Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Why Goodreads Doesn't Work

Goodreads is the Facebook for readers. At least, that's how I always looked at it before I started self-publishing my own short stories. When I became a "Goodreads Author," that all changed. At that point it wasn't just about finding books to read; it was about finding readers to read my book.

That within itself is a cool idea; indie authors (like Hugh Howey), or big authors (like Stephen King) can connect with fans of their books directly. Look at Stephen King's Facebook page: how many of those people who like his page are fans of his books, how many are fans of his film adaptations? Who knows. But at least Goodreads you know that people who follow you are fans of your books.

But Indie writers (not Hugh Howey, because he's actually a good writer) are making it almost impossible for readers to find good books. And that's where I draw the line and point out boldly the issue at hand. I don't mind unknown authors -- myself included (although I have a little bit of cred from writing Resident Evil: Red Falls, but not that much) -- having friends and fans score their books or vote their books onto certain lists. "Best Science Fiction Novels," "Best Horror Novels," "Best YA Novels with a Supernatural Element" -- you get he point; there are tons of Goodreads member-made lists out there which Goodreads members can vote on their lists. Heck, I allowed some of my Resident Evil: Red Falls fans vote on one of the lists that I had made called "Must-Read Books for the Aspiring Writer."

But I wasn't eager enough to vote any of my stories to the top, because there's no way LeanRx: Results May Vary, Lucifer's Tongue, The Bone Man, or The Monster at the Bottom of the Stairs are more significant than Stephen King's On Writing and Danse Macabre, or any of his fiction books like The Stand, or It, or the Dark Tower series.

And then you have a person whom I won't name. Let's just say he's the most followed person on Goodreads, an author, and a Goodreads librarian (that means he's a moderator). When this fella voted his book to the top of my horror list, I changed the description to: "No offense, but just ignore #1. Voting oneself to the top seems kind of amateurish. I apologize for my boldness. It's not meant for an attack on any particular author."

So what did this author do? He abused his Librarian powers and deactivated ninety percent of the Goodreads members who had voted for my books. What a passive-aggressive move. And then he goes on to email me, pretending to be a typical Goodreads staff, that there "were a few members who had complained about your books having too many five star reviews" in so many words. So, he took away most of my five star reviews (from people that scored my books on their own). Meanwhile, his own books are nearly perfectly rated . . .

. . . and I wonder why (this is sarcasm). He -- being a Goodreads Librarian -- deactivates accounts who give him bad scores.

Goodreads needs to clean up their Librarian staff so authors can't be Librarians.