Dear Goodreads staff,
As many people who read me on this blog and on my social networks know, I’ve been a Goodreads user for many years. I’ve got a whole lot of reviews of other people’s books that I’ve posted there. Now that I’m a Carina author I’ve backed off a bunch on posting full reviews–I tend to be leery of publicly reviewing other people’s work, just because I know that that way lies drama. But I’ve been rating books still. And I’ve always found Goodreads an excellent way to keep track of the massive number of books I want to read, in general.
I’ve also had Librarian status on the site, which I asked for shortly after creating my account, because it didn’t take me long at all to rack up the requisite 50 books on my shelves. Since then, I’ve used this power mostly to do things like add covers to books that were missing them, fix typos in stuff when I saw them, and such. I also employed that power to make new records in the database when I deployed the second edition of Faerie Blood, and to add notes to the prior edition that that version was now no longer available.
Recently, a couple of my fellow authors in NIWA asked me if I’d update the covers for their books for them, because they were changing the cover art and they wanted to have the books’ data on Goodreads be up to date with the new covers. I was happy to do this.
Two nights ago, however, I got mail from a Goodreads Librarian mod informing me that my Librarian access had been revoked. I was told that I had been “working at cross-purposes”, “creating work for others”, and that being a Librarian was a “privilege”, which, if used “inappropriately”, would be revoked. I was further informed that Goodreads policy was to create an alternate cover edition for a book changing covers, rather than updating the cover for existing records, and that all Goodreads Librarians were expected to know and abide by this policy.
And to put it bluntly, Goodreads staff, I was infuriated by this mail. Not because I was told I’d done something wrong, per se–because I will grant that yes, the mod was correct in telling me that I should have remembered that policy. I’d abided by it when creating the new data for Faerie Blood, even. Updating the covers for the two books by my fellow NIWA authors and NOT creating alternate cover versions instead, like I’d done with Faerie Blood, was a simple, honest mistake on my part.
I received no warning about this. No notice to the effect of “hey, we saw that you did this thing, Goodreads policy is actually that you should have done this other thing, and we need you to fix it.” Had I received such a notice, I would happily have done the work to fix what I’d done, with an appropriate “oh gods, I’m sorry, I’ll fix that right now, my mistake”, and then nobody would have had to do the work for me. Because that’s what grownups do–own up to their mistakes and fix them.
Let me repeat that and bold it for emphasis–I’m publicly acknowledging here that I made an error.
But I was given no opportunity to acknowledge that and to take necessary steps to fix it, and to therefore learn from the experience, and continue to therefore be enthusiastic in spending some of my time to help Goodreads continue to be a useful site for all.
Instead, I was summarily dismissed from Librarian status, in a tone that made it sound as if as if I were an errant teenager who’d snuck out in her parents’ car for a joyride and smashed it up–or as if I’d been deliberately vandalizing the site, rather than just trying to help out a couple of fellow authors by getting their data up to date for them.
And frankly, Goodreads staff, this dims my enthusiasm considerably for continued use of your site. I’ve put a lot of my time into it. I’ve put a lot of my money into it. I’ve given Goodreads several hundred dollars this year, running ads to promote Faerie Blood, Valor of the Healer, and Vengeance of the Hunter.
You’re apparently quite happy to take my money. But you’re not happy to take my help unless I never make mistakes in giving it–and that’s impossible. We all make mistakes. All of us.
I’m hearing now that the two books I changed covers on are apparently not the only ones that had changes reverted, and that hundreds of authors are now showing up on the Librarian group asking what happened to their covers. I’ve heard from at least one other fellow former Librarian that she, too, was booted for doing nothing more than changing her own cover.
I submit for consideration that if other Librarians have been booted off of Librarian status the same way I have, with the same sorts of dismissively toned emails, that you, too, are making a mistake.
Those of us who’ve asked for the status are volunteering our time and our enthusiasm, because we love books. Yes, we need to be aware of how Goodreads prefers to enter data on books, I freely and completely acknowledge that. But to give volunteers helping update your site no room whatsoever to account for simple human error is, in my respectful opinion, unnecessarily harsh.
I don’t actually want Librarian status back. And I’m still considering, in all honesty, whether I even wish to continue using your site as a reader and as an author. But I do ask that you think twice about how you treat your remaining Librarians–and to please remember that all of us at our computer keyboards are, in the end, fallible people. But the majority of us are also reasonable people, and a simple “hey, we need you to fix this please” will go a long, long way in accomplishing your policies on how to handle your data and your site.