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Good Behaviour on Goodreads

Updated on May 11, 2015

The Goodreads Author Programme

As an author, your first question may be "What can Goodreads do for me?" In an ideal world if an author behaves well on the site Goodreads is a place where you can make friends with readers and with other authors. It is a place where you can find honest reviewers and network with writers in your genre. Also key to an author's success is the Goodreads Author programme. If you join Goodreads, you will join as a reader but it is possible to apply to the Goodreads Author programme by claiming your book. If someone has added it, or you add it yourself, this can provide a starting point. Advantages to the Author programme include a special profile where you can link to your blog and interact with fans. You can run a Goodreads Giveaway (they organise it for you) where you can give away paperback or hardback books. Winners are not required to review and they are not required to give you a good review but many authors and publishers use the Giveaway programme to generate a buzz about new books. At the end, they send you the names and addresses of winners and you must post your books to those people in a reasonable amount of time. In most cases this scheme works well for readers and authors too.

What is Goodreads?

As a new writer, you may have had friends tell you that the readers' site Goodreads is a good place to be active promoting books or sharing your favourite reads. You might have glanced over the site but have you thought about joining it yet? If so, you might like to read this article which is based on my own experience of the site and observations of what happens there. First of all, Goodreads is a site for readers to exchange opinions about the books they have read. They will rate and sometimes review books so that other readers can make an informed choice about new books they might wish to discover and read. Goodreads has a huge member base and was recently affiliated to Amazon which is probably the world's largest bookseller. This does not mean that all members read ebooks, own Kindles or buy from Amazon. The readers on Goodreads will be finding books in stores and libraries, they may borrow books from friends, they could be rooting through remainder piles, secondhand book stores or jumble sales. The key thing to remember is that they are keen readers and the first thing any author should remember about Goodreads is that it is a reader site.

Beautiful Lake - my cover for The Tenderness of Mountains

A photo I took myself while visiting Lake Alouette in Golden Ears Provincial Park, BC.
A photo I took myself while visiting Lake Alouette in Golden Ears Provincial Park, BC. | Source

Trying to Game the System is Fatal

  1. Don't use every post as an opportunity to refer directly or indirectly to your book.
  2. Don't start promotional threads in the wrong place on multiple groups.
  3. Don't argue with negative reviews. Some people will hate your book, others will love it, that is human nature.
  4. Don't stalk or spam friends and fans.
  5. DON'T TRY TO GAME THE SYSTEM. Sockpuppets, street teams, bought reviews, books put on incorrect listopias, votes for books on Fiverr are ALL easily spotted by eager members. Being labelled a Badly Behaved Author is not the word of mouth you want to generate.

Being Honest on Goodreads

Word of mouth can be the biggest asset of an author and it can also be your downfall. If you want to be successful on Goodreads (or anywhere else) members expect a high level of integrity from you. Here is a list of Dos and Don'ts:

  1. Do be friendly with other members as you would on any other forum. Use the site primarily as a reader and join discussions as a reader.
  2. Do talk about other people's books.
  3. Contribute with intelligence, good humour and courtesy to all.
  4. Restrict book promotions to the book promotion threads.
  5. Accept ratings and criticism with grace - readers gave you their time and deserve credit for that.

The Author

My current author profile picture
My current author profile picture | Source

What I learned about Goodreads

I love to hang out on Goodreads and I hang out as a reader. I joined several large general groups before joining a few author groups and also those specific to my genres. My favourite places include the iPoetry and Fringe Fiction groups, but I belong to many more though I tend to lurk more than I post. I quickly leaned that there are a lot of authors over there and that what some call the special flowers tend not to blossom for long. Once again, the key thing is to remember that Goodreads is a place for readers to discuss their favourite books.

Although I am a musician, poet and author I am primarily a lover of books. I will read almost anything and I often review too. I ran two Goodreads Giveaways as an author and found the program easy to work with. Yes, it was expensive to post the books worldwide and not everyone reviewed favourably but it got my books exposure they would not otherwise have received. I am sure that posting as a reader on the poetry group has in fact gained me readers. Poetry books very rarely sell except to friends and family and my family held out for them as Christmas presents but since becoming active as a reader of poetry I have sold one or two. That is how Goodreads is meant to work. It is nicer than Facebook because there are no silly games or distractions and your friends all love to read too.

I also learned that Goodreads is not a place that tolerates hard selling or spam. Be honest, how do you really feel about someone who talks about how great they are all the time? That is how overly promotional authors appears to both readers and other authors when they spam all the groups they can think of. It is simply not good manners and it won't help you as an author.

Do I have to write like Hemingway?

No, it is probably an advantage if you don't! Goodreads readers love all sorts of books from literary fiction to fringe fiction and every shade in between but most readers these days do not enjoy too much description. In one group I belong to, a writer posted an extract from "The Old Man and the Sea" disguising it by making the old man into an old woman and the fishing trip into a truffle hunt. Other than that it was pure Hemingway and it was trounced! It was called "over descriptive", "repetitive" and "pure infodump". Poor Hemingway! I still love Hemingway, but that conversation still makes me giggle. The moral of the story? Readers these days are not reluctant to put their opinions over in the strongest terms and Goodreads readers expect authors to respect their opinions too.

The Cougar

Book Trailers

One of the things authors are advised to do is to make a book trailer. I made my own for my paranormal novel, The Cougar, but there are members on Goodreads who can make far better videos than I did. When my second novel is finished I will pay for a professional trailer. If you have a book trailer it makes a nice addition to your Author profile.

Do you already know about Goodreads?

Do you use Goodreads as a Reader or as an Author?

See results

Lisa says Relax and Chill Out

Here I am in my favourite Diner in Fort Langley. You know i am not meant to eat ice cream, but on a day like today who cares!
Here I am in my favourite Diner in Fort Langley. You know i am not meant to eat ice cream, but on a day like today who cares! | Source

Are you a Goodreads fan?

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    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 

      4 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Great advice Lisa on GR behavior. Voted up for useful!

    • lovelights profile image


      4 years ago from Florida

      Your photo is beautiful, and that ice cream you're eating, looks absolutely delicious. Unfortunately, I don't get much time to read. Owning my own business, makes it difficult for me to find time.

    • DWDavisRSL profile image

      DW Davis 

      4 years ago from Eastern NC

      I am a member of Goodreads but haven't been able to spend the kind of time on the site as I would like. With a full time teaching position, my "free" time is spread rather thin. I enjoyed your Hub, found it informative and filled with good advice for the writer.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 

      4 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Never heard of this place and it sounds very interesting. Will try to check it out soon. Thank you.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 

      4 years ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

      This is great information about Goodreads. I learned a lot. For some time now, I've been wondering if it was a site that would help in book promotion and reviews. I've written a few book reviews here but so far, not much traffic comes from them. Great stuff in this article. Thank you so much.

    • SandyMertens profile image

      Sandy Mertens 

      4 years ago from Frozen Tundra

      Someone else was telling me about Goodreads. Thank you for the information.

    • LisaMarieGabriel profile imageAUTHOR

      Lisa Marie Gabriel 

      4 years ago from United Kingdom

      No, anyone can join and rate or review whatever they like. You can rate as much or as little as you want and the range of genres and groups is pretty comprehensive. It is a purely amateur site for people who love books rather than a professional review site, but is also a great place to enter competitions to win free books. :) Also nobody will expect you to read outside a genre you like (although friends might recommend books to you).

    • greenspirit profile image

      poppy mercer 

      4 years ago from London

      Hi Lisa, do you have to be an across the board reader at Goodreads or are you welcome if you only want to discuss and comment on a single genre or specific books?

    • LisaMarieGabriel profile imageAUTHOR

      Lisa Marie Gabriel 

      4 years ago from United Kingdom

      Me too :)

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Good to see your Hubs here Lisa! I hope our transition works good!


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