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message 1: by Martin (new)

Martin Bannon (Martin_Bannon) | 6 comments Have the rules changed recently on this?

In a post at christinelondon.com, entitled "Getting The Most From GoodReads – An RWA Workshop," Patrick Brown is quoted as saying:

To garner those all important reviews, identify people that would like your kind of book, contact them and offer to give them a free book for a fair and honest review.

“I noticed you liked ___________(title of book like yours). I think you would like mine as well.”


I'd love to do this, but I didn't think authors were permitted to contact readers about their books unless they were responding to the reader's post.

What's up with that?


message 2: by Jon (last edited Aug 08, 2012 05:35PM) (new)

Jon Etheredge (JonEtheredge) | 495 comments It's spam. If I contact a reader it's because I noticed them looking at me (they put me on a special shelf or something). I'll sometimes offer a free story or book - always Kindle or PDF so they don't feel materially obligated. And it's always no-strings-attached when I initiate contact. No rating or review is requested, but no veto will ever be exercised. All I want is to know whether they liked the story, and an emoticon in an email will do just fine.


message 3: by rivka, Librarian Moderator (new)

rivka | 517 comments Mod
That may be a misquote. I'll ask Patrick to clarify tomorrow.


message 4: by Steven (new)

Steven Drachman | 159 comments Martin wrote: "Have the rules changed recently on this?

In a post at christinelondon.com, entitled "Getting The Most From GoodReads – An RWA Workshop," Patrick Brown is quoted as saying:

To garner those all imp..."


Martin -

I'd be really surprised if that's ok. I'd recommend against it. I don't even offer the book to people who have put me on their to-read list; I just think it's intrusive. Some time ago, I got one of those emails from an author, and I really didn't like it. I sort of reluctantly accepted the book because the author said he knew where I lived and I didn't want to make him angry. It was like a 2 and a half star book - some good stuff but some bad stuff - but I gave it 4 stars, I decided to just review the good parts because the author sort of frightened me. (No, Jon, this isn't a story about you, I respect you writing a lot!) Anyway, then I got an enraged email from the author calling me unfair and mean-spirited. (I'd referred his CreateSpace book as an "indie" book, which offended him.) So I emailed him to leave me alone and deleted the review.

All of which is to say that if it's happened to me, and it was unpleasant, I'm probably not alone, and I assume that most readers would not be delighted to hear from you. Just do a giveaway and give away as many as you want. Give away 50 books in a giveaway if you want to. Give away 100 if you want. People who want the book will enter the giveaway, and some will review you.

Regards, Steven


message 5: by Jon (new)

Jon Etheredge (JonEtheredge) | 495 comments Thanks for the boost, Steven, but I agree with you about the "to-read" list. It's like a list of readers who can breathe. My freebies are reserved for special occasions, like when a few readers put a book on their "wish list", or engage me in a good thread. And I make it clear that I'm sending the book to read and enjoy - NOT to review. But if they don't like it, they are free to say so here on GR, on Amazon, their blog or wherever.

This isn't to say I'm an angel. It's enlightened self-interest at work. My reviews will eventually pile up, led by people with honest opinions who are predisposed to like what I do.


message 6: by Steven (new)

Steven Drachman | 159 comments Right - when a reader engages you first, it's fine.

An exception of course is that if a blogger puts your book on the to-read list, it's OK to contact him, according to the rules of his blog. But some people have thousands of books on their to-read list.


message 7: by Martin (new)

Martin Bannon (Martin_Bannon) | 6 comments So, everyone seems to agree that what Patrick described is bad protocol, but if he was quoted correctly, then he's promoting it. He's Goodreads community manager and head of author programs, so one can assume that what he suggests is no longer against the rules of author-reader contact. If readers are as averse to it as some are suggesting, then why would Patrick recommend it? Does he have statistics to suggest it's desirable and/or beneficial?


message 8: by Steven (new)

Steven Drachman | 159 comments Yeah, it's mysterious. Let's see if he clarifies this tomorrow.


message 9: by Martin (new)

Martin Bannon (Martin_Bannon) | 6 comments M.R. wrote: "Ummm... in this day and age authors and readers are the same thing. Everyone has a Kindle Book out. Those are who use places like this the most. The old rules of literature changed when the NYT Be..."

Goodreads has rules about author-reader contact. Since this is their site, they will block you or cancel your account if you don't abide by them, so yes, we can all "engage anyone we want," as long as we accept the consequences.

I;m just inquiring as to how the rules may have changed in this regard.


message 10: by Jon (last edited Aug 08, 2012 11:16PM) (new)

Jon Etheredge (JonEtheredge) | 495 comments Is it just me or is there the aroma of ratings panic in the air? This isn't rocket surgery, folks. Only swine defecate at the buffet. It doesn't matter what the site rules are. Rules of etiquette dictate respect for others. If you think your contacts with readers might be misinterpreted as spam, then odds are the readers aren't misinterpreting anything. In case nobody noticed, the user interface for authors on this site is primitive and unpolished. As a group, we are welcomed only as an afterthought. Therefore, we are a guest in someone else's house and should behave accordingly.

If you want to surf with the sharks, check out Facebook's "Review Seekers" group.

PS: Wow! On re-reading, I come off as a bad-tempered old coot. It's 1:15AM and I have a kidney stone. Bite me.


message 11: by Linda (last edited Aug 09, 2012 02:40AM) (new)

Linda Nelson (LindaNelsonYoungAdultAuthor) | 6 comments I agree with you Jon.
No matter which forum I have been to whether it is on the Kindle boards or else where it is highly recomended not to contact other readers to ask them to read even a free copy of your book.
Some readers will black list your book list just because you contacted them. They make a big deal about this in the Amazon forums.

I will never contact my readers, even to say thank you for your review. It is an unwelcome practice no matter which site you visit.


message 12: by M.T. (last edited Aug 09, 2012 03:27AM) (new)

M.T. (mtmathieson) | 27 comments I ask myself this question: if I saw somebody in Waterstones (large UK brick and mortar bookstore for those of you in the USA) buying another author's book, would I go up to them and offer them one of my books for free? Answer: No, I'd be too embarrassed. Therefore, I'm not about to hide behind the world wide web and do it here, whether it's against the rules or not.

For me, I guess, it's a matter of dignity.

One thing that I have done is to add a limited time Smashwords 100% discount code at the end of an extract and uploaded that to Goodreads. I don't mention reviews. That way, the potential reader can read the book or not and then review it or not. The choice is entirely theirs and they are under no obligation to me - implied or otherwise.


message 13: by Jon (new)

Jon Etheredge (JonEtheredge) | 495 comments I like that approach, M.T. - I might combine a free Kindle with one of my GR ads.


message 14: by Steven (new)

Steven Drachman | 159 comments Linda wrote: "I will never contact my readers, even to say thank you for your review. It is an unwelcome practice no matter which site you visit. "

This one I mused about - I thought it might be polite to send a thanks to someone who actually reviewed my book, but then I decided against it. If a blogger does it, I will send in a thanks, but if a reader does, I'll leave him alone. I wrote a blog post on Goodreads thanking my readers generally and letting people know that I enjoy hearing from readers. But leaving people alone is a good idea.

By the way, an earlier post noted that 80% of all Goodreads members are authors! That is a disheartening number! I'm all in favor of a social networking site for authors, but Goodreads is really for readers (with the exception of subgroups like this). Is that number correct?


message 15: by [deleted user] (new)

Is that number correct?

No. Goodreads currently has 47,251 authors, and announced its 6 millionth member almost a year ago.


message 16: by Rachel (new)

Rachel Fisher (Rachel_E_Fisher) | 4 comments Linda wrote: "I agree with you Jon.
No matter which forum I have been to whether it is on the Kindle boards or else where it is highly recomended not to contact other readers to ask them to read even a free copy..."


I have to disagree with this take. I've contacted readers many times, I just don't spam. I contact people who are reviewers or people whose book tastes overlap with mine (and hence my own titles since I write what I read). I don't bug them if they don't respond. If they do, then I often have wonderful conversations with them. It's about INTENT, I believe. If your only intent when you contact a reader is to get a sale or to force a review, then you'll be unwelcome. Similarly if you contact someone to FLAME them for their negative review. But if you are kind and genuine, and if you do your research and reach out to the right people, according to the rules, then you may be rewarded with wonderful new connections. Readers like to engage authors, they just don't want to be mistreated. Golden Rule...

On AMAZON it's against the rules to contact them at all except on the approved threads. The monitors there love to SLAP hard, so yes, you might feel like you have to pull back a lot. But that has not been my experience here at all...


message 17: by [deleted user] (new)

Digging further, the blurb for the Goodreads app reports 8.7 million members.


message 18: by Steven (new)

Steven Drachman | 159 comments That's a relief, thanks! If 80% of the members were authors, I thought maybe we'd scared away all the readers!


message 19: by Jon (new)

Jon Etheredge (JonEtheredge) | 495 comments Oh, yeah! I feel a lot better knowing there are only about fifty thousand writers out there! How 'bout a list of hungry agents looking for writers?


message 20: by K.A. (new)

K.A. Krisko (KAKrisko) | 256 comments Writers are generally readers, it's not mutually exclusive. Just because someone is a writer doesn't mean that person usually frequents goodreads for something other than reading recommendations and discussions.

I don't think there are any hungry agents. I think they're all stuffed full to vomiting.


message 21: by Patrick, Director, Author Marketing (new)

Patrick Brown | 276 comments Mod
Yeah, there was some confusion in that post. Here's what I just left there as a comment:

"Thanks for attending my talk and for the great write-up! To clarify, I wouldn’t recommend doing too much of that “I notice you like this author, you should try my book.” I’d much more encourage you to try our giveaway program, which is a pain-free way to get your book into readers’ hands. If you reach out to too many readers directly, you run the risk of being labeled a spammer, and you don’t want that. In general, I recommend meeting people in groups and befriending them as a fellow reader rather than just going in for the sale.

Also, the 5.8 million number is for books marked to-read each month. There have been more than 350 million books added to Goodreads shelves in total."


message 22: by Elle (last edited Aug 14, 2012 06:39AM) (new)

Elle Thornton | 48 comments rivka wrote: "That may be a misquote. I'll ask Patrick to clarify tomorrow."
Rivka, Patrick, Anyone with an opinion: What about enclosing a note to the reader who wins a GR giveaway book that says something like this:"Dear Reader, Do you have an opinion about this book? Please share it with a review."


message 23: by Michel (new)

Michel Vaillancourt (MichelV69) | 12 comments K.A. wrote: "...I don't think there are any hungry agents. I think they're all stuffed full to vomiting."

I worked out just how stuffed as part of a post on my blog:
http://michelrvaillancourt.com/2012/0...

... the short version is that you're better self-publishing three or four books over four or five years.


message 24: by K.A. (new)

K.A. Krisko (KAKrisko) | 256 comments Interesting stats, Michel. I don't have an agent; I have a publisher, though, and that cut-out-the-middleman route might be a kind of halfway-point between agents and self-publishing (which I've also done, BTW). I suspect one side effect of the self-publishing boom may to make the direct-to-publisher route more accessible as well; it's the agents who are going to feel the pinch the most.


message 25: by Jon (new)

Jon Etheredge (JonEtheredge) | 495 comments Have we met?


message 26: by Jon (last edited Aug 13, 2012 11:39PM) (new)

Jon Etheredge (JonEtheredge) | 495 comments One of my books got shelved under "not-in-this-lifetime". I was honored to have been categorized so thoroughly and so thoughtfully by Paula (Paulann), who is an avid reader, a super-librarian, the #4 top reader on GoodReads, #14 rated librarian, and one of the top 50 GR users. I don't know why she selected my work to foreswear -- she must have seen something on the cover that she didn't like -- but I was immensely amused to read the titles of other books she deemed unworthy of attention (including that nasty piece of erotic horror, "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn").

Who knows what drives someone to clandestinely rate your book lower than zero. Perhaps she didn't think anyone would notice. Perhaps she thought it would be funny and would have no impact on sales.

Perhaps we met once during that time in my life when I thought it chivalrous to complement a budding young mother on her taste in maternity clothing. Note to males: don't do this. It never ends well.

Since we must frequently rely on super-librarians for administrative help, perhaps I should cleave this post before one of them decides my books are unworthy to exist in the database at all.


message 27: by rivka, Librarian Moderator (new)

rivka | 517 comments Mod
Jon wrote: "Since we must frequently rely on super-librarians for administrative help, perhaps I should cleave this post before one of them decides my books are unworthy to exist in the database at all."

All our supers are hand-picked volunteers. And they certainly do not give up the right to rate, or shelve, books as they see fit. There is quite a difference between a user shelving a book for herself in a way that you dislike, and implying that one of our superlibrarians would misuse her status.


message 28: by M.T. (new)

M.T. (mtmathieson) | 27 comments I'm impressed at how quickly you got a response there Jon, considering that, nearly a week later, I'm still waiting for a reply to my query as to whether or not it is within the rules for readers to rate books they haven't read.


message 29: by Jon (last edited Aug 14, 2012 06:47AM) (new)

Jon Etheredge (JonEtheredge) | 495 comments rivka wrote: "All our supers are hand-picked volunteers. And they certainly do not give up the right to rate, or shelve, books as they see fit. There is quite a difference between a user shelving a book for herself in a way that you dislike, and implying that one of our superlibrarians would misuse her status."

I can understand the difficulty a site as prestigious as GR must have finding administrative talent that won't break the bank, and it's not my intention to denigrate the generosity and commitment of those select few who make the cut and are allowed to contribute materially to the mission of GoodReads.

But to be blunt, the title of 'Super-Librarian' implies that these people represent your organization, and their 'hand-picked' qualifier more than implies endorsement of their activity by GoodReads.

Speaking only for myself, were I to find a volunteer in my organization doing anything contrary to the good will necessary to sustain advertising revenues, whether or not their actions were technically legal, I do believe I would have to sit down with them and express as best I could the depth and breadth of the discontent so eloquently relayed to me by a paid advertiser on this site.


message 30: by M.T. (new)

M.T. (mtmathieson) | 27 comments Jon makes a very good point.

When I logged in to GR this morning, I was debating whether or not to set up a self-serve campaign for my new book. So far I am still undecided but I am increasingly veering towards the 'not'.


message 31: by Jon (new)

Jon Etheredge (JonEtheredge) | 495 comments Top 'o th' Morn' to ya, MT!

I recommend the self-serve campaign. It's inexpensive and gets your title in front of thousands of people. Your money goes to help this struggling young site stay afloat, and gives you the satisfaction of knowing you're helping the illiterati by showing them pretty pictures of your book.


message 32: by Michel (new)

Michel Vaillancourt (MichelV69) | 12 comments M.T. wrote: "I was debating whether or not to set up a self-serve campaign for my new book. So far I am still undecided but I am increasingly veering towards the 'not'"

It depends on what you are looking to achieve. There are now 100k people who have learned my book exists over the past month. I'll likely get another month/ 100k before the current investment in the SSC runs out. That's good.

I can't say that I've made a single sale as a result of the current investment, however. That's bad.


message 33: by rivka, Librarian Moderator (new)

rivka | 517 comments Mod
M.T. wrote: "I'm impressed at how quickly you got a response there Jon, considering that, nearly a week later, I'm still waiting for a reply to my query as to whether or not it is within the rules for readers t..."

Sorry, I missed that. It is not a violation of Goodreads policy for a user to do so.


message 34: by K.A. (new)

K.A. Krisko (KAKrisko) | 256 comments M.T.: Nearing the end of my 2nd self-serve campaign. Lots of adds; no sales. Not sure that's such a good investment; I can do Kindle free days and get plenty of exposure without the $$ outlay. I also had more success with blogads, although not significant success, for less $$. Just my .02, which is all I can afford to contribute.


message 35: by M.T. (new)

M.T. (mtmathieson) | 27 comments I have used self-serve campaigns in the past which have generated some sales but I'm not sure that it's worth it. It also generated more ratings than I sold books! I think the good and the bad probably balanced out but it still puts me off doing it again.

I think that it's during this type of campaign when you will get people putting them on 'no way' shelves (as in Jon's experience) because they've been presented with the type of book that they wouldn't have actively sought out.

I'll think I'll just leave it and let people find it if they want to.


message 36: by Jon (new)

Jon Etheredge (JonEtheredge) | 495 comments Good morning, M.T. (assuming you are asleep as this post is being written).

It appears that our battle is over, the day is lost and the field belongs to the opponent, who resorted to biological warfare this afternoon and released a swarm of crickets upon us. Do you have crickets in the UK?

They are lovely creatures, filling the warm summer nights with a falsetto symphony. Some listeners swear that crickets can tell you the temperature. Others believe they are the voices of departed loved ones.

And occasionally, someone comes along and just squishes 'em underfoot for the wanton pleasure of killing something -- anything. Ask their reasons and they will ignore you as though YOU are the crazy one, or they will say it's none of your business, or they will call their father and report you as "The Bad Man".

When the latter happens, the father can be counted on to read their script accurately. He will stand by his kid, say it was only a cricket, or swear it was your attitude that needed adjusting.

You can try to fight back with logic. You can point out the cruelty of the act, or at the very least the inappropriateness of their child's behavior. You can declare that your status as a taxpayer should protect you from such senseless ugliness. You should be prepared to hear nothing but the sound of your own voice in response.

That, or crickets.


message 37: by Jon (last edited Aug 15, 2012 11:10AM) (new)

Jon Etheredge (JonEtheredge) | 495 comments Crickets. (Perhaps the metaphor was too complicated)


message 38: by K.A. (new)

K.A. Krisko (KAKrisko) | 256 comments Ya think? I'll just add that we have Mormon crickets here. They cause vehicle accidents. Look 'em up if you're not familiar with them. Might make a good horror story.


message 39: by Eric (new)

Eric Wright | 68 comments Jon, I feel for you in the way your book was shelved. After a series of except ratings for my suspense novels I got a 2 with a note, hated it for one of them. I was perplexed but I guess that is to be expected. I was much heartened by seeing the other day that Jane Urquart (sp?) got a 2. Now if one who is an internationally commended writer and award winner can get a 2, I guess I need to swallow my wounded pride.


message 40: by Jon (new)

Jon Etheredge (JonEtheredge) | 495 comments My pride's not wounded, Eric. I went to UNC. I've been chewed out by Marine Colonels. I've wrecked the same plane twice. I've been kicked in the goodies by a horse. I've eaten a little bit of a pastrami sub from Subway. Nothing can hurt me any more!


message 41: by Jon (new)

Jon Etheredge (JonEtheredge) | 495 comments Mormon Crickets versus Mississippi Horse Flies
============================================
MC - grows to three inches in length
MHF - frequently mistaken for condors

MC - swarms cause traffic accidents
MHF - flash mob WalMart, then carjack a cop

MC - migratory pests
MHF - migratory game bird during bow season

MC - not a true cricket
MHF - Not really a horse that can fly. More like a gator.


message 42: by Jon (last edited Aug 15, 2012 08:12PM) (new)

Jon Etheredge (JonEtheredge) | 495 comments OK, I finally have a funny one! One of my hopeful readers (Stefani), who was carrying me as "to_read" for nearly a year, today changed the book's shelf to "not_in_a_million_years", and sub-categorized it as "because-of-author". I'm the only author on that shelf. I don't remember ever meeting her, writing to her (or up to now, about her), or ever hearing anything about her.

She is a GoodReads librarian. That makes her opinion more credible than my own. Therefore, I must have been off base in publicly endorsing the notion that librarians should subscribe to a standard of behavior that doesn't cast GoodReads in a bad light. The book I am currently trying to market as a GoodReads advertiser would never suffer a loss of sales as a result of intemperate shelving. Nope, not in a million years.

Is there no one at GoodReads who sees the self-destructive potential of allowing sleight-of-hand slander to taint the reputation of this otherwise exceptional site?


message 43: by Jon (last edited Aug 15, 2012 08:17PM) (new)

Jon Etheredge (JonEtheredge) | 495 comments And WOW. Now I'm on "will-never-read" and "authors-to-avoid" on Amara's shelves. A Super-Librarian. Oh, seriously, people! Is that the BEST you can do? Let's see some ingenuity out there! Anything worth doing is worth doing to excess!

Example: author-is-a-big-mouth-blowhard
Example: author-hates-minority-groups
Example: author-is-probably-a-Republican
Example: author-is-a-doo-doo-head


message 44: by Jon (new)

Jon Etheredge (JonEtheredge) | 495 comments Ooh! Ooh! Now a reader has the same book listed as "whiny". Or maybe she means me. I do come off as a bit nasal, don't I? Maybe I should practice sounding like James Earl Jones. Nah, I still sound like Pee Wee Herman. Ok, Angela - whiney is accurate!


message 45: by Charles (new)

Charles Keith Hardman (ckhardman) | 53 comments The CurseImagine that you are very young living in America but keep having nightmares about Romania. You decide to take your girlfriend and her mother to a small village in the mountains of Transylvania. You discover that your family and the village were cursed fifty years before you were born. That is The Curse.


message 46: by M.T. (new)

M.T. (mtmathieson) | 27 comments Their loss Jon. I know, I've actually read your work.

The reputation of the site aside, I wonder if the individuals concerned have considered the impact of their actions on their own integrity. If I saw that any member was doing silly things like that then I doubt I'd take their other reviews seriously.

Having said that, it does sound like a bullying campaign so I'd make a formal complaint, although be prepared for a long wait for a reply.


message 47: by M.T. (last edited Aug 16, 2012 03:27AM) (new)

M.T. (mtmathieson) | 27 comments Eric wrote: "Jon, I feel for you in the way your book was shelved. After a series of except ratings for my suspense novels I got a 2 with a note, hated it for one of them. I was perplexed but I guess that is to..."

I think this is actually about something far more serious than somebody's pride. The current campaign against Jon is not good for the reputation of GR. They may be celebrating their big member milestone but they haven't reached Amazon proportions yet. Can they really afford to wipe the floor with paying customers?


message 48: by Jon (new)

Jon Etheredge (JonEtheredge) | 495 comments Actually, M.T., when I brought up the inappropriateness of this behavior, I was told by an employee of GoodReads that the librarians were hand-picked and had the management's leave to do whatever they wanted. In short, I was wrong to extrapolate tasteless shelving into a more serious offense. My question is simply this - where is the line drawn? Why didn't the originators of this site foresee these problems and demand standards of conduct...oh, wait - they did! But they only apply those standards to AUTHORS (note to GR: good call on that one - we'd run amok if given the chance, no sarcasm implied or intended - we really would).


message 49: by Jon (new)

Jon Etheredge (JonEtheredge) | 495 comments Looks like there's no refunds on advertising dollars. It's in the User Agreement you had to accept when you became a member of GoodReads. You and every other user, including Librarians...saaaay, what's this? An entire paragraph devoted to USER CONTENT?

You don't suppose there's something in there regarding posting content that may create a risk of harm, loss, physical or mental injury, emotional distress and the like to you, to any other person, or to any animal, do you? I really should read it sometime. It might talk about content that may create a risk of any other loss or damage to any person. In fact, I seem to remember a prohibition against harassing, humiliating or otherwise objectionable content.

Isn't the creation of customized shelves a form of user content?


message 50: by K.A. (new)

K.A. Krisko (KAKrisko) | 256 comments Wow, Jon. That's...bizarre. You know, there are some authors whose books I don't like. Nevertheless, if I read them, they get points for ideas, writing quality, etc., even if it's not my thing. Criticize the book because I don't personally like the way the author types on a website? That's crazy talk.


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