Here is an interesting perspective on Goodreads and the "community" that it has created.
First, I have to say that I really like Goodreads for all of the reasons stated in the article. It gives a place where authors can engage readers and vice versa. It gives a good "landing place" for your novel. It also connects to your blog, so that what I'm typing here will show up there eventually. Goodreads is a great site for authors and readers.
with negative reviews is tough, however. As authors, we spend so much time with
our work that it is easy to be sensitive about it. The books we write
are like our children, and nobody wants to have their little snowflakes
criticized. That being said, though, once we bring our work to the table
and release it, it's up to the public to judge it, even if we might
think that judgment is unfair, incorrect, or even spiteful in origin.
the social aspect between author and reader also brought along
unintended side effects. There have always been trolls. There have always been haters. There have always been
bullies. Neither the internet nor Goodreads created these things. Whether it stems from professional jealousy, boredom, or the joy
of making others' lives more difficult, these social dynamics are not
new, what's new is that there is no longer any "buffer" between the
trolls/haters/bullies and the authors. A site like Goodreads merely gives a place to concentrate
the vitriol like never before.
I've been involved in several "communities" online on various subjects, and no matter the rules, or what efforts you go through to make a better place, there are going to be people who thrive on destroying it. The fact that sites have popped up to defend the two camps outside of the Goodreads moderation speaks volumes about the players involved. It's nothing new, but it is indeed poisonous to any idea of "community". Those sites are akin to the high school clique word-of-mouth smear campaigns that Suzy is a dirty little whore, and she should no longer be considered as one of the Popular Ones.
One of my short stories, a freebie
I released on a lark, mostly, got a pretty scathing review from a
Goodreads reader. It did not say so directly, but the undercurrent of
the review was that I should give up writing. My first instinct was to
I thought about responses I could make. "Sorry you didn't like it. Would you like a refund?" was the front runner, since it was a free book, after all. In second place was something about his questionable parentage that I won't deign to repeat here.
However strong the impulse was to sally forth the defenses, I decided to take the professional route
and say nothing. If he didn't like it, or didn't understand the book? Whatever. His loss.
Will I stop writing because he didn't like it?
To stop writing because someone didn't like my work would be to give away the power of my voice. Nobody has that kind of power over me except me and I'm not going to relinquish it without a fight to the death.
I did address getting the negative review in my Google Plus stream, but it was a post about taking it all in stride, and neither pointed toward the reviewer nor his review. It was a sort of Google Plus shrug. After all, I had been posting on G+ when I got good reviews, I thought it was only fair that I should post when I got negative ones, too.
Overall, I think I chose the more professional route.
As an author in this Brave New World, you should, too.