Let’s Talk Goodreads

Hello, SE readers. I would venture there isn’t an author who at one time or another, hasn’t been upset with Amazon and its review policies.

It doesn’t matter if you are a verified purchase owner of a book if Amazon even slightly suspects you might have a connection with the author they won’t approve your review, saying you might be “biased” in favor of the author. (I’ve wondered if someone posted a one-star review if they would reject it.)

However, Amazon will often allow what appear to be trolls to post their scathing reviews—verified purchase or not. And if we protest… Well, let’s say I’ve read horror stories about authors whom Amazon has taken down their books due to various reasons .

And even though I shop Amazon more often than any other retailer, I often wonder how much simpler our lives would be without them. I do know they need more competition!

Unfortunately, Amazon is the number one bookseller. It’s the place where people go to read reviews of books and other products—even if they purchase the items somewhere else. And we know that authors, particularly Indie authors thrive on reviews.

So, what are we to do? Although there isn’t a perfect alternative to Amazon, there I’m going to talk about another option today, Goodreads. And while this post may be a little elementary for most writers, I’m going to highlight some of the positives.

Yes, Amazon owns Goodreads but so far, they haven’t been as strict about who they allow to post reviews. Reviews that have been turned down by Amazon have appeared on Goodreads.

All authors should create a Goodreads author page and make sure to list all your books along with the purchase links. The author page is different from a reader profile, although the two are linked together.

Here are just a few things authors can do with Goodreads:

  • Link the RSS feed from your blog. Your newest posts will appear on your author page. Readers can also follow you. If you’re not comfortable with “friending” people you don’t know, the follow feature also enables someone to keep up with your activity.
  • For those with self-hosted websites, Goodreads offers author widgets. You

    A sample of the Goodreads book widget

    can attach a code to your book pages on your site, and it will display them in order of popularity. (I have not been able to get the widget to work on my WordPress.com blog.)

  • Question and Answer section. Readers and fans can ask authors specific questions. There are also generic questions from Goodreads.
  • Private groups. I belong to a couple of Goodreads groups but haven’t created one, so I can’t speak to the pros and cons. However, much like Facebook, you can set the group to Public, Private, Restricted, or Secret. People who join can set their email preferences to receive notices of new activity.
  • As a reader, take a few minutes to post your reviews to Goodreads. Authors thrive on reviews, and you might brighten an author’s day. Let’s face it, we all like to know people read and enjoy our work. And even though your review might be less than favorable, it could help an author to improve on weak areas for their upcoming books. You also have the option of allowing the review to post to Facebook and/or Twitter.

How do you use Goodreads as an author? As a reader? Do you check your book reviews there? Leave reviews for books you’ve read? I don’t expect anything to replace Amazon in the foreseeable future, but in the meantime, we can utilize Goodreads as both authors and readers.

56 thoughts on “Let’s Talk Goodreads

  1. Hey, Joan. I’ve been on GoodReads for a long time now — almost since the beginning — and for the past two years, have put up even a short review of everything I read. Set the example, right? As far as retailers, though, there are plenty of others out there. Yes, not all of them feature the .mobi format that Amazon’s made proprietary, and that’s part of the battle. The other part? Getting EVERYONE to acknowledge there are other retailers. Powells. B&N — stop buying into the crap that they are failing. If authors teamed up to promote their books at B&N, things would change. Smashwords. Kobo. And a multitude of independent stores. All of them are resources we can and should partner with more heavily (most pay better royalties, too). There’s no reason Amazon has to continue to dominate the market, or have a monopoly — not when the biggest reason they have it is because too many authors and readers throw up their hands and insist there’s no other choice.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree with you. If everyone teamed together, things would change. My books are listed in Kobo, B&N, and some other retailers. However, most of my sales come from Amazon.And as a consumer? I’m one of those who shops Amazon, so I’m contributing to the problem.


      • Amazon is like Apple with the proprietary format, so we’re ALL stuck unless we can figure out how to write off two devices as business expenses! 🙂

        Most of my sales, interestingly, come from B&N, and I do almost zero promo for them (they’re OLD). My lowest sales are from Amazon; I think they love me as much as I love them.

        If you ever want to put a group together to promo at outlets other than the Big A, keep me in mind. (Hell, if you ever want some Goodreads reviews, keep me in mind!) I’m glad to join in, especially as I have some new stuff in the pipeline, and I’m glad to extend any offers to my clients, too. We’re all in this thing together!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Author Inspiration and This Week’s Writing Links | Staci Troilo

  3. I was very bummed when Goodreads instituted a $119 fee to do a giveaway. Ebook OR print. It’s hard enough to cover the costs of print, and shipping, to begin with. But I got such good results with my former giveaways, I’m thinking about saving my pennies….Grrrr.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Nice Joan. I post all my reviews to Goodreads and Amazon. A lot of people never think of Goodreads for some reason. I have far fewer reviews on Goodreads than Amazon. Having just lost ten reviews on one book I wish more people would use Goodreads.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I have been checking my book The Hartnetts on it a bit but so far I haven’t had any reviews. Should I leave it to chance or is there another way of persuading people to read and review it? I have been telling people about my book and trying to promote it in other ways.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tom, having no reviews is a frustrating situation. There are no guaranteed ways to get reviews. I think most readers just don’t think about it. Others are uncertain as to how to articulate a good review. I put a note at the end of all my books thanking readers and encouraging them to review. If you have a blog or send a newsletter, you might ask readers to review through one of those methods. Wish I could offer more advice.


  6. I love Goodreads, and I need to leverage it more. I’ve gotten some wonderful reviews there (and some not so wonderful) just like most everybody. I know the groups are there, but I fear they get lost in a sea of posts…
    I agree wholeheartedly Amazon needs some competition, but all the sites I’ve tried dry up or get no traffic.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Stephanie, you know the saying goes that you haven’t “arrived” as an author until you’ve received a bad review. (Even though it hurts.) It’s a shame that Amazon doesn’t have more competition. I think things would change there if that happened.

      Liked by 1 person

      • When then I ‘arrived’ a long time ago 🙂 Been published since 2006, but now, finally, getting my life settled to where I can put my all into it. Yes, they need good competition…check all the same boxes and deliver

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I’ve been on Goodreads for years. I found a few great beta-readers through one of the groups. I am part of a few groups there but haven’t been very active in them lately. I’ve just been too busy to keep up with it. I like that I can keep track of all of the books that I’ve read and my reviews of them. As an author, I have everything set up there, but I have more reviews on Amazon than on Goodreads. I do like that my blog is featured on GR, but I believe it is also featured on my Amazon author page as well. Luckily, I haven’t had any bad experiences with either platform. I don’t think I use either of the platforms to their full potential; I just don’t have a lot of time to play around with them. One day…

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi Joan, sorry I’m late weighing in on this one. I am on Goodreads but only list my books there. I am no longer active in any groups or anything. I got burned by trolls, and the lack of regulation gives the opposite problem to Amazon’s overzealousness. Somewhere, we need to find a happy medium. Thanks for sharing this. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I use Goodreads, well i am trying to be more active on it this year. I tend to review what i have read without being too harsh – But i notice that some of the reviewers are extremely brutal and damn right nasty at times. I have witnessed many reviews practically trashing the author on a personal level as well as being terribly rude about a book. It is for me one of the more popular places i go to when wanting to check out reviews or look up an author, but i cant help but stay in my own little when it comes to me interacting with communities.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I always say, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” I have seen some reviews (both on Goodreads and Amazon) where people attack the author. I have purchased and read books where I can’t leave a positive review, so I just don’t leave one.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. My problem with Goodreads reviews/ratings is that many of them are from people who haven’t read the books and don’t intend to; they just rate books based on how interested they are in reading them. When a book won’t be out for another month, there’s no way any “reviewer” could have read it, and yet there are all those one- and two-star ratings from people who simply hate everything in that books’ genre. ‘I hate mysteries, I would never read this book. One star.’ In what way is that a valid review? And even worse, these “reviewers” don’t leave anything but the rating itself, so other people can’t see (without looking for when the rating was given, compared to the book’s publication date — and then what about the ‘I would never read this’ ratings added after publication?) that these ratings are NOT from people who’ve read the book. (This is a problem with high ratings, too. ‘Yay, my favorite author will soon have a new book in my favorite series by her! Five stars! Now I have to wait two more months before I can read it…’)

    I think it would help a little bit if Goodreads made a distinction between rating-only and actual reviews, or at least didn’t allow even ratings on a book that hasn’t been published yet. I LIKE that on Goodreads, readers don’t have to prove they’re bought a book in order to express an opinion of it (some of my favorite books weren’t even in print when I reviewed them on Goodreads), but I don’t like how easy it is for people to give “revenge” or “I hate this whole genre” ratings there.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Good points, Thomas. Some people just go through and mark things. I wish there was a happy medium between the “not policed” Goodreads and “over policed” (In some cases) Amazon. Amazon once took down almost half of the reviews on one of Staci’s books (with no explanation or reason). Yet they’ll allow vengeful reviews to remain (verified purchase or not).

      Liked by 2 people

  11. I post all my reviews to both Amazon and Goodreads. I have never had a problem with an Amazon review but I generally don’t know the people whose books I review other than through blogging. I agree that Goodreads is a good place to gather reviews as it has a massive following.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I use Goodreads to track and review the books I’ve read. I also have my blog feed there. I like the ease for searching categories (better than Amazon IMHO), but Charles spoke well in calling it the lawless frontier. I’ve known a few people who were burned badly by trolls, so I don’t engage in any of the groups for that reason. It’s a shame, because GR could be a great resource.

    Liked by 3 people

  13. I really like Goodreads, both as a reader and an author. It’s a nice way to keep track of the books we read and see what our friends have read. Reviews can be harsh there–they often seem more like a book-club discussion than a review–but given its more informal atmosphere, that seems reasonable. It’s a shame they started charging for giveaways, but all in all, I’m a big fan of the site.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. As a reader, I adore Goodreads. It’s an excellent tool for tracking what you’ve read, when you read it, and what you want to read. I also love how easy Goodreads makes it to find similar books to the ones you really enjoy! As a writer…well I can’t comment too much on that, not having published anything myself (yet), but it does also provide some networking opportunities with other writers.

    Liked by 4 people

  15. I’ve setup my author profile on Goodreads, but unless someone messages me, I rarely go there anymore. As Staci mentioned, it has the ability to be a fantastic platform, but it falls short, IMHO. To really make Goodreads work for authors they need to put in a lot of time on the site, time better spent writing more books.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Sue, wouldn’t it be wonderful if all we had to do was write? Forget all the social media, promotion, and other aspects of being an author. But such is not the case. We need to make our presence known.

      Liked by 2 people

  16. I’ve been trying to be more active in groups, especially the YA reading groups, but it hasn’t been a priority. Like Staci said, they say to go where the readers are, so maybe I should make more of an attempt.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Teri, I think with any author, they need to find their niche and places where their readers are. For some, it’s blogging, others Twitter or Facebook, but Goodread does seem to be a good place to attract new readers.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. I thought this would be the year I used Goodreads more, but a quarter of the way through, and I haven’t. They say to go where the readers are, and that’s GR, especially when Amazon screws with authors so much. But because GR doesn’t police the site like Amazon does theirs, people can be brutal. So I’ve been pretty hands-off so far, and probably will be until I figure out the intricacies. I do have GR links on my self-hosted site, and I’ve used it on my free WP site, although I removed it in favor of a different option/look. I’m interested in the giveaways, but like you, I haven’t explored that option yet.

    If readers and authors would use the site as it was intended, I think it could be a great resource for us. As of now, though, I belong to a few groups and post reviews, and that’s about it. Maybe the second quarter will be my time to figure it out…

    Liked by 3 people

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