Wednesday, April 15, 2015

YA Guy Says Goodbye to... Goodreads!

Recently, YA Guy was the subject of a personal attack on Goodreads.

You know the kind: ostensibly a review of SURVIVAL COLONY 9, the post contained ample profanity and unkind remarks not only about my book but about my fitness to publish, indeed to exist. I'd link you to it, but I contacted Goodreads and they removed it.

Problem solved, right?

Well, not exactly.

In previous posts, I've talked about the incivility that seems to be bred by social media. I'm an old-fashioned guy; I say you don't engage in immoderate public attacks of fellow human beings. I have no problem with reasoned, responsible critique and debate--say, in the political arena--but I draw the line at Jerry Springer-style nastiness and hatefulness.

Of all the social media in which I participate, Goodreads seems to be the one that most lends itself to such behavior. Maybe that's because it's the one form of social media in which I participate where I personally have no control over those who post on my page or what they post. The Twitter exchanges in which I've been involved are almost invariably polite and generous: the people with whom I'm connected via Twitter mostly want to be nice to each other. Facebook occasionally gets out of hand, but you can always delete an uncivil post or, at the most extreme, unfriend the offender. Same with this blog and my website. Yes, I get some spam, but I simply ignore it.

Goodreads is different. Though I don't deny it's a nice idea--a community of readers and writers--and though I've had some good experiences with it--new friends, messages from readers, giveaways, etc.--it's also a free-for-all when it comes to those who participate in it and the kinds of discourse in which they engage. Up until this most recent experience, I'd been what I guess you'd call fortunate; unlike many writers, I hadn't been subjected to the gleefully ugly "reviews" in which some Goodreads members specialize.

But I have now, and I'm done.

So no more Goodreads for me, folks. I'm pulling out of that particular social media platform. My books will still be visible there, of course, but I won't. I'll keep my account for another few days in case anyone wants to say goodbye, but then I'm through.

There might be some marginal loss to me as an author as a result of this action; personally, though, I doubt it. Lots of authors aren't "Goodreads authors," and they're doing however well they're doing. I will regret not being able to communicate with readers through this medium, but I'll still have my blog, my website, Twitter, and so on. I'll still review books on this blog, and I hope you'll drop me a line here or through one of the other platforms if you have anything you feel like telling me.

If you do, though, please be nice. There's enough unavoidable ugliness in the world without our adding to it needlessly.


  1. I am sorry to hear this happened to you.

    A few years back, I tried to write a short story about the lowest ranking demons of Hell. They had assignments like: internet trolls, public toilet seat pee-ers, and shopping-cart-in-parking-space leavers. Once a month they met to grouse about their jobs and plot to overthrow Hell. I never finished it because they were all so unpleasant, I didn't want to waste my time with them.

    I mention it because I still think internet trolls might not be entirely human.

    I check Goodreads once a day to answer messages and questions (on the rare occasion I have either). I have long since stopped reading the reviews. It's a shame you're leaving, but under the circumstances, I would probably do the same.

    1. Thanks for the comment, Dianne. Some people have said to me, "Oh, but if you leave, you're letting the trolls win!" I prefer to think I'm taking control (con-troll?) away from them.