Babe Wake Up, There’s New Goodreads Drama

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In something that sounds like you might find it in a best-selling novel itself, debut authors have had their upcoming novels review-bombed on Goodreads. The twist is that the review-bombers come from fake accounts allegedly made by a fellow debut author. Talk about a page-turner. 

While BookTok has become a publishing phenomenon, putting hundreds of titles on people’s wish lists and to-read piles, the drama unfolding amongst authors themselves is far more appealing to me. For context, there is a group of authors who share the same publisher or agent and have a group Slack channel. These authors all have debut novels coming out in 2024. Everything erupted after someone from the group tweeted that another debut author was making fake accounts to review-bomb their peers. 

Xiran Jay Zhao tweeted “if you as a debut author are going to make a bunch of fake Goodreads accounts one-star-bombing fellow debuts you’re threatened by can you at least not make it so obvious by upvoting your own book…”. 

Obviously, this tweet sent everything into a tailspin and things got juicier from here. Tell you one thing, authors really do know how to make a good story. 

The Alleged Review Bomber In Question 

Adding to their original tweet, Xiran said that they weren’t going to leak the “extensive receipts”, not wanting to ruin the person’s career “before it even starts”. However, they warned that if the behaviour continues then “action will be taken”. 

Under those comments, Xiran said it was “extra despicable” that the review-bomber was using “clearly POC names” in the fake accounts when they were negatively reviewing books written by authors of colour. “What in the yellow face,” Xiran said. 

By this point we still didn’t know who the alleged review bomber was. Fellow debut author and victim of the review-bombing Bethany Baptiste tweeted (before anyone publicly knew who was responsible) “strangers wanna know so yall [sic] don’t support THAT author while simultaneously not supporting the debuts affected anyway”. Bethany goes on to say “debuts have to deal with an albino snake in the hen house. let us process this”. 

It then came out that Cait Corrain is the author who allegedly one-star review bombed her fellow 2024 debut authors, including Bethany. As any good writer knows, you need evidence and receipts to prove what you’re saying. They’ve done just that by compiling a 31(!) page list of evidence of accounts review-bombing certain books as the same accounts praise and positively review Cait’s book. Thirty-one pages is a lot of evidence, I don’t know how you can get yourself out of that one. 

Cait Corrain Blames Friend For Review-Bombing, No One Buys It 

The Slack channel for 2024 debut authors erupted as the accusations started gaining traction. After several hours waiting for a comment, Cait told the group that she was the subject of Xiran’s tweets and she had proof that it was her friend, Lilly, and not her who was behind the review-bombing. 

Cait said she “picked this person up” from Reylo (Star Wars fan fiction) writing circles and the friend had confessed to her that she was responsible for the Goodreads review bombing. Lilly claimed it was because Cait was insecure about the potential success of the other writers’ novels outshining hers. There’s so many things to unpack in that given that it seemed like Cait was jealous primarily of POC writers as they were the ones targeted. 

Cait then shared alleged screenshots of her conversation with Lilly where Cait brings up the review-bombing incident and where Lilly “confesses”. According to Bethany, authors in the Slack channel were immediately sceptical about the screenshots, especially because they jump across days and don’t have a logical flow. There’s also a dramatic twist ending where Lilly becomes the villain and turns on Cait, which does feel a little doctored. I wouldn’t be surprised if a fantasy writer did conjure up the whole thing. 

Many in the Slack channel pointed out to Cait that they couldn’t find any other proof of Lilly’s existence beyond what Cait had provided. They then asked Cait to show previous conversations with Lily, something she is still yet to do. Cait said that she’s been instructed by her agent not to talk to anyone that isn’t affected by the review-bombing. 

This is when Meredith Mooring, Cait’s friend and another writer in the Slack channel, tweets (hours later) saying that Bethany’s “albino snake” comment was ableist and claimed that it was targeting her as the person responsible for review-bombing as she has albinism. Bethany and other writers in the Slack channel then call Meredith out for saying she’s ableist when Bethany had tweeted the “albino snake” comment hours before anyone knew who the person responsible was or that Meredith was even friends with Cait nor did she know that Meredith had albinism. Bethany claims that the comment is a popular phrase amongst Black people in Florida where she is from. She said that the phrase is used to warn people of colour against a white person who may try to target them. In a later tweet, Bethany says that she herself is disabled so she would never try to be ableist to anyone else. 

In her thread, Bethany says that Meredith started the ableist accusations to take the heat off Cait, who still hadn’t provided any further proof of the existence of her friend Lilly. Instead of focussing on the very real harm the one-star review bombing has on debut authors, people are now focusing on the semantics of a phrase. 

Book Twitter, BookTok Go Wild 

After Cait Corrain was called out as allegedly being responsible for the fake Goodreads accounts, Book Twitter and BookTok went wild, naturally. 

Some pointed out that Cait has basically shot herself in the foot if she did in fact review-bomb other authors because she was getting a leg up with publishing deals and a budding fan base. 

On BookTok, one user said the situation showed how little publishers understand about what actually influences people to choose their next read. 

Xiran, who essentially kicked all of this off, did a really great breakdown on TikTok of everything that unfolded. 

Madi Lim, a popular BookTok creator, also unpacked the drama with over 600 comments from users dissecting every detail from Cait’s story. 

Other users called out Goodreads for their inability to properly address review-bombing and the impact it has on the publishing industry and authors themselves.

Cait Corrain Apologises As Agent Drops Her And Book Is Cancelled

All eyes quickly turned to Cait’s agent, Rebecca Podos, after she tweeted she would no longer be working with Cait. “I will not be continuing our partnership moving forward”, she said.

Cait was dealt another blow when Del Rey Books announced that Cait’s book, Crown of Starlight, wouldn’t be on their 2024 publishing schedule anymore. They cited the “ongoing discussion” around Cait as their reason for the delay. People noticed that the book’s new release was slated for 2027, which was probably the very end of their schedule.

Then the moment we were all waiting for finally happened: Cait’s apology and confession. For those playing at home who didn’t believe that “Lilly” was a real person, congratulations! You win a prize because Cait admitted to making the entire persona up to cover for the fact that she did indeed create a fake Goodreads account to review-bomb her fellow debut authors.

“I made up the world’s sloppiest chat with a non-existent friend who was supposedly to blame, and sent fake apologies for the actions of said ‘friend’, which only made things worse,” Cait said in the apology.

Cait brought up her “losing battle against depression, alcoholism and substance abuse”, stating that she had recently started a new medication that led her to have a “complete psychological breakdown”. It’s during this time that Cait admitted to creating six Goodreads accounts (on top of the another two she made in 2022) to boost her own book, negatively rate the other books, and left “downright abusive” reviews.

Although people were finally glad that Cait owned up to her actions, albeit several days after she was exposed, many were quick to call out using mental health as an excuse for poor behaviour, especially when that behaviour extends to racism and affecting other people’s careers.

Following Cait’s apology, Del Rey Books posted an update saying that Crown of Starlight would no longer be published at all. Neither would “any other works on that contract”.

Meredith Mooring, Cait’s former friend, then made her own statement on X saying Cait has “severely harmed many other people and systemically lied to me for years on end”. Ouch.

“I have ended all contact with Cait and do not want to ever be contacted by her again for any reason,” Meredith said, adding, “I am horrified and disturbed that anyone would engage in this type of behavior for any reason. I want to apologize [sic] for supporting someone I thought was a friend and believing them when they told me they had nothing to do with what went on”.

Meredith also addressed the whole “albino snake in the hen house” fiasco, apologising to Bethany Baptiste “for believing her statements were directed at me, and for misunderstanding Black southern vernacular”. She added “I am deeply sorry for any harassment she’s had to experience because of this … I COMPLETELY CONDEM any harassment or accusations of ableism directed towards her”.

This drama has truly been one wild ride. I can already hear all the writers creating a best-selling series out of this Goodreads scandal.

This article has been updated since publication to include new developments such as Cait Corrain’s and Meredith Mooring’s apologies and the publishing news. 

Ky is a proud Kamilaroi and Dharug person and writer at Junkee. Follow them on Instagram or on X.

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