Aftermath of the Review-Bombing Scandal Still Shakes the Writing Community

Last week, the writing community was in flux after a review-bombing incident went viral. More information has since come out in the wake of this event.

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Author Cait Corrain's novel cover is on one side. A woman with dark hair is on the cover. The Goodreads logo and X logo are in the center. On the right side are five book covers of various visuals by authors Bethany Baptiste, Molly X. Chang, Kamiliah Cole, Frances White, and K.M. Enright.

On December 5, author Xiran Jay Zhao took to X (formerly known as Twitter) to post about a debut author allegedly review-bombing other debut authors and boosting their own novel in the process by creating false Goodreads accounts. At the time of her post, Zhao refrained from naming the alleged review bomber, but the culprit’s name would not remain unknown for long. Other authors would take to X to call out Cait Corrain, the person they believed downvoted several 2024 debut authors’ novels, seemingly mostly written by authors of color. Through a myriad of evidentiary screenshots and posts, this shocking revelation would soon open the floodgates to alleged racism, as well as discussions around the issue with digital reviews posted on sites like Goodreads.

IMAGE VIA X/@KalynnBayron

At the onset of this viral incident, one debut author, Bethany Baptiste, posted a strong condemnation about the betrayer in the debut authors’ midst — e.g.: a fellow debut being the culprit.

How It’s Going: The Aftermath

Over the weekend, Baptiste, one of the targeted authors, posted a two-part series of tweets explaining what allegedly took place and also how she ended up becoming the focus of the review-bombing issue. In the second part, she also posted receipts on the matter after many labeled her “ablelist” due to a term she used in one of several viral tweets.

X Tweet, author Bethany Baptiste

According to Baptiste, a controversial line from one of her posts was misconstrued to deflect from Cait Corrain, the alleged culprit at the center of the review-bombing incident.

IMAGE VIA X/@StorySorcery

Baptiste also notes that she herself is disabled, as well as the way she will be perceived by others in the future.

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In The Meantime…

While many have alleged that Baptiste’s posts are steeped in ablelism, other authors have come to Bethany’s defense and have also placed the spotlight back on the issue at hand. On December 8, after the scandal broke, fellow debut author, Paula Gleeson, who was also among the targeted in the Goodreads review-bombing incident, took to her X page and posted the following:

IMAGE VIA X/@PaulaGleeson

In her post, Gleeson calls out other journalists for their coverage of the review-bombing issue and joins Baptiste in solidarity while quoting Baptiste’s two-part series of tweets of the initial incident. Author Xiran Jay Zhao also spoke out on Bethany’s behalf while noting where she believed the focus should be placed, tweeting:

IMAGE VIA X/@XiranJayZhao

Zhao also took to her X and Instagram pages Friday to post the following 3-part clip, breaking down what allegedly occurred with Corrain.

VIDEO VIA X/@XiranJayZhao

In addition to the claims is the release of the infamous 31-page google doc. Since the breaking of this news on X, many have commented their feelings about the situation as well as the issue with digital book reviews and its impact in the book publishing world.

Future of Digital Book Reviews

Readers, authors, and prominent agent, Laura Zats, have tweeted their disappointment over the review-bombing and that sites like Goodreads should not be used as a metric for determining what books become popular.

IMAGE VIA X/@LZats
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Goodreads has, in the past, sought solutions to combat review-bombing. In November of this year, a Publisher’s Weekly article noted:

“Amazon-owned Goodreads this week said it is working with users to combat what’s become known as “review bombing,” a practice in which users look to protest an author or book by swamping the book with one-star reviews and negative comments. In an October 30 message to the Goodreads community, officials reiterated the website’s policy to prohibit reviews and comments that “harass readers or authors, or attempt to artificially deflate or inflate the overall rating of books,” and encouraged users to report such behavior.”

Goodreads Asks Users to Help Combat ‘Review Bombing’, Publisher’s Weekly

As of December 11, Corrain’s agent, Rebecca Podos, has since posted to X that she and Corrain have parted ways. Illumicrate, a well-known book-based subscription site, has also commented that they will no longer feature Corrain’s debut novel, Crown of Starlight. And one of the largest publishing imprints of science fiction and fantasy, Del Rey Books, has also made a statement on the matter, posting that Corrain’s novel is no longer on their 2024 publishing schedule.

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IMAGE VIA X/@Illumicrate
IMAGE VIA X/@DelreyBooks

However, according to screenshots floating around on X, Cait Corrain’s novel is still available on Amazon Kindle and is allegedly scheduled for release in May of 2027. Corrain has also broken her silence. Monday night, she took to her X page to post a lengthy apology captioning it:

“A sincere apology. I know this is long, but that’s because I’m trying to own and openly address every aspect of what I did.”

X Tweet, author Cait Corrain

In her apology, Corrain goes on to admit guilt as well as her reasons for the review-bombing, noting issues with substance abuse and dealing with mental health and labeling the reviews she left as “kind of mean to downright abusive.” It is unclear how this issue will impact Corrain’s future writing endeavors and the writing and publishing communities moving forward.

For Now, Some Good News…

As the incident continues to unfold with new findings, there is some good news to come out of all of this. Goodreads has since corrected the issue, removing the affected authors from spam lists. Authors, such as Paula Gleeson and Hana Lee took to X to post their gratitude to those in support of efforts to remedy the situation.

IMAGE VIA X/@PaulaGleeson
IMAGE VIA X/@K_Hana_Lee

It is unclear about the future of digital book reviews. It’s impact on authors, especially debut authors, my never be fully curbed. For now, affected authors like Bethany Baptiste, while critical of the situation and its handling of it, does note the impact of Bipoc authors in making sure this story came to light.

IMAGE VIA X/@StorySorcery

If you’d like to support debut authors affected, click here. For the initial breakdown of this story, click here.

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