An Author's Guide to Surviving Goodreads
Also, Goodreads members can "friend" authors or become "fans." An author's fans will be notified of new blog post updates. And, if you're really special, your publisher might buy you a splashy Goodreads ad during your book's launch week, or organize a live author chat via Goodreads.
Reader reviews on Goodreads can be stressful for you, the author. Reviews are always stressful, but in this case other readers can comment on reader reviews, which means that you may open Goodreads one day to find a long and intricate multiparty discussion of your failings appended to your book's listing.
Sometimes, authors leap into the fray, adding their own comments to these discussions. Lately I've seen several blog headlines mentioning Goodreads dust-ups between authors and reviewers. It seems that a few YA authors used the "comment" space on GoodReads to argue with poor reviews they'd received there. And those comments did not go unnoticed by the reviewer, as the discussion spun out of control.
I discovered quite by accident that Goodreads has even built a little tap on the author's shoulder into its system. I clicked on "comment" under a reader review on my own book. The reader's "review" in this case was to post a very funny (and positive) comment that a blogger had written about my book. I hadn't seen this quote before, and so the comment I'd meant to add was "thanks for posting this!"
But Goodreads had a cow. The screen went yellow, and some warning text appeared. I wish I'd thought to save the language so that I could repeat it here. So I'm paraphrasing. It said that Goodreads wished to strongly caution me against commenting on reviews of my own work. There might have been mention of garlic and silver spikes, or DANGER in a big red font. Or maybe not. But that was the message.
Fear not, Goodreads. I already understand that 99.99% of the time, authors have nothing to gain from responding to a review. I suppose I'm reserving that 0.01% option for instances when there is blatant misinformation, or the review also wrongs or slanders someone other than the author. But... usually not even then.
If you do not have leather-thick skin, think twice about reading your Goodreads reviews. You might get a two star rating, as I did recently, attached to a review which basically admitted that the reader enjoyed the book. So why not four stars? You might ask your computer screen. Or at least three? You might waste a few hours of your life feeling grumpy about this.
I have two solutions, take your pick.
#1: Find a novel you admire, one which also sells a lot of copies, and read the Goodreads reviews. See? There are some stinkers in there. When I did this little exercise, I noted with amusement that one reviewer disliked the book in question because the romantic elements "quickly fizzled," and another because she disapproved of the pre-marital sex in it. In other words, the novel had too much sex for one reviewer and not enough for the other. If this excellent author can weather the storm, then so can I.
#2: Find a Goodreads buddy, and monitor each other's review action--you read her reviews, she reads yours. And share with each other only the useful stuff. Not only will this keep you from unnecessary and unproductive heartbreak, but it's a bonding experience.
Or--delete your account.