ones made a comment, which I appreciated, and the others were just drive by trolls that didn’t even leave a comment. That sucks big time.
    Just my opinion. And I suspect a lot of fake reviews are going on. You’re right and if you know of a way for me to get away from Goodreads I would appreciate it.
    Also, I’m suspecting that these ‘troll trashers’ can’t even form a complete sentence, or they would. They are knucklehead idiots.

    • Victoria Reply

      I notice the people who 1-star bomb my book on GoodReads are also authors or they have a readings list of books that is totally different type of poetry in which they give 5 stars. I notice the Instagram poetry lovers are one-star bombing my academic narrative poetry which has gotten 4 to 5 stars everywhere else even by professors and a long list of publishers. I can tell that it is the same person setting up fake accounts to keep coming because the fake accounts came about the same week they decided to trash my books in comments and 1-star bomb all my books.

  45. JP in AR Reply

    Do Rachel Hollis and Celeste Ng own Goodreads now?

    I judge men and women not by the size but by the content of their bookshelf. So I usually only take their reviews in consideration based on the books they have read. A lot of reviews I have read are by people only read one type of book and for whatever reason read something outside of that genre and they hate it.They spend their whole review comparing it to the genre they are most comfortable with. Then their are the easily triggered who go off on a long rant about a personal tragedy that occurred to them and how the book did not treat it sensitively enough for them. I have not seen out right bullying yet. It would not surprise me. As I have seen outright blackmail on their big mother company Amazon for good product reviews. This is extremely long process to go through to buy a new book. I think Goodreads Librarians (Trotskyists) who decide and censor things they think are not appropriate for review on Goodreads and spend more time looking at the reviews to see if they are appropriate or even relevant to the book being reviewed. The books recommended by Goodreads are by established writers that do not need the extra push, so whats the point of it all. I mean I can literally go to my Kindle store and see all the of the books Goodreads is going to recommend to me. If you cannot remember the books you read, were they really worth reading in the first place.

  46. Rainbow gardener Reply

    Wow! You must be looking at some other goodreads. As I look at it most books have ratings well over 3.5. I do use goodreads ratings and reviews to help guide what should I rad next decisions. I have learned not to bother reading anything not rated 3.7 or higher because of grade inflation. Incidentally I am rainbow gardener there. I have rated 349 books, written reviews of 217 of them, and have a 3.6 average rating. And I am a tougher grader than most people. Yes, lots of people just give a star rating and no review. Some people don’t enjoy writing. And lots of people have other things to do in their lives. But of the written reviews many are long, thoughtful, sometimes even scholarly essays. Of the critical reviews, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen one that I thought was just malicious or trollish. I myself have written a few scathing reviews. But I challenge you to read After the Ending by Lindsay Pogue and see if you think my one star review of it was just malicious . (“This may be the worst book I ever read. And it will likely stay that way forever, because if I ever happen to pick up a worse book, I won’t read it!”)

  47. Joyce in NM Reply

    I really like Goodreads. I started using it several years ago. I use it mostly just to keep track of my reading. I had a TBI and couldn’t read for 4 years. So I like to challenge myself with seeing how many books I read yearly.

    I like that I can look at how my reviews compare with others and then I follow them for ideas for my next book to read. I don’t bully anyone and haven’t seen anyone do that. If I rate a book a 1 or 2 it means just that I didn’t like it or sometimes don’t care for the writing style. It helps me to find more books I enjoy and fewer books get started and not finished. I see it as a service that has helped me read more and enjoy the books more.

    • Doc Reply

      Because you have not experienced or seen the bullying, or because your intentions are good, does not negate the fact that this abuse is happening to authors.

      Yes, I’m speaking from recent experience.

  48. susan kent Reply

    As a newbie writer I have been trying to figure out how to get my book reviewed and promoted when I put it on Amazon (very soon). One thing I have noticed is the heavy reliance of BookBub on Goodreads reviews. Bookbub is promoted as a place you want your book listed (you have to pay), usually to purchase for free (not really, you almost always have to sign up for a free trial of Kindle Select and then you gotta remember to un-subscribe). They include statements on reviews like “Over 5000 five star reviews on Goodreads” to promote books. I have read some books (the few free ones that don’t make you subscribe to KDPS) and been very disappointed with the quality of the books, often in both plot development as well as character portrayal. Does anyone know where I could go for reviews specific to my genre-Cozy Mystery-so that I would know the reviews were from people who read my type of book? I want/need honest reviews that will help me improve my writing but not crush my spirit.

    • Jean Reply

      Hello Susan, I’d listen to what the Ghostwriter King is trying to tell you. Good luck.

  49. Mateja Reply

    I couldn’t agree more, Goodreads should be shut down and banned, it’s that bad. The worst part of it is that they take your book, let the trolls trash it and harass you beyond belief, and you cannot remove your own books from the platform. Goodreads is worse than Reddit.

  50. Carol Davis Reply

    Some books ARE utter garbage!! Usually sold on hype alone! I try to leave honest reviews, especially if it’s a good book. If I leave a really low score it really is BAD. More often, if I just don’t like a story, I just don’t leave a review at all.
    All in all I find Goodreads is GREAT.. /blows raspberries

    • Chuck Reply

      You’re the reason the above article was written. How is that anti-social behavior workin’ out for ya?

  51. Dom McCann Reply

    Honestly, the only thing I use goodreads for is tracking myself and for keeping up with a few of my friends. I use it as a tracking system/Inventory. The system allows me to:
    -list all the books I’ve read
    -rate them
    -list all the books I want to read
    -keep track of my annual reading challenge/progress
    -and do all of the above with a few of my buddies

    • SoW Reply

      Same. If I happen to dislike a book, I’ll rate it 1 star. The rating does not reflect the time and effort of the author; it reflect MY experience reading the book. I don’t think authors should track reviews on GR. Those reviews are by readers for readers.

  52. Hmr28 Reply

    You are missing the point of goodreads reviews. They aren’t for the author…they are for the reader and other readers like them. Goodreads is a social book reviewing forum/app. I read over 3000 books a year. When I rate a book it is for myself…so I don’t buy that book again, or if I give it a 1 so I know not to buy anything by that author again. Some of my friends review books with the intent of highlighting ideas important to them like diversity, political commentary, etc or they review based on their own likes. I have one friend who loves great characterization, another who could care less about characters but loves great world building and…well you get the idea.I have friends who like the same types if books I do. They follow me and we discuss the books in comments to the review. In truth authors should stay off goodreads as they tend to help create that toxic environment. When I rate something 1 I don’t need or want the author commenting and attempting to defend a work that, in my opinion, was utter crap. And that’s just it…Goodreads is a forum of opinions not facts. One person’s trash is another’s treasure. You can’t argue with opinion so why even try?

    • Steve Reply

      Yea, you read 3000 books a year … if by “read” you mean “flipping through a book and wasting time”

    • Doc Reply

      Damaging authors is not “for readers” and no matter how often I read this excuse it bleeds entitlement. Little wonder trolling is an extreme issue on Goodreads.

    • Jean Reply

      If that’s the case then why does it show up when you google the book title? It’s out there for everyone to see – yes, even the author. Just sayin – then why isn’t it private only for readers? I think Goodreads is designed to destroy (self-published) authors. Just my opinion. And I suspect a lot of fake reviews going on.

    • Naomi Reply

      Unless you are unemployed and read Manga, there is no way you are reading roughly ten books cover-to-cover a day. The fastest Speed Reader in history couldn’t do that. But hey, whatever bumps that number up on Goodreads, right?

  53. Luther Dixon Reply

    I read some of the reviews, mostly three or four stars. Then I go to Amazon and hopefully achieve some consensus. I wasn’t aware of Quora, so thanks.
    I think we have to be aware that writers can be cruel to one another. I pick up immediately the negativity and ignore the malcontents, especially the ones off balance.

  54. Cameron Jon Bernhard Reply

    I absolutely agree. My new book, which has been receiving five star reviews elsewhere had its first rating (not a review) on Goodreads from a one-star ratings troll. This is a person that I suspect flamed the book because I refused to respond to their request for a free copy, since it bypassed the security measures implemented at the website I was using for ARC releases. The worst part is that Google has already picked up this damaging rating from Goodreads and is now distributing it to the world. It’s good that I don’t give a flying f**k about legitimately marketing and selling my book, or I’d be ticked. I sent an email off to Goodreads, suggesting that if they were at all interested in having authors join their site, they’d provide us with the option to hide reviews until we receive a sufficient number of them to pad out the damage caused by such trolls. I’d personally be willing to sit on five star reviews across the board, if it meant offering an honest sampling of three to five reviews.

  55. Tristen Rowen Reply

    I just received an incredibly nasty review by someone who cannot even write English well. In fact, I think he does not have a good understanding of the English language. He also clearly only read a free sample of my book. I also do not think he is from the United States (which is okay, but he demonstrated a lack of understanding) because he criticized me for referring to an in-law apartment (he said that doesn’t make sense or it doesn’t exist). He also criticized me for using the word Nana when I was referring to the character’s grandmother. He then called me a turd.

    Because he quoted long paragraphs from my book that contain spoilers, I reported him to Goodreads. He also leaves similar reviews for most books he’s read. Overall, his review was kind of comical, but unnecessarily nasty. I did not appreciate being called a “turd.” That should not be tolerated.

  56. Koriander Bullard Reply

    I have a unique situation with Goodreads.

    I have a stalker who also writes books on Amazon. You would think that being a fellow author who has been trolled before, that she would understand why one star reviews and ranting reviews are wrong. Instead, she trashed several of my books, showing the world that she is no better than the people who went after her.

    I went to Goodreads and got nowhere. While her one stars are still up, the police did get her to remove her rants against me from the page.

    Think about it. The actual police stepped in where Goodreads refused. They made it clear that the troll rants were not only harassment, but they also counted as slander and were being used as a way to try to scare or control me. A cop cited several laws that were broken with her non stop rants.

    Goodreads only egged it on.

    These days, I only use the Goodreads app to help me log books that I own, so I don’t buy the same book twice – again.

    • Naomi Reply

      That’s not that surprising. Most authors these days merely want the prestige of being published, and so are very envious people by nature.

    • Victoria Reply

      The same thing happened to me and they set up fake accounts to keep doing it.

  57. Aarti Patel Reply

    I wholeheartedly agree. I’ve tried to bring up these bullying tactics on Goodreads, and they just shut my thread down. They want to keep bullying authors, that’s just the way it is. As an author, I won’t give them a penny more for advertising or hosting giveaways. It’s a waste, and my way of self-respect at this point. I’m not for trolls.

    • Jean Reply

      Exactly! I’m trying to figure out how to get away from the bully Goodreads because they won’t let you take it down. I think they are deliberately trying to destroy self-published authors. I think a lot of this is authors being cruel to other authors and that’s self defeating. I think Goodreads is having a great laugh by watching authors trying to intimidate each other into taking their own work down (but you can’t).

  58. Ton Reply

    Goodreads is where books go to die. I wouldn’t use the word conspiracy – it’s more like a competition for who can write the cruelest diatribe. The trolls are quite proud of their reviews. It’s such a cesspool of hatred that I find Goodreads to be worthless when researching a potential book to read.

  59. Sionnach Reply

    Thank you for this post. My books have been on Goodreads for two years. I’ve learned to grit my teeth and ignore the one-star rating-only trolls. (I’ve even found one who ONLY leaves these and appears to ‘read’ about six books a week. I reported her but was told she hadn’t violated the TOS.) I’ve tried to bask in the good reviews and ignore the mean-spirited ones. Monday, however, one of my books received a spiteful review from o Goodreads librarian. Her review is now the second one anyone who looks at the book sees. Several of her friends commented on the review. They hadn’t read the book, but chimed in. The whole thing reminded me of being ganged up on in middle school. I’ve already been fighting a serious depressive episode. I almost killed myself. I’m still not over it. It was seeing her talking to her friends that was the worst. I think I can deal with a negative review these days, but seeing the comments—most of which were about me—not the book—was too much.

    • Richard Lowe Post authorReply

      I found good reads to be so hostile that I don’t even bother looking over there anymore. It’s really not that important. I’m just surprised that people have the time to write page after page in a review nitpicking everything that they didn’t like. Seems like they can make better use of their time.

      • Cameron Jon Bernhard Reply

        Unfortunately, it is. Google is pulling the ratings from Goodreads and including it in their book displays. Searching for my new book shows the information in a box on the side of the page, along with the beating I invariably take from Trollreads.

      • Jean Reply

        I’m a conspiracy theorist so understand when I say this – LOL – I really believe someone out there hates self published authors and is trying to kick us out of the saddle. Just my thoughts on this, but it’s probably something more simple than that. You know, like nasty trolls just being nasty. Wow, it’s something like I’ve never seen before. Why can’t other authors just be happy for you and help each other. I have come across a few really nice one’s too. Just throwing in my opinion on this.

  60. M Chand Reply

    I’m actually most upset with the reviews that are overly positive! Just look at the reviews for Cursed child by JK Rowling! Some of the reviews actually say it’s bad but they still give it 5 stars anyway! I also believe the demographic is heavily skewed to younger female audiences (admittedly the stats show that they are the bulk of readers) but it means that in general there is a weighting towards YA type fiction that really isn’t good at all! I’m ok wiht people enjoying (Although I will say they need to read more) but the problem is it’s over-representing what good fantasy should be.

  61. Chelsea Reply

    Thank you Richard, I totally agree with all your comments. Goodreads is a way for negative people to write nasty remarks – probably because they don’t have any meaningful existence and they are plain nasty. What happened to ‘If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.’

    • Cameron Jon Bernhard Reply

      That’s why these trolls mostly never leave reviews. It doesn’t take much effort to click a button to denigrate years of effort into a one-star rating.

  62. Aubrey Reply

    Putting my books on Goodreads was a huge mistake. They were written as short reads based on my grad class papers that I received A’s on each one. I have totally uninformed idiots who complained about the length or interest they found. Forensic Psychology is not a subject for the average, barely educated person to comment on, especially at the graduate level. I looked at my profile recently and I had loads of 2 and 3 star reviews on my books basically because it wasn’t interesting to the dolt who got it for free.

    • Jean Reply

      Hello Aubrey, I’m sorry that happened to you. It happened to me also and this is what I found. These knuckleheads can barely form a sentence and their spelling is worse. I realize your years of education and work you put into this and Goodreads let these people troll trash without even reading it. It’s so ridiculous for Goodreads to allow these people to destroy what took us years to do. And what’s so bad is the public has no clue what kind of idiots are rating our books. It’s a sad shame. I’m sorry I ever looked at Goodreads.

  63. Sierra G Reply

    In the genres I read the ratings are skewed the other way. There are terrible books that get 5 start reviews from readers who gush about how interesting the characters were or how great the story was. Anyone who gets to Chapter 5 in some of these books know the reviews are better fiction than the book being reviewed. Also, there are books that haven’t been published yet (or even had a publication date announced) which have lengthy reviews and high ratings.

    To see how skewed the reviews are search for collections such as the 50 worst books on Goodreads or something similar. Even the bad books on the system have a rating that would round up to 2. I’ve read books that I’d happily give no stars at all. And I’ve given 1 star to books that have a huge number of reviews talking about how great a book was in so little detail that I question whether the reviewer read more than the blurb.

  64. LuAnne Turnage Reply

    Great discussion, Mr. Lowe! could you point out some of those other “better” places you mentioned on your blog? I’m a newbie author and always looking for others sites that are recommended.

  65. Tim Holt Reply

    > Most books deserve three stars – that’s the middle. It means “it was okay.”

    This is explicitly not true. If you hover over two stars when rating a book, a popup appears describing *that* as “It was okay”.

    Personally, if I’m rating a book negatively, I don’t care how much I disliked it; one degree of precision is good enough for me. I love that I have enough precision in a 5-star rating system to denote books that have literally been life-changing (5-stars). Books I adore are 4 stars. Books I enjoyed are 3 stars, and books that were just good enough to be worth reading are 2 stars.

    • Richard Lowe Post authorReply

      Thank you. I understand your point. When I see a rating of 3, I see it as in the middle and thus “okay”. Not bad, not great. For me, a rating of 2 is poor.

    • Allen T Reply

      I had also rated books along the lines suggested by GR and found my ratings to be very low compared to other goodreads users. The stars explicity stand for Did not like/It was okay/Liked it/Realy liked it/Loved it, as given by GR tooltips. But most people seem to read any rating just below half on a scale as somewhere between utterly mediocre and extremely bad. Public and honest reviews aren’t fair to authors, as book marketing needs to be based on exemplary praise (they are competing with giants for a pretty large chunk of your attention), so I thought I’d just stop using GR as a rating tool and keep my thoughts to smaller discussions instead.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *