Cait Corrain: Why is book Twitter and BookTok so fascinated with this debut writer getting dropped?

A side by side image of author Cait Corrain alongside their debut novel Crown of Starlight

BookTok and the book Twitter scene have been thrown into turmoil after allegations surfaced that Cait Corrain, a first-time author, review bombed other novelists. 

Now, the drama has seemingly concluded with Corrain being dropped by her publishers and her agent, and losing other partnerships she had in the works. 

Book nerds and authors have been entangled in the web of drama that’s unfurled since Corrain was accused of creating fake accounts on Goodreads, a platform where users can rate and review books, and where authors post updates about their stories. 

Corrain allegedly used the accounts to leave one-star review on books and other upcoming novels while increasing votes for her debut queer novel, the sci-fi fantasy Crown of Starlight – a practice known as review-bombing.

The majority of those targeted in the campaign were authors of colour. Some are also part of the LGBTQ+ community. Corrain has now issued an apology.

The scandal surrounding Cait Corrain unfurled where most drama does now – on social media

The controversy kicked off when sci-fi/fantasy writers, such as best-selling Iron Widow author Xiran Jay Zhao, began posting about seeing a months-long campaign of review bombing on Goodreads. 

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Then, just last week, non-binary author Zhao dropped a bombshell on X, formerly Twitter, saying that the person behind the plan was actually another author using several fake accounts to attack the works of fellow writers, with Black, Indigenous, people of colour (BIPOC) seemingly being the main targets.

Zhao highlighted that the then-unnamed author was using the same accounts to “upvote” their own debut book “on a bajillion different lists”.

Just a short while later, Corrain’s name began to crop up online as internet sleuths went to work. Other authors also posted about the situation, with Zhao sharing more thoughts on their X and TikTok accounts. 

Zhao then dropped “31 pages of receipts of the review bombing” on X, effectively breaking the case wide open. The post included a now-deleted comment from Corrain, who claimed it was a “nasty surprise” to find out there were “fake GR accounts messing” with her book’s ratings. 

When confronted by other debut authors on a Slack chat, Corrain put the blame on a friend. 

Author Cait Corrain wears a jumper as they hold up a cover for their book in pinky-blue lighting
Cait Corrain has been dropped by her UK and US publishers as well as by her literary agent. (Instagram/@caitcorrain)

Bethany Baptiste, one of the authors targeted in the review bombing campaign, posted her own extensive evidence and included screenshots of Corrain’s initial response.

In the posts, Corrain claimed the friend was responsible and offered unconvincing proof of chats with the supposed mastermind of the scheme.

Baptiste pointed out that “no one could find” Corrain’s friend on social media and that another author “said the accounts and convo is obviously fake”. 

Corrain continued to deflect the blame before finally apologising for the whole incident. 

What consequences does Corrain face?  

Corrain offered what she called a “sincere apology” on Tuesday (12 December) to “own and openly address every aspect of what [she] did”. The author described “fighting a losing battle against depression, alcoholism and substance abuse” since June 2022. 

While struggling with these issues, Corrain admitted creating “roughly six profiles on Goodreads” in addition to two existing profiles. She used these to boost the rating of her book and “bomb the ratings of several fellow debut authors”, leaving “reviews that range from kind-of-mean to downright abusive”. 

Corrain said she’d be contacting everyone directly affected at some point, but that it could “take time” because she’s going to be taking steps to tackle her problems.

Rebecca Podos, Corrain’s book agent, cut ties with the author, writing on X that she deeply appreciated the “patience of those directly impacted by last week’s events as [she] worked through a difficult situation”.

Del Rey Books – owned by Penguin Random House – the US publisher of Corrain’s novel, said on X on Monday (11 December) that it was “aware of the ongoing discussion” around the author, adding that Crown of Starlight is “no longer on [its] 2024 publishing schedule”. 

Corrain’s UK publisher Daphne Press said it too was “aware of the conversations” about the author, and is “looking into the allegations, discussing with relevant parties, and determining how best to move forward once [it has] all the information.”

Book subscription service Illumicrate announced it was dropping Corrain’s book from being featured in its May 2024 subscription box

What have the authors targeted in the review bomb plan said about the controversy? 

RM Virtue, KM Enright, Frances White, Kamilah Cole, Molly X Chang and Thea Guanzon were among the authors who appeared to be targets of the review-bombing campaign, according to posts by Zhao and Baptiste

Baptiste wrote on X that it was “good to see [Cait Corrain] face the consequences of her own actions” and pointed out there was “plenty of time for a private apology to be issued before a public announcement”.

In response to Corrain’s apology, Virtue said he was “genuinely at a loss, like [he] can’t even”. 

“Writing on X, he said: “You should’ve kept it honestly. ‘Wrong list at the wrong time’. There might’ve been other authors. No mention of the fact they were mostly BIPOC authors you targeted or that it started in April. Yeah, you should’ve kept it, Cait.”

Enright wrote that campaigns such as this are “something BIPOC and queer authors have to deal with” on a regular basis

He added: “This time, we were able to find out who the culprit was. But so often, these incidents of review bombing come and go without a fuss.” 

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