Let me start by saying that I think Goodreads is awesome. I think I actually had a Goodreads account before I had a Facebook account. I get bookish social networking more than I get traditional social networking because I’m a bookish sort of person.
Being an author opens up a whole new level of Goodreads. More than ever, writers are easily able to connect with readers. Having an author account on Goodreads gives one the ability to see all sorts of stuff about their book and the people who are reading it.
Now here comes one of the bad parts of Goodreads. When you’re a Goodreads author, and you log into your account to update the books you are reading or add a new Goodreads friend, it’s impossible to not notice a little box in the corner that tells you how many people have added your book to their Goodreads lists or how many people have reviewed it. So far, so good. Well, a curious person might be tempted to click through and see the details, and in case you had any doubts, authors are curious people.
The problem is that not everyone on Goodreads loves our book as much as we do. Besides being curious, writers are sensitive folks with easily bruised egos, and you know what can bruise an ego like nobody’s business? A one or two star review on our book from some random stranger. Sure writers have always been at the mercy of reviewers, but with Goodreads there’s suddenly a whole lot more reviewers out there. So, the simple solution to this problem is to stop clicking on our book’s details on Goodreads, but since we don’t have the willpower to resist, that’s not going to happen. So, Goodreads, if you’re reading this, offer your authors the option to block those bad ratings and bad reviews from their view.
And Goodreads, as long as I’m handing out advice, something needs to be done about the way people give stars to a book. It’s way too easy to accidentally hand out stars. I know I’m not the only one who has ever accidentally given out a small amount of stars to a book I actually loved. In fact, I don’t understand why it’s possible to give stars to a book that I haven’t yet marked as “read”. Why are we allowed to give stars to books we have only marked as “to-read”? What’s the point of that?
Another thing I’ve heard, but don’t know much about is that there’s some sort of deal where Goodreads users can reach new levels and gain new privileges on the site. Getting to these new levels entails rating and reviewing books, and probably 99 percent of the people out there do this honestly, but there’s always going to be that person who figures out a way to game the system. It may not be easy to track, but Goodreads, you might want to look at some of your users who exhibit some suspicious rating and reviewing behavior, you know like someone who rates a book that doesn’t even have an advance copy floating around yet.
I still think Goodreads is a pretty awesome website, but then my book hasn’t been published yet, and for a writer with a book that will soon be out in the world, Goodreads can be a bit frightening.