Ten Tips For Good Goodreads Author Behaviour

I’ve been a member of the book review site Goodreads for a while now. First I was simply a reviewer, and then when I published The Edge of Darkness I became a Goodreads author.

Since becoming an author, I have noticed some very bad behaviour from other authors on Goodreads. This advice extends to all author-readers interactions as well, including reviews on Amazon and blogs.

  1. Remember that everyone who comes across your writing left anywhere on the internet is a potential reader.
  2. Remember that not everyone who comes across your writing will want to read your book. However, if you behave in a civilised manner and use correct spelling, punctuation and grammar, as well as engage in polite conversation and extend the courtesy of being friendly, you might spike an interest in someone who does not already know about your book.
  3. Certainly do not, under any circumstances, alienate readers by insulting their reviews and opinions.
  4. If you do happen to get into a flame war or another sort of disagreement, apologise and bow out early. Do not under any circumstances keep the argument going. You’re not going to change anyone’s mind and you’ll alienate potential readers. Remember, readers are potential reviewers, and their opinions are what other people seek out.
  5. Do. Not. Threaten. Anyone. Ever. I don’t mean ‘I’m going to kill you’ threats (don’t make them either) but ‘If you’re mean to me, I’m never going to use my tenuous hold on the publishing industry to grant you minimal favours’ – such as giving quotes for a book cover, sending ARCs, participating in blog tours etc. Threatening makes you look pitiful, pathetic, and exposes your rather large ego.
  6. Do not, under any circumstance, enter a negative review of a book you rate highly simply to troll or otherwise engage in hostilities with the reviewer and their followers.
  7. Don’t accuse anyone of being a troll. Goodreads trolls aren’t half as bad as Facebook page, Youtube, FML, or 4Chan trolls. In comparison they are angels. The Goodreads trolls normally only come into a 1-star review to defend their 5-star book. But still, don’t accuse anyone of being a troll. Better yet, don’t engage with them at all.
  8. Don’t assume all reviewers are wannabe authors who are simply jealous they’re not published yet. Some people read because they like reading and don’t write at all.
  9. Don’t assume reviewers are not writers and say something stupid like, “Let’s see you write a book that sells millions and then you can comment!” This remark is just stupid. Just because someone is published doesn’t mean their book is any good. This is why we have reviews. Likewise, some of the best writers I’ve come across are unpublished. ‘Goodness’ does not sell books, marketing and hype does.
  10. Unless you have something positive to say, do not say anything. This should be obvious. When you’re engaging others, you don’t want to put them off checking out you and your writing by acting hostile or, for example, insulting someone. That is not to say you cannot comment on a negative review of a book you love: but you should learn how to use constructive criticism, the same kind of criticism your book should have taken before you published it. For example, do not write anything like the following.

Wow. Harsh review. You’re clearly a stupid ignorant teenage hater who needs to be disciplined by her uncaring parents.

To engage positively with others, you must respect them and their opinions. For example, the following example is appreciated one hundred times more than the former:

Although I really loved this book for these reasons, I can understand where you’re coming from and I respect your opinion as a fellow reviewer.

It’s all about brand, people. You are an online brand, and you do not want to taint your brand with negativity. You most certainly do not want your interactions to result in people marking your book ‘never-to-read’.

Does anyone have any more tips for good author behaviour?


6 thoughts on “Ten Tips For Good Goodreads Author Behaviour

  1. Archer says:

    Awesome post. More goodreads authors should behave this way, unlike some that I’ve encountered.

    Does a vanity publisher really count as publishing though?


    • Lissa says:

      The problem with not counting vanity publishing as real publishing means that indie publishing should also be discounted, alongside small presses that make the author do the majority of the work (cover art etc). I think publishing is publishing no matter if it’s indie, vanity, small press or traditional. Of course, with the rise of indie publishing I don’t understand why anyone would want to vanity publish.


  2. eileen says:

    Great post Lissa. I specifically like #8. I have all the respect in the world for people willing to share their souls… I just like to read them! Are yoy going to do a Goodreads rules for readers/reviewers as well?


    • Lissa says:

      Mmm… I don’t think I will. As far as I’m concerned, anything goes in a review so long as it’s about the book, not the author, and you tell me exactly why you did or did not like the book (no ‘OMG this book is SOOOOOOOO grate and *male love interest* is SOOOO HAWT’). I don’t believe in censorship or the ‘Be Nice’ phenomenon. If everyone wrote 5 star reviews, what would be the point? Besides, some of my favourite people are part of the Goodreads Snark Squad and tear apart shitty books that really deserve it. Sometimes people forget that Goodreads is a review site specifically there for sharing opinions.


  3. Lissa says:

    It’s really terrible. It’s one thing for non-traditional authors to behave in that way but you expect certain standards from those who have actually passed the gatekeepers.


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