1 Star Rating Silliness on Goodreads

So following the re-release of Imminent Danger, I was over on Goodreads doing some editing — making sure the new purple cover shows up when you search for the book, making sure the reviews transferred over from the old edition, etc. And I discovered something very odd.

A gentleman named John Hayward (probably not his real name) had given a 1 star rating to all three of my published works — i.e., Imminent Danger, as well as the two free short stories. Fair enough. He hates my writing. A bit weird that he didn’t bother reviewing any, just slapped on 1 star ratings and called it a day, but whatever. No, wait, that is really weird …

So I went to his profile page. He joined Goodreads December 2014. He left three 1 star reviews — all for my books — on the same day in the span of 3 minutes. He hasn’t posted a single rating or review since then.

Yeah, something fishy’s going on.

I contacted Goodreads about it — this guy is obviously trolling — and I got an email back from them yesterday. The bottom line is they do have a system in place for removing false ratings and reviews, but this user didn’t have enough red flags on his account to justify an investigation. Basically, they were sorry about it, but they can’t do anything. They were very professional and polite, and they urged me to contact them again in the future if I found more suspicious circumstances.

Here’s a screencap of Mister Hayward’s profile page for your viewing enjoyment:

john hayward 2

And here’s his profile page if you want to see for yourself: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/37879516-john-hayward

I don’t blame Goodreads for not taking down this guy’s ratings — they have a system, and I get that. So that leaves me to wonder what I’m supposed to do about it. It also makes me wonder what this guy’s deal is. Did he really, honestly, truly read all three of my books, hate them all, and create a Goodreads account just so he could leave 1 star ratings? Is he someone I’ve pissed off, and he’s trying to get back at me via online ratings? Is it some random troll just passing through? Only time will tell.

Thus ends my tale. Any insight is welcome and appreciated!


Unrelated media of the day:

Prepare yourself for some major feels (i.e., sad feelings) …

Categories: My Works, Self Publishing | Tags: , , , , , | 53 Comments

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53 thoughts on “1 Star Rating Silliness on Goodreads

  1. When my first book ‘The Loss of the Marion’ , a historical drama came out I received great reviews. However, a person I had never met, had never heard of before made unkind comments about my work and writing abilities in answer to each of these reviews. Any time someone posted that they enjoyed my book, this person added their unpleasant comment. When my second book came out the person didn’t bother to comment in any way, Sometimes it’s wiser to shrug things off and get on with writing, one of the things we love to do.
    Good luck.

    • Good grief. That sort of rudeness takes serious commitment. It’s one thing to leave a bad review, but to comment on every single review … At least they stopped!

      I’m not horribly offended by this one star rating guy, to be honest. He’s almost definitely a troll — and you know what they say, don’t feed the trolls. It just irritates me that there’s nothing to be done.

      Thanks for the story, and the advice 🙂

  2. So sorry to hear about that. I don’t think anyone would read a second book if the first one turned him off that much. To read a third one is unbelievable. It does hurt your career, and there isn’t a darned thing you can do about it.

    • That was my thought, too. My reaction to bad reviews is always a little bit, “Well, guess I don’t have to worry about you reviewing the rest of the trilogy…” I really doubt he read one, hated it, and then gave you two more chances.

      I wish there were something you could do about it, though. An honest negative reaction, however much it hurts, sucks. But this is on a totally different level. Kind of like when a one-star review on Amazon mysteriously gets a slew of “helpful” votes after you comment on a message board (not that THAT happens…)

    • Unbelievable — exactly the word I was thinking, lol. Luckily a single rating won’t bring down the overall rating too much. I’ve heard stories of people who get their friends involved in the bad rating wars … now THAT would be a serious problem.

  3. Good to know that Good Reads does have a system but it can’t cater for a highly selective troll like this one.
    What to do about it? Share on places like this (but not on the review site because it will make you look bad & leave you exposed) and encourage everyone you know to post decent, honest reviews so these no comment one stars are crowded out & shown up for what they are.
    Can you do a giveaway of the short stories? I’ll review.

    • Duh! Just realised that stories are already a giveaway. I promise to read & review.

    • Hahaha yup, they’re free. Thanks for the read & review promise — every rating matters, especially when there are guys like him lurking about, making nuisances of themselves.

      And I think you’re definitely right — it’s just a bad idea to confront the reviewer directly. Makes you look petty, and it invites a response. Lord knows it’s hard to stop myself from responding, sometimes, but it just isn’t worth it.

  4. Sorry to hear you’ve been trolled like this. I really dislike Goodreads’ policy of letting people just post a rating without a review. It makes it far too easy for people to do things like this. I hope that somewhere along the way you either figure out who he is or Goodreads does the right thing and delete his ratings of your books.

    • I love the ability to rate without having to put a text review: it lets me use the ratings to drive recommendations even for books I don’t have the time/inclination to put together a review for.

      What I don’t like is systems (such as Goodreads and Amazon) which conflate scoring for subjective relevance and scoring for objective worth.

    • Ratings are tricky … because like Dave said, it’s actually kind of nice to be able to read a book, love it, leave a 5 star rating, and then come back later and write an actual review. But then blind ratings also have the potential to really screw over an author by people leaving ratings who haven’t actually read the book. I think what we need is what Dave suggested — ratings are allowed without reviews, but they’re worth less in the overall star scoring.

      Goodreads doesn’t seem to be able to do anything about the guy, so I suppose the best I can hope for is that he gets bored and doesn’t throw any more 1 stars at future books I put out. Fingers crossed 🙂

      • I do see Dave’s point, but as both a reader and a writer, the star rating without words does nothing for me. As a reader, I’m left wondering why the book was so bad or so good. I have a hard enough time relying on reviews that actually have content in them, the last thing I’m going to care about are star ratings without any content from people I don’t know. As a writer, it’s the same thing. I want to improve my writing, and I don’t expect everybody to like everything I write, but a review that provides real critiques can be invaluable in understanding any gaps in what I have published.

        • Oh, for sure. Ratings without reviews are fairly useless. But en masse, they’re a semi-reliable way of judging a book’s worth. If a book has ten thousand ratings and they’re all one and two stars, there sort of has to be something wrong with the book, doesn’t there? No review-reading necessary to figure that out. Although obviously a review would actually be able to tell you why the book is getting such a low rating.

  5. Seems like a personal vendetta to me. Probably a different real name. Who creates and account just to one star three books probably not read? Why all three? I know I don’t read more if one turns me off. Most of the real trolls trash multiple authors books…unless he just thinks he’s being sly. So sad. I’ve been reading a lot of people’s opinions about reviews on Anne Rice’s Facebook feed. She posts about it frequently. I think reviews mean more to authors than the general public. Also, sometimes our ability to continue promoting on certain venues depends on our ratings at Amazon. I have little faith in Goodreads….so much crap has happened there.

    • See, I thought personal vendetta too … but I can’t imagine who it might be. The only person I can think of that I might have annoyed recently is the former president of my old writer’s society. She was a real b**ch to our secretary and I might have been a bit snippy in my response to her. However, the lady in question is a grown woman, so hopefully she wouldn’t resort to such underhanded tactics. In this case, I’m kind of hoping it is just some random troll on the internet — I don’t want an arch nemesis, lol.

  6. I’m so sorry; how can anyone be so stupid and vindictive, is beyond me. It makes no sense whatsoever to read a second book by an author you hate, let alone a third one.

    Shortly after publishing Pearseus: Shiscm, someone left completely nonsensical 1* reviews for it on every single Amazon shop – from the US to India to Japan. I mean, they said they stopped reading the book once a giant was killed. There are no giants in any of my books.

    As this happened shortly after I had argued with someone on LinkedIn about Indie publishing (they were against and I was pro), I suspect this was their response.

    My sales dipped for a couple of months, then the whole thing was forgotten. As more 4 and 5-star reviews started piling up, this was buried, at least in the US, where it now has 33 reviews, averaging 4.6. In the UK, however, the book has only attracted only a handful of mainly negative reviews. I’m not sure if this has to do with the troll’s negative review or not, or it reflects cultural differences (maybe my book is simply better suited to the US audience).

    Anyway, your post reminded to review Dusk in Goodreads, so that’s now done. I hope this helps in some small way.

    • See, and that’s just more proof that sites like Amazon need better control over their review system. How on earth can they justify leaving up a review that clearly has no relation to your story? Yeesh. At least that seems to have blown over — heap enough good reviews on a bad review and it loses its bite.

      Thanks for reviewing Dusk Bugs 🙂 In related news, it just passed 100 downloads, so yay!

  7. Methinks someone needs a swift kick to the shins. I’m sorry you have a troll. 😦

    • Ah, it’s all right 🙂 I’m not horribly offended by the troll, to be honest — more just puzzled why someone had the time or inclination to bother making a Goodreads account and leaving the 1 star ratings, lol.

  8. Some people are just sucky. If Goodreads won’t take it down, I don’t think there’s anything you can do about it. Brush it off and keep on doing you…and writing and promoting your books.

    haters gon’ hate


    • To quote Taylor Swift, the haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate. So I think what we can take away from this is that trolls are annoying, and we shouldn’t waste too much time getting frustrated by their shenanigans 🙂

  9. Sorry – I must have forgotten to tell you I have an evil twin whose sole purpose in life is to spoil anything I enjoy or negate anything positive that I do. I still love your book.

    Perhaps you need to get some church bells and moonshine? The noise and lightning is supposed to ward off most trolls.

    • Gah! I should have suspected it was your evil twin. Now I’m trying to remember how to get rid of evil twins. A ring of salt? That might be ghosts. A shotgun would probably work. Maybe a holy shotgun? Know where I can pick up one of those?

  10. Sucks! But most people would likely view such a plonker for what he is, especially if the other reviews are positive.
    I’ll bet Dickens had a few One Stars in his time too!

    • Definitely! And if you look at any famous book on Amazon, there are a hundred bad reviews for every thousand good reviews. Also, props for using the word “plonker”. Love it!

      • Pleasure!
        I doubt JK cares a stuff about twits like this, do you?
        So why should we?
        Remember, what goes around comes around.

  11. How odd. So far I’ve only had a few reviews/ratings on Goodreads, all positive – but now I guess I know what’s coming!

    • Hahaha. Yup, the one stars are coming. It’s just a matter of time, no matter how good your book is. Just cross your fingers and hope the trolls and haters stay away for as long as possible 😀

  12. I’d feel so honoured that someone personally went out of their way to create an account on a website just for me. Whether he dislikes your books or not, you obviously made him feel a very strong emotion and this person felt the need to take precious time out of their day for you. Congrats! You are awesome 🙂

    • That’s an excellent point! I do feel kind of honored. After all, what is the most precious thing in the world? Time. And I inspired this gentleman to spend his valuable time on me. Inspired … or seduced? If his next one star rating includes a marriage proposal, I’m going to be slightly creeped out.

  13. Isn’t it hard enough on us writers without Trolls getting into the mix. It stinks this happened, but I guess you should try and put it behind you. I’ve read one of those short stories that got a star and it is far from it. Good luck getting it all sorted out.

    • I almost wish that self-published authors could have some sort of Troll Repellent option. We have a hard enough time getting read without trolls running around leaving random 1 star ratings. And if my writing isn’t his cup of tea, fine — but explain why, for heaven’s sake, don’t just leave me a single star and skip off to Troll Land!

      • I couldn’t agree more. It seems like people who give high star ratings always leave a review. Kind of makes you wonder what kind or reader gives two and one star reviews.

  14. Personally, I don’t give much attention to one-star reviews unless there are many of them with clear explanations about why that number is justified. And I dismiss comments like “It wasn’t what I was expecting” and “I hate this genre.” Trolls are gonna troll, and I give them zero time.

    • Oh, definitely. My usual theory for reading reviews is I’ll scan through the 5 stars, read a couple of 1 stars to see why they gave such a bad rating, and then read some 3 stars to get the middle ground opinion. From there, it’s pretty easy to figure out if it’s a book I’d enjoy.

  15. I had my first encounter with something like that when I wrote for my college’s undergraduate journal. Come to think of it, I should write a post about that… Anyway, someone made it a point to go through all my articles and comment negatively. Not sure why. It was totally unnecessary and contributed nothing of value–even valid critique–so, since I was the one in charge of the website, I simply deleted all his comments. xD But it was good practice, I guess, for the future. 😛

    Either way, you’re awesome, and you know what they (I?) say–it’s only once you start getting a troll or two that you know you’re getting somewhere.

    • Do they say that? I suspect you’re making things up, lol.

      Some people just like to complain. It’s a thing. And you have to admire their commitment … I guess …

      • xD Okay, maybe I did, but it makes sense. I mean, can you think of a single really famous book/author who doesn’t have some haters? Nope. The only people who have no haters are people whose writing never gets past their aunts and uncles and grandparents, and their mom, who sticks it on the refrigerator. :I

  16. Well I hope I don’t get in trouble but to offset your one star, I gave you 5 on all three books. No review of course. Just figured if he could, so could I. 🙂

  17. Hey Michelle, your old cover is still on there though. Just fyi.

    • Yeah, I wasn’t able to get rid of it because the print version of the old edition is still available for sale (used copies and whatnot). But I think I got it set so that the new cover appears.

  18. I rate far more books than I review, mostly because I get lazy. So I could see him not having more than one review. But all books I love–or hate–I make sure to review, no matter what. I totally agree–this… gentleman likely read little to nothing.

    • And that’s the thing — rating is kind of nice, because it’s great when you kind of liked a book but don’t really care all that much to leave a full review. But then there are guys like this who abuse the system (again, this is assuming that he didn’t legit read all three of my stories and just despise the heck out of them, lol).

  19. That’s awful. Seems like there’s definitely enough evidence to investigate, but whatever Goodreads. Best of luck to you and Imminent Danger!

  20. Hmm. Not good. But I see that Goodreads says “John hasn’t connected with his friends on Goodreads yet.”
    Goodreads are making a huge mistake here. They assume he has friends! Surely there is evidence that he does not and is not attracting any by doing this!

    • Or perhaps this is all a devious ploy on John’s part. Step 1: Randomly select an author to hate on. Step 2: Send out “troll” vibes to the internet at large. Step 3: Befriend internet trolls. Step 4: Build a cute little troll community, which will quickly self-destruct due to infighting.

  21. Glad to see i’m not alone. I got a 1 star rating and an insulting review earlier this year on my first book Destinee romance novella-but here is the kicker it was from someone that knew me from another media site who didn’t like my thoughts on certain things-so I viewed her review as an attack which it was and even though it was months ago It still bothers me a bit because I was not able to retaliate (something I am able to do on the social media site that I mentioned) That said, I know I won’t please everyone, and I don’t expect or want to it’s life. That rating/review has since come down. Shrugging shoulders.

    • Well, at least it came down! That’s great, because often they just stay up, bringing down your rating and being generally infuriating. Maybe she realized the error of her ways?

      That’s a good point — reviews are so hard to respond to. I guess you can leave a comment on the review, but a lot of people view responding to bad reviews as petty or childish. Hmm…

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