Furry Writers' Guild Forum

Should authors comment on their own work?

Enjoy, yes. But rate and review? Besides, I tend to look at Amazon reviews a little differently from Goodreads. GR is more a community of readers; Amazon is a storefront. It still strikes me as kind of tacky. shrug YMMV.

I’d agree with Renee. Giving your own work a review, starred or not, is hella tacky.

Not everyone thinks so.

I added a poll about this on Twitter. I’m honestly curious what the general consensus is.


Good idea. I’m curious what the result will be too.

I won’t review any of my own anthologies, and when I review one of someone else’s that has a story of mine in it, I skip over my story. The only exception was when I was asked to comment on “Best of Show” in 2003, because it was the first furry short-fiction anthology and there were no other furry book reviewers at the time. I just said that I had tried to make it the best collection of stories from all of the furry fanzines that I knew about.

For my part, I find the concept of leaving oneself a review absolutely repugnant.

I’m genuinely curious about what different authors think of their own work. Do they love it? Can they not stand to look at it? Which is their favorite of their own works? Which ones didn’t turn out how they wanted them too? I don’t see why that wouldn’t be appropriate on Goodreads. It’s not like it’s sneaky at all – the review is labeled with the author’s name right there.

Amazon is a marketplace for selling and buying, so that’s different. But Goodreads is built about sharing opinions on books, and authors do have opinions on their own books.

Talking about “Best in Show” and the fiction that was in the furry fanzines of the 1990s has reminded me of the Jack Lynch stories by Clint Warlick in Yarf! during the '90s. Does anyone know where Warlick is today? He dropped out of furry fandom and disappeared about ten years ago, after serving some jail time. I’d like to reprint one of his Jack Lynch stories, but I don’t know how to contact him to ask for reprint permission.

All this has gotten me reminiscing about “Yarf!; the Journal of Applied Anthropomorphics”. There were 69 issues from January 1990 to September 2003. I used to eagerly await each issue all during the 1990s. There were several story series that I wished their authors had written enough of to fill a book collection. Clint Warlick’s Jack Lynch stories about the only human P.I. who would accept a furry client. Ken Pick’s Brigid Bunny stories about a rabbit sex-slave bioengineered for pornographic films who escaped and tried to become a serious actress. Jim Hayden’s Niner-Thirteen stories about a furry interstellar space navy. Brock Hoagland’s Hanno & Loris furry sword-&-sorcery fantasies. I’m delighted that Michael Payne is collecting his Chelisse stories and writing new ones to make a book that he plans to publish later this year. And when is Watts Martin ever going to either complete a Revar collection or finish his “In Our Image” novel?

“Yarf!” ceased due to two major factors. The supply of free fan fiction and art dried up about 2003, and postage rates went up so high that, due to the cover price, the issues began selling at a loss.

Jarlidium Press is selling “The Complete YARF!” in five-issue volumes today, although they seem to have stalled after volume 3. It’s a worthy project, but I wonder if Jarlidium doesn’t need permission from the contributors to reprint their twenty-year-old works. Nobody has ever asked my permission to reprint my old anthropomorphic book reviews, although I don’t mind.


Oh, me too, but I think that’s a subject for the author’s blog, which also allow dialogue with readers. On Goodreads, you could ‘Start a Topic’ about this book to talk about it, rather than leave a review.

(Like Fred, I’ve reviewed anthologies containing my own stories, and left my bits out. I also give those books star ratings; I was asked once whether I thought this was an OK thing to do, and I’m still not sure.)

Goodreads has author blogs. If it’s handled tastefully, I see no reason why an author can’t post comments about their own work on Goodreads. (Not reply to others’ comments – that’s different.) And it seems like a ridiculously non-issue for them to rate their own work. A single five star rating (or whatever rating they choose) is not worth shaming an author over.

To me I guess it’s that the star ratings aren’t there to be a vehicle for the author to express their opinions. As a reader – what’s the point? If an author gives their book five stars, you go, “Well, of course they like it – they wrote it.” If they give it less, that looks a little weird too – “if they don’t like it that much, why should I bother?” Does it matter in the algorithms, probably not. But again, I’m just talking about perception, and to me it’s just kind of a dumb-looking thing to do.

For an anthology that’s different, since presumably your opinions are about the other contributors’ work. But to rate your own book… again, I just don’t get the point of doing it. When it can’t really substantively help you and it can potentially make you/your work look bad, why do it? Why not post your own personal comments on your work to your blog instead, where people do expect and enjoy that sort of commentary and there’s not a ratings/review system involved?

Reasons an author might rate their own book on Goodreads:

– Goodreads allows them to, and they genuinely like their own book. It’s okay to have self-esteem. In fact, it’s a good thing. It’d be great if everyone had it.

– Goodreads allows them to, and it eats away at their soul to see their book sit there, months on end, without a single rating (or with a single low rating). Is this sad? Yeah, it’s pathetic. But it’s human and understandable and not a big deal. It’s not like an author on Goodreads is really tricking anyone by rating their own book, since their rating comes labeled with their name. True, it might significantly increase a book’s star rating – but only if no one cares enough about that book to rate it.

– Goodreads allows them to, and it gives them some sort of tiny thrill to see that five star rating added to their book. Writing can be a long, hard, lonely process and the rewards can be few, far between, or downright non-existent. Why deny an author a tiny little thrill that makes them happy and really hurts no one?

– Goodreads allows it, and the author is trying to trick people into buying their book. Technically, this is possible, but it’s such an incredibly ineffective strategy that an author would have to be kinda dumb to really think their single book rating would make a difference. If that’s the case, they’ve probably done other stupid things, and you can hate them for those instead without assuming that all authors who rate their own books are motivated by greed and deception.

Basically, Goodreads allows it; it’s no big deal. If you don’t want to do it, fine. Don’t. But shaming authors who do is unkind and unnecessary.

As with many aspects of writing, every author can make that decision based on their own situation, and if it truly helps the writer’s emotional state enough to feel worth the risk to them, then fine – but I do think it’s obvious from the consensus in the Twitter poll that doing that kind of thing is a risk as far as social perceptions go. How important those perceptions are to a writer will vary.

Personally, I have enough self-esteem that I’d rather my book sit there with no reviews at all – as at least one of mine is currently doing – than give it 5 stars myself, because to me that kind of feels like playing tic-tac-toe against yourself and feeling happy about winning… but again, YMMV.

I feel strongly on this issue, and I’ve decided it’s worth taking a stand to let authors know that if they rate their own books on Goodreads, at least one person will not hold it against them.

Sadly, as you point out, I am in limited company, so I don’t feel safe putting my own five star ratings of my works on Goodreads back up. But before I learned that those five star ratings were enough to make the people in this small clique lose respect for me (last time this topic came up, a few years ago), they made me happy. Maybe that was stupid, but there’s often not a lot to be happy about with writing, so I think it’s sad that I had to unrate my books to avoid losing the respect of people here.

This is really off-topic for a stickied thread on recommended reading. Maybe a separate discussion thread?

I was pretty much in the process of doing this, and you mention it. Get out of my head, mole.

Fred’s reply #9 deserves to be its own thread too.


Ahem. Back to your regularly scheduled thread. (Also woah, I didn’t know you could chop whole threads in half like that).