A Modest Proposal

It has come to my attention recently that certain book reviewers at the Goodreads site are writing reviews that are motivated purely by malice against authors. These reviews contain harsh and offensive language designed to deter people from reading truly excellent books. I don’t think any sane person could possibly disagree with how wrong that is. However, the real issue, and the one we need to solve, is the harm these reviews do to authors.

I think we all know it’s not just the Goodreads site. Amazon.com, B&N, Kobo, the New York Times Review of Books, as well as internet review sites such as Dear Author and Smart Bitches all post reviews that are motivated by malice and ill-will against authors. They only pretend to care about readers when what they really care about is monitizing their websites. There’s a reason these sites are called “The Mean Girl Sites.” Worse, they do NO monitoring whatsoever of the comments. Anyone can comment without revealing their true identities. Jane at Dear Author actually pointed out that a commenter could use a FAKE email address. This just encourages the hate.

What do these sites think will happen when these out-of-control, mean, bullying reviewers and commenters have destroyed the careers of authors? Where do they think they’re going to get their next free book, I’d like to know. How many authors have already had their books tank because of a malicious, mean, snarky review? Do you really think someone like Mrs. Giggles should be allowed to mock literature and the authors who write it? It’s outrageous.

I think we can all agree that something needs to be done.

Therefore, I propose the creation of The Book Review Security Department, to be annexed to the Department of Defense and funded by the elimination of all Federal, State and Local funding of public libraries. Navy SEAL Team 6 will be relocated to New York City, with the West Coast operation based in Seattle, in a new command unit called Special Review Operations (SPECREVOPS), the team to be deployed whenever the BRSD determines a reviewer has written a malicious review. The BRSD itself will be headed by the US Poet Laureate, unless the current Nobel Prize winner for Literature is an American.

The BRSD will be tasked with carrying out the reading and approving all book reviews prior to their publication anywhere in the world. Since this will require hiring hundreds of thousands of Review Scrutinzers (REVSCRU) the unemployment rate will plummet to levels unheard of since 2006. Any review containing prohibited words, sentiments, or opinions likely to throw an author into the depths of despair, or otherwise deemed malicious or disparaging of the content reviewed will be subject to immediate, covert action by the elite SPECREVOPS.

Further, I propose the formation of a secret Black Ops Review Team, no acronym to be assigned. The Black Ops Review Team will assassinate all reviewers placed on the BRSD’s No-Review List by the current sitting head of the BRSD.

Best Regards,

Carolyn Jewel

Do not ask for whom the author’s tear is shed. It sheds for thee.


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38 Responses to “A Modest Proposal”

  1. T.K. Marnell says:

    That seems a little extreme, and I don’t like putting such a burden on the state. I have a better idea: we authors can take the reigns and pay people to post good reviews under fake names to “counteract” the bad ones. For an extra fee, they can leave derogatory and vaguely threatening messages on Goodreads profiles.

    Assassination will only eliminate the individual perpetrators; it won’t get at the root societal cause. The problem is that kids these days fear nothing. They sit there pounding away on their keyboards, confident in their first amendment rights, telling us our plots are too damn convoluted or they got bored after the tenth page of a long-winded discussion about dead poets. Fools. All ten pages are absolutely necessary; they don’t appreciate the gifts of our genius. We need to change their behavior at the source: the schools. All elementary schoolchildren should go through a mandatory “literature appreciation” course. There they shall be drilled on how to write a proper, complimentary, inoffensive five-star review.

    And then we’ll eat them.

  2. SonomaLass says:

    You are brilliant and I love you.

  3. Omigod, how *dare* you threaten reviewers!

    [/satiric reponse]

    I found this through SonomaLass. You can blame her for the fact I will sit back and munch popcorn (fatfree!) at all the people who won’t get it. Or the title.

    Dean Swift would love you. I mean, if he wasn’t dead and stuff.

  4. willaful says:

    Well shoot. I thought you were going to suggest that authors eat the reviewers.

  5. Amy Kathryn says:

    Who will write the book about the Black Ops Review Team Agent and his targeted rogue reviewer who fall in love and then invite the persecuted author to join their committed menage in an effort to promote peace among book lovers?

    Also, are the uniforms cute?

    • A Navy SEAL is hot no matter what. Besides you will never see them, as they will work covertly.

      The REVSCRU agents will have totally cute uniforms.

  6. Kelly says:

    Can I be in charge in creating and maintaining the list of “prohibited words, sentiments, or opinions likely to throw an author into the depths of despair, or otherwise deemed malicious or disparaging”?

    I have lots of experience writing words like that.

    Will we get those cool special “I Can Park Anywhere” license plates and diplomatic-immunity flags?

    • Provided you pass the background check and review investigation, I don’t see why not. Although, persons on the No-Review list are not eligible for any positions on the BRSD or the REVSCRU. I hope it’s obvious why.

      Yes, BRSD and REVSCRU members will have full diplomatic immunity.

      • Kelly says:

        I’d be like one of those ex-con insiders who now works for the FBI. You know, like Matt Bomer on White Collar. Except I’d look more like Mozzie.

  7. Authors have such a way with words ROFL.
    A Reviewer *grin*

  8. Berinn says:

    Oh, this is priceless. I’m going to be giddy with chuckles all day now!!

  9. Thanks you, guys. I hope none of you are bullies masquerading as Author fan girls or boys. We here at Writer’s Diary believe all authors should be treated like the special snowflakes we are and that reviews should always be written with our feelings foremost in importance.

  10. Nicola O. says:

    But will the SPECREVOPS team be hott, is what I want to know. Mmmm, brainy-reading-spec-ops heroes with cut six packs and little wire rimmed glasses…

    What were we talking about?

    • willaful says:

      OMG, I totally want to read about the redemption of the hot book censor with wire rims!

      (If you’re ever at GoodReads, check out my “sexy-brainy-specs” shelf…)

  11. Lynnd says:

    Priceless :-).

    The nickname for the SPECREVOPS should be the Speshul Snowflake Brigade.

  12. Ros says:

    I’m disappointed. I assumed that the modest proposal would include recipes for pickling, roasting and otherwise using these reviewers to solve the world food crisis.

  13. […] folks with whom I agree: Ann Somerville, “Why books are like toasters” Carolyn Jewel, “A Modest Proposal” Foz Meadows, “Bullying & Goodreads” Sarah Wendell, “A Few Words on Reviews, […]

  14. Anna says:


    I like Amy’s Black Ops Menage idea! She can have the fun-loving twin alphas. he he Nicola and willaful can have the wire-rimmed op. (f/m/f ???) I’ll take the scarred yet vulnerable op dude with the tortured past who aches for the love of a good woman. He falls in love with the night owl romance-loving reader who witnesses an evil blogger create a viral zombie-making review. I’ll be okay with one man. It can work! LOL

    Thanks for the funny post! Hopefully, the drama will end in the near future. *crosses fingers*

  15. Jud says:

    I don’t know whether this would fly, but instituting a system of accreditation has been fairly (i.e. better than nothing) successful in other web arenas.

    Perhaps a group of concerned authors and reviewers could band together and register a group name and a web domain. They could then design a distinctive ‘seal of objectivity’, copyright it, then allow only trustworthy review sites to feature the logo.

    This won’t stop the sick individuals who infest Goodreads and other sites, or sites who couldn’t care less if they’re approved or not.

    But once readers learn to trust sites bearing the ‘objectivity’ logo, you should see a shift in traffic in that direction. Remember the 1% Effect. It takes only 1% of a demographic group to start a microtrend (see Penn & Zalense’s publications).

  16. Lori says:

    But I am a speshul snowflake, dammit!!

    And reviewers take good smothered in ketchup. (Willa, I have my eyes on you!)

    • willaful says:

      No, no, I’ve gotten all tough and stringy from exercise! I won’t agree with you at all.

  17. Lori says:

    But I am a speshul snowflake dammit!!

    And reviewers taste delicious as long as there’s ketchup.

  18. I think a nice Aioli would work as well.

  19. SonomaLass says:

    Oh Carolyn, I see your evil plot now! You’ve been fattening me up with European Sipping Chocolate so that I will be a juicy morsel! You are just like the witch in “Hansel and Gretel.” I can’t believe I fell for that old trick.

    Some authors are obviously speshul snowflakes — you can tell by their meltdowns.

  20. This is genius!! LOL. I think we could maybe serve the ketchup and aioli on the side, so that the authors may choose how to garnish the reviewer. Because, different authors have different tastes. Unlike reviewers, who gave up their rights to specific tastes when they signed up for their blogs. Hello! Buy a clue, reviewers!! Ideally, a roasting spit could be set up in the author rooms at all cons from here on out.

  21. Kathy says:

    Well, I certainly feel like an ostrich cause I had no idea this kerfluffle had exploded all over the internets.

    Your post and the resulting comments are hilarious, and the site which will not be named is scary.

  22. SonomaLass says:

    The only place where it’s appropriate for reviewers to have different tastes is obviously ON THE PLATE. I think you’l find that some are just a little bland, but maybe you can devise a nice marinade.

  23. Katherine Bolton says:

    Well, okay by me. It’s either black ops or have the government pay for new Big Girl Pants when somebody’s have shrunk.


  24. […] One of that Damned Mob Of Scribbling Women. « A Modest Proposal […]

  25. FINALLY! A government agency to protect my special snowflake feelers! I feel so loved now.

  26. […] implications of the “Stop the GRs Bullies” site. Some humor about the whole mess from Carolyn Jewel (via Kate) and Anime June (via Experiment […]

  27. Sandra says:

    For a moment, I was all O_O and WTF and OMG! Then I read on, and starting laughing. Out loud. Loudly enough to scare my cat. Poor cat.

    Thanks for writing this. You rock! Seriously!

  28. Anachronist says:

    Here is my answer to your modest proposal. Enjoy!

  29. Anachronist says:

    I’ve forgotten there might be a problem with linking things – sorry! Here is the link: http://booksasportablepiecesofthought.blogspot.com/2012/07/mad-monday-musings-what-shall-we-do.html