What about Goodreads?

The main place you want reviews (as an author) is Amazon. Yes, there are other places where reviews can be found and books can be purchased, but where they make the most difference is Amazon. However, the one other site you probably need a presence where reviews matter is Goodreads. (you can see my Goodreads page here if you want to friend/follow me)
Writers have a love/hate relationship with Goodreads, and it has been the source of a lot of "troll reviewer" scandals as well as "authors complaining to have negative reviews taken down" accusations. Because of this a lot of writers have chosen to avoid the site. I haven't. I like it. I use it.  

I haven't actually seen trolling happen, but I believe it because  . . . well, it's on the internet. The internet is full of this sort of thing. Try spending a couple hours on any World of Warcraft server out there and you'll see plenty of trolling. It happens. It could happen on Amazon too (and occasionally has). However, joining Goodreads does not automatically mean you are going to get trolled. I haven't yet (knock on wood) nor have I seen an actual incident of it in the year I've been on the site clicking around reading reviews left on friends' books. I do think as a writer you can use Goodreads, but first there are a few things you need to know/keep in mind.  

Amazon and Goodreads do NOT use the same rating system

This is why I think Goodreads regularly scores books lower star-wise. However, most reviewers who review on both don't bother to adjust their "star rating" and usually post the same review, so you see a lot of crossover reviews and people using the system inconsistently. Most of this is more careless than malicious. 
Here's a quick rundown on the "meanings" behind star ratings on both sites: 
  • 1 Star-I did not like it
  • 2 Stars-It was okay
  • 3 Stars-I liked it
  • 4 Stars-I really liked it.
  • 5 Stars-It was amazing!
  • 1 Star-I hate it.
  • 2 Star-I don't like it.
  • 3 Star-It's OK
  • 4 Star-I liked it.
  • 5 Star-I loved it!
So a 2 star review on Goodreads equals a 3 Star review on Amazon.

The Purpose of Goodreads is Social Interaction between Readers. 

Amazon is about sales. The reviews on Amazon are to inform other potential buyers. Goodreads is a social site. It's about talking about books with your friends and comparing lists of what you've read and making lists and "shelves." It's supposed to be for readers to kind of kick back and so it is a lot more casual but at the same time attracts readers who take books a lot more seriously than the average consumer, readers who not only like to read books but like to talk about them, compare them, and analyze them. 
Because of this, Goodreads reviews tend to be a little more in depth and nitpicky, and maybe harsher because people are trying to look "smart" in front of their friends. Most Amazon reviews are actually somewhat anonymous. I don't write reviews expecting anyone I know to see it and recognize me. I'm primarily thinking about the next person who goes to buy that book/toy/doohickey.

Goodreads givaways are reasonably priced advertising

Most writers I know do Giveaways to get reviews and Goodreads itself suggests giving away books in order to get reviews. I like Goodreads Giveaways. . . but I do not find they necessarily net me reviews. To me THIS is the definitive posts on Goodreads Giveaways. Click on that link and drink in its wisdom. . . but I've done Goodreads giveaways for my last several books. It has gotten me a few reviews but mostly it is just so people notice my book and it shows up on peoples' "to read" lists.

So what else can you do on Goodreads?
  • You can set it up so Goodreads members can ask you questions.
  • You can collect quotes from favorite authors to display on your author page.
  • You can collect your own quotes, favorite lines you've written, and display them on your page.
  • You can start discussions about your books.
  • You can link your blog, website, twitter handle so people know where to find you. 
  • You can list your "influences" so people know what sort of writers inspire you. 
You can check out my Goodreads page here

So are you on Goodreads? What (good or bad) experiences have you had with the site?


  1. Y'know I hadn't realised the Goodreads and Amazon 5 stars had different meanings. To be honest I didn't realise they actually had specific meanings anyway. I thought they were personal 'out of 5's'. Thank you for pointing it out! I've just started using Goodreads properly so thought this was a useful post x

    1. I think most people don't notice it, or think about it much. It's really just a little thing, but we authors can get pretty tied up in reader approval, so it is a good thing to keep in mind. Still, you see a lot of pretty arbitrary use from people who think, "Well, a one star restaurant is a good restaurant, so a one star review . . ."


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