Oh, it’s been an interesting week or so in the indie book world. First, there was another special snowflake author, making a practically scripted new-author-with-thin-skin mistake and paying the similarly well-established price. Now, someone has, for sure, taken the Angry Special Snowflake Award when he took his Goodreads is evil and all reviewers are trolls in disguise rant off of social media and blog platforms and published an actual book about it. No joke, it’s titled Authors vs. Goodreads and you can find it here and here. The world has gone mad, mad I tell ya.
I read about half of this magnum opus (You can read my review here.), honestly people it was as much as I could take. And it was nothing new. Just more of the same, Goodreads didn’t give me my way and those mean, mean reviewers trolled my work and took offence at my sock puppets, that we hear all the time.
Nothing new, except that he wrote it from the perceived position of an expert advising new indie authors about the dangers of Goodreads. I find this problematic because, from the half I read, it’s already painfully obvious that he doesn’t actually know how things work at Goodreads. Or he knows but it serves his purpose better to conveniently overlook, you know, reality.
But more importantly, a man banned under numerous profiles really shouldn’t be advising new authors on how to succeed on goodreads. It’s like a Special Snowflake instruction manual—read it, learn to perceive everything as a personal attack and to respond with anger and aggression, then wonder why no one wants to play with you on the monkey bars and throw a hissy. Crazy.
And that seems to have been his MO. I found this example of someone’s interaction with him:
FTR, I didn’t even rate his book. Or mark it read, for that matter. I just shelved him with a gif, on his favorite, my wouldn’t-pee-on-it-if-it-was-on-fire shelf. He also threw a tantrum over my see-private-notes shelf. B/c it was totally unfair that he, the author, couldn’t read my private notes.
The author of this book also goes by the name A.V. Roe, who was banned from GRs for attacking members reviews of his books. First under a sock acct (now deleted, even though he swore it wasn’t him) making ableist remarks towards the reviewer, (view spoiler) and then from his own author profile.
When blocked from one review for being abusive, he took to private messaging (view spoiler), then posting a blog (view spoiler) attacking more members, where he accidentally responded under the wrong author acct revealing himself without doubt as also being the author Dean Billing. (view spoiler).
And after being warned and provided links to the author guidelines, eventually by GRs staff as well, he took his case to groups b/c he was being bullied and abused and treated so unfairly. (view spoiler)
After being banned he came back at least once under a regular user acct again using the Dean Billings name. When that was also deleted he came back as author Zoe Desh, which was again deleted by GRs, rating his book about GRs and their flawed, unfair review system.
Here are some ss’s of his reviews on smashwords…I’m sure he totally meant to mention that he is the author of both of those books. Totally. (view spoiler)
ETA: here are some of his comments that are now gone with his GRs priviliges. I still think it’s hilarious that he made such a fuss about how he couldn’t care less b/c writing books was just a hobby and we were taking it all so seriously and needed to get over it.
And here we are, on the whiny, rant of a booklet he wrote, with a new pen name, anti-GRs website and Twitter acct later, still bitching and whining about the reviews, and reviewers, he couldn’t care less about.
Now, sorry about my general technical non-knowhow, but I haven’t the slightest idea how to make those view spoiler tags work here on WordPress (though the links do) and they’re too big to post open. However, you can go here (#34) to see the comment on Goodreads and read them there.
A number of subsequent commenters mentioned remembering the hoo-ha, but I wasn’t party to it and, thus, am not taking it completely at face value. However, as Desh admits openly in the booklet that he was banned on multiple accounts (or excommunicated as he phrases it) and currently posts tweets like this:
@JB_Rogers Make it part of the TOS. I got threatened all the time that things I was doing on GR were in violation of the TOS. Put 3 buttons
— Zoe (@zoedesh) January 20, 2015
I’m willing to believe it’s at least typical of his behaviour, even if not a perfect remembrance of it.
It’s hard to imagine someone being so very wrapped up in themselves, but another Goodread user commented thus:
I don’t know if it’s that he missed the memo, or, here’s a thought: other possessors of XX chromosomes older than 30: you know that breed of XY chromosome holder, white, aged over 35, who expects your time and attention because they are a white male? Maybe he’s one of them? They had the world at their feet, at least when it came to dealing with XX chromosomes, their whole life. In a meeting, they will interrupt and talk over you, because what they have to say is inherently more worth listening to than what you have to say. They expect – demand – your attention.
And now I wonder if the culture of GR was a harsh shock. Suddenly, he can’t mansplain that our reviews are all wrong. “Smut isn’t supposed to be politically correct, for heaven’s sake – this is about getting your load away. What’s WRONG with you all? Why don’t you get it?”
And the more he used the techniques that served him well his whole working life – repeating his pov endlessly until the women just shut up and leave go do their own thing – well, here on GR we do not shut up and we do not go away. In our space we learned to say what we think and to stick to it.
So, yeah. That, maybe.
On discovering Desh was male, I had a very similar, if not as elegantly phrased, thought and that just makes me sad.
But even if Desh’s online temper-tantrum is actually an academic feminist’s wet dream of a case study, the booklet is pretty obviously a stunt. Let’s break this down. Goodreads is a large book-data gathering machine. We all—even Desh, it’s one of his complaints after all— know this. So, any book provided a ISBN/ASIN can and probably will be added to the database.
Desh then publishes a booklet on a popular book sales platform and his own website, along with the statement that he doesn’t want it on Goodreads, but he’s tracking how long it will take to show up there and will report back. Um…that kind of sounds like he wants it on Goodreads, otherwise there’s nothing to report.
Then, once this attack on Goodreads and Goodreads’ users is discovered by readers (you know the very people the book is calling trolls and villianizing), they unsurprisingly read it, dislike it and rate/review it accordingly. Their friends then see these rating in their update feed, go look at the book too, have a similar reaction, read and rate it, and then their friends see the book, etc.
That’s how snowballing works (no, not that type of snowballing, geez) and, no doubt, exactly what Desh was hoping for. (Though he calls it trolling and apparently assumes there is some clandestine group of evil reviewers just waiting to gang up and trash a book.) True, some may rate it on principle and instant dislike, but the reviews show an awful lot of people actually reading the book prior to reviewing.
Meanwhile, Desh gleefully sits back in his proverbial castle and sends out hourly tweets like these:
Witness classic Goodreads #troll clustefuck unfold. Readers tripping over themselves to castigate book for authors. http://t.co/jY1CIovniQ
— Zoe (@zoedesh) January 21, 2015
Odd that a booklet for #authors joining Goodreads is trolled by readers, thus illustrating what can happen to authors http://t.co/jY1CIovniQ
— Zoe (@zoedesh) January 21, 2015
Supreme irony. Book documenting how authors are trolled on Goodreads is being trolled, thus proving point of book. http://t.co/jY1CIovniQ
— Zoe (@zoedesh) January 21, 2015
The whole thing is obviously a set up for an eventual, “See, see, I told you so!” And it’s working. He’s undoubtedly going to play this to the very end. More power to him.
Now, given Desh’s history of picking fights, his stated intent to keep people updated (whatever that means), and the need for a little more drama to keep this train rolling, I expect a backlash from this post. (Pending it’s noticed at all, obviously.) God(dess) protect me from dying of laughter as I feed the troll…and not the reviewing kind.
Honestly though, it’s not Desh’s book, tweets, delusions of grandeur or pitiable attitude that prompted me to write this post. No, it’s the next evolution of this affair that’s worth mention. Yes, there’s more.
A French author named Tobias Gavran has written a rebuttal to Desh’s book in the form of a satirical spoof. It’s called Authors for Goodread and can be found free here.
I’m just going to post the Dedication/Disclaimer page to give you an idea of the tone it takes.
He’s even given himself a GIF heavy, 1-star review on Goodreads to really make the point. It’s worth a read. Despite obviously being sarcastic, it makes a lot of sense and it’s only 19 pages long. To be fair, though, that’s probably the same number of words as Desh’s 104 page masterpiece, only in a more reasonable font size, for ease of reading.
While I laugh at the goings on lately, it’s also noteworthy because it’s such an excellent example of the damaging effect that artificially separating readers, reviewers and writers has. Ideally, an author should be a bit of all three and a reader has no obligation to be anything more. But it’s nice when they are and should be appreciated as such.
I recommend reading both booklets and making your own choice about which makes sense to you. But regardless, I strongly encourage readers to keep on reading and maybe, just maybe, if I can be so bold as to ask a favor, please don’t judge all indie authors, all readers or all reviewers by the standard set by special snowflakes, but especially not by the likes of Zoe Desh and Authors vs. Goodreads.
I have one authored book listed on Goodreads, have written 700+ reviews and have literally thousands of books on my shelves to read. If I’m to identify as anything its as a reader first, then a reviewer and lastly an author. But the fact that I can order them, doesn’t make me any less one than the others.
As F. Scott Fitzgerald said, “The test of a first rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.” I think the idea applies to the ability to be both a Goodreads reader/reviewer and an author. There doesn’t need to be antagonism between the enclaves. And as amusing as all the above is, it’s not helping anything or anyone.
I’m just saying.