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The Delicate Balancing Act that is Goodreads

A reader asks:

Your recent posts on social media and professionalism have got me thinking about Goodreads. I have a Goodreads page in my personal name. I haven’t shelved/reviewed anything there for about a year, because I am trying to work out what to do regarding that professional/personal differentiation (pen name/real name). I assume it is better to start with my pen name now (as you said in one of your earlier posts about establishing social media etc)?

I know what to do in other forms of social media to be professional, but Goodreads has me a little stumped. There is a lot of chatter about how to be a professional author on Facebook, Instagram, twitter etc, but very little is ever said about Goodreads. I would feel very awkward (once published) having/writing reviews that were anything but golden for fellow authors. Is it better to not actually review, but just shelve? I’d really appreciate your insight into managing Goodreads as an author, and its place for the unpublished.
This is a great question and something we’ve actually discussed and debated in the agency. How do we as agents keep an honest Goodreads account because, frankly, I don’t know that I’m comfortable reviewing books when those authors, their editors, and their agents are also my colleagues.
I’m not sure I have an answer for you other than that you need to do what is comfortable for you.
I have left reviews on books, I have rated books, and I’ve used Goodreads simply as a way to track what I read. As time goes by, I find I post fewer details and simply use it to keep track of my reading. That being said, if a book really resonates with me I will leave a short review and rating. I suppose really investigating my account will show you what I loved and what I didn’t, but at least I’m not, hopefully, offending anyone.
I’d love to hear from other authors and publishing professionals how you handle this. Goodreads is an increasingly useful piece in an author’s marketing plan, but how do you keep an active and interesting account while balancing your relationships within the publishing community? And, do authors really care? If the review is respectful and constructive are you okay with a writing colleague leaving you fewer than four stars?

Category: Blog


One comment

  1. It’s an interesting conundrum. I’m not sure what to do myself, but I think perhaps if I’m not sure I’m better off not reviewing for the moment. Thank you for the insight, Jessica.

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