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Harnessing Goodreads

Harnessing Goodreads

Many authors hear they should go where readers are. They think this means go promote their books. This is because no one properly explains what you should be doing when you go to places like Goodreads and kindle boards to interact with readers. Here I’m going to talk exclusively about Goodreads and what your interaction should be there. This topic came up on my Facebook wall and a few authors gave me permission to share their comments on my blog.

Before we get to their comments let me give you my 2 cents.

Target Market Research

How many of my regular readers saw that one coming?

Why are you talking to readers? To learn more about what they like and what is important to them. On a Goodreads discussion group specific to a book or genre you can learn invaluable information about the kinds of characters and behaviors the readers you want to attract to your book are looking for as well as the things to avoid. You also learn more about their personal lives which lets you blog better. Worth more than just dropping promotions in. Worth way more.

  • Any questions about how to collect and use the target market data?

Building Relationships

I know my regular readers saw this one coming. If someone likes what they are seeing of your comments on Goodreads they may friend you. Know what their next step frequently is? Checking out your profile. If you have properly linked your regular profile to your author profile they see your author profile.

What is on your author profile? Your website link, a short bio, your blog feed (if not, why not? get it there), and most importantly your books, the ones you wrote. If they have enjoyed your input in discussions they may add a book to their TBR or even buy it. They may read a post or two from your blog and click the link to go to your blog and subscribe to/follow your blog. Again this is worth more than dropping promotions in. These are the people that if they do read your book and like it are going to review it and tell their friends about it. Why? Because they are book lovers. Chances are their friends look to them for “what to read” advice. So you don’t want to tick them off by trying to promote your book.

  • Has anyone done this successfully?
  • Do people agree or disagree?

Keep Your Profile Up-to-Date

Make sure you are keeping your profile up-to-date. If you don’t know how to add your books, make sure the proper covers are added, all editions are links, etc. find someone who can help you or read through the help files. I was able to add the basic information of someone’s kindle edition, message them, they just had to go to the right librarians thread, drop a link to the 2 editions and ask that they be linked and mention the covers and blurbs were identical and it was done for them. Took less than 15 minutes of both our time.

  • Any questions about author profiles?
  • Do you understand the difference between a personal profile and an author profile?
  • Did you know you have both an author and personal profile?

Writing Book Reviews

If you decide to do book reviews on Goodreads keep in mind that your readers and your critics are reading your reviews. Do NOT use inflammatory language. Give honest reviews worded respectfully and make sure to include positive points as well as negative. Only review books in a genre you like. Do not appear to bash “competitor” books.

  • Any questions on writing book reviews?
  • Do you worry about reviewing other people’s books?

Reviews of Your Books

Don’t respond to reviews of your book. If it is a close friend or someone who told you they would review the book go ahead and thank them for the review although even then I’d recommend doing it privately so the review’s validity is not viewed as “well friend did it so ignore this review”. Never, ever, ever, did I mention NEVER respond to bad reviews of your book publicly. Only respond to negative reviews privately if by a friend if you are hoping to get clarification that will help you with future writing and are NOT responding in a defensive manner. Responding to a negative review does a few things:

  • Calls attention to the review
  • Creates a scene
  • Makes you look worse
  • Frequently turns your supporters against you as things rarely end at a single response
  • May permanently end your writing career and make you the talk of the internet with parodies and even news stories written about your behavior
  • Stops sales of your book in its tracks

Just in case I was not clear enough above. It may be career suicide to respond to negative reviews of your book. I will be doing a full post later on how to deal with negative reviews.

  • Any questions on responding to reviews?


Terry Simpson


Here’s the misconception with Goodreads. Not everyone uses star ratings the same way. It took me a while to find that out. Some people’s rating have NOTHING to do with what they think of the book. For some people it’s where that book stands in their TBR list. For some each star represents a section of the month they want to start a book in. For some, it’s how much they are looking forward to a book. There are so many different reasons, that many star ratings should be ignored.

The Key to Goodreads is not to go on there with the intention of promoting your work. Go on there with the mindset of a reader. Generally readers don’t want to be spammed or sold to.


Nicola Jaffe


That is true about readers not wanting to be spammed. I learnt that lately from some reader groups, they designate specific threads for authors and they don’t want authors spamming anywhere else. The good thing is you can go into threads and read what they are discussing to get an idea of how they think and what they are looking for. What they want and what they detest, it is all there in the threads of discussion. By entering the discussions sincerely, you can get their attention, become interested in their topics etc and maybe they will follow you up. #mytwocents.

pixel Harnessing Goodreads

About the author

Tasha Turner

I am a writer and a one-on-one social media coach. I teach people how to brand themselves and how to use social media effectively.

Currently I am co-authoring a short story about a Jewish vampire to be released in 2012 as an e-book. This will be my 1st fiction. I have written a number of computer manuals and managed a tech writing group as well as editing others work for 20 years. Tasha Turner is my Pen Name and has become my professional name by default.

Permanent link to this article: http://tasha-turner.com/harnessing-goodreads/

  • Tara Chevrestt

    I agree with most of it. I’ve been using Goodreads for years, before I was even writing. I never promote my book, I never comment on reviews of my own books (This has backfired on me. Turns out some reviewers feel they should get a thank you or a like and have said this to me in PM. I have apologized and explained it was in bad form. I have rarely commented and only once to clarify a book was NOT pornography. Not that one. LOL) I review at least four books a week. It has done me no good. Your advice is solid, but I’m living proof it doesn’t sell books. I have made friends on there too, but also been badly burned. Let’s just say this. NEVER trust the members. If someone is selling Xmas cookies or promises to make you amazing cover art, do not agree and do not give them money. I met this artist on there who showed me some great work…eh, never mind. LOL. There are def some folks to watch out for. Many of my “friends” on there also just sat back and actually told me to “email your books straight to my kindle. Here’s my addy.” They didn’t want to pay for anything. That’s a lot of friends expecting free books. I had contractual stipulations about that. I actually lost many friends when I told them I would not be sending them free books. Needless to say, except for posting reviews, I’m rarely on there. I’ve discovered it’s not a good place to make friends. That’s just been my experience though. Thanks for bringing this up.

    • http://tasha-turner.com/ Tasha Turner

      People are people. There are always some bad apples. Sorry you’ve had bad experiences. I know others where this has worked well. No one method works for everyone.

      • Tara Chevrestt

        Tasha, I’d love to see you address this new…justunfollow thing people are using for twitter. It comes in handy, but now we all have to follow everyone who follows us, even if we get tired of their incessant promo, or they unfollow you, until we’re all following a bunch of people we don’t like. LOL. Thoughts? Have you tried this? Looked into it?

        • http://tasha-turner.com/ Tasha Turner

          I use justunfollow or something similar when I hit my add follower limit. I found that sometimes it tells me people have stopped following me but they hadn’t. So I don’t use it automated and I double-check on twitter 1st. Twitter has a ratio for how many you can follow based on how many follow you. This can be frustrating when you want to follow someone and can’t. I see using it to free up “spaces”.

          No you don’t have to follow everyone who follows you but it is considered good twit manners to do so. I will unfollow people who only use twitter for “buy my book” tweets. But with anything there is no right or wrong… Well if you participate in any “like-fest” you should follow people back as its the agreement. But we do have to understand that people may unfollow us if we aren’t following them. Social media is about being social.

          • Tara Chevrestt

            Agree. There are just a few folks who get on my nerves on there. Should be some rules to follow. I mean, when I log onto twitter and I see 100 tweets from the same person…ugh. LOL. And then the ones that only tweet giveaways, and about 100 of them. Or this one author who was posting pictures made from keyboard symbols. The first one was cute, the 100th one, no. LOL But like I said, soon as you unfollow them, they unfollow you. They don’t even stop and wonder, “what did I do that was so annoying?”

            • http://tasha-turner.com/ Tasha Turner

              Tweet, tagging them, links to articles that talk about the kind off problem you see… Like hey x have you read Kristen Lamb’s post link… Or send a DM or other private message about why you will be unfollowing. Me, I only look at a couple screens/pages each time I log in and spammers get lost in the crowd.

              But if you aren’t interested in their thing why should they be interested in your stuff… It’s the way many people feel about social media relationships. There are people I’d like to follow but can’t without removing people I’m already following. Deciding who to remove can be difficult. Making it a “follow me” rule makes the decision easier and less fraught with emotional backlash.

  • http://www.facebook.com/cathy.brockman1 Cathy Brockman

    I love Goodreads.I go in as a reader and see what others like and don’t like its a great place . On the Profiles didnt know we need both and the difference!

    • http://tasha-turner.com/ Tasha Turner

      My biggest problem is my TBR list has really gotten out of hand.

  • Joss Landry

    I agree about Goodreads and a negative review, Tasha. I believe wars have begun this way. Basically, you’re right. Tread people like readers and you will get there as an author.

    • http://tasha-turner.com/ Tasha Turner

      Thanks Joss. Good to see you stopping by.


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