J to tha M: J Brings Up Goodreads

And Off We Go…

medium_6478709717J:  So, what about Goodreads? good or evil?

M:  I’m not on it much

J:  But many readers are. what about readers who go straight to the bad reviews before deciding if they want a book?

how relevant are the reviews on Goodreads as compared to those on Amazon?

Are they even relevant at all?

Does goodreads serve a purpose in that readers can share books with friends the way they would by word of mouth, or has it become useless because of shameless marketing?

M:  I think it’s a balance like anything else

I don’t think bad reviews tank a book–unless they’re ALL bad

It’s hard for authors to read bad reviews–we’ve all been there

but, looking at it from a purely reader standpoint, it’s true that most bad reviews actually help convince me to buy a book

it’s weird, but I think most readers don’t trust the gushy, glowing reviews

what with the pay for review scandal and the realization that a lot of people get friends and family to leave reviews

and some (not all) of the more professional review sites seem to be somewhat…how shall I say..biased toward giving good reviews

J:  It’s hard to give a bad review when you get a free book

M:  I skim through the 3, 2, and 1 star reviews to see if what people are saying are things that seriously bug me

I find those actually more honest and informative for the most part

of course, there are trolls, and they seem to be on Goodreads more

but I think I can tell the difference, as can most readers

J:  I think Goodreads does serve a purpose

in that readers have a place to give honest opinions and writers have a place to share their work

but as with everything, it’s been abused in many ways

M:  yeah. that happens when human beings get involved in a social group atmosphere

and I think it started with the intention of just being a sharing and talking about books you read

but it’s become such a commercial marketing tool, too

and wearing both a reader and writer hat, I can see both sides

but it’s kind of a shame, because now it’s hard to trust any reviews you read–to take them at face value

I mean, we’ve touched on this before. I’ve see author groups where everyone passes around a copy of their book to everyone in the group and they all leave reviews for each other

(and not just Goodreads groups)

and books get a whole bunch of reviews

and yes, they say they don’t expect or require a good review, but…

J:  I agree. In those circles, they’re all often friends

and as much as I tell people your book is awesome, they know I’m your friend

M:  I mean, if you give an honest not-five-star review of a book that didn’t appeal to you, what are the chances other people in the group are going to ask you to read theirs, or want to give your book a good review, honest or not

J:  and there is that

M:  and how many readers who aren’t writers know this is what’s happening? they just see a bunch of high reviews and think they’re from people who just picked the book up on their own and decided to review

reviews have just become goal numbers, like a lot of things

how many followers

and to me, if you’re just looking to increase numbers and improve algorithms, you’re losing what books should be at the core

simply writing a story that appeals, or reading and sharing the same

J:  And also take some of the joy out of writing them

M:  exactly. and reading them

I saw something the other day, where a blogger reviewed a book, and then at the end, encouraged people to go “like” her reviews on Goodreads and Amazon

J:  siiiiigh

M:  so now, not only are authors looking for more and higher numbers, so are reviewers

and I’m not completely naive. I know the great and mysterious Powers That Be tend to look only at those kind of numbers – whether you’re a reader or writer or a whatever it is you do

higher numbers give you more power and influence in whatever world you play in

but it’s still kind of **sigh**

J:  It’s hard not to clamor for them when you know that’s what others are looking at

You want to be above it. outside of it

M:  it’s hard not to get caught up in all that and lose sight of the joy of reading and writing

but I still cling to my version of the fluffcloud that if you write an appealing book, all those numbers will follow

J:  it’s just hard to trust that when you’re not sure how people are finding it to begin with

M:  and I say “appealing,” not “good,” because different people’s definition of “good” varies

J:  sure, one person tells one person, etc.

but Goodreads was supposed to be a way to get it to that one person

M:  an author can scrounge up 30 or 40 5 star reviews from friends or professional circles or whatever, but not 500 or 1000 (not saying that authors with 30 or 40 5 star reviews are doing this, but you know what I mean)

those are the books that I trust appeal to a wide audience

that’s the kind of book I want to write

the kind that as soon as you’re done, you want to talk about it and tell everyone

I love that feeling, and, man, it would really feed my own personal happiness to be able to give that to others

so I try to make that my goal

J:  Well, I tend to think your book rests in that category

but it hasn’t been seen by enough people yet

again. people probably don’t listen to me when I talk about it because I’m your friend

M:  well, thank you. It’s a start, and I’m always wanting to learn more, do better, put more emotional oomph into the next thing I write

I want to make that connection I feel after reading a story that really hits me

J:  the thing is, every book has “issues”

depending on who’s reading it

I mean, Twilight, which I’m prepared to admit hooked me, had stuff that pissed me off. made me roll my eyes or question my attachment

there’s always something

no matter what you do or learn, you can’t make everyone happy

M:  no, and that’s hard to accept, especially when you read that critical review

but what one person doesn’t like might float another’s boat

and it doesn’t always make sense, simply because everyone is different

I mean, I can read two books that have similar issues, whether grammar, structure, plot or character development

and in one book, I can’t get past it

but in another, even though the issues are similar, the story or writing or characters hit that chord

and I can overlook those same issues that made me DNF the other book

so…I’ve just decided it’s magic

J:  sometimes

M:  you can’t necessarily define or explain or reason, but you know when you read if it’s there or if it isn’t

J:  look how much you actually had to say, even though you’re not on Goodreads much

M:  not much was actually about Goodreads, though

J:  Goodreads is just the tool

heh. tool

M:  Goodreads, Amazon, the whole review thing

the whole chasing numbers thing

I think that’s my dissatisfaction with a lot of social media

it’s not about communication so much, but chasing numbers. making yourself feel important, powerful, liked

J:  As long as you don’t let it blind you to the fun

M:  exactly

J:  you don’t have to succumb to the numbers game

M:  but I think a lot of people do

J:  and still use Twitter for fun

M:  if you find that kind of thing fun, see

and some people don’t

J:  I find talking to you on twitter fun

M:  I don’t find talking on twitter particularly fun

sometimes it is

but it just ain’t my thing

J:  no worries

M:  I like talking to you, just not on twitter. heh.

I love chatting and communicating with other readers, writers, everyone

Just not on a forum where everything has turned into something else. Am I using the right words? Good content? The right hastags? bleh.

When I chat with someone, it’s because I want to and enjoy it, not because I should or have to. If that makes sense.

J: Sorry if I knocked you off your fluffcloud. You’re so rarely up there.

M: Right? Here’s my swandive off the fluffcloud

brb

 

photo credit: Arek Olek via photopin cc