Goodreads Dos and Don’ts: A Guide for Authors

Dear authors: please, for the love of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, stop spamming readers on Goodreads.

Goodreads is a social network specifically for readers, but it’s not the only place to chat about books. There’s LibraryThing. And Shelfari. And Facebook has umpteen million groups about everything from Vonnegut to vaginal rejuvenation.

Goodreads is the top dog, and it’s built specifically for bookworms. It’s our thing; pure as the driven slush.

I use Goodreads mostly as a catalog of the books I’ve read. I like to post reviews and see what others (many of them my friends from Facebook) think of those same books. Because it’s social.

At the end of the year, Goodreads will tell you how many books you read that year. That’s pretty cool.

But I’ve noticed a lot of authors trying to turn Goodreads into yet another social media platform to broadcast spam about their own books. PLEASE STOP. I get enough of this on Twitter (#BuyMyBook) already.

Goodreads has a function to recommend books to your friends. If someone says they like thrillers, I’ll likely recommend Lexicon by Max Barry because I think that book is awesome. I don’t recommend my own books to people. Unless, for example, someone says “I love mysteries set in national parks with mid-20s bipolar female protagonists,” then I’d probably recommend Reagan’s Ashes, because that book sounds perfect for that person.

Authors, stop recommending your own books to people. Just stop it.

Stop creating event after event to promo your own book. Stop inviting me into your fan groups. If I’m a fan, I’ll seek you out and join your group. Because I want to, not because you sent me a dozen messages telling me I can download a free short story if I join your stupid fan group.

Here’s what I do as an author, on Goodreads:

  • Tend to the upkeep of my author page.
  • Add pages for my books when they’re released
  • Create paperback giveaways for said books
  • When people leave me reviews for my books, sometimes (politely) comment or click like on said reviews
  • Respond to Q&A discussions when readers ask me things

And that’s it. I don’t contact strangers and tell them how much they’d love my book. You shouldn’t either. Besides, which would you trust more: a recommendation from the author, or a recommendation from your friend about that author?

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