Hello, SE readers. I would venture there isn’t an author who at one time or another, hasn’t been upset with Amazon and its review policies.
It doesn’t matter if you are a verified purchase owner of a book if Amazon even slightly suspects you might have a connection with the author they won’t approve your review, saying you might be “biased” in favor of the author. (I’ve wondered if someone posted a one-star review if they would reject it.)
However, Amazon will often allow what appear to be trolls to post their scathing reviews—verified purchase or not. And if we protest… Well, let’s say I’ve read horror stories about authors whom Amazon has taken down their books due to various reasons .
And even though I shop Amazon more often than any other retailer, I often wonder how much simpler our lives would be without them. I do know they need more competition!
Unfortunately, Amazon is the number one bookseller. It’s the place where people go to read reviews of books and other products—even if they purchase the items somewhere else. And we know that authors, particularly Indie authors thrive on reviews.
So, what are we to do? Although there isn’t a perfect alternative to Amazon, there I’m going to talk about another option today, Goodreads. And while this post may be a little elementary for most writers, I’m going to highlight some of the positives.
Yes, Amazon owns Goodreads but so far, they haven’t been as strict about who they allow to post reviews. Reviews that have been turned down by Amazon have appeared on Goodreads.
All authors should create a Goodreads author page and make sure to list all your books along with the purchase links. The author page is different from a reader profile, although the two are linked together.
Here are just a few things authors can do with Goodreads:
- Link the RSS feed from your blog. Your newest posts will appear on your author page. Readers can also follow you. If you’re not comfortable with “friending” people you don’t know, the follow feature also enables someone to keep up with your activity.
- For those with self-hosted websites, Goodreads offers author widgets. You
can attach a code to your book pages on your site, and it will display them in order of popularity. (I have not been able to get the widget to work on my WordPress.com blog.)
- Question and Answer section. Readers and fans can ask authors specific questions. There are also generic questions from Goodreads.
- Private groups. I belong to a couple of Goodreads groups but haven’t created one, so I can’t speak to the pros and cons. However, much like Facebook, you can set the group to Public, Private, Restricted, or Secret. People who join can set their email preferences to receive notices of new activity.
- As a reader, take a few minutes to post your reviews to Goodreads. Authors thrive on reviews, and you might brighten an author’s day. Let’s face it, we all like to know people read and enjoy our work. And even though your review might be less than favorable, it could help an author to improve on weak areas for their upcoming books. You also have the option of allowing the review to post to Facebook and/or Twitter.
How do you use Goodreads as an author? As a reader? Do you check your book reviews there? Leave reviews for books you’ve read? I don’t expect anything to replace Amazon in the foreseeable future, but in the meantime, we can utilize Goodreads as both authors and readers.