All tagged Goodreads

How Not to Engage Readers

I've been chewing on whether or not to share the most recent creepy Goodreads friend request I received from a self-identified aspiring author. But this one was uncomfortable enough, that I felt like I needed to share in hopes of helping educate other aspiring authors about what not to do when attempting to engage readers. 

Listen, I know authors are told to engage, engage, engage, but there's a way to do it that doesn't completely freak out readers. Unfortunately this recent request landed smack in the creepy zone. (Note: I've redacting information about this person.)

Links & Things: September 20th

Hi y'all! How was your week? Mine was... exhausting. I really don't understand why life doesn't stop so I can curl up with a good book and drink a cup of tea. That doesn't seem unreasonable, does it?  

Here's some interestingness--an abbreviated version, that is--I spotted on the web this week that you may have missed. 

Recommended Reading

The Bridge from Me to You is a YA novel that is part verse, part prose. It is told alternately by a 17-year-old girl who is new to a small town with a family secret, and the star football player she meets who is having a tough year and has big dreams beyond the field. Publication is planned for summer 2014.

Read the rest--> 

List-O-Rama - My Path to Book Abandonment

Goodreads always has an interesting story to tell when they release data about their users’ behavior. (It’s also a bit creepy, but part of what we give them in exchange for using the site--but that’s a subject for another day.)

Their most recent data dump was all about why readers give up on a book. 

This is an interesting topic to me because after a lifetime of being a compulsive book finisher--I believed I was obligated to finish reading something I started--I am now a committed book abandoner. It’s funny, I can remember very clearly the first time I said to myself, “You know what? Life is too short to read something that’s making me miserable,” and close a book without finishing. It was The Mysteries of Pittsburgh and I hated everything about it (your results may vary). 

Here are my most common reasons for saying adios to a book.



Links + Things: Before Midnight, Amazon Buys Goodreads, S + S vs BN, Cheapo Books and More

It's Friday, Friday, which means it's time for linky interestingness. Obviously, the biggest news in the book world this week was the Amazon acquisition of Goodreads, which I have many, many feelings about, which I can't possibly encapsulate in just a few sentences--maybe I'll muster the energy to do a brain dump post about it, fingers crossed.

This is a slightly abbreviate Links + Things, due to my awesome friend Lizzy being in town, so no cover art news, unfortunately. Don't forget to scroll down to the end find deals on a couple of CEFS favorites books.

This Week's Video of Awesome

I adored Before Sunrise (which I saw in the theater my senior year of high school and thought was the most romantic thing ever--sigh) and very much enjoyed the not-resolution in the 2004 movie, Before Sunset. There's a part of me that's ridiculously nervous about the third installment that's coming out this year, Before Midnight. But, obviously, I'll be seeing it as soon as it hits the theaters later this year.


Goodreads is also likely to be less open with access to its data now that it has been acquired by Amazon. In the past, the company has shared information about how its readers discover and buy books and about their digital reading habits, presenting the data at conferences and in blog posts

Undoubtedly, the biggest book news this week is that Amazon acquired Goodreads. I'm going to be honest, this didn't surprise me in the least. I remember a year or so ago, Jane at Dear Author predicted that this would happen and I recall thinking that while I, as a Goodreads user, consumer and person who lives in the world, didn't like the idea, from a business perspective, it would be a smart move for Amazon. 

Those of you who are Goodreads friends with me have probably noticed that I don't update or comment there as frequently as have in the past. That has more to do with the way the climate has changed, particularly that as the self-published books have been dominating my friend feed and all the drama and fighting that erupted awhile back.

Frankly, this news makes me want to be even more careful about the information I post on Goodreads, due to my increasing paranoia about Big Data. It's tough, because I am an Amazon customer, and love my Kindle, but I am so uncomfortable with the integration of all my information (hence, I don't link my Facebook account to Goodreads either) and the fact that it seems like all information will be owned by Amazon, Google or Facebook. 


Ten Wishes for the Year in Reading

I’m not one for resolutions—I completely agree with the theory that goal-setting can actually lead to failure or mediocrity. In fact, the lowest-functioning organizations and people I’ve worked with have all been extraordinarily preoccupied with goal attainment.


I participate in the Goodreads reading challenge for the sole purpose of having that handy count of books read in the sidebar, not because I want to reach a specific threshold. (Though I will admit, two years in a row, I’ve been a couple of books shy of 150 during the last week of the year and have power read through to ensure I have a nice, round number.)

So in the spirit of ignoring the idea of goals, I’m eschewing the reading resolutions posts that abound on the web today and would like to share a bit of what I’d like to see in the upcoming year in reading, publishing and book culture.

#1 An end to the divisive, unproductive, ridiculous discussions of e-reading versus print reading.

Why anyone cares in what format people choose to read books is beyond me, particularly in a culture in which a quarter of the United States population has not read a single book in the last year. Whatever helps ensure people get a book—digital, print or etched in a stone tablet—in their hands is fine by me, and it should be for anyone who truly cares about promoting reading culture. 

#2 An end to the term, “Mommy Porn.”

Thanks to the legion of ridiculous articles about 50 Shades of Grey, “mommy porn” is used to dismiss the reading choices of women by people who are threatened by women reading about S-E-X. I wrote about this early last year and it continues to frustrate me. 

Has Goodreads forgotten readers?

When I first discovered the book nerd social networking site Goodreads a couple of years ago, I was thrilled. 

Kramer Books & Afterwards

Despite that I use social media as an important part of my work, and teach classes on the subject, the only one of these platforms I’d personally enjoyed was Twitter (which is still my absolute favorite)—until Goodreads. On Goodreads, like on Twitter, I found my people.

Once I joined, Goodreads quickly became part of my daily routine. I loved reading other readers’ recommendations and perspectives—and I adored finding books that I would never have considered. Goodreads has broadened my horizons as a reader and opened my mind to new genres and writers in way that’s been extremely rewarding. 

For a couple of years, I puttered along on Goodreads without any hiccups. But things changed.

I’ve never amassed loads of friends on the platform, mostly because, as with Facebook, the terminology of “friend” is one I’m not wholly comfortable with. “Friend,” to my old school mind, implies a specific sort of relationship, so I tend to “follow” Goodreaders whose reviews I’m interested in, rather than friending them. However, I generally do accept any friend requests I get on the platform (more on that in a bit), unlike on Facebook where I try to keep things limited to people I at least have an email sort of relationship with. But really, my friend numbers are teeny, tiny compared to most folks (as of today, I have 135 Goodreads friends). 

But, a few months ago I started getting a lot of friend requests from people with author status on Goodreads. The pattern went like this:

  1. Receive friend request from person with author status.
  2. Blindly accept friend request.
  3. Receive message from new “friend” recommending a book they wrote. (Always self-published.) 
  4. Delete message & remove my new “friend” from my friends list.
  5. Rinse and repeat. 

Initially, I complained to Goodreads about this pattern. It felt “spammy” and not in the spirit of the Goodreads community. Furthermore, it felt like it was an attempt at circumventing the paid promotional opportunities for authors on the platform and against the general guidelines of the Goodreads Author Program.

Goodreads’ response was disappointing, to say the least. Their oh-so-helpful recommendation was to unfriend people if I didn’t want to receive messages and recommendations of this nature. 

Just Listen by Sarah DessenI began harassing Sarah (not Dessen) for book recommendations via twitter about a year or so ago. Among her earliest recommendations were 3 contemporary young adult novels. Since then, I have read 31 contemporary young adult novels. As I continued to add contemporary YAs to my Goodreads shelves, I noticed a certain name pop up with increasing frequency: Sarah Dessen.

Eventually, Goodreads recommended…all of her books. Goodreads also recommended all books which include any and all variations of the proclamation “Fans of Sarah Dessen will love this one!” in the jacket description.

Of course, I couldn’t just blindly follow my Goodreads recommendations.

I absolutely had to get the advice of Sarah, who, in addition to being Queen of Everything, is my Super Special Book Doppelganger (SSBD). So upon meeting in person for the first time —for a contemporary YA book handover, of course—we browsed around an adorable specialty children’s bookstore. When we came upon a rack dedicated solely to Sarah Dessen books, I pointed and said,

Goodreads keeps telling me to read Sarah Dessen. Do YOU like Sarah Dessen?

At this point, my SSBD’s eyes crinkled and her voice went up an octave as she shrieked reverently declared,

I LOVE Sarah Dessen.


{via State Library and Archives of Florida}

Sometimes I feel like I’m living in a parallel digital universe, completely counter to the mainstream.

From friends being horrified by the concept of my devoting time to something as “weird” as blogging or Twitter, to proclamations from mainstream publications bemoaning that ebooks are ruining—ruining—our civilization, it’s bizarre that being involved in the digital world is still perceived by a lot of people as a fringe activity.

In that vein, The Atlantic recently turned its critique of digital culture to the rise of online book reviews in the article, Could the internet save book reviews?”*  

In theory, customer reviews are quick, easy, egalitarian, and make the “consumer” (as opposed to the reader) feel in control of his or her reading choices. But there’s a difference between a recommendation and a review. Customer reviews are heavy on opinion and light on insight. They’re reactionary. Fiction customer reviews typically contain “I-loved-it” or “I-hated-it” declarations based on an affinity for or dislike of the characters and discuss them as if they were real people. Customer reviews rarely include plot summaries—even dull ones. They tend to consider books in terms of whether or not they were worth the money and need not pertain to the book at all. 

Generalize much?

If you’re a sports fan, and you’ve ever made a comment on a sports blog or Twitter, you’ve been trolled.

As a female sports fan, and Asian to boot—before the Jeremy Lin phenomenon, thank you very much—well, you just have to learn to roll with the punches or punch back even harder. It can be ugly and unpleasant.

Then I found Goodreads.

Goodreads quickly became my happy place. More than that, it felt like a safe little corner of the internet where book lovers discussed what they were reading and what they wanted to read. And then things turned ugly in a very familiar way earlier this year with authors attacking reviewers and vice versa. But that’s not what this post is about. You can find posts about all that other bullshit elsewhere.

This is about how Goodreads reviewers and my local library led me to Tom Mackee and one of my favorite authors.