Time and again I see storms brewing between readers & authors about reviews. There are naughty lists on both sides. Authors have STGBR (stop the Goodreads bullies) and reviewers have BBA (badly behaving authors) shelves. I’d like to put in my two cents worth.
I’ve always considered myself a high volume reader, usually over 100 books yearly. Some of my GR (Goodreads) friends read 300 or more each year! I don’t have statistics to back this up, but I believe that highly active GR members make up a relatively small percentage of that book community. Highly active, to me, means that you consistently give feedback along with a star rating. “Oh my gosh, I loved it!!!” and “This book was crap” aren’t really feedback.
Part of the reason we have close knit groups on GR is that we respect one another’s opinions. Reviews range from one star to five stars on the same book and we all stay pals. Of course, we fangirl (this term includes boys) over books we love together. We complain and console each other over mutual disappointments. I can tell you that we NEVER all have the same book feels. Statements like, “Sorry you didn’t enjoy this one!” or “Dang it! I wanted you to love so-and-so too” are commonly exchanged. Friends who know each other really well joke-threaten, “Hope you love this book. Our friendship is riding on it” or “You are shunned!” We don’t actually jump on the bandwagon & influence the masses. UNLESS.
We unite & fervently defend one another when a fellow reviewer, or reviewers in general, are publicly criticized by another reviewer or an author. Go ahead and hate a review, it’s your right. It’s poor etiquette in the book community to be disrespectful or try to gain sympathy on a public forum. It’s equally poor etiquette for a reviewer to attack an author personally, critique should be limited to the book. Only when the author makes statements to or about reviewers do they open THEMSELVES up to responses on a personal level. Do even a small amount of internet research and you’ll see that this usually alienates potential readers.
When I’m considering a book I know little about, I read positive & negative reviews. I do the SAME thing on Amazon when making a purchase. I read about 100 reviews AND customer Q & A before purchasing a fancier juicer. I read Consumer Reports to help me decide on stuff like cameras, appliances, & cars. Both kinds of feedback help me make an informed decision.
Those ARCs are getting readers to do almost FREE market research for an author! Most of our profiles give info about our age, gender, race, and reading preferences. Is there a certain demographic that likes or dislikes your book? Are there negative reviews that point out inaccurate racial or cultural depictions? The best negative reviews are ones that teach me something. A few fellow reviewers had issues about how lightly slavery was handled in a book I gave 5 stars to. I didn’t change my rating, but I learned something important. A Vietnamese friend goes nuts over cultural and time period inaccuracies that I don’t notice. Experts in a certain field are going to catch mistakes in fiction. How can an author not want to know what these readers have to say? It’s valuable.
There’s been extreme rudeness on both the author and reviewer sides that’s garnered much public attention. I believe that most people behave themselves. I don’t give any credibility to 1 star reviews with no written review or nasty, inappropriate comments. Authors, please realize that most readers disregard unhelpful reviews. 1 star ratings don’t hold as much power as you might think, neither do 5 stars. Readers are after info. Readers are smart & hard to trick.
Authors, especially newly published ones, if you’re hurt or offended by a harsh review, there are a number of things you can do privately. Read happy reviews. Talk to a friend or fellow author. Write in your private journal. Eat cake. Publicly, be a rock. Remain professional. It’ll pay off and you’ll be respected for conducting yourself so well during a bad time.