The Cait Corrain BookTok Drama, Explained

Author Cait Corrain has been neck-deep in a publishing scandal that spans several social media platforms within the online book community, including BookTok, X (formerly known as Twitter), and Instagram. Cait Corrain, whose debut sci-fi novel — "Crown of Starlight" — was set to release in 2024, was accused of creating false accounts on Goodreads — a website that helps you track your reading and discover new books — to tank ratings of books written by people of color through negative reviews and poor ratings (via the Daily Mail). The fake accounts served to boost the ratings of Corrain's spicy BookTok read by handing out five stars and voting for the book across 37 reading lists.


The individuals impacted by these reviews were identified and shared with the public thanks to a TikTok video posted by Xiran Jay Zhao, the author of 2021's "Iron Widow." The video broke down the timeline of events and outlined the evidence collected against Corrain, seemingly indicting her as the person responsible for the accounts and ratings. As it turns out, Corrain's BookTok drama extends beyond a few negative reviews.

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Pull up the receipts

On December 5, Xiran Jay Zhao posted on X to confront Cait Corrain — without identifying her outright — in hopes Corrain would come forward. In response, Zhao was contacted by someone who claimed to know Corrain from the Reylo fandom (one of many online "Star Wars" groups) and "thought they were helping Cait out," according to Zhao's video. Zhao then received screenshots from Corrian's associate but "did not believe this was a real conversation" and "found it so stilted." The messages' timestamps also appear to jump illogically between "yesterday to today."


When confronted by Zhao, Corrain shared more screenshots of conversations between herself and her friend, "Lilly," who claimed to have created the false accounts and reviews. Corrain then admitted to being the subject of Zhao's tweets in a private Slack channel created for 2024 debut authors and apologized on her friend's behalf. However, the other authors remained unconvinced.

The authors attempted to resolve the issue privately at first. When that failed, Zhao shared a Google document on X that included 31 pages of "review bomb receipts" of the fake Goodreads accounts, including screenshots of book reviews and ratings. Per Zhao's video and Google document, Corrain made at least six Goodreads profiles to "one-star bomb" upcoming books from debut POC authors. Screenshots indicate the reviews date as far back as April 2023, with comments ranging from "kind of mean to downright abusive," as described by Corrain in her public apology.


Corrain issues an apology

In the wake of this scandal, Cait Corrain's American publisher, Del Rey Books, declared via X on December 11 the removal of her book from its 2024 publishing schedule. However, some users quickly noted that the book's publishing date appeared to have been merely pushed back to 2027. A day later, Del Rey Books posted that "Crown of Starlight" had been shelved indefinitely. Additionally, Corrain's literary agent, Rebecca Podos, ended their professional relationship, and Daphne Press, a United Kingdom-based publishing company, announced via X the removal of Corrain's book from its 2024 schedule.


On December 12, Corrain posted an apology on Instagram in which she cited depression, alcoholism, and substance abuse as justification for her actions. She admitted to doctoring fake screenshots of conversations between herself and a non-existent friend ("Lilly"). Corrain also states that she'll be stepping away from social media to check into an "intensive psychiatric care and rehab facility."

The online response is seemingly unanimous in its rejection of Corrain's apology. One commenter on Instagram said, "We all have our traumas and depressions but we are not out here sabotaging other's careers to make ourselves feel better." An X user even connected the incident to a larger issue in publishing: "Listen Cait Corrain should be held accountable for the Goodreads debacle, but we also have to hold publishing accountable to a certain extent. Can we PLEASE stop telling authors these metrics like GR or TikTok matter more than the in-house marketing & publicity $ and support?"


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