Well, I did it. I deleted my Goodreads account.
You may have seen me considering it on Twitter, when I asked if anyone else had thought about saying “Goodbye” to Goodreads. I was surprised at the number of people who responded with a hearty YES!
Seems I’m not the only one with Goodreads-related issues.
There were also a few people who asked why I wasn’t happy with the site. And I get why they were confused. On the surface, Goodreads is a cool social network for booklovers. It’s easy to use, it looks pretty, and it has all kinds of cute little widgets you can install in various places.
However, those pros did not make up for the cons I kept having to deal with. And so, Grasshoppers, allow me to explain why I chose to vacate Goodreadsville before I completely and totally lost my mind.
The first two reasons are simple: childish behavior on the parts of both authors and reviewers (I’m sure you’ve all seen the Goodreads drama that has unfolded on two separate occasions within the past month, so I’ll refrain from posting links) and ineffectiveness as a marketing tool for myself as a writer.
But this is what really sealed the deal for me: Goodreads always made me feel pressured to leave favorable reviews–no matter how I actually felt about the book.
Allow me to elaborate.
I’m often asked to review books, and nine times out of ten, the author is someone I know–either in real life or online. So what do I do if I don’t like the book? Do I give honest feedback in such a public forum? Do I try to express my opinion in a sugarcoated way?
Unless I want to permanently damage my relationship with that author, I have to leave a good review. Regardless of my actual opinion. Regardless of what will happen when a friend of mine sees that good review and reads the book for themselves, then wonders why I raved about something they didn’t like at all.
Yeah, that has actually happened.
Just the other day, a friend mentioned that she’d read a book after seeing my review of it on Goodreads. She had this funny look on her face, and said, “I didn’t really like it as much as I expected to. What did you love so much about it?” At which point I had to confess that I’d only given such a favorable review because the author is an online friend of mine, and I didn’t want to hurt their feelings. I also knew they would notice if I didn’t leave a review at all, so to maintain the friendship, I gave the author what I knew they wanted. I raved.
I raved about a book I didn’t like that much. (Spoiler alert: That book wasn’t the only one.)
Because of those dishonest reviews, I’ve had to follow up with blurbs, giveaways, and favorable comments to the authors themselves. Basically, Goodreads led to a web of lies, and I HATE that.
The worst part is this: I bet there are several people who left favorable reviews of The Clearing simply because they know me, and they felt pressured to.
I want any reviews I do to come from a place of true love for the book, not a place of obligation or pressure. Knowing that someone read a book because of my glowing recommendation–knowing they might not trust me any more when I say I loved something–makes me feel icky inside.
So I’m not reviewing anymore. At all.
Now, if I find myself particularly in love with a certain book, I’ll mention it here on the blog. But those mentions will be few and far between. I’m going to become very sparing with my blurbs, and if I’m asked to review or blurb something I don’t love, I probably just won’t respond.
Ugh. I hate having to be like this. But alas, it seems to be the only solution.
I don’t know if my reviews are still active on Goodreads or not. I hope they’re all gone. I haven’t checked. Goodreads certainly has its place and I’m not telling you all to delete your accounts too. But for me, it was creating too much stress.
How do you handle a situation in which you’re asked to review a friend’s book–and then you end up not loving it? What in the world do you do?