Goodreads Blog

The Five Readers You Meet in Publishing

Posted by Cynthia on June 19, 2017
As an author, you will encounter many different types of readers over the course of your career. Some will turn into adoring fans; others might remain a mystery. Here are five types of readers you’ll probably come across:
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1. The Early Buzzer


This kind of reader takes pride in reading books many months before they are published, reading books by authors you’ve never heard of, and leaving thoughtful book reviews most likely including quotes from the book.

On their bookshelf: Titles without final covers; debut authors.

Where you’ll find the Early Buzzer: Browsing giveaways. Read our tips for giveaways here.

2. The Casual Reader


Considering that the typical American reads about 5 books a year (source), you’ll most likely encounter the Casual Reader. This person leans towards popular bestsellers or classics.

On their bookshelf: The Girl on the Train, Catcher in the Rye, and something by Stephen King.

Where you’ll find the Casual Reader: Looking through listopia lists.

3. The Want-to-Reader


This person has every intention of reading your book, has heard so many great things about it and definitely will eventually read your book. There are just 300 books on the WTR shelf before it... (So many books, so little time!)

On their bookshelf: A lot of books in all kinds of genres.

Where find the Want-to-Reader: Hanging out in large, general book groups.

4. The Dedicated Reader


This reader will be meticulous in writing down every last detail of their reading experience, including where they purchased the book, how long it took them to read the book, where they read the book and what they were wearing that day. Most likely to point out any factual errors or inconsistencies your editor might have missed.

On their bookshelf: You’ll likely find multiple bookshelves organized by date, season, or challenge.

Where to find the Dedicated Reader: In the Goodreads Librarian Group, answering your questions about metadata.
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5. The Follower


This is the best kind of reader. Once they read your book, they fall in love with your writing and want to hear about everything you do. They’ll likely follow you on Goodreads and ask when you’ll be coming to their town on book tour. Expect lots of notifications of ‘likes’ on your content.

On their bookshelf: Other books in your genre. Books you’ve read and loved yourself.

Where to find the Follower: Asking thoughtful questions via Ask the Author (and in your list of followers!). You’ll want to engage with this reader since they’re the best advocates for spreading the word about your book! Find out here how to best engage on Goodreads using Ask the Author.

Have you encountered any of these types of readers in your publishing career? Tell us your experience in the comments below!

Next: Best of the Blog: Mid-Year Round Up

You might also like: Planning a Marketing Timeline: Infographic

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Comments Showing 1-50 of 60 (60 new)


message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

'Publishing career' is a bit of a misnomer in my case but, as far as it goes, here it is:

1. The secret reader: This is someone who has bought the book and you are aware - from the limited address details you have been given - that they know you. But they haven't told you that they've bought it.

2. The not-so-secret reader: This is one of your friends who has bought the book and have let you know that they have bought it. You would have given them a free copy had you remembered to (see 5).

3. The window cleaner: The window cleaner hasn't read your book (in fact, he probably isn't aware that you have written one), but he whistles a jolly tune as he wipes the foam from your panes.

4. The doorman: The doorman snickers as you walk passed. If he knew you had written a book, he would probably snicker louder.

5. The reluctant discussers: These are your friends, who you have given free copies of the book to (see also 2). They haven't mentioned anything about it, possibly because they are overwhelmed or have better things to talk about.


message 2: by Susan (new)

Susan Scott ha ha! Thanks for the laugh! I relate to all to the pointy points!


message 3: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia Shannon Peter wrote: "'Publishing career' is a bit of a misnomer in my case but, as far as it goes, here it is:

2. The not-so-secret reader: This is one of your friends who has bought the book and have let you know that they have bought it. You would have given them a free copy had you remembered to (see 5)."


LOL! A sale is a sale ;) Thanks for the levity.


message 4: by Imageen (new)

Imageen SHOUT OUT SECTION!!!! Top Authors!!!!
Rules...
1) Top authors only remain top author until next group of "Top Authors!!!!" are announced
2) has to be a "best selling author" (for at least one book) or received some other kind of public recognition
3) has to have a revolutionary way of writing or have a new/different way/style of writing
Voting rules...
2) Majority Rule
3) Voting time frame (Tuesday, 6/27/17 thru Thursday,7/27/17)
4) in order for a comment to be accepted as a vote the rules(listed in this comment above the "Voting rules") have to be include in the same comment
4) one vote per person (per day) [plz NO CHEATTING!!!!]
Top Authors!!!!
Announced... (Thursday, 7/27/17)


message 5: by Paula (new)

Paula Gruben Haha! Love this post. Just a tiny error that needs to be corrected - in point #4, it should read "Where to find the Dedicated Reader", not the "Random Reader".


message 6: by Cynthia (last edited Jun 28, 2017 12:57PM) (new)

Cynthia Shannon Paula wrote: "Haha! Love this post. Just a tiny error that needs to be corrected - in point #4, it should read "Where to find the Dedicated Reader", not the "Random Reader"."

Thanks! Fixed!


message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

This is great. It's a bit of marketing advice as well. I tend to draw to to-be-read reader, but I'd rather have the advanced reader or the one with looks of thoughtful reviews. Now I know where to look.


message 8: by Ruthann (new)

Ruthann Wilson Informative. Thank you.


message 9: by Cristina (new)

Cristina Smith Thanks for the good read!


Philip.Plattsthethirteenthdisciple.Net Have to say, I'd rather experience all the readers in Message 1, Peter's, response, than this other type: "Friends". Reason for the quote marks is I'm referring to people you believe to be friends who a) don't buy your book b) don't read it c) take no interest in it. Even before I wrote a book, if I knew an author, as I did, I'd buy the book, read it and review it, and tell other people about it. And that's even if I'd been given a free copy, as has happened - I still buy another. I know it's irrational - and I don't raise it with them - but sometimes it drives me nuts when I sit with friends who know you depend on sales and reviews to make your book successful but you know they are not a secret reader as per Peter's message.

Sorry, bit of a rant, but it really does niggle. Do others who've written books come across this? Is it just something friends don't understand, maybe never having known anyone who's an author?


message 11: by Em (new)

Em Sojourner Ah yes, Phillip, and then there are the misguided and usually gushy readers who stop me to tell me how much they loved my book(s), and that they loan them to all their friends. Gahhhhhhh. I gently point out that I try to earn a living from my writing - since I am a writer - and I'd like it a lot better if their friends each bought a book. Must go pound head on desk now. Mary Sojourner http://www.breakthroughwriting.net


message 12: by Ufuomaee (new)

Ufuomaee Ufuomaee Philip.Plattsthethirteenthdisciple.Net wrote: "Have to say, I'd rather experience all the readers in Message 1, Peter's, response, than this other type: "Friends". Reason for the quote marks is I'm referring to people you believe to be friends ..."

I can soooo relate to this! It is so sad. I wrote about my experience recently here: https://ufuomaee.blog/maybe-they-just...

I am just trying not to let it bother me.

I am also like you, encouraging other authours I know... Buying, reading and even reviewing their books on my blog. Anyway, this post was good for understanding and direction :)


message 13: by Don (new)

Don Abma Phillip. I have the same niggle. It is frustrating when your friends keep telling you they're going to buy the book. I want to shake them and explain that now is the time to buy it!! Not later!! I guess it's just part of being an author!!! I'm the meantime I'll just keep writing and hope to find all of the readers Cynthia described reading my books!


message 14: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth A. Time has a lot to do with your list. Some of the trends I follow on FB reveal that people are loading up with books. Six and seven at once. WHEN DO THEY HAVE THE TME TO READ THEM ALL? Unless you have no family, no chores to do, maybe? I write every day. That comes first. At night I read. I do wish I had more reading time. But I also have a life of family, conversation, friends and the things we do to live. You can't rewrite someone else's book. You can only write if you are living your own life and observing.


message 15: by April (new)

April Philip, my friends don't read the genre that I write (Young adult fantasy), so it's hard to get some of them interested (my husband hasn't read my novel- but maybe that's for the best!). I don't expect everyone to enjoy the same things. But I agree that it is hard getting readers, especially if you've never been involved with sales or marketing (or have funds for it).


Philip.Plattsthethirteenthdisciple.Net Thanks for the messages, Em, Ufuomaee, Don. My sincere apologies in advance for posting this link: https://www.facebook.com/PhilPlattsAu...
It is absolutely NOT done as a cheap advertisement (in fact I've put very little on my FB page so far anyway). It's just that I can't find a way to add a photo to a post in this thread. But I have posted something I once saw called The Care and Feeding of an Author (in this case on Amazon). I just think it says it all, so if it's useful for you to send out on your own social media sites, please feel free to lift it from there. It just might make people sit up and take notice if enough people see it. Good luck!


message 17: by Don (new)

Don Abma Philip,
Just posted the Care and Feeding of an Author on my Facebook page!! Thanks for sharing! All the best in your writing voyage!


message 18: by Ufuomaee (new)

Ufuomaee Ufuomaee Philip.Plattsthethirteenthdisciple.Net wrote: "Thanks for the messages, Em, Ufuomaee, Don. My sincere apologies in advance for posting this link: https://www.facebook.com/PhilPlattsAu...
It is absolutely NOT done as a cheap advertisement (in ..."


Thanks, Philip :) I appreciate the link and your response.


Philip.Plattsthethirteenthdisciple.Net I agree your point Elizabeth. It's maybe just my view of what being a friend means. I have at least 3 books written by friends that I haven't read, or at least not fully. Sometimes it's the lack of time, sometimes (as April mentions, just 'not my genre'). I still buy them. No one I know has a book that is prohibitively expensive - e-books are quite low priced except for the favoured few!- so I try to do what I can to help them along the way.
I have been teased about making stacks of money from my book. I wish. I honestly think this is a possible misconception with friends - not that you are about to become the next J K Rowling, but just that they don't actually understand: you need your friends to help you get your sales going. I guess we have to accept that probably 95% of people don't ever have a friend who's written a book.


message 20: by Jeff (new)

Jeff Kalac I wouldn't define friendships by who purchases your book or not. I just don't see how that mindset is going to end well for you. Instead, let's look at the reasons why friends might not choose to support your writing efforts.

1) Your book(s) are not in their genre. Don't expect someone who reads romance to jump at your book which has blood and danger all over the cover and blurb. Likewise, don't expect the blood-and-guts reader to drool over your self-help or romance novel.

2) Your work is seen as overpriced, or at the very least there's a financial reason attached. Many of us authors choose to market our paperbacks as widely as possible, meaning that we have to offer that steep discount--and our prices skyrocket as a result. Don't expect someone who is used to buying a $7 mass-market paperback to jump at the chance to buy your $15 trade paperback. Sure, there's the e-book... but a lot of readers aren't using them, from what I've seen. Any time I've offered some sort of discount on the paperback (or point out retailers who are offering it for less than list price), I've seen a spike in sales.

3) Everytime they talk to you, it's book-book-book-book-please-buy-my-book. Don't do that to friends. They're friends first, customers later (maybe). Look, guys: We all know someone who's fallen into Amway or Nikkon or some other work-from-home thing; you never hear from them unless they are selling something, and it's bloody annoying. Don't be that guy. Be a friend TO a friend, and accept that not everyone is going to be a customer.

4) Maybe they've been burned before. We have to accept that there's a lot of dreck in the self-publishing landscape. Is your book part of that? No. Of course not. You've worked hard and bled your heart into it. But from their perspective... they don't know that. And if your book IS dreck, it's an awkward position for them when it comes to feedback time. Rather than face that moment, they avoid it. They'll likely step in once you build reviews from others outside your circle. Or not. It's their choice.

I say just keep plugging away writing the best material you can write, and let everything fall into place. This is a marathon, not a race. Even if it WAS a race, you're never going to win by projecting the frustration of slow sales onto your friends.


message 21: by Ufuomaee (new)

Ufuomaee Ufuomaee Jeff wrote: "I wouldn't define friendships by who purchases your book or not. I just don't see how that mindset is going to end well for you. Instead, let's look at the reasons why friends might not choose to s..."

I really needed to read this! Thanks for sharing this perspective. It really has been hard, especially when it was those same friends who encouraged you to publish your story... I have already accepted that all my friends and even fans won't become customers. I am just getting to accept that it doesn't mean that they are not real friends or fans.

God blesd you.


message 22: by Lynn (last edited Jul 17, 2017 12:52PM) (new)

Lynn Arbor Jeff, I totally relate to all your points. Be a friend first.


message 23: by Don (new)

Don Abma Jeff, you are so right!! I would never lose a friend over my book! A friend is a friend always and I hope I'm not that guy who only talks about his book every time he sees his friends. Beside I don't have enough friends to compete with Stephen King or John Grisham even if they all buy a book!! :) Face it, we need a lot of strangers to buy our books!!
However, I feel the frustration that Phillip or any author who is proud of their work would feel when our friends don't understand or appreciate the blood, sweat and tears, as well as the soul we put into that book. For me it was a scary thing to put my work on display the first time and it's is always nice when a friend or family member gets it.


Philip.Plattsthethirteenthdisciple.Net Thanks Jeff for your comments but with respect I do know my friends and none of your 4 points is relevant to those relationships or to their social status. Plus, as I said in the earlier post, I do not and never have projected my frustration onto them. I haven't so much as mentioned it.

My point was to float the idea that friends may not always understand the importance of doing some simple things that as authors we hope - rather than expect - they will do.

But that's the good thing. Opinions are so diverse. I don't ask friends to buy the book, I simply let them know it's there, and I don't lecture others on how they promote or don't promote their books. What is right for some may not be for others.


message 25: by Em (new)

Em Sojourner Just for the record for those of you thought that Phillip and I were hard on friends and readers: How many of you once believed you could earn a living doing your legitimate work - writing? How many of you hold down 1 or more day jobs to support your writing? How many of you live at near-poverty level?
More for the record: I have eight nationally published books, was a regular NPR commentator for ten years, have hundreds of op eds and columns published. Please don't respond that writing is a sacred calling and we shouldn't be in it for the money. Would you tell your dentist that? You doctor?
Thanks, Phillip for opening up this conversation.


message 26: by Carolynne (new)

Carolynne Raymond Great post. I never put much thought into the reading types and will consider that now that I have read this. I have always looked for ways to promote to those that are into a certain genre.


message 27: by Liliane (new)

Liliane Parkinson Interesting posts. I realise I am naturally more invested in my books than anyone else. Whenever I feel disappointed in a friend or family's casual reading response I remind myself of that truth. I also tell myself that one reader is not responsible for my books' success. Even if I had 100 friends and a large extended family (which I don't) that's not enough readers to reach a tipping point onto the best seller lists. The book must find its own way there.
Readers might spend 3, 4 or 5 hours before getting to 'The End'. They may think about the book afterwards. They may or may not give it a review. They may tell someone else about the story or lend the book on. Mostly the next unread book on their list becomes their focus.
I on the other hand may have spent that long on one chapter, paragraph or sentence. Which means I have way too much mental attachment. I'm totally biased. It's the same as being a parent. No-one thinks your child is as wonderful as you do and it takes years for you to be able to let go.


message 28: by Don (new)

Don Abma Well said Lilliane


message 29: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia Shannon This is such an interesting discussion! I really appreciate Phillip's POV of friends (not) reading books, since I actually come at it from a totally different perspective: since I work in publishing and know many writers, before and after they are published, I decided early on never to read or review my friends' books. I will buy their book, go to their events, and tell everyone that "I know the author!" but I worry too much about how the relationship dynamic might change if I read the book. What if I don't like it? Or worse, what if I love it beyond anything? The risk of changing the relationship is too high for me. Just a thought! I would also never seek legal or financial counsel from a friend, or have them be my dentist or something. Too weird. "Hey let's grab drinks and oh, have you been flossing?" :)


message 30: by Em (new)

Em Sojourner Cynthia, You did get my point, though? We readers (I'm voracious!) need to take our writers and writing profession as seriously as any other workers/line of work.


message 31: by M.E. (new)

M.E. Radebe This is true. It is encouraging to know that there are people who are so observant to notice all this. Thank you so much. You have made my day.


Philip.Plattsthethirteenthdisciple.Net I haven't taken part in a Goodreads discussion before, but I have been impressed by the respect shown by all the contributors for differing viewpoints (no less than I'd expect from well-read and literate individuals such as yourselves! :-)) For the record, I was being tongue in cheek when I referred to quote marks round the word friends (if that's the worst brickbat, it ain't too bad...) We have two of them round for dinner on Saturday evening and we will all be great pals - it's just a niggle that I really wish they'd perhaps have had a small part in a journey. Put simply: bought a Kindle copy each and got their teenage kids to buy one too, even if none of them ever read it. The total cost would be less than half the lovely bottle of Amarone I will be serving to them!
Thanks for sharing your views.


message 33: by Ufuomaee (new)

Ufuomaee Ufuomaee Liliane wrote: "Interesting posts. I realise I am naturally more invested in my books than anyone else. Whenever I feel disappointed in a friend or family's casual reading response I remind myself of that truth. I..."

This is so wonderful and true. I was actually thinking of writing a post about how becoming an author is like becoming a parent. It is our baby, our responsibility and passion, not and never theirs. We just have to really try to put ourselves in the shoes of our readers, who really don't see us as their responsibility to feed. To them, we are in business, just as they are...all struggling to market our product and make an impact. Why should they buy just because we are their friends? Do we use their bank, supermarket, insurance company, buy their clothes? No. We shop and buy and patronise who we NEED and who we WANT. Same with them. Being customers and being friends are two different things. Sometimes they meet and agree, but not always.


message 34: by Jeff (new)

Jeff Kalac It's all good, Philip. In fact, it's a relatable and understandable experience. In my view, however, it's a temptation to overlook the forest for the trees. Our readers are out there, and bit by bit... we'll find them. (Or more accurately, they'll find us.)

Best of luck to all of us!


message 35: by Helen (new)

Helen Pugsley Peter wrote: "'Publishing career' is a bit of a misnomer in my case but, as far as it goes, here it is:

1. The secret reader: This is someone who has bought the book and you are aware - from the limited address..."


You just earned yourself a follow B-/


message 36: by Don (new)

Don Abma A great back and forth. It is so neat to see so many different points of view. That's what makes life so interesting. I, too, am so pleased with the level of respect shown by everyone in this discussion. Thanks to all of you for sharing your opinion. Definitely gave me some things to think about regarding the future readers of all of my books! (One done with 10 to go!!!!)


message 37: by Victoria (new)

Victoria Lees I agree with Don. This is fruitful information here. Thank you all. If I can ever finish my book, I hope to be able to offer book analytics here. Goodreads discussions are of great help to so many authors. All best to everyone.


message 38: by Nancy (new)

Nancy Young Though I agree that followers are great, they don't always help sales.
I'm fortunate enough to have a large local following. The dears get one copy of my new book when it's released and pass it around, bless their hearts.


message 39: by Robert (new)

Robert Sullivan Yeah, number 3; I was so excited when I saw ppl who added my latest book to their want-to-read list. Then I saw one lady had over 56,000 books that she wants to read; I hate to sound pessimistic, but I don't think she's going to be alive that long. I could be wrong but I don't think I am.


message 40: by Michael (new)

Michael McGrinder 1. The secret reader- with modification. Maybe the not-so-seret-reaader

My girlfriend has a large extended family and when I published a poetry collection a few years ago, I made copies available to the more literary of them. My gf has told me what they said (generally favorable) but not a single one has ever mentioned the book to me.


message 41: by Em (new)

Em Sojourner Ooooooo, Kalisha. You said it. Thank you. Mary S.


message 42: by Robert (new)

Robert Sullivan Kalisha wrote: "Your real friends buy your book. Period. It makes no sense not to. They tell you they love it, they ask about the next and they make you feel like this harder life you have chosen is respected by t..."
Writers do work hard--books are a lot of work. But at the same time nobody puts a gun to your head and says, "Either you write this book or I blow your brains out." It's like you don't have any choice.


message 43: by Robert (new)

Robert Sullivan Michael wrote: "1. The secret reader- with modification. Maybe the not-so-seret-reaader

My girlfriend has a large extended family and when I published a poetry collection a few years ago, I made copies available ..."


I'm getting something of the same situation where I have given away many free copies of all my books on amazon.com and these have gone to readers in countries such as India and Indonesia--where they may know English but all this descriptive narrative is throwing them for a loop and they don't like it. Anywho, my books are mostly dialog, but I had one lady in India say, "Oh, I loved the two previous books in this series; I'm sure I'll love this one also," but she hasn't felt compelled to write a review even after I've asked her very nicely to do so. It's as if the readers don't understand marketing 101--you need reviews to get sales.


message 44: by Jeanne (new)

Jeanne There's another type of reader . . . Fellow Authors. They are the ones who understand what you're going through, read your book, give feedback, and understand the importance of a positive, or at least tactful, review. Bless them. You meet them at conventions, in critique groups, in on-line forums, and by leaving reviews of their books. That two-way street is golden.

Thanks for the excellent post.


message 45: by Ufuomaee (new)

Ufuomaee Ufuomaee I hope you will pardon me for sharing this here, but I think we call all relate to the experience I shared it. It was also inspired by our conversation over the last couple of days... especially Jeff's comment.

I just published FIVE THINGS THAT HAPPEN WHEN A BLOGGER BECOMES AN AUTHOR https://ufuomaee.blog/five-things-tha...

Thanks for reading, and I would love your comments too :)


message 46: by Prakash (new)

Prakash Sharma Really interesting to read Peter and Jeff's comment.
Views and counter-views, both are excellent.
May I put these on my blog if you guys allow me to do so?


message 47: by John (last edited Jul 20, 2017 07:34AM) (new)

John Bentley This seems to have omitted the large number of readers who read books offered in free promotions. They tend to have a look at anything for free and some then soon after put them (possibly unread) on Amazon's used books for money, so spoiling the author's direct sale. My book The Royal Secret (2016) has gotten 47 reviews on Goodreads (averaging 3.7 from 5.0) from its several free offers last year which I was pleased with but the free offer purchasers are normally those who want to read easy to read short novels of the romantic or erotic type, and so can be inclined to give no reviews or ones that show they did not pay much attention to the more serious novels such as those on history or philosophy or politics. C'est la vie. Any review is better than none at all and they do attract possible buyers.


message 48: by [deleted user] (new)

I have to agree about not defining friendships by who buys your book (or not). Personally speaking, I would be a very lonely person, if I did that.

All of the books I have read have been written by total strangers. In fact, quite a number of them are dead - so there's no chance of me bumping into them in the local pub and making friends with them (it would be scary, if that did happen). So I'll stick with my existing set of friends (and they can stuff cotton wool in their ears whenever I mention 'book').

And the part about it being 'a marathon not a race' holds true - especially in these days of e-books. Nothing is going to get returned and either pulped or end up in a bargain book shop bin.

From this discussion, I've decided that I need to read a random selection of works of non-dead, non-established authors (it would be a bit difficult - or very easy - for them to be dead and non-established, I suppose) and provide a review for them. Although I'm not sure whether my reviewing skills will help them in any way...


message 49: by Shelley (new)

Shelley Alongi In my fairly new self-publishing career I have a follower and a want-to-reader. I probably have more than one. My goal right now is to let people know I've written two books. Anyone I've told face-to-face buys my book. Sometimes I just have toa sk if they want to buy the book.


message 50: by Don (new)

Don Abma Hi Peter,
As a non-dead and non-established author I would love to have you read my book and provide a review. The title is For Luna and you can find it on Amazon worldwide!! I hope you enjoy! 😇


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