Who are these faceless, photo-less “members” who have seemingly joined Goodreads for the sole purpose of panning books with one- and two-star ratings? I've been slogging along at this writing game for over five years now, with five titles on Goodreads and another in the works. Lately, I’ve begun seeing new rankings popping up on my Goodreads pages almost daily.

At first, I was excited. I thought, “Maybe I’ve finally broken through! Maybe people are finally starting to notice my stuff!” Except those rankings have mostly been one and two stars, deflating my standing (along with my ego) like a free-falling hot air balloon.

Coincidentally, I have also begun receiving frequent Google alerts notifying me that my books are now available on various free download sites, such as http://ymyvbyhur.ru/kimor.pdf, http://vonaigigu.ru/buzusuvalyqu.pdf and http://masbrewbook.ga/. Although my first reaction was indignity at having my work pilfered without my consent, I tried to look on the bright side: Why quibble with blatant copyright violation if unauthorized free downloads might give me worldwide exposure? And yet, how can I not wonder whether the “filch sites” and the anonymous Goodreads pans are connected?

Curious, I checked out the profiles of my latest detractors. They are from India, Afghanistan, and the United Arab Emirates; they just became Goodreads members in the past month or two. Tellingly, many (if not most) of their rankings are scathing one and two stars across the board. These literary gnomes can’t be bothered leaving a review actually stating what they had against any particular book. In one interesting case, a U.S. “reader” gave one star to nearly all of the 2,379 books he claims to have read—more than forty in September 2016 alone! Why read so many books if you don’t like any of them? And why partake so fervently on Goodreads if you have nothing positive to contribute?

In this writer’s opinion, since Amazon took over Goodreads, virtual silverfish are increasingly feeding off this once vibrant bookworms’ gathering spot, yet Goodreads remains unperturbed. When I notified Goodreads of what I believed to be wrongful activity, this is the response I got:

“It is not our policy to remove ratings posted by our members except in extreme circumstances.  We also don't have a requirement that members maintain a minimum average rating, as everyone uses the rating system differently.  Given this, we aren't able to remove ratings for being one-star alone, and we also aren't able to remove accounts simply because of their low ratings.”

Unfortunately, there is no shortage of internet “trolls” who don’t love books nearly as much as they relish damaging authors for sport.  While I suspect my hecklers have never so much as cracked open any of my books (and might not even be real people), I’ll humbly admit to “sour grapes” over the flightiness of online forums. After all, naysayers come with the territory, and I have no solid proof of wrongdoing. Like so much in life, it boils down to accepting the good with the bad. Authors beware: In addition to a few inevitable low rankings, we must now thicken our skins against the nefarious slings and arrows of marauding trolls on Goodreads.