Goodreads, where should we draw the line? (For Writers)

Hey, everyone! It wasn’t my intention to post this topic today, but another writer and I have been discussing this recently.

To give you some background, and some of you may already know this, I learned a few weeks ago that stories posted on Wattpad are considered self-published by sites like Goodreads. You may be asking, “Aka, why is this important?”

Well, I’ll tell you. Some writers on Wattpad, mostly the popular ones, have been getting Goodreads reviews on their books. The issue here is, the stories they posted are first drafts, not finalized products. When we think of Goodreads, we think of a place to review published and finalized self-published books, not first drafts online.

Since the stories posted to Wattpad are free, we’re wondering if it’s right that readers are leaving detailed reviews on unedited work. The “where should we draw the line?” question comes from the fact these stories are free. It is right that readers are posting detailed reviews and rating on books that are still in progress? Giving feedback on Wattpad is fine, but should that also apply to Goodreads? To explain further, I mean that some writers may not want early draft reviews posted to Goodreads, as they still have time to edit and fix their work. Not only that, but the reviews may hinder the writer from posting their work in the future.

Also, Goodreads has confirmed they won’t remove detailed reviews for first draft Wattpad books, as they are self-published to Wattpad. So, even if you, as the writer, request these reviews to be removed, they won’t do. In short, “completed Wattpad books are considered self-published. The same also applies to other websites like Fictionpress.”

However, posting work online as become even more complex with Wattpad’s ads revenue program and websites like Radish. With the revenue program, readers click on ads in Wattpad’s popular stories, thus providing money for the writer. And with Radish, readers are actually PAYING for the story (for those who follow me, I covered this in another post.) On Wattpad, even if the readers aren’t spending their own money, they are providing money to the writers by watching the ads.

My writer friend feels that if a reader paid for the story through Radish (or other sites like Tapas and Kindle, of course, they have a right to post the review on Goodreads.)

For myself, I have mixed feelings about this. It’s a known thing in the internet world that if you post your work online, you’re opening yourself up to this – getting bad reviews, people stealing your work, and losing first publishing rights.

Also, since this mostly happens to popular writers online, it’s to be expected. Honestly, you can’t get 1M+ reads and think you’ll get away unscathed. Some think the number of reads shouldn’t matter, but what do you think?

I do know this has happened to lesser known writers online, too, but not as much. In the end, it’s a moral argument. I’ll be honest about my feelings, though, when you post your work online, anything can happen. Some Wattpad writers and other writers on different websites feel readers are entitled, and I do agree with this.

We can’t stop readers from posting reviews on our stories, free, first drafts, or not, but what do you all feel about this?

The important discussion for today: Do you think first drafts posted online should receive reviews on Goodreads? Where do we draw the line with Goodreads reviews? Do you feel these reviews will hurt the writer’s future with trying to publish later?

(If you have an opinion, please post it. We want to know what other writers think about this. And as a warning, please be careful when you post your work online. We both didn’t know about the Goodreads thing. For this reason, I’m very glad I no longer post my long stories on Wattpad.)
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26 thoughts on “Goodreads, where should we draw the line? (For Writers)

  1. It’s a mixed bag of feeling and thoughts on this for me. To play devils advocate, it’s the writers responsibility to know the details of the websites policy before posting their work, and to copyright it if they want protection. Unfortunately with no copyright, it falls into the public domain sector. Some writers aren’t interested in publishing on sites like Amazon, Lulu, etc, or through a publisher, so they use these websites like Wattpad. If that’s the route they choose to take, it’s their choice and really don’t have the right to bemoan about stolen work that’s not copyrighted.

    On the other hand, it’s their hard work, and receiving reviews on first drafts that are not finalized can be taken as feedback, but once a review is out there, they are stuck with them. They should have choices and be able to have reviews removed.

    I have to wonder why first drafts are being made public if the author has plans to finalize the same book later? I think that sites like Wattpad should offer options to the writer to allow them to tailor the posting process for stuff like this. If an author wants to utilize Wattpad to post free books which are not the same works as their paid books, it’s a great tool. It allows for further exposure for the author. In the end, it’s all about an indie writer doing their homework before they post a novel online.

    Liked by 1 person

    • “If that’s the route they choose to take, it’s their choice and really don’t have the right to bemoan about stolen work that’s not copyrighted.”

      I do disagree with that, sorry, (I know you were playing devil’s advocate there though) because to me, theft is theft. I’m also pretty sure all work is automatically copyrighted as intellectual property – but ideas can’t be stolen. You could have it done for extra measure, but from what I’ve read online, writing is automatically copyrighted as intellectual property.

      https://www.gov.uk/intellectual-property-an-overview/protect-your-intellectual-property

      This is British but I imagine it applies to all. Here, writing is classed as “automatic copyright” – so nobody is at fault for having their work stolen because it’s automatically copyrighted under intellectual “property”

      As for understanding legislation, many writers on wattpad are young, budding authors and likely don’t understand publishing rights legislation. Is it fair to expect them to both learn craft and become a mini lawyer at the same time? :/ Maybe these websites should more clearly state them front up because wattpad simply advertises itself as a site for first drafts/serialised stories. They often won’t see themselves as ‘indie authors needing to do their homework’ either.

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      • In the end, hopefully the author chooses the right option for them under ‘advanced options’ before they post. I know that Wattpad will help writers prove the date of creation as they have in their records the name and date the work was published. The won’t however register with the copyright office. There should be a pop up warning before the work is saved, giving the person a chance to choose. I agree with you that the websites should be more clear with this. Maybe offer a free education class about this and what they need to know before they start writing, sort of like a mini welcome tutorial?

        Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for commenting! It’s a touchy subject for sure, but going forward, it’s good to know the copyright law. I feel like everything has its pros and cons, and websites, where you can post your work for feedback definitely has its cons.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I honestly don’t mind having reviews being posted about wattpad books online. Even if it is a first draft it is like wattpad and goodreads states technically self-published. Plus I don’t think it makes much of a difference either way. I read Wattpad books all the time and I honestly love being able to have the completed ones on Goodreads so I can actually mark that I read them. Plus, with final versions they often put the finalized version as a separate book in Goodreads I.e. Like with Follow me Back.

    Liked by 1 person

      • No, I’m the friend she wrote on behalf of here. I had a reader add my work to good reads out of good intentions but I can’t get my work taken down :/ I’ve asked – they said no.

        I mean, if I’m published then that’s fine because it’s part and parcel of it all. Paying customers have every right to complain about a lacklustre product. But it’s the fact I’m not published, I’m halfway through a second draft and I don’t want outdated reviews up there forever against my name.

        The only option is to pull my work down but I nearly have 2M reads in total and I’m going to anger many readers/hurt lots of innocents in the process.

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      • I’m new to Goodreads and I’m learning how they work. I do notice it can be rough for authors on getting some things removed. I’m sorry you are having a rough time with it. Good luck!

        Liked by 1 person

    • I noticed most readers like having the option to post the reviews, but many writers online don’t like this system. However, I feel it goes back to copyright law, and how it technically is self-published. I think these story sharing websites should make these polices clear when writers signup.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s true.. this discussion was really interesting, because I didn’t know that this could be an issue for wattpad writers. I do think that if an author doesn’t want their book on Goodreads then they should be able to take it down.. regardless of the reason

        Liked by 1 person

      • I agree, especially since it’s the writer’s work in question. Although, I find it a little disrespectful that these readers are adding the writers’ books to Goodreads and reviewing first drafts. Then again, I don’t think most readers understand the writing process and how much work it is.

        I do hope more writers realize this and eventually stop posting their work online first. Or at least, don’t post their serious stories online.

        Liked by 1 person

    • That’s how I felt, too. I find a strange that Goodreads considers books posted to Wattpad as self-published, especially since they don’t have an ISBN number. This doesn’t really affect me, though, but more my friend who commented on here. She still posts her stories to Wattpad, so I figured I would start this discussion for her. I’m really glad I don’t post my long stories there anymore.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Do you think first drafts posted online should receive reviews on Goodreads? For me, it’s no
    Where do we draw the line with Goodreads reviews? Do you feel these reviews will hurt the writer’s future with trying to publish later? yes.
    That simple for me. The two sites seem to function very differently, so they shouldn’t be blurred in this way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, I agree with you, but sadly, there isn’t much we can do. I posted this for a friend to get opinions, and it seems by copyright law, anything posted online to the public is seen as published.

      Going forward, I don’t plan to post longer works online anymore, as this seems to be an issue.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I say no. Definitely no. If it is a first draft then Goodreads should not be allowing reviews on it. Period. That could hurt a writer in so many unexpected ways it’s not even funny. Reviews should be for finished, polished, published works only, when they’re ready for the world to love them. Feedback is what you call opinions for something in first draft form, beta reading suggestions, or editor point outs. Not full on detailed reviews. That’s asinine in my eyes. I say the line should be drawn on this one.

    I honestly never knew Goodreads did that. I knew the site could be a pain, but I never knew it had those kinds of loopholes. That actually really deters me from plans I had then. I’m glad I learned this.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I just learned that recently myself, but it doesn’t really affect me since I left Wattpad. Going forward, though, I won’t be posting my longer works online anymore. For me it feels too risky to have Goodreads reviews on a story before it’s ready to be viewed by the public.

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  5. This is a cautionary tale for writers, Aka. The problem is that writers enter the online world without the knowledge they need to protect themselves and their writing. Goodreads is not doing anything different from the publishing world. In fact, they are right in line with the industry. Agents and publishers will all consider a piece published if it has been posted online. It doesn’t matter if it is a first draft, your personal blog, an online writing community, Wattpad, or any other variation. It all counts as being published.

    Perhaps this can clear things up a little about copyright from comments I’ve read above.

    “original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression, now known or later developed, from which they can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device. Works of authorship include the following categories:
    (1) literary works; (2) musical works, including any accompanying words; (3) dramatic works, including any accompanying music; (4) pantomimes and choreographic works; (5) pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works; (6) motion pictures and other audiovisual works; (7) sound recordings; and (8) architectural works.
    (b) In no case does copyright protection for an original work of authorship extend to any idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle, or discovery, regardless of the form in which it is described, explained, illustrated, or embodied in such work.”

    In short, copyright extends to both published and unpublished work, an author does not have register for copyright to receive copyright protection. Also, words are copyrighted, ideas are not. I hate adding links to comments, but in case anyone wants to take a closer look (warning: it’s not an interesting read) here it is: https://www.copyright.gov/title17/

    I think this ties in with your post about instant gratification. You can choose to publish a book before it’s ready and received that early feedback, or you can wait until it’s polished.

    It’s probably worth keeping in mind that publishing means distributing to the public. It doesn’t mean that there has to be an exchanging of money to count as published, or that it has to be in a certain format. Or even that a certain number of people had to see it. If it’s available to a large number of people it counts the same as if all those people read it, or only two did.

    I’m sorry, that probably seemed like a ridiculous amount of information, and it’s not intended to criticize anyone who may have made a misstep in distributing their work. It’s intended to inform, and protect writers who may not yet know this information. There are ways to recover, and places that will allow work that has been published on blogs and other sites online, but narrows the number of places that will accept it. There are also places who will NOT consider online writing groups that require a username and password to enter as being published (but not all places view it this way).

    So there’s more protection of your work than many people realize under the copyright laws, but the standard for what is published is lower than most people realize.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Thanks for this information, and I agree with you. In a way, it’s like a double-edged sword. Writers want feedback on their work, but then when they post their stories, it’s considered self-published. Honestly, I feel the best course of action is to get a small group of writers you trust and do a beta exchange.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. It is rather mixed, I do agree. Yeah, seeing that some works are indeed first drafts there. As for me, I think that if the author has specifically requested it be taken down, then I would probably suggest that Good reads draw the line there. Even if the author doesn’t really know much about copyright law if you ask me. Or perhaps these sites can choose to step in and really make their policy a really clear thing. Otherwise, I think it might hurt their chances of publishing their work is you ask me. As for good reads, I find it a little strange since most books posted online do not have an ISBN number(I mostly use Good reads to review published books which I have read). But I think that Goodreads should also help with these authors and readers to respect these authors decision. It is their work, after all, they get the right to say it. And well, thanks for this, I don’t think I would be posting any story that would take a long time online anymore(or at least until I have thought twice or thrice and see how it goes). Since I also started wanting to publish as well, and also began thinking of another novel which I would write even though my country’s publishing industry isn’t the most developed as of yet, but I won’t take the risk.

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  8. I have yet to use Wattpad, not that I haven’t considered it. It makes me nervous though thinking about people posting reviews on my first/second/third drafts. Same thing with my blog, what I write there is purely for a little fun, something off the cuff, I don’t intend it to be read the same way as something you payed your hard earned money to read….

    Meno<3

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