Bad Author Behaviour … by Lisa Henry

While surfing the net recently I came across the enclosed article by Lisa Henry. I asked her for permission to reprint it here which she gave.

Here’s Lisa’s piece:


Is it just me, or is there a lot of Bad Author Behaviour on Goodreads lately?

I won’t link to the latest incident or call anyone out, because whether it’s the author, a sock puppet, or some random helpful fan who thinks they’re doing the author a favour, I don’t know. But it’s unattractive behaviour, and nothing will land you on a “Don’t buy” list quicker than slagging off the people who bought your book in good faith.

Here’s how I see it.

Goodreads is for readers, not authors. The second someone pays for your book, they can like it, hate it, or they can desperately want to KILL IT WITH FIRE. It’s their right. And it’s also their right to tell all their friends what they think. That is the whole point of the site.

Okay, sure, not all reviewers are fair and balanced. Too bad. But it is not your job, and it’s sure as hell not your BFF’s job, to call them on it. Because Goodreads is for readers. You’re playing in their sandpit, and you take the bad with the good or you get the hell out.

The moment you publish a book and it’s in the public sphere, your don’t own it anymore. Okay, you own the copyright and whatever, but it’s not your ickle precious baby who has to be protected from the big bad world. Hell no. You wave it off, you wish it well, and you let it make its own way.

The simple fact is, some people will love what you write and some people will hate it. And if you’re not ready to deal with that, then maybe you’re not ready to call yourself an author.

On that note, I don’t comment on reviews of my own books. I might “like” a few now and again to get the cover out in everyone’s feeds, but that’s it. I’m more than happy to talk about my books if you invite me to, but I’m not going to butt in on the conversation you’re having with your friends because I don’t have any right to do that. Readers shouldn’t have to worry that authors are going to start a shit storm because of something they say.

When you get your royalty cheques from your publisher, where do you think that money came from? So to all the Authors Behaving Badly out there, grow up, chill out, and stop biting the hand that feeds you.

Lisa Henry’s Contact Information



Authors/readers, comments?


  • A thesis could be written on this subject and we’d be no closer to figuring it out.
    I love books and I love talking about them. If I can actually discuss one with the creator of that work, well I’m in heaven. The problem is that there’s no rule book for the technology we have at our fingertips. We shouldn’t need one if common sense prevails but we all know common sense isn’t all that common. The simple things already mentioned should be enough: be polite, don’t say something you wouldn’t say directly to that person, etc. I don’t have much respect for snarks & bullies who hide behind the anonymity of the web. It’s too bad that some sites and some authors feel that they shouldn’t engage in a discussion, even to say thanks. I get why that’s necessary now but it could be so great! I mostly do my complimenting privately or on the author blogs.

    • Like you say, Mary, there shouldn’t have to be a rule book. And, if there was, I doubt the sort of people who hide behind their computers and take potshots at one another over the internet wouldn’t read it anyway.

      That’s why I love sites like Jessewave — everyone is polite, friendly, and able to have a difference of opinion without it turning nasty.

  • I had my first book come out recently, so I’ve just been introduced to the reviews on Good Reads. I use the site all the time to find books to read, so I wanted to know what people thought of my book. I haven’t had any ‘bad’ reviews, but there were certainly some 3-4 star reviews that had aspects of my story they didn’t like. There were some critiques I didn’t agreed with and others I totally agreed with, but they are both valuable information for me. The reality is you will never appeal to everyone, but you can always learn from an honest critique.

    I had one reviewer write me a direct message on Good Reads and I figure that is the only time it is appropriate for me to contact the reviewer directly beyond the occasional like.

    • I think I was lucky with my first book, since it really polarised views. It got some great positive reviews on GR, and some really cutting negative ones. But at that time I wasn’t using GR much, so what I didn’t know didn’t hurt me. 😀
      My skin’s got a little thicker since then, which can only be a good thing, and I’ve learned the most important thing — a review of my work is not a review of me!
      And you’re absolutely right. It’s often the negative reviews that are actually the most helpful!

  • What Lisa Said. That’s how the world works on my planet, and I can only wonder when I see or hear about writers who are apparently from other planets.

    I have no problem with Goodreads in general. Sure, there are jerks there, but they have a bazillion users — of course there are going to be some jerks. [shrug] There are a lot of awesome people there, though, especially in the M/M Romance group, and I’ve found it easy enough to ignore the jerks.

    That said, one of the ways I avoid them is by not responding to reviews, positive or negative. I’ll chat in e-mail with someone who writes to me about a book [waves to Sirius] but enough writers who’ve made even brief, polite comments on reviews have gotten flamed for it that I just don’t comment on any. It’d be just my luck to run into someone crazy enough to flame me for NOT saying thanks or whatever, if I replied to reviewers I know. [headdesk] So I just don’t.

    I think this is part of the problem, though — the whack-jobs are just a tiny minority, whether of writers or reviewers. But their whack-jobness is making those of us who are rational change our behavior with one another to try to avoid the whack-job minority. That’s kind of annoying. I really wish I could just relax and join conversations in a positive way occasionally, whenever it seems appropriate. And I’m sure reviewers would like to not have to hold their breath whenever they see a writer stop by to say thanks for a review. We’re all on edge because of the occasional person who never learned to play well with others, and it shouldn’t be like that. :/


    • Angie conversation that I had with you was the best conversation ever which I had with the author about their book. More conversations like that may help me get rid of how I feel about authors commenting on my reviews one day :-). Seriously. Thank you.

    • Angie

      On this site I welcome authors and I love to engage in discussions on books in general. What I enjoyed best at GRL 2012 were the discussions with other readers and authors which was fantastic. Even authors whose books I had written negative reviews were really polite.

      It’s really awful when readers and authors can’t talk to each other in a non-threatening environment about books.

      I no longer visit GoodReads because I can’t take the atmosphere there where so many people are at each other’s throats. Authors exposing reviewers’ personal information, reviewers getting revenge by dumping on their books, and generally bullying each other is no way for us to live together.

      Other than Sirius, as far as I know the other reviewers like to engage the authors in discussions about their books, unless the author takes the discussion in another direction that leads to friction, at which time most of them just close the discussion down.

      As you know Angie, we have had some pretty volatile posts here without meltdowns. If someone is being really unpleasant or obnoxious I ask them to leave, and if they continue I close off the post and ban them.

      It would be great if we could all get along, but there are unpleasant people with their own agendas. Any large website needs a moderator who will be firm and shut down discussions when the participants seem to be getting vicious.

      You’re welcome to comment on your reviews here at any time if you would like to Angie, with the exception of Sirius’s reviews. 🙂

      • Just to clarify – this is indeed how I feel – I vastly prefer off list thanks if you feel you must , however I also have no problems following the site’s policy and will always acknowledge on list thanks. I shared my feelings , I certainly do not need special consideration about thanks and as I said I am well aware that Wave always stops real rudeness right away.


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I live in Canada and I love big dogs, music, movies, reading and sports - especially baseball
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