Skip to main content

Navigating Book Review Etiquette: Insights from the Cait Corrain Goodreads Controversy

By January 22, 2024Editing Tips, Tips for Authors

We’ve already seen plenty of examples of Authors Behaving Badly™️ in recent months, and the controversy with Cait Corrain’s bad book review etiquette is no exception. Learn a little bit about what happened and lessons for how authors can handle book reviews.

What Happened with Cait Corrain?

Author Cait Corrain was slated to release her debut novel, Crown of Starlight, in May 2024 but came under fire near the end of 2023 when it was discovered that she had created several fake Goodreads accounts going as far back as February 2023 and review bombed other authors, leaving one star reviews along with negative comments, some bordering on abusive.

These accounts were tied to Corrain in that they all praised her books, giving them five stars on the platform despite not being released yet, and they “liked” each other’s comments on the negative reviews.

As detailed in an article in the Mary Sue, the affected authors—many who are people of color already dealing with a myriad of issues in a predominantly white industry—banded together and went public with their findings. This situation raised continued discussion and questions about Goodreads’ features that continue to harm authors, something the platform has always struggled with.

Repercussions after authors publicly outed Corrain were swift. Her publisher, Del Ray, dropped her, as did her agent, as discussed in this article from The Guardian. Corrain admitted to creating the fake accounts and review bombing other authors.

Why It Matters

It’s one thing to feel frustrated about reviews you receive, but it’s an entirely different situation altogether to take the steps Corrain took to bring down her fellow authors while praising her yet to be published works on anonymous accounts.

To be sure, the Goodreads system has been broken for a long time, giving easy access to issues like this to pop up. Regardless, the etiquette discussion on the expected behavior from authors to their reviews is worth talking about.

Do’s and Don’ts of Book Review Etiquette

No matter where you’re at in your publishing career, it can be helpful to brush up on basic etiquette regarding book reviews. Here are some steps to take if you’re unsure how to handle them.

Do…

  • Accept reviews with grace: Many authors don’t read reviews simply because they may feel too emotional to do so. If this is you, it is better to accept what reviews say with some humility and understanding than overreact.
  • Understand reviews aren’t for you: Reviews are meant for other readers, not the author, so accepting that will go a long way towards compartmentalizing the work you do from how it’s received.
  • Realize feedback is subjective: No author is going to please every reader. There are still readers today who take issue with books from long-gone authors. So long as you are happy with what you produce and your core readers like it, it doesn’t matter much what the less positive reviews say.

Don’t…

  • Take criticism personally: In addition to reviews not being for the author, they’re not about you as a person. Believing the review speaks to who you are will only do more harm than good, so accept that it’s about the work, even if what the words say seems unfair.
  • Attack readers: Along with the Cait Corrain controversy, we’ve seen several authors in the past year (and even beyond that) take to social media to criticize readers because they didn’t like the reviews. This is not an advisable tactic and will turn readers against you rather than bolster their support of you.
  • Attack or review bomb other authors: The last thing anyone wants to see is another situation where authors pit themselves against each other. Members of the publishing community need to lean on each other no more than ever, so consider lifting up other authors instead of tearing them down.

If you’re feeling stuck with editing your novel or worry your marketing materials aren’t selling your book, let’s chat! I’d love to see how we can work together to ensure your success.

Leave a Reply