Are You Puzzled By How Goodreads Wants You to Post Reviews?

by Marylee MacDonald in For Readers, For Writers Who Need Readers
puzzle, jigsaw, jigsaw puzzle

Goodreads is a puzzle. Readers who haven’t gone on the site before find it hard to post reviews. Learn how to help your readers help you.
Image from Pixabay via reidy68

Most people can figure out how to post reviews on Amazon, but if you’re an author, you also want your readers to post reviews to Goodreads. When I’ve asked folks to do that, I’ve been surprised by the number who said they couldn’t figure out where to click or how to save.

Here’s a link to a Word document that walks first-timers through the process. If you’re an author, open the document and  click “save as” to save it to your hard drive. Then, edit it to your liking, put your name on it, and claim it as your own. Send it to your “street team” and anyone who agrees to post reviews on Goodreads. If you’re selling at book fairs, tuck an abbreviated version into the book.

To Post Reviews You Must First Sign Up

Goodreads is the largest book club on the planet. It’s the very best way I know for avid readers to discover books from other countries and to make new, book-loving friends. Of course, if you’re an author, you’ll want to give people who agree to review your book specific instructions about how to post reviews. (Goodreads has basic instructions on their help page.)

Goodreads will ask if you want to import your friends from other social media sites, such as Facebook, and if you do, that will give you insight into the books they’re reading and that you might also want to discover.

Of course, every writer I know would deeply appreciate you posting a review. If you’re not already a member, go here to join. ( As you read books, you can share a favorite passage or tell your friends how much progress you’ve made. (Maybe you’re half way through or nearing the climax.)

writing reviews

To begin writing your review, mark the book complete. Then, click on the stars beneath the book’s cover image. That will open a new box where you can add your comments.

When you mark the book complete on Goodreads, Goodreads will suggest that you publish a review. Take this opportunity to write a brief review and tell other potential readers whether or not you enjoyed the book. But, don’t stop there.

Unknown authors’ careers depend on the number of reviews their books garner. These reviews provide a kind of social proof that the book is a worth reader’s investment of time.

Add A Book to One of Listopia’s Lists

If you enjoyed a book and want to help an author find more readers, here’s what you can do.

Go to Goodreads’ Lists. Add the book to two or three of Listopia’s lists. Then let the author know which lists you’ve put the book on.

Goodreads reviews Listopia

The next best thing to having a book make it to the front of Amazon or Google is to have the book rank highly on Listopia. That’s also the cheapest way to have the book gain traction. The author doesn’t have to pay Google’s Adsense for publicity. All they have to do is make sure readers who’ve loved their book go the extra step and vote for it.

If you’re an author, go to Goodreads and look for lists that would “fit” your book. Also, look for books written by authors who could use more exposure. I, for one, find it much easier to promote other people’s writing than to be constantly pandering my own work.

Follow up by going to Facebook and asking your friends to vote for the same book. You can advocate for a book whether you’re the author, a fan, or a friend.

Examples to Show You the Power of Listopia

Perhaps I can illustrate this with specific examples. Here are some categories that fit my books and that of a writer I deeply admire, the Irish short story writer (and now novelist) Billy O’Callaghan.

I’d love to see Billy’s very fine story collection (The Things We Lose, The Things We Leave Behind) make it to #1 in Goodreads’ Contemporary Short Stories list. That’s because this dedicated author still falls in the “waiting to be discovered” category.

Listopia is one of the easiest ways for an author like Billy O’Callaghan to get exposure.

The Things We Lose, The Things We Leave Behind by Billy O’Callaghan

Bonds of Love & Blood by Marylee MacDonald (This book would also fit in the Contemporary Short Story Collection list.)

 Montpelier Tomorrow by Marylee MacDonald (A couple of years ago this novel ranked highly on the “Non-Chick-Lit Books for Women” and “Books You Need Tissues to Read” Lists. It would be nice to see it ranking on these lists again, but I haven’t had time to ask my Goodreads’ friends to vote for it.)

Interact With Authors

Another secret you can share with your reviewers is this: Goodreads is a great place to interact with the authors of books you’ve enjoyed. It’s not scary. Really.

Ask questions. Authors love to know what piques their readers’ curiosity. Even well known authors are happy to respond to brief queries.

Of course, unknown writers like me are also thrilled because we’re trying to build our “fanbase.” (I actually hate the term fanbase because it reminds of the long ago era of Elvis Fan Clubs and Beatles-mania. Maybe it’s better to say authors are trying to build a readership of folks who look forward to forthcoming books.)

Ask the author

Follow your favorite authors and ask them questions. Authors are happy to interact with readers, and Goodreads gives you a chance to have your questions answered.

Certain authors are featured by Goodreads, but if you mark authors as ones you want to follow, their names will pop up on the “Ask the Author” page.

Create and Organize Your Bookshelves

Here’s another tip for making the most of Goodreads. Organize your books by genre. This allows you to keep track of your reading progress, and it lets you compare bookshelves with those of other readers. One of the very best ways to get connected into the Goodreads’ community is through sharing your enthusiasm about books you’ve discovered.

Before you can share, however, you’re best off setting up bookshelves that will align with the shelves of others who enjoy that same genre.

Organize your bookshelves so that you can compare books to those of your friends, and so that you can help readers discover new writers.

Go to the “My Books” page. You’ll have an opportunity to import books from Amazon. You can import some or all of them.

Then, you can decide which shelves to put them on. Click on the Bookshelves (edit) link, and create shelves to your liking. You can always go back and change the names.

Recommend Books to Your Friends

Goodreads offers a unique opportunity for friends of new authors to help spread the word. To send a friend a book recommendation, navigate to the book’s page and click on the “recommend it” link at the top right side of the page. Then just follow the instructions on the next page. Goodreads will pre-select readers whose preferences match the book’s genre.

recommend books

Navigating around Goodreads means poking around its nooks and crannies. That little “Recommend it” text on the top right side of the page can do a lot to boost a new author’s readership.

In the case of Billy O’Callaghan’s latest book—Dead House—I would say the book falls as much in the “literary fiction” camp as it does either mystery of horror. So, the final step you can take to help a new author is to find those readers who would enjoy books like his.

recommend book to friends

Recommending books to your friends can help build a groundswell of enthusiasm for new authors. If you genuinely like a book, take the time to let other people know the book exists. With a million new books produced every year, how else will readers know which ones to choose?

If you recommend a book to your friends, you’re not imposing on them. You’re sharing your enthusisam, and that’s what Goodreads is all about.

Join the Worldwide Book Club

I hope you’ll join me on Goodreads. Find out about the site’s reading challenges, learn how you can set a goal for reading however many new books a year. Or find a book group that’s reading the Classics you’ve always meant to read, but never gotten around to. Delve into the literature of other countries and cultures. And, while you’re at it, explore the giveaways, deals, and new releases. If you genuinely love to discover new writers, then help them out with your reviews.

One more time…here’s the download link that has the instructions your reviewers will need. I tend to yammer on, so make sure you only pull out the parts you absolutely need. Make sure you give your reviewers specific instructions about how you’d like them to recommend your book to their friends. Note that I provide a tip about comparing the book you’re reviewing to a book that’s a bestseller.

For more tips on using social media to build an author platform, read this post. If you’re trying to find a publisher read my post on “5 Reasons Agents Take A Pass (And How to Get Publishers Anyway)“.


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