What’s in a Name? Or: My Battle With Goodreads® Over a Title.

Normally, I keep my personal dramas personal. I know when to push and when to back down for my own sanity’s sake. But in this case, I’m not backing down, because it’s an issue that, if it hasn’t yet, could potentially affect other authors who try to add their books to Goodreads.

Let me begin by saying that this is not a rant against Goodreads. I appreciate it as a social media site where people can meet and discuss books, interact with authors, and deal with everything good and bad that comes along with participating in that sort of venue. I will also say that the “Goodreads Expert” who responded to my concerns was (initially) very polite.

However neither she nor the Goodreads librarian (who was not polite), are correct when interpreting the policies that they continued to quote and provide links for.

Five years ago, I released a book called Spiretown. It was the second novel I had ever completed, and published (not necessarily ever written, because I had notebooks from high school with roughly 700k words of rambling storyline and no endings). It got (surprisingly) good reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. I did eventually create a paperback version and put it up on CreateSpace for several years.

As with any book, the downloads slowed to an occasional trickle because I had moved onto other things. In that 5 years, I only changed the font on the cover. No real fixes beyond that. I eventually nixed the Kindle version and pulled it from Smashwords in preparation for writing a completely revised edition. I thought it would be quick and simple. It wasn’t.

Regardless, I did the work, had the cover designed, sent out the ARCS, wrote the blurb, and posted Spiretown: Second Edition to Goodreads with an expected publication date of December 10th, 2017.

A couple of people put it on their “to read” lists. When I went in around midnight to see how it looked, Spiretown: Second Edition was nowhere to be found.

I clicked the link for the old Spiretown and sure enough, there it was, buried behind 3 other old editions of the original book. When I reached out to the Goodreads Librarian’s group to tell them it was not merely another edition of an old book, and it was, indeed called “Spiretown: Second Edition”. I was rudely informed that their policy states that they shouldn’t add an edition to the title of the book. I tried to tell them that it WAS the title of the book, I was ignored.

So I reached out to someone higher up at Goodreads. The “Goodreads Expert” was a lot nicer than the librarian, but basically repeated the same thing and gave me links to their librarian policies. I saw the one that they kept referring to—and it says this:

The title field is used for the title of the book and for the subtitle if the book has one. Other information, such as binding, edition number, or language, should be moved out of the title field into fields specific to that information.”

Right. Doesn’t apply, because that IS the title of the book, and this would be a 4th edition—not a second edition—anyway. Further, there is this:

The title should match the title shown on the cover of the book”

And one more:

The subtitle should also match the cover of the book. Bear in mind that books are sometimes republished with different subtitles, so a subtitle for one edition should not be assumed to be present on all editions.”

Yet despite pointing this out to them in the policies they keep throwing at me, they decided to ignore me again.

I also pointed out that they have several books with “Edition” in the title field:

The Great Gatsby: Special Edition 2.0

The Hobbit: Or There and Back Again 1st Edition

Animal Farm. Full text edition.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Enhanced Edition

The list goes on forever—and NONE of these books has that “Edition” text anywhere on the book cover.

Their reply?



When that happens, nine times out of ten it means that somebody knows they’re wrong. The gracious thing to do would be to quietly fix their mistake and move on. I don’t even need an apology.

But nope.

Goodreads has stubbornly stuck to a policy that doesn’t exist in this case.

I even asked Amazon: if the book had a different title, would it be shoved in under the old print version of a similarly titled book? They told me no, it wouldn’t be. If the title is different–even if it has “Second Edition” in the title, it’s treated like a different book.

So here I am, ready to take it to the streets. If you’re not aware, I am an avid gamer. If somebody shows up with a knife, I have an automatic mini-nuke launcher.

Goodreads has changed the title of my copyrighted work and are misrepresenting it as just another edition of a book that was written five years ago. Apparently, if I had named it anything else, they would have let it stand alone, but because I put the word “Edition” in the title—a title that is ON THE BOOK COVER, they decide that it falls within one piece of their guidelines, but not the others. Apparently, not even the Goodreads Experts know their own policies.

At this point, I am waiting to see what happens when they get the book data from Amazon. That will give them another chance to do the right thing and fix their mistake.

If they don’t—then the fight continues.

About liablack

M/M Romance Author and Glorious Kaleidoscope of Fuckeduppery
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