Cyn Balog wrote, posted and eventually deleted the following morsel from her blog:
"Hi, there! I posted on twitter something that went a little like this: "PSA to aspiring authors: Do not rate books on review sites unless 1)the author is dead or 2)you like things to come back to bite you in the ass".
I got a lot of comments for that one. People asked, "Positive reviews?" and to that I say, well, positive reviews are okay, but DO NOT RATE THE BOOK. If you have to give the book stars, it had better be 5 STARS. Or else.
"Why?" you say. "Four stars means I liked it a lot. Three means I liked it. Those are positive things."
No, they are not. And I will tell you why.
Most authors hate goodreads. And with good reason. There are many trolls out there who can anonymously rip apart books with mean-spirited reviews, and they seem to thrive upon finding the most creative and amusing ways to slam a novel. They love to get comments from other trolls, agreeing with them. It appears that there are gangs of these people who enjoy crafting negative reviews, complete with funny pictures and whatnot, which must take so much time it begs the question, "do these people have lives?" A good portion of the site, which is comprised of serious reviewers, is being overshadowed by these people, which is sad. Because of this, most authors say that they never visit goodreads. Ever. I, in fact, never go there. Usually. But every once in awhile, I will be dragged to it, like a moth to a flame. And something on the site will usually burn my retinas.
Authors tell you that they don't care about reviews. They don't care what the haters think. They are liars. Because really, what sells a book is word of mouth. And if enough people are hating their book, that translates to... lack of word of mouth, which translates to lack of sales, which translates to lack of ability to pay one's bills. And all authors care about that.
Anyway, back to why a four star review is not a good thing for an aspiring author to give. Because it creates a comparison. Authors are insecure. Like I said, if you don't like one, it could mean that they don't have steak for dinner. And so, if you say, "I liked this book" and rate it 4 stars... many authors, especially the ones who have a lot of time on their hands, will check to see what your average review is. If it is 4.72, and you rate her book 4 stars, she will be upset, because it means that you liked her book LESS than most of the books you read. She will check all the books you read and see which ones you rated 5 stars and wonder why you didn't like hers as much. Negative feelings will ensue. No, she may not remember you, especially if she gets thousands of reviews. But she also won't remember you as one of her "die-hard fans" either. So when you publish your book and ask her for a blurb, she may say, "Sure..." but then again, she may say, "I'm too busy."
You're probably thinking, "You are not serious. No writer is that ridiculous or obsessive."
But I have spoken to hundreds of published authors... and this is what I have discovered. It's a secret we writers keep, but ratings systems play mind-games with us. They make us go insane, to the point of obsession. I, after a couple years of torment, have learned to opt-out of the insanity... but sometimes, every once in awhile, it does call me back. I'm getting better. With every book, my shell hardens, and I care less. But because it pays my bills, I still care.
You may think I'm crazy. I mean, even as I type it, it sounds crazy to me. But it's the truth. If you're hoping to be published one day and love Goodreads and sharing your opinion with the world, if you want to say, "whatever, that's nuts," feel free to go on rating books as you wish.
But don't say I didn't warn you."
This is why I'll never waste any more of my time reading Cyn Balog's books--by the way, this book is basically unreadable which is why I couldn't finish it. If she thinks the people who write negative reviews have too much time on their hands she should take a long (honest) look in the mirror. Girlfriend has way too much time on her hands if she's looking at individual star-ratings and then checking out each reviewers average rating, and then (sadly) making a comparison. Really? She's really doing this? So depressing.
Also, I'm depressed by all the other egomaniac authors who supposedly check their goodreads star status and then get all sad when they discover their work isn't universally loved.
This really happens? Ugh. Sounds like another group of people has entirely too much time on their hands even though they're 'starving artists' singing for their supper. And we're supposed to believe all these authors have some sort of blacklist? Bahahahaha--that's really funny.
Cyn, you don't like bad reviews? I've got a little advice: instead of getting on goodreads you should spend your time writing; take your writing to the next level. Don't get on the internet and cry about your goodreads star-rating. And, for the record, it's not negative reviews that ruin sales, it's lack of reviews, lack of word-of-mouth; lack of advertising that ruins sales--it has to be said: it seems your publisher doesn't even try to market your stuff. Just saying.
I know a lot of people who will go out of their way to read a book after reading a negative review just to see if it's really as bad as the reviewer said it would be. I know people who will read a book, regardless of negative reviews because the book cover makes it sound so good, or the cover was so blasted beautiful, or just because the book is EVERYWHERE (example: Fallen by Lauren Kate).