Making Use of Goodreads

I’m a big fan of Goodreads, the social networking website that focuses on books: what you’re reading, what you’ve read, reviews and recommendations, etc. I even have a fair number of books marked and rated on my virtual bookshelf, thanks to a friendly competition several years ago with Steve Diamond when we raced each other to post as many book ratings as possible; I won, but he’s read (and rated) many more books than I have in the time since.

And that, dear reader, is the issue at hand: it has been a long time since I done much with my Goodreads account, and in that time I’ve had a book published, and I realize that my needs have changed. I’m still a reader, of course (current book: FEED by Mira Grant), but I’m also an author, which means I have more things, and different things, to communicate than I did before.

So I’m asking you guys: do you use Goodreads? How do you use it? What information do you look for? What do you wish your favorite authors did with it? If you’re an author yourself, how do you leverage Goodreads to communicate with readers?

18 Responses to “Making Use of Goodreads”

  1. Terry says:

    I have a Goodreads account (and reviewed I Am Not A Serial Killer link, maybe). I use it to keep track of what I read, see what friends are reading, and I keep an ever-growing to-read list. They’ve also made it really easy to review a book there and crosspost it to my blog, so that’s a win.

    As far as my favorite authors and personalities, I enjoy seeing what they’re reading and I enjoy when they interact with their followers — like commenting on reviews, etc. I think Jim C. Hines does a good job with his account.

  2. Bryce says:

    I import my blog into it, and I show what I’m reading and the like. I still review books (though I tend to fall more into the “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all” category when it comes to book reviews. Don’t bite the hand that might one day feed, I say.)

  3. Walt says:

    I don’t use Goodreads as frequently as I used to, but one of my favorite features was being to drop notes and keep track of pages as I read along.

    As far as what I would like to see from an author, just get your books inserted into the database. I’ve only ever had to insert one book (was a relatively new book from an author that wasn’t very popular) and it was kind of a hassle. Not that inserting the information was difficult, there was just a lot to enter (ISBN, Publisher, Publish Date, etc…)

    Outside of tracking my own books and adding reviews, I didn’t do much else. I follow a few people to get recommendations and such, but I haven’t spent a whole lot of time experimenting with the functionality of the site.

  4. AndrewV says:

    I use Goodreads often to track what I have read and what I thought about it. I find this helps me recall what I did and did not like about the work.

    I wish authors would post reviews of their own on Goodreads instead of just giving a book they’ve read a star rating. The reason why I would like to see this is because I am always amazed at how deep an author can look into a story. Whenever I read an author’s review of a book I feel like I am really starting to understand the storytelling process.

    For example, I was reading The Ultimate Hitchhikers’ Guide recently and was enjoying it but felt like something was off. Then I heard Brandon Sanderson say on Writing Excuses, “Adams and Pratchett are both great but I like Pratchett more because Pratchett makes me care.”

    That was exactly what was missing for me but I couldn’t figure it out on my own. I felt Adam’s work was amusing but I didn’t honestly care about the characters. Knowing that helped me tweak one of my own short stories to make sure that I was giving an emotional impact while simultaneously making my audience laugh.

    Now, I understand that many authors do not want to bash a work they did not particularly care for in a public setting, either as professional courtesy or because they do not want to insult someone whom they may need to rely on in the future or they don’t want one of ‘those’ reputations. Maybe they might not even want to be critics, knowing how it feels to read a review of their own work that wasn’t exactly glowing. I still wish more of them did it, though. I’d be helpful for all us wannabe published writers.

    Hope this helps, Dan.

    Hope this helps, Dan.

  5. Sean - Texas says:

    I have a goodreads account but haven’t really used it. I’m still trying to convince myself to invest time in yet *another* social networking site.

    Speaking of which, Dan, what is your policy on facebook/facebook friends?

  6. Steve D says:

    Ah the memories. Those races were quite fun and wasted so much of my work time. Loved it.

    As I was making my latest update list, I happened to be looking at the accounts of a few of the authors I know. Some observations:

    1) I took great satisfaction in seeing that the ratings I gave books almost always was identical to the ratings they gave the same ones. Yes I seek validation. Please tell me you aren’t surprised.

    2) They typically marked less books, but they almost always had comments on them. They didn’t have to be long, but they said something. To me, it was interesting to see what an author was reading and liking.

    I don’t imagine I’m the only person who likes to notice this kind of stuff. If I was a full-time author, I’d do it. If I was an author with another full-time job, prolly not. I think many readers like to know an author’s thoughts on other books–hence the reason for cover-quotes. Authors tend to think a tad different than readers (or reviewers), so it’s cool to get their opinions.

    Just my two pesos.

  7. I used to…but I’m so busy reading my books and finding new ones that i don’t keep up with it..I’m in fecking mourning..James Lee Burke may have broke my heart..sigh*

  8. Jim Bob says:

    I actually started reading this blog post on goodreads. Its how I keep track of all my favorite authors blogs in one easy spot. I agree w/ Steve (Sorry Steve, I’m not an author – though I do read your excellent reviews). I enjoy seeing what authors I like are reading both because its often something I will like and put on my to-read list and because its interesting to see what influences them and what their tastes are.

    It is a big bonus if someone recommends an author to me and they are a goodreads author, as going through their read list and ratings can be a good indicator if I will like their work. Not always mind you, but its nice to see.

  9. SaintEhlers says:

    I would use it less if I could get at it at work. Unfortunately, Nutshellmail still doesn’t plug into them.

  10. Jeff says:

    I use it. Mostly to keep track of what I’m been reading. I have personal reading goals that I set about books I want to have read by the end of each year.

    I do look at what other people have been reading to get ideas of what I might want to read next. I also look at the ratings of books to help me decide if a book is worth reading. I’m more likely to read a book if a friend has read it, or if an author I like has reviewed it. (Friends only have to post that they read it, authors have to review it because they don’t work hard enough at being my friend.)

    I don’t use the “mark to read” feature, but that’s because I have an e-reader so I just make a list of books I want to read on it–usually by downloading sample chapters when available.

  11. Rose says:

    I use Goodreads a lot, and am currently an active member since I joined the community earlier this year (I never knew it existed before then, so I’m a latecomer). I use it to keep track of the books I actively read, as well as have the opportunity to write reviews and participate in group challenges when I have the time (I usually just spot in the groups I’m a part of – unfortunately I don’t have the time to do all the activities in them unless they’re the challenges I’m setting for myself).

    I also use the site to get an idea of what other people think of a work, but I usually take them with a grain of salt. When I take a trip to the library, I’ll use my Goodreads account on the library computers and try to figure out if I should check out the books I grab from the shelf. Or I’ll write down a book title that interests me if I’m in a bookstore (usually B&N) and look it up on Goodreads later.

  12. Mike says:

    I just joined a few weeks ago as a facebook friend of mine started linking her news feed to it. I started adding books from my favorite authors. It made me look through my bookshelf and find books I still need to read, that I’ve owned for years. I’m also debating doing the book swap once I get to a more permanent address

  13. Caitrin says:

    I use Goodreads to keep track of what I’m reading (I have a reading goal this year) as well as to keep track of what I *want* to read, otherwise I would forget. I don’t really use it for the Authors, though if I favorite an Author and they have linked their Blogs somehow I get a weekly digest of links to blog posts by my fav authors.

  14. admin says:

    Sean: my policy on Facebook is “please friend me, but don’t invite to join you farm or become a fan of your cat.”

  15. Cid says:

    First off, I loved, loved, loovveedd Feed!!!

    I use Goodreads a lot. I’m naturally really organized, so the idea of all the bookshelves and being able to look back and see what I read – and when – is very valuable to me. I’m also kicking off a book review site with some friends of mine and we plan on using Goodreads to back up our reviews, as well as provide additional information about books we review. I tend to have a lot to say when I love or hate a book – and someone who wants a quick “read it”/”don’t read it”. I know several authors who update their Goodreads with their blog posts. I also find the recommend feature helpful when people see that I like a book and suggest something else to me; granted not everyone uses it wisely but I’ve gotten several good suggestions that way. Goodreads also helps me organize my shopping list. I wish that Goodreads had some sort of notification that told you when an author has a new book up; about 80% of the time I already know a book is coming out, but sometimes one will slip through the cracks!

  16. I initially used the site because I was looking for a way to catalogue every book I’ve read and maybe eventually put some thoughts down on those books. Then I found that there was a “books to read” list, and I was hooked. Beyond having a digital bookshelf that I can look at fondly and remember reading certain books, the socail aspect is awesome. Now I can see what some of my favorite authors are reading and what they’re saying about those books, it rocks!

  17. The social aspect is awesome too. :)

  18. Andrew says:

    I love Goodreads. I probably use it too much, seeing as I love voting on lists, doing the trivia, and writing reviews. By the way, I loved your review on I am Not a Serial Killer. I like when authors do Q&A on it- it helps people from all over get their questions answered.

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