Goodreads' Helpful Note To Authors

When it comes to online behavior, it's generally best for authors to steer clear of getting into tiffs with the online reading community — especially over a bad review. Whether you think you just need to say just one tiny thing because the reviewer clearly didn’t understand what you are trying to convey, or if you can’t help jump into a full-on comment war, authors should think long and hard before posting a response to a review. After all, nobody wants to become the next author to have an “Internet Meltdown” and join the ranks of the oft-joked about, for actions similar to those that lead to the self-destruction of Jacqueline Howett and bad behavior of Candace Sams. (Because, as we have just demonstrated, the Internet has a long, long memory.)

But it looks like authors are about to get some help from an unlikely source. The book-centric social networking site Goodreads is attempting to help authors stay on the “write” side of online etiquette. We learned via author Andrew Shaffer’s post on EvilReads, that the online reading community has installed a new feature, a message that appears if you (as an author) attempt to respond to a review of a book that you’ve written.

That's a pretty long note to muddle through to get to the "submit" button, and will hopefully give authors a chance to think before they post a reply to a review. But we still wonder if this message will be an effective warning to help authors steer clear of acting out in ways that could permanently backfire in their faces. Shaffer shared his opinion with RT:

“Do I think it will work? Well, I first learned about Goodreads' warning to authors when I read a negative review of one of my books and went to respond. I had a profanity-laced tirade in my head ready to type out, but had second thoughts after reading the pop-up notice. I realized I had better things to do with my time, like write another book.”

We definitely agree that focusing on that next project is more productive then responding to critics. And no matter how tempting it might be to really let a bad reviewer hear exactly what you think of them, it’s better to take the high road. Try to remember that the review represents just one reader and cyberspace is full of many more readers who may love your book, but won't love an online tirade that makes you look less then professional. 

Let us know if you think this reminder will be useful or if people shouldn't get that second chance to think about their response before they post. And for more author hints, be sure to check out RT's Aspiring Authors Page!