Asian American author Xiran Jay Zhao has exposed a white debut author for creating fake Goodreads accounts to review-bomb other writers.
Scheme unveiled: Zhao, the New York Times bestselling author of young adult novel “Iron Widow,” presented a comprehensive expose revealing that Cait Corrain, the Los Angeles-based author of upcoming novel “Crown of Starlight,” had been fabricating Goodreads accounts to manipulate book ratings.
The expose, which came in a 31-page Google document, included evidence dating back to April, Zhao explained. Multiple profiles, believed to be created by Corrain, gave favorable reviews to her book on niche pages while one-starring those of her fellow debut authors, primarily those of color.
Blaming “Lilly”: As the allegations broke out, Corrain claimed in a now-unavailable X post that the review-bombing was the brainchild of a friend named “Lilly.” While Corrain shared screenshots of purported Discord conversations between her and the alleged culprit, observers were not convinced due to disparities in the timestamps that made the exchange appear fake. Some suggested Corrain was trying to put the blame on others.
Swift repercussions: The controversy prompted American publisher Del Rey Books, as well as literary agent Rebecca Podos, to swiftly drop Corrain. In a statement, Del Rey revealed that “CROWN OF STARLIGHT is no longer on our 2024 publishing schedule.”
The book’s U.K. publisher, Daphne Press, also released a statement dropping Corrain and her work.
Coming clean: Corrain eventually confessed to creating the fake accounts. In an apology posted on X and Instagram, she said she manipulated book ratings during psychological breakdowns. She cited a battle against depression, alcoholism and substance abuse since June of the previous year. She also admitted to making up a non-existent friend to deflect blame.
“Let me be extremely clear: while I might not have been sober or of sound mind during this time, I accept responsibility for the pain and suffering I caused,” Corrain wrote. “My delay in posting this is due to spending the last few days offline while going through withdrawal as I sobered up enough to be brutally honest with you and myself.”
Reactions: The scandal ignited discussions about the prevalence of review-bombing on platforms like Goodreads and its impact on the industry. Some drew parallels to the hit book “Yellowface,” as readers and authors expressed disappointment and disbelief in Corrain’s actions. Others directed attention to the broader issue within the industry, emphasizing the importance of in-house marketing and support over online metrics.