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January 2014

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On Goodreads and Thick Skin and Sheep

A while ago, my husband and I were hanging out and he said, "You know what? I never thought about this before, but you have to deal with a lot of crap. You have way thicker skin that I ever thought you did."  He then went on to tell me he had discovered Goodreads ( he is not much of a reader, so he went on there for the sole purpose of looking up my books) and was shocked at some of the things people said about my books. (And me personally, although they do not know me.The internet makes people brave.)  And I told him, "That is why I no longer look at my books on Goodreads."
He then went on to say he wanted so badly to reply to some of the especially mean ( yes, I used that word, because it is accurate in some cases) ones. He didn't of course, which I was glad of. Because Goodreads is what it is. It should be about people sharing opinions on the written word, but it has become a place for passive aggressive people to share all that pent up frustration or whatever, which means turning the bashing of authors and books into an art form.
Listen. I was a reader looooooong before I was an author. Loooooooong before. So yes, I post books on Goodreads. But when I don't like one, I would never consider putting something like: "This author should kill themself because they are the worst writer in the world!" ( Or as one Goodreads reviewer wrote after reviewing The Compound: "Her bio says she is a teacher. I guess what they say about teachers who can't is true!"  Yeah, that was the one that taught me my lesson about reading about my books on Goodreads.) 
Instead, I am careful to be kind and straightforward and always add something to the order of : "This wasn't for me, but I'm sure many other readers will like it..." Because that is the truth. Books I love are hated by many. And vice-versa. So this is what blows me away about Goodreads: that one person will say "This is terrible! I hated it!" And upwards of fifty people will reply with a "Oh, I'll take it off my list." Seriously? What kind of sheep...er...reader actually doesn't read a book they want to, just because someone else hated it?  Not a real reader, that's what I think. If there's a book that looks interesting to me, I treat it as a secret that I need to discover. If my forty closest friends ( I don't actually have that many close friends, but you get what I mean) tell me "Oh, that book sucked..." I will still pick up that book and read it, because I haven't been let in on the secret yet. That is what a real reader does.
So I have learned not to mind when a reader hates one of my books. But when other people, who have not even opened the fricking cover, dismiss it as well? That is where I really need the thick skin.


Oh, the sheep. But we like it when the sheep tell each other to like the book. :)

I've found GoodReads to be a burden I don't need, even though the reviews of my books are pretty positive. The ones that aren't cut, and mine are just picture books--the real gore seems to be saved for novelists.

Brava to you for staying away.
Oh, I'm a softie. That is why I must stay away or I would be curled up in a ball in the corner for days on end!
I only look at reviews when I've read a book (or skimmed it, usually) and really disliked it. Then I look for both positive and negative reviews to see what I've missed (and to make myself feel better about disliking it, if I'm not the only one). But yeah, when I review, I always mention then 'not for me but could work for others' idea -- because books are incredibly subjective. And I can't imagine not reading a book I thought I'd love because some random person didn't like it (if a good friend or reviewer I trust disliked it, however, it might convince me to put it off until a later time).
It's the same for movies. I never read any reviews anymore, because I tend to be the polar opposite of all the reviewers;)