Cait Corrain's Crown of Starlight

Cait Corrain/Del Rey Books

Author loses book deal after BookTok exposes her for review-bombing authors of color

'Dropping her doesn't absolve you.'

 

Audra Schroeder

IRL

Posted on Dec 13, 2023

First-time author Cait Corrain was dropped by her publisher Del Rey Books after fellow authors exposed her for leaving negative reviews on Goodreads. Many of the fake reviews were directed at authors of colors.

Corrain’s fantasy novel Crown of Starlight was set to debut in May 2024. But on Monday, her agent stated that they’re no longer working with Corrain, and publisher Del Rey Books said the title is “no longer on our 2024 publishing schedule.”

The allegations against Corrain go back months, possibly years. But the floodgates were opened last week by author Xiran Jay Zhao.

Zhao, author of Iron Widow and Zachary Ying and the Dragon Emperor, first posted “receipts” of the review-bombing to X, in response to an attack on fellow writer Bethany Baptiste from a friend of Corrain’s.

Zhao linked to a 31-page Google Doc detailing alleged fake accounts that have given 1-star reviews to authors of color. Many of those negative reviews were for authors who have debuts coming up.

The conversation moved to BookTok, the literary arm of TikTok that’s often a source of discourse and controversy. Zhao broke down the allegations further, stating that these fake Goodreads reviews go back to April.

However, they said one upcoming book—Crown of Starlight—consistently received positive reviews on Goodreads lists whereas other authors received 1-star reviews, which tipped people off that something shady was going on. 

Zhao said once their tweets about the review-bombing—which at first did not name Corrain—started going viral last week, an “associate” of Corrain’s contacted them and said these reviews were from Corrain’s “friend” named “Lilly.”

Corrain later admitted she was the person Zhao was tweeting about but doubled down on attributing the reviews to Lilly. Corrain also claimed Lilly was a participant in the Reylo fandom, meaning those who ship Rey and Kylo Ren from Star Wars. Members of the r/reylo subreddit debunked that claim, stating they didn’t know a Lilly. But they did know Corrain. 

Goodreads has been called out for being overrun with fake reviews and ratings for years. In October, the platform started asking users to report this kind of behavior to “protect the authenticity” of Goodreads.

A spokesperson for Goodreads tells the Daily Dot: “Goodreads takes the responsibility of maintaining the authenticity and integrity of ratings and protecting our community of readers and authors very seriously. We have clear reviews and community guidelines, and we remove reviews and/or accounts that violate these guidelines.”

The six fake accounts linked in the Google Doc have been removed. Two other accounts that were not linked but appear in the document are also gone. 

@xiranjayzhao A full explanation of #reviewbombgate. #booktok #caitcorrain #crownofstarlight ♬ original sound – Xiran Jay Zhao

Zhao says that novels by Bethany Baptiste, Kamilah Cole, Molly X. Chang, Frances White, K.M. Enright, and R.M. Virtues were targeted with 1-star reviews. The majority of these authors are people of color.

Baptiste responded to news that Corrain’s agent dropped her, reiterating that authors who were targeted wanted the issue to be resolved privately. “I’ve spent days defending my name & reputation while Cait had the privilege to hide,” Baptise said in a tweet. “Dropping her doesn’t absolve you.”

Corrain issued an apology on Monday in which she admitted to creating six fake accounts in November 2023, plus two others in 2022, and targeting some of the authors Zhao mentioned. In the statement, Corrain pointed out that Chang and author Danielle L. Jensen, whom she also targeted, “are fellow Del Rey authors.”

She admits she used the fake accounts to help boost the ratings of her upcoming book, hurt the ratings of fellow debut authors, and leave “reviews that ranged from kind of mean to downright abusive.”

Corrain shifted the blame to a struggle with depression and the “new medication” she started taking in November, which many people called out as avoiding accountability.

“While I might not have been sober or of sound mind during this time,” she wrote, “I accept responsibility for the pain and suffering I caused, and my delay in posting this is due to spending the last few days offline while going through withdrawal as I sobered up to be brutally honest with you and myself.”

The Daily Dot reached out to Zhao and Corrain for comment. 

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*First Published: Dec 13, 2023, 12:14 pm CST