Goodreads is an author’s dream. It’s chock-full of book addicts just hoping to get their next quick fix, to find their next favorite author. Those readers just might be looking for your book. But sadly, some authors do their best to shoot themselves in the proverbial foot on Goodreads, alienating potential fans with preventable acts of douchebaggery and literary asshattery. With that in mind, here are the top 5 violations of readers’ Goodreads trust that can drag your book sales down into the muck, along with your good name:
Participating in Goodreads readers groups is an important part of connecting with people who might end up buying your book. But when someone in a group asks for a recommendation and you pop up immediately suggesting your book, that’s not marketing, it’s spam. It’s also smarmy.
Now, there are some authors groups on Goodreads that will let you interact with other authors and self-promote as much as your little heart desires. But in readers groups, you’ll be expected to participate in discussions as a reader, not an author. Give readers your opinions. Engage them in conversations. If they hit it off with you and like what you have to say, reader to reader, they might just decide to buy and read your book, all without the spam. And let’s face it, no one likes spam.
We’ve all seen that one author on Goodreads. You know the one. His book isn’t selling well (for whatever reason) and he’s bitter about it. But instead of putting his energy into writing his next book or learning how to more effectively market his current book, he spends his time lashing out at other authors (or bloggers, for that matter) who are experiencing more success than he is.
This is the guy who rates everything he reads a 2, except for his own book, which he of course gives a 5. (By the way, don’t rate your own book on Goodreads. Everyone can see that you rated your own book and it’s weird and off-putting. So...stop it, OK?) This is the guy who rants in the authors groups that his book is better than [insert-name-of-bestseller here], who obviously just got lucky.
Trust us when we say that this is not a guy you want to be. This is a guy who will never find success, regardless of his writing talent. This kind of bad behavior can only result in a karmic bitch-slap. So, when interacting on Goodreads with readers and other authors, do your best to stay positive. Come to think of it, try to stay positive even when you’re NOT on Goodreads. That’s solid advice no matter where you are. You’re welcome.
People on Goodreads read a lot. No, really. They. Read. A. Lot. So if your book is pulling in some harsh criticism, don’t immediately write it off as the half-witted ramblings of mouth-breathing miscreants and haters. As avid readers, their opinions should be seriously considered. It’s possible that they might have an opinion or thought that could help you make your next book even better. Don’t let hurt feelings and a bruised ego keep you from hearing constructive criticism that could benefit you for years to come.
Goodreads offers many free tools to help you promote your author brand and your books. They not only allow you to upload photos and your author bio, but also offer you the option of a user-friendly author blog with keyword tagging capabilities that allow the Goodreads community to find you and get to know you as an author.
And yet you see authors every day who have failed to take advantage of any of any of these free features. Take the time to complete your author bio. Answer a few of the site’s templated “ask the author” questions so that readers can get a feel for your writing voice and sense of style. Throw a couple of blog posts out there (or, link the Goodreads blog feature to posts you already have up on your author website). None of these things are huge time investments, and you’ll see return on your investment right away in the form of followers and friend requests.
Respond to negative reviews
We can’t stress this enough: do not—for the love of all that’s holy—respond to negative reviews. We know it’s hard to ignore someone who has just publicly trashed your book baby, but that’s exactly what we’re asking you to do. Firing back a witty response to a negative review or arguing with a reviewer will only succeed in making you look like a fool. These things also have a tendency to go viral. Don’t believe us? Just check out these cringe-worthy examples.
What about all of you out there in reader/writer land? Seen any Goodreads atrocities lately? We’d love to hear about it! Comment below to share your stories.