Authors Behaving Badly (Or, What NOT to Do on Goodreads)

goodreadsThe other day, I witnessed an exchange on a Goodreads group that made me cringe and left me baffled. An author (we’ll call him Writer) had posted his new release on a group forum…not once, not twice, but thirteen times. In the space of two hours. In clear violation of the group rules, and on the wrong topic thread on the discussion board, and despite being asked by the group moderator not to post after the first time!!!

And the worst part? This wasn’t even a new author. Writer actually had several books out already, so in my opinion, there was absolutely no excuse for his behavior…especially when he began a diatribe against the other group members in the discussion.

Scratch that. There’s no excuse for that kind of behavior from anyone.

The upshot of the whole mess was that several group members retaliated by giving Writer’s book one-star ratings, he retaliated with more nasty comments, they retaliated with more ratings, and…well. I think you get the picture. Suffice it to say that if he was trying to draw attention to his new book, he succeeded…but in the worst possible way.

It was kind of like watching the proverbial train wreck. On one level, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for Writer. I know from experience how hard it is to get the word out about your books when you’re an itty bitty fish in a ginormous ocean filled with gazillions of other fish, and I felt for him.

On another level, I couldn’t help but want to smack him upside the head. Seriously. Because apart from displaying sheer bad judgment (not to mention deplorable manners), Writer may have done serious–and possibly irreparable–damage to his reputation. Many of the readers on Goodreads also have review blogs (or have friends who do), and word on the Internet travels faster than you can imagine. At this point, chances are pretty good that Writer’s current book and all future ones have been blacklisted by more than one…something his publishing career may never recover from.

What could/should he have done instead of breaking just about every rule of online etiquette? Imagine how much differently Writer’s interaction with the group would have gone if he’d read the rules first and posted once in the correct thread. Or if he’d responded to the polite reminder to do so (and yes, it was very polite) with an apology instead of snark. Or if he’d responded to the group’s increasing anger by shutting up and leaving instead of continuing to lob verbal grenades.

The bottom line is that if you want to promote your book on Goodreads, you need to practice a little common sense–and common courtesy–there.

  1. Take the time to read Goodreads’ tips on using its author program.
  2. If you join a group (a great way to meet like-minded bookish people), read the rules about promoting your own books…and follow them.
  3. Contribute something. Don’t just post your own books there, build a library of what you’re reading. Share your thoughts. Participate as a reader as well as a writer. Be social.
  4. And above all: never, ever, ever, ever respond to a negative review!!! If you can’t grow a thick enough skin to read that someone doesn’t like your creation, don’t read it at all. Even if getting drawn into a free-for-all as the author above did doesn’t lead to career suicide, it’s a nasty road to go down…so don’t.

A couple of great resources for ideas on using Goodreads as an author can be found in The Ultimate Guide to Goodreads for Authors and in 8 Ways Authors Can Use Goodreads to Promote Their Book.

Now go forth and socialize…nicely! ;)

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