At the Monster Hunter Nation blog, Larry Correia has a post on how authors should deal with being spammed with one star reviews or similar kinds of attacks: https://monsterhunternation.com/2021/05/12/writer-advice-how-to-deal-with-review-assassins/
As is not uncommon with what Larry writes, some of it is good advice, some of it is advice that obviously works for Larry but is very much tuned to his public personality and some of it is is confabulated nonsense. I wont pick out which bit is which because you are smart people and can read it for yourself if you feel like.
What caught my attention though, was a specific example he cites. This example interested me because of something I’ve been discussing within the Debarkle. The paradigmatic example of the issue is the oft-repeated claim by Larry that his Campbell nomination was greeted by lots of critics attack his work and specifically that a reviewer said “if Larry Correia wins the Campbell it will end literature forever”. Now, I’m more than satisfied that this quote was wholly made up and that this whole mythology was based on a bad-but-fair review of his book by Nicholas Whyte who said nothing like the quote above (or variations on it). However, that is nigh on impossible to prove because maybe somebody did write something like what Larry quotes but somehow 1. deleted it 2. Larry didn’t comment on it at the time 3. nobody archived it 4. nobody else commented on it, quoted it, repeated etc at the time either.
But there are other cases where we see Larry get either mild criticism that he then exaggerates or strong (but cogent) criticism that he misrepresents. This then gets added to a ledger of grievance which gets repeated and detached from its original context. In the post linked above, Larry doesn’t explicitly advise people to do that but he does describe how to use negative criticism to help promote yourself (which is not unreasonable advice).
However, there is a neat example of Larry’s process in this recent essay and I’m sort of pleased to see one of these start at the ground floor, so to speak. Firstly a quote early on that sets up the point he will make a few paragraphs later:
“Plus, Goodreads is a cesspool of SJWs. I always have one star reviews trashing my books as soon as they are listed on there. Well before anyone has read it. Sometimes including me because the book isn’t done yet.
It don’t matter. The harder the attack, the more energy you can use to turn it around on them.”
I’ll concede that Goodreads can be a cesspool, indeed I’ve pointed out some of the severe problems it has with fake reviews, including of unpublished books. https://camestrosfelapton.wordpress.com/2020/01/10/goodreads-aftermath/ – although those fake reviews were not from “SJWs” but from trolls who are probably unconnected to Puppies but were happy to use Puppy-talking points. Be that as it may, Goodreads genuinely has problems, so I’ll grant a point to Larry.
Now to the bit I want to highlight:
“Heh. I never look at Goodreads because it is fucking trash.
I just checked. Monster Hunter Bloodlines already has a bunch of one star reviews. It doesn’t come out until August.
I’m pretty sure those morons didn’t purchase the eARC.
(note on this one, best one star was somebody whining that the cover was too sexy and blah blah blah feminism evil male gaze and whatnot. The character in question is a literal succubus!) 😀”
Joy! An actual current thing that we can look at in-situ contemporaneously with Larry complaining about it! Off to Goodreads, grab a link, archived the page. https://web.archive.org/web/20210512172910/https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/54437644-monster-hunter-bloodlines
As of that Archive snapshot, the book has THREE reviews and 20 ratings. The eARC was available from late April this year (https://web.archive.org/web/20210512172910/https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/54437644-monster-hunter-bloodlines ) So let’s see how cruel those SJWs have been to it on Goodreads.
Ratings first. There are only three ratings from 2021 and only one rating since April 2021. So, the only possible rating that is from a disinterested customer is the one from May 8, 2021 with five stars. That lends weight to Larry’s claim later in the comments:
Bruce Strange GR has MHI Bloodlines at 3.95 stars now. Proof positive of your point
correia45 Yep. The actual eARC buyers have been giving it 5, and the SJWs give it 1 because I exist wrong.
I mean, “buyers” should be “buyer” but we’ll be generous and not needlessly nitpick.
What about the rest? There are only three one star RATINGS (not reviews per-se). Two are from 2020 and from accounts that have little visible history. Safe to regard these as trash reviews and do lead credence to Goodreads having issues but don’t lead much credence to Larry being spammed with lots of 1 star ratings. The other one-star rating is from March 2021. This account has previously rated six other Larry Correia books:
Heck, they hate Larry so much they have given him FIVE five star reviews in the past!
Of the other ratings of MH:Bloodlines (without reviews) 8 are FIVE stars of which 7 are from 2020 and 6 are FOUR star reviews (all from 2020). The large majority of pre-eARC star ratings are four or five star reviews. Larry doesn’t have a one-star review problem on Goodreads, he has an inflated star-rating problem on Goodreads. Now, that’s not unique to Larry (Goodreads really can be trash) but it is not the picture of persecution he portrays.
Let’s get to the reviews. There are THREE reviews. One is just somebody flagging the book and the series. One appears to be a genuine review of the eARC from this may and is another five star rating. That leaves the more negative review Larry notes above which criticises the cover.
This review is NOT a one-star review. The reviewer makes no claim to have read the book but has listed it as ‘to-read’. The criticism is specifically of the cover:
“*sigh* So we’re going full boobs-and-butt in slinky one-piece on this cover, are we? Guess I’ll get this one from the library or something. I just don’t want to support this kind of blatant sexism anymore. My tolerance for it is not what it once was. (And I’m sure the author and people who dig this cover will insist that it’s not objectification because she’s some kind of badass monster, but … no, that’s not how that works. Funnily enough, this is the same series that takes pot-shots at Twilight because, “Vampires aren’t sexy, dumbass! They’re monsters! Monsters aren’t sexy!”)”
Yeah but look! It complains about sexism and stuff so it MUST be a Correia-hating SJW attack! Um…nope. Again, Goodreads can be trash but it isn’t uniformly trash and some of its features are useful and many of the people who use it to track their reading, leave reviews and discuss books are genuine readers who get a lot of value out of the service. What’s more, we can literally check! Is this a fake review or is it genuine? In this case, we can find out. Here are screenshots of ALL the ratings this reviewer has given Larry Correia over eight years:
- Five stars: 5
- Four stars: 10
- Three stars: 3
- Two stars: 2
- One star: 0
The evil SJW attacking Larry? That’s actually a long term reader of his books who has been giving favourable star ratings to his works since 2013. If only Larry knew somebody with even basic auditing skills to maybe check the data before jumping to conclusions?
- Yes, Goodreads can be trash
- There are bullies, trolls and timewasters who give books fake one-star ratings, often for books they haven’t read
- Goodreads still lets people give star ratings for books that aren’t published yet because see point 1
- Yes, yes, I know why Goodreads does point 3
- Larry Correia isn’t getting a pile of one star rating for his latest book
- Criticism of books, even criticism the author think is misinformed or stupid can be genuine and can come from readers who have loved your work.