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GoodReads: An Author’s Friend, or Foe?

by Maureen Lang

GoodReads was designed as a place where readers rule! Instead of trusting bestseller lists, readers can go to GoodReads to connect with other book lovers to share their favorites.

In little more than a half-dozen years, the site has attracted 20 million members. Not only do readers there feel free to be honest, bold and sometimes blunt about their opinions of the books they’ve read, they enjoy fun features like book trivia and quizzes and various polls as well as lists of everything from prettiest cover to specific genre “bests.” There are all kinds of groups to join if you’re interested. Just click “Explore” to see the fun features this site offers.

But it can also be a place just to categorize your books. Before GoodReads, avid readers and book collectors like my daughter might have had trouble keeping track of all their books-and occasionally end up purchasing the same book more than once! On GoodReads you can list books you own, have read but perhaps borrowed, or those you hope to own.

Now that Amazon has purchased GoodReads, you can bet they’re harvesting reading tastes to better serve users needs (i.e. to target you with more precise advertising).

So what about authors? Authors can easily set up an information page, bio (profile), even link their blog to automatically feed into their page. Just click on the “Author Programs” link at the bottom of the GoodReads homepage to learn more. It’s user-friendly, and one more way to let interested readers connect to you.

All this makes it sound as if GoodReads is a definite friend. But if there is a downside, reviews tend to be a little less flattering. I believe that’s because it’s not a sales site. People who post reviews on GoodReads aren’t thinking about influencing a sale, as they might on Amazon. They’re only thinking about sharing their opinion of a recently read book and not about sales.

An honest love of reading is king here, which is why GoodReads is probably best used, even for authors, as readers themselves. Authors who try selling their books in various groups, or rate their own books with 5-stars, ask others to rate their books with the highest rating, or in general try using the site as a place to sell, are likely to be disappointed. They might even get some negative reviews if their overeager salesmanship is too visible.

So even though I’m an official GoodReads author, I’ve always used it purely as a reader. After belonging for a couple of years already, I’m just now doing my very first giveaway, which was surprisingly easy to set up. Like everything else I’ve used with GoodReads, this too was user friendly.

Bottom line? GoodReads is a place for readers to celebrate their love of books, pure and simple. And those who are the most active on the site want to keep it that way.

All_In_Good_Time_Screen_ShotMaureen Lang has been writing stories of history and romance since she was ten. Since then she’s become the award-winning author of over a dozen novels, most published with Tyndale. Her newest novel is a romance set in 1880s Denver titled All In Good Time. Visit her on the web at www.maureenlang.com

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2 Responses to GoodReads: An Author’s Friend, or Foe?

  1. I totally agree with this. Everything doesn’t have to be about marketing? Does it?? Let the Goodreads readers have their space.

  2. Connie Brown says:

    I agree. We aren’t about selling but honestly saying whether or not we liked a book. I have not put a bad review on GoodReads but I know that the time will come. I love my authors and will give them good reviews but that’s not to say that I will give them the highest award.