Why did I ever read that tweet from Jon Del Arroz? This has been on my mind all day and stopped me from getting on with my work. So, in an effort to get the job done, here’s my two penneth.
Question: What is the purpose of Goodreads?
Answer: To provide a space where people can post their reviews of books they have read.
D&C makes a good point, why would you want to disconnect from readers. The answer is a simple one. Too many of them are toxic. They don’t actually want you to improve, they want you to do as they say. D&C is projecting here, he honestly (I hope) believes that the majority of reviewers are like himself, reviewing material in the hope that something good will come of it. The guy loves his industry, you can see that in every review that he does. When its good he says that it is, even if he clearly can’t stand the writer. When it’s bad he’ll say it is too, even if the guy’s someone he likes. The industry is clearly the most important thing to him.
Roxane Gay, on the one hand, looks like she’s trying to protect writers from the worst elements on Goodreads, the ones that went after Laura Moriarty and her book American Hearts. Which is funny because I’m fairly sure that if you were to Venn Diagram Laura, Roxane and the reviewers according to their beliefs I’m sure you’d be left with a single group, just one big fat old circle. There’s an element of projection here too, though I doubt that she’d see it that way.
For me, there are four camps. In the first, you have the guys and gals that just don’t care what others think. They can read a thousand negative reviews before breakfast, laugh at them and continue to write their next best selling tome. Then there are the products of the uni’s turning out MFA’s, who write literature with a capital L and slum it in other genres. These peeps have the mental grit of a toddler in a toy store and any negativity is likely to cause a meltdown. The third group are the vast majority of professional writers, who use Goodreads like any other tool. These guys are both Trad pubbed and Self, sometimes a hybrid of the two. Lastly, you have the self-pubbers, the ones that have come to the game in Amazons brave new world. They come in all shapes and sizes, but the desire to be their own boss drives them ever onwards. Genuine reviews are gold for these guys, as they truly do show the path forward.
Reality check time. Some reviewers are toxic. They have no desire to help you, they only want to ensure that you stick to THE NARRATIVE. If you don’t know what the narrative is I suggest you find out and pdq too. These are reviewers in bad faith. They will do everything they can, up to and including actual threats to ensure that you stick to THE NARRATIVE. The ones most at risk from these clowns? The guys and gals in groups 2&4. Group 2 see them as their target audience, while group four can be terrified by the noise produced.
Writers need feedback. They need it to be genuine, and they need it to be agenda-free. The best example I can give? Take a look at Tuesday Reviews, the mans a one-man reading machine who always dives right to the heart of a book. Seriously, I’m in awe of the man. If he tells you there’s a problem with your book you best listen. Find others on Goodreads that seek to do as he does and get your feedback from them, you won’t regret it.
Anywho, that’s all for now
As always, comments are truly welcome below.