Why You Shouldn’t Worry About Trolls


This week, in one of my Facebook groups a teen author asked about marketing her book on Goodreads and I was stunned by the reaction of some of the adults in the group.  Many discouraged her from using the website citing, trolls and bullies.  Granted, some of them had been trolled but to discourage someone from trying to market their book just on the off chance that they may run into an a**hole is stupid.  If that’s the case, let’s all avoid the internet because a**holes are in season year round!

Yes, we’ve all heard about the various smackdowns involving readers and authors but those incidents represent only a tiny fraction of interactions between authors and readers.  In fact, many authors have successfully used Goodreads without any problem.  It’s sad but, Goodreads recently had to upload tutorials for authors to cut down on the confusion and prevent drama.

Looking back, if I could, I would’ve handled the situation with this newbie differently, here’s what I should’ve said…

Your Book Will Get Panned

I wish I had the guts to tell this young author, that she needed to be prepared for the inevitable trashing of her book.  However, the poor kid was already getting an ear full, I didn’t need to add to the hysteria.  But if I had been honest, I would have told her the publishing world isn’t all rainbows and kittens.  I’ve been the target of trolls first, as a freelancer and recently, as a blogger.  Do you know how I handled that?  I just kept writing!  Let your anger fuel your creativity, not destroy it.

Even Your Online Reviews & Blurbs are Subject to Criticism

For example, if you give too many 1 star reviews, you’re jealous, but if you give too many 5 star reviews, you’re on the payroll.

Several of my author friends have been accused of being paid reviewers simply because they review books.  I guess it’s hard for them to imagine the writing community as a  supportive place where we often help one another.  Instead, they’d like to envision us desperately trying to vote each other off the island—professionally speaking.

Also, the recent sock puppetting scandals have many readers skeptical about online reviews. So if they sense anything awry, they’ll dismiss or attack it.

Google Alerts: The Instrument of Fear Mongers

There are many publicists who insist authors get Google Alerts on their names and their books in order to monitor their online reputation.  Seriously, who cares what people are saying about your work?  Sure as an indie author it’s your job to get a few positive reviews, but it’s not your job to control the whole damn review section of Amazon!

For example, Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch released a self-publishing book called APE and I was interested in purchasing it.  However, when I looked at the price it was a whooping $7.99, for the ebook.  In order to justify spending that kind of money on a digital book, I decided to look at the reviews.  I came across this lonely one-star review which was titled: “rubbish.”  Scrolling down, I saw there were multiple responses to the reviewer from the co-author himself.  I still to this day, don’t understand why?

Some Reviews are Total BS:

Here’s a secret you need to know, not everyone who reviews a book has actually read it.  In the past, I’ve read reviews where the person actually admits they didn’t even read the book they’re trashing.  Need proof?  Here’s an article in the Huffington Post that lists the most popular books people pretend to read.

The Stats

For those of you petrified about groups of trolls trashing your books and your reputation, relax.  Most readers don’t discover their books on Goodreads and rarely do they get it from some blogger.  In fact, most readers I’ve spoken to don’t even know what Goodreads is.  I found this out this when I went on a quest for reviews.

There are multiple statistics that tell us how readers discover books and authors.  One was done a few years back on Mobilereads, another by Goodreads, and one by NYT bestseller Marie Force.  So stop giving online trolls power over your career.

Let Em Talk: You’re Too Busy Being Fabulous!

When Nina Davuluri was crowned 2014 Miss America, a few hundred racist Tweets popped up on Twitter.  How did she handle it?  Not surprisingly, with the grace and dignity of a beauty queen.  Now, if you want to find those Tweets you have to look hard because many of them have been deleted or made private.  Shame is a powerful thing.

Believe it or not, most of the world still takes place off line and thank God!  Could you imagine if Douchey_McDouche85 was relevant in the real world?

Final Thoughts

I’m not making light of when someone intentionally hurts your feelings but I am diminishing the power those words hold over you.  You are not allowed to be brokenhearted over something a mentally deranged/miserable/ignorant/pathetic individual said.  Your career is too important.

The best revenge against any troll is to write the next book.  You know, so we can give them something else to talk about. 😉

Now it’s your turn, what would you have said to a young newbie?  Tell us in the comments.


  1. Excellent article,and many good points. If we allowed fear to guide us,we would all never leave home or learn to drive.

  2. The problem that I have with GoodReads isn’t bad reviews, it’s that bad reviews are used as a response to disagreements in the social threads. Writers who are active on the discussion boards on GoodReads have to be aware that posting a negative review of a book is a common way of expressing disagreement with opinions that an author expresses in forums, or even her or his personal blog.

  3. Fantastic article, Rachel! Drama belongs in theatre & in books, not in real life. You know the way I handle this? I don’t even read the reviews. I suppose I should be more involved in what’s being said, but if I notice a nice review, I send a thank you to the person who wrote it. I ignore anything negative. Not engaging a troll is the best way to avoid conflict, at least for me.

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