Goodreads embodies one of my favorite ideas for a social network—a place to hang out on line and share books with friends and potential readers. They have a lot of nice tools to allow readers to interact with each other and for authors to interact with readers and share information about their projects.
That said, the part I find the most challenging is site’s reliance on the five-star rating system. In particular, there are many books where I’m hard pressed to apply one “grade” to the entire book. Perhaps the book embodies beautiful prose, but has flat characters. Perhaps it’s a diamond in the rough that I thoroughly enjoyed despite some grammar and spelling problems. As with any social situation, I face awkward questions of going against the norm. What if I hated a book everyone loved or even loved a book everyone hated?
I’ve finally decided the standard I’m going to use to give books ratings on Goodreads is simply my enjoyment of the book. If I had a good time or felt enriched from reading it, I’ll likely give it five stars. If the book tempted me to throw it across the room in frustration, I’ll likely give it one or two. This may seem an extremely simple approach and you may wonder why it too me so long to come to this conclusion, but it goes back to that whole awkward social interaction thing. It’s easy to get caught up in questions of what people think of your opinions. In this case, I’ve simply found a standard that allows me to explain why I’ve given a book a particular rating—and it’s a standard that’s fun for me.
Of course another daunting element of all this is that I get to see what ratings people give my books. I do my best to adopt an attitude I first heard articulated by my friend Janni Lee Simner. I avoid trolling Goodreads for reviews and hope readers see it as a place where they can freely rate and discuss my books as they choose. I do look at the reviews from time to time and consider the comments good and bad, but I’ve also learned not to obsess over them. In fact, I’ve learned that most of my favorite authors have an average rating of about 3.5 give or take. Some readers love them, some hate them, a few are kind of neutral.
This month, I’m giving away two of my books on Goodreads. I’m giving away five copies of my wild west steampunk adventure novel Lightning Wolves at https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/118409-lightning-wolves and I’m giving away five copies of my novel of vampire mercenaries, Dragon’s Fall at https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/118410-dragon-s-fall-rise-of-the-scarlet-order. If you’re a Goodreads member, I hope you’ll enter to win! If you do win, I hope you’ll take time to review the book. Whether you liked it or hated it, a review shows you cared about the book and in the end, that’s what really matters.