Revenge Reviews: BookRoar’s Policy

‘Revenge Reviews’ are a scourge amongst the writing community, especially for authors who choose to go the self-publishing route, where self-promotion and working collaboratively with others is essential for getting their work into a reader’s hands. The practice is immoral and lowly, but sadly common enough to have earned its own moniker. Anybody who has spent a significant amount of time in author circles will know someone who has been an unfortunate victim to this malpractice

For those who don’t know, a ‘revenge review’ involves someone posting an unfair and false review of another person’s book in response to a comment, critique or viewpoint raised by the book’s author. This offending person may decide to do this in response to a negative review of their own work or as a result of a social media argument which got a little heated. Basically, it’s someone trying to punish someone else for disagreeing with them by hitting them where it hurts: their book. Revenge reviews are easy to spot, as they usually come with a low ‘star grading’ and some extremely derogatory comments made about either the book or the author themselves.

At BookRoar, we pride ourselves in encouraging truthful, fair, and honest critiques of each others books, and although negative feedback is hard to stomach, having someone point out the errors and their dislikes is the greatest thing to help an author grow. But some people take constructive criticism negatively and choose to lash out against the reviewer. It is very unfortunate for us to say that we have had to investigate reports of revenge reviews being left amongst our members on more than one occasion.

But please don’t let that frighten you away from engaging with us and with other authors. In our experience, authors are a kind and helpful bunch that genuinely want to help one another succeed. We cannot, however, delude ourselves by saying there are no bad apples amongst our membership. This article lays out our stance on ‘revenge reviews’ and offers some guidance on how we deal with those found to be committing this practice.

Protecting Yourself

Before we jump into our policy on this, let us offer some advice on how to best safeguard yourself from revenge reviews. As the saying goes, prevention is better than the cure. Just so you know, BookRoar will never reveal the identity of the reviewer to the author (unless the author asks and the reviewer agrees for the information to be shared) so your identity while using our service is completely hidden from public view. That leaves us with how to protect yourself on Amazon, Goodreads, and BookBub.

We strongly suggest that if you are concerned about revenge reviews that you use an alias name on Amazon. This can be anything you like, just as long as it doesn’t come back to you or your books. This can be done in the Reviews section of your Amazon account and it takes only two minutes.

For Goodreads and BookBub, we suggest setting up a second account on each website using an alternate email address. You will need to setup a secondary email address with another provider first (i.e. Gmail, Protonmail), and then create the second account on Goodreads. Like with Amazon, consider using a name which doesn’t link back to you and your books.

I think I’ve been a victim of a ‘revenge review’ and I suspect a member of BookRoar has been involved. What should I do?

First things, first: stay calm and professional. You may want to lash out at the reviewer by contacting them directly or by responding with a bitter retort of your own, but this will achieve nothing but give them the satisfaction that they have annoyed or upset you. You could even embolden the troll and make things worse. Instead, take down the URL of the review as well as the reviewer details and send them to us via our Contact Form.

What will BookRoar do?

The first thing we do is to investigate the allegation and confirm whether or not we believe that the offending person is a member of BookRoar. We have some pretty sly methods on how we do this and we can usually find some pretty condemning evidence in a matter of hours.

Following that, we will contact the offender BookRoar member and make them aware of what we have found. They then have two options:

  1. They apologise and agree to take down the review. This will result in nothing more than a ‘strike’ being given on them and their account (as per our ‘three-strikes-and-you’re-outta-here’ rule for bad behaviour). We then draw a line under the matter and consider it closed, and we ask all parties to move on amicably. There is no use dwelling on what has happened. Lessons have been learnt and no significant harm has been done.
  2. The offending member refuses to cooperate and refuses to take down the review. Oh boy, they’ve done it now. The BookRoar Team will put on their hypothetical war-paint and prepare to open a whole can of whoop-ass. (It’s the rogue side of us that doesn’t come out very often).

If the offending party refuses to take down the revenge reviews or repeatedly engages in the practice, they will be removed from BookRoar with no chance of accessing our services again. Any Credits will be lost and any ongoing reviews will be cancelled.

Further to this (and should the offending author continue to leave revenge reviews either against the same person or against other members), we will contact all of the offending member’s previous reviewers and ask them to remove their reviews from Amazon and Goodreads. That’s right, our contingency plan is all out war. We will ensure that the offending author’s hard work is undone and that the time they spent with BookRoar was all for nothing.

So if you are thinking about leaving a ‘revenge review’…

Please don’t. It is not cool, it is not clever, and your initial joy will be very short-lived once you sit back and consider the damage you have caused someone over something so petty. Not only that, but just think about how unprofessional it is. What does it say about you as a person? What would your audience think if they found out you tried to derail another author’s career because they hurt your feelings? It would reflect very badly on you.

BookRoar and the wider writing community contains an amazing breadth of people from different countries, backgrounds, and life experiences, and while we may not always get along, we should value one another’s works as people, as writers, and as authors. Like it or not, we are all co-companions on our writing journeys, and we should do whatever we can to help one another, not hinder our progress. When one of us rises, we all rise along with them.

Until next time,

The BookRoar Team

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