Marketing Books on Goodreads

Of late I’ve been receiving friend requests on Goodreads from people who have (apparently) read 0 or 1 books and have a large and growing number of friends. Where they have 1 book listed, it is invariably their own.

Look, guys, I know all the marketeers tell you to use the power of social networking to plug your products, but, for heaven’s sake, if you’re going to do it, do it subtly, or don’t bother. And don’t pervert sites like Goodreads, which is there for readers to get together to talk about books, by using it as a platform for what amounts to spam.

I have loads of friends on social networks. I follow or friend them because they seem interesting and seem to share common interests, similar views, or a similar sense of humour. I’m not going to friend you just because you ask. And, yes, when a friend of mine, someone I’m interested in, says they’ve published a book, I do often go off and buy a copy – but that’s because it was someone I like, not just some stranger.

Twitter has a very useful “block and report for spam” button for people who are simply trying to sell me things. Sadly, Goodreads does not. So I’m developing a stock response to Goodreads spammers, which goes something like this:

Dear X,

You’ve sent me a friend request on Goodreads. It’s nice that you’re so keen, but I have to tell you, I deliberately “ignored” it. It’s nothing personal, I’m sure you’re a great guy and you’re nice to your kids and all that, but when I see a friend request from someone who has 1 book listed and 500+ friends, all I think is that you’re using Goodreads to market your book.

And that’s OK too, but if *all* you’re doing on Goodreads is marketing your book, I can’t see why I’d want to sign up for that.

The people I have friended on Goodreads have read, rated and reviewed many books, typically hundreds. They’re into this. They like sharing their views about books. Like me, they like reading. They’re not just trying to sell me something.

So, I’m sorry, but I’m more than just grist to your marketing mill. I know how hard it is to get people to notice one’s book, and I sympathise, God knows, but this is not the way.



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14 comments to Marketing Books on Goodreads

  • Nerine Dorman

    Great post! I’ve shared this link.

  • I completely agree! Besides, shouldn’t all writers be READERS too…and not just of their own books!

  • You’ll see commentators on Internet etiquette give this advice time and again – you can’t expect to go on Facebook or Twitter or Goodreads, promote the shit out of something and get the results you want without giving back in equal measure. Promoting oneself on social networking sites comes with an expectation of reciprocality and participation. That’s what networking means. It’s a critical detail that marketeers evidently miss.

    Now, MY book, on the other hand, is due out at the end of April, and… ;-)

  • Janette

    Brilliant. Will be stealing, with absolutely no shame. Thanks! ;-)

  • Personally I use Goodreads to keep up with what is being read and to list the books I own both physical and Kindle and review the books I have enjoyed reading. The fact that I have an author page is a plus. If and when people buy, read and review my work I’m totally chuffed.

    The thing that really annoys me on Goodreads is when someone sends me unsolicited emails inviting me to some mindless competition like “Who is your favourite literary villain?”

    • Lol.My favourite literary villain is the editor of my local free newspaper, whose spelling is so bad, even the headlines are full of errors. (This week, the front page had the headline “Opinions Sort on New Highway” – a new low, even for him.)

  • Nerine Dorman

    I’d rather build slowly as a trusted brand. I like Goodreads because it fulfills that voyeuristic need to see what other people are reading and what they think of the books I either loved or loathed.

    And of course it’s a bonus that it works so well with Twitter and Facebook, and my blog. Value-added pluses, IMO.

    • Yes, there must be a way to leverage Goodreads as a review site. The five star system just doesn’t seem nuanced enough. We need some way of saying “Of all the people who gave 5 stars to BookX, the average rating for BookY was 3.2 stars.” Or something like that.

  • Graham

    I have not been spammed that much on Goodreads, but it is obvious, as you point out, when it is happening. I really like the site. I like being able to review books and add my tiny influence to the book reading world. I like to see what other people are reading and what they thought of it. I do get amused when someone selects a whole lot of “to-reads” – will they be like the 500 or so unread books that are scattered on shelves around my house?

  • [...] Goodreads and other related sites just to promote your book. Graham Storrs has a really goodpost about [...]

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