a website where readers review books

If I’m in the mood to feel utterly despondent, should I visit Goodreads?

Yes. Goodreads is the perfect site for authors who enjoy despairing of their career or of life in general. Many authors report feeling shock and depression upon reading harsh Goodreads reviews of their books straight from readers who don’t hold back on their opinions. An author who mistrusts his/her high confidence in his/her work can rest assured that Goodreads will obliterate all illusions of success.

Who uses Goodreads?

Readers use it to review books and enter giveaways. Reader reviews are meant for other readers, not for authors, and are sometimes snarky or otherwise harsh. Some Goodreads reviewers are impressively prolific; you’ll see reviews by the same reviewers on the top pages of many books’ reviews. These reviewers tend to have a large following of other Goodreads reviewers who “like” their posts, pushing them to the top of the results. The most popular GR reviewers seem to be the snarkiest, so don’t take it personally if one of them trashes your book. In fact, just don’t read your Goodreads reviews unless you have some super-strength emotional armor. Whatever you do, you should NEVER COMMENT ON A GOODREADS REVIEW. This rule is carved in the bedrock of all authors’ sanity. I’m serious–don’t do it. GR reviewers hate it, and they will respond to you not only on the Goodreads website but on every other website where they can find you. “But I’m just going to politely point out that the reviewer got a fact wrong.” No no no. You cannot respond. It’s carved in the bedrock! BEDROCK!!

How can I put my book on Goodreads?

A Goodreads librarian might put your book on Goodreads for you soon after your book deal is announced, or you can do it yourself using your author account. If you want to make changes to any details on your book’s page, you can use your author account to do so. It’s pretty easy!

Should I make an author account?

Yes, if you want to answer reader questions that are posted on your book’s page, or if you want to make any changes to your book’s description. No, if you don’t want to be tempted to read your Goodreads reviews or (heaven help you) comment on reviews of your book.

Should I rate my own book on Goodreads?

Some authors do. But some people find this distasteful. As another option, you can always post a little note about your book as a review without giving your book any stars.

I got a negative review on Goodreads!

I would say that I feel sorry for you, but this is just your due. And I also have to point out that everyone uses Goodreads differently–some people give 4 or 5 stars only to books that have made them weep diamond tears or otherwise changed the fabric of their reality. Some people give a book 1 star simply as a way of noting to themselves that they don’t plan to read this book, and not as a reflection of the quality of the book. And so many wonderful books on Goodreads have low ratings. Who can say why? Look up your favorite books on Goodreads and scroll through the reviews–I promise you’ll find opinions that you just can’t give merit to. Go ahead and try it. I’ll wait here.

I got a positive review on Goodreads! I’ll just leave a comment thanking the reviewer–

What did I say?? Don’t respond to Goodreads reviews! Honestly, some reviewers find it creepy to know that you are reading their reviews. It’s hard for them to share their honest opinions with their friends on Goodreads when they feel you are watching them. Just back away from the keyboard.

Should I review other author’s books on Goodreads?

Sure! They will be so happy to see their review number go up. But keep in mind that authors are your colleagues and seldom appreciate your criticism. How awkward will you feel when you are sitting on a panel next to an author who remembers that you only gave her book two stars on Goodreads? Honestly, don’t give another author less than 5 stars unless you want to strain your connections. If you can’t do that, don’t rate books on Goodreads. And if you have already given books low ratings, delete those reviews. You’re free to disagree with me on this, but if you’re the kind of author who’d rather be safe than sorry when it comes to networking, take my advice.

I ignored all of your sage advice and responded to a Goodreads review!

Apologize to everyone. Step away from your keyboard. Disappear into the ether.