Monday, June 28, 2010

My question on Goodreads - to friend or follow reviews?

So, I'm on Goodreads, which I'm really enjoying. I love getting those email delivery of reviews by my friends and the people I'm following, just to see what people are reading and what they think about it. And every once in a while Mind Games is on there, and that's still exciting to me, even if I don't always read the reviews (see below for more on that).

Anyway, my question: When I get emails to say people are following my reviews, what is the proper thing to do? Is what an author should do different than what a blogger or reader should do? There are three courses of action that I have identified for when somebody follows my reviews on Goodreads. Please advise:

A: Should I friend that person?

Pro: I do feel friendly toward people who are want to have exchanges of opinion on books, so why not friend them? I kind of don't understand why there are two levels. Also, I once followed Julie James' reviews, thinking it was too forward to ask her to be my friend, but she came back with a friend request. So I thought, if Julie James does it, then maybe that's a good thing for an author to do. Because, I'm all about the peer pressure.

as twitter pal @JackieUhrmacher jokingly suggested, it might be a bit stalkery. Again, she was joking, but is there some truth to that? Is friending a person who is just following your reviews the same as, say, if you're in a bookstore and somebody asks what you think of a certain book, and you're all like, Let's be friends! When we had this minor twitter discussion, twitter pal @LauraSummers said that she friends review followers, too. She, too, began to wonder. Though she is more of a reviewer. Maybe different etiquette applies.

B: Should I follow their reviews back?
Pro: I am interested in people's thoughts on books of all kinds, and what people are reading and how they are reacting. And sure, I'm an author, but I don't think my opinions are more interesting than non-authors. In fact, I think my opinions are way less interesting because I'm careful about criticizing and upsetting my fellow authors, and non-author readers don't have to be like that. They are freer and typically more interesting and honest. What's more, when a person follows my reviews, isn't it just natural to follow them back? And, it's the same level of interaction that they've chosen. Maybe they don't want to be friends!

Con: As an author, is following people's reviews back like saying, Hey, I'm watching you with my EAGLE EYE! I'll be reading your review of my book! If you say something bad I'm going to HUNT YOU DOWN. Which is to say, does it have the chilling effect on honesty? I don't read all my reviews, unless somebody has specifically brought one to my attention. I don't have Google alerts on for my name and all that. I mean, part of me enjoys reading reviews of my book, and I do learn things from them, but I think it's unhealthy to get too focused on what people are saying. So, it's not like I sit there and read them. Still, does following back chill reviews?

C. Do nothing!
Pro: This seems least invasive to the person, least stalkerly and least eagle-eye monitory, and maybe it seems more authorly, too. I mean, is there some level of interaction that's too much? Should authors maintain decorum and distance on Goodreads?

Isn't it snobby that somebody would express interest in my reviews, but I don't care to read theirs? What if I do care to read them? I'm a reader, too. I'm interested in things like, what people think of the new JR Ward book and all that. But I don't want to make people feel weird!

Bonus question: what IS the difference between friending and following reviews? I sort of don't get it, but I don't use Goodreads as intensively as some people.

So, let me know what you think. And, hey, do you want to be my friend or follow my reviews on Goodreads? I'm there! Though, you never know what I'm going to do back!


KT Grant said...

Maybe just say, thanks for reading my book, it means alot?

Carolyn Crane said...

Well, this seems a separate issue from reading my book. I don't think people who follow my reviews have necessarily read my book. Do you?

KT Grant said...

you have a point. Same goes for me. I wouldn't say anything unless someone contacts you first.

I don't follow everyone who follows me. Goodreads is a bit like Twitter that way.

Carolyn Crane said...

Oh, that's interesting. Though, with twitter, things can get unmanageable with increased follows, but with Goodreads, you can always ignore update emails if you're busy. Maybe I use it differently than others!!

Hawkeyegirl said...

I just added you as a friend, followed your reviews and became a fan. Not really sure what it all means either, to be honest. Although I feel like I tend to follow the people who's reviews might be interesting to me (I've found a TON of books that way), otherwise, I just friend them. But I'm not a writer or huge reviewer, so I don't think it matters a whole ton. I think in your case, I'd let people come to you.

Carolyn Crane said...

Yay! I friended you back. Oh, wait, so, if you friend the person, you're not following their reviews? And don't get their reviews? Oh no! This is really confusing. Though, I'm glad other people are as confused as I am.

Joanna Chambers said...

I don't do goodreads (quelle surprise, I hear you say. Really it's amazing I blog even.)

I must admit that I don't like when authors enter a discussion about a book. I do think it chills discussion, but that's very much in a bloggerly context. Maybe goodreads has a different vibe? And anyway, I know lots of people with disagree with me on that view even in blogland. I think this is why I don't do Twitter and such - because really I like boundaries and prefer clarity re how people relate to one another. Blurry margins are very troublesome.

meljean brook said...

I always friend people if they make the request (unless they are guys I don't know from online, who apparently don't read romance, who have a HUGE number of friends, and very few books on their shelves, because that's a red flag that I'm going to be spammed with book promo).

So I'll friend them, but I usually don't follow anyone.

meljean brook said...

And the second part -- god forbid I have one coherent thought and comment -- is that I usually do keep some distance from reviews (especially of my own work) on Goodreads. If it's someone I know well, I might comment with a 'thanks!' ... but I agree that it seems to chill discussion. A lot of readers don't feel comfortable saying, "I hated this book" if they know the author is watching.

So that is why I don't follow back, especially if someone just follows my reviews without friending me. That means that they'll see what I have to say about books, but that I won't see theirs -- and I assume that's the way they want it.

Perhaps I'm wrong, and they simply don't feel comfortable "friending" me if they don't know me. But I'd rather err on the side of not being intrusive.

Carolyn Crane said...

Tumperkin: I agree about authors not entering a discussion. Sometimes I'll thank the reviewer, but not in the comments.

meljean: Ditto on the promo guys. On the follow-backs, you really do make sense. So, if somebody follows your reviews, you let it be? That seems wise. I've been friending back to review-followers, but sometimes that doesn't feel right. I'm glad to have your insight on this!

Jacqueline C. said...

If you friend someone, you automatically get updates about their reviews like you would if you followed them.

I like connecting with authors on Goodreads, but it can feel weird if I've put up a less than glowing review of their book. Usually I won't friend them if all I have up regarding their work is something negative. If I'm still interested in what they're saying, I'll just go the following route. If they then decide to friend me, that's fine but I won't take the initial friending step in those cases. It just feels presumptuous.

Jill Sorenson said...

I've been wondering the same thing. If someone reviews my book, should I friend them? It seems intrusive to me but that might be because I prefer the "do nothing" approach in marketing. heh.

Friending someone to sell myself as an author is sort of weird. Doing it out of booklove is A-okay! So I say go ahead and do your thing.

Carolyn Crane said...

Jacqueline: oh, I like getting this pov. So, you come in a the level of interaction you would prefer with that person. That is helpful to know.

Jill: I don't go friending ppl out of the blue, but if they are following my reviews, it's more, how to respond.

I actually noticed Neil Gaimen has like 6000 friends, but then, nobody is going to think he's scrutinizing his reviews!

Shiloh Walker said...

I don't do anything... unless they contact me first.

Carolyn Crane said...

Shiloh: what do you do when somebody follows your reviews? Nothing or something?

Blodeuedd said...

I never follow any reviews, dunno why really. perhaps I could not keep up with it anyway, hm

AngelGoneMad said...

Okay, dumb question - what's goodreads? Is this a website where you just post reviews or is it an interactive site with book clubs etc for authors or genres?

Carolyn, I think all your pro's and con's can be applied to any social networking site really. Just because someone friends me on facebook/twitter/blogger, I don't always follow them back. I have recently out of courtesy but if their site doesn't hold anything of interest to me then I don't follow/friend them.

The comment about authors being involved in reviews/chats about their books. I don't think it would bother me if I submit a review of a book that the author is going to read. If I don't like a book then I don't like a book but I would be respecful in my approach to review/discussion. Just because I don't like one book that an author writes doesn't mean I am going to write them off their other books as possible reads as I might like their other work.

Katie Reus said...

This makes me really glad I'm not on goodreads, lol! I have enough trouble w/ twitter and FB ;)

Laura - Laura's Lovely Blog said...

Wow, glad our discussion inspired a blog post :)

I really don't think I understand the etiquette of Goodreads at all. Primarily I use it as it's a great way for me to keep track of what books I've read, bought & want to buy and it's given me some great recommendations too.

Anyone who follows me I just follow them back. Not sure if that's right or wrong? In terms of authors, if I'm a fan of an author & I love their books I follow them & add them as a friend feeling chuffed if they accept my request. If I didn't like an author's books and hence written a negative/ although I like to think constructive :-/ review I wouldn't follow them back.

I wouldn't think if an author follows me back they were being a bit stalkerish at all. Ooh it's a minefield!!

Carolyn Crane said...

Blo: there is much reading to be done online, isnt there?

Angel: yes, good points! Both!

Katie: LOL

Laura: it was even sort of stalkery of me to use you in this post a little, huh? we had like one exchange on twitter and I'm talking all about you.

Carolyn Crane said...

This is all so interesting and helpful. So, it looks like maybe for an author, it's best to let others set the tone. If a person wants to friend, then friend back, but if they follow reviews, maybe trust that that's just what they want.

Laura - Laura's Lovely Blog said...

Lol! I didn't think stalkery, maybe I'm just an author groupie? ;-)

Jackie Uhrmacher said...

Carolyn - You called us pals! So, like, we can braid each other's hair, borrow each other's clothes, and be best friends forever?!?!?! : )

Meljean - Not sure anyone could hate your books, but I get what you're saying. I've often wondered why more authors don't comment on my reviews. Not out of vanity (okay, maybe a little), but because I'm genuinely curious what they think of it. I've never considered that it could chill a discussion.

Laura - I totally agree. Goodreads confuses me. I'm a member there, but I use it as more of a book tracker than anything since my reviews belong to the great and powerful BBB. I honestly didn't know there were different "levels" until this came up on Twitter.

Carolyn Crane said...

Laura: I was just joking!

Jackie: Hey GF, can I borrow your chapstick? LOL. I totally know what you mean. Before when I started this blog and wasn't a pubbed author, I would LOVE when authors came to comment! Esp if I worked super hard on the post. But I get the chilling thing.

Unknown said...

Ack!!!! My head just exploded.

I don't know what to do.

Nothing seems like a good choice.

Jackie Uhrmacher said...

I think my mind just works differently than most people's. I would love for an author to come and debate the merits of a review with me, simply because I love debating. I've seen reviewers go absolutely crazy when their precious words are questioned, though, so I understand the caution. It just makes me sad. One of the positives of having such a "global community" of readers and writers online is the opportunity to ask an author what he/she meant in a certain passage, or why he/she had to horribly maim a character you adore without fear of villainization, on both the part of the reader and author.
Wow. Sorry. Soap box moment. Back to Goodreads.

Jackie Uhrmacher said...

LOL @head exploding. Yeah, I still don't know which route to go.

Chris said...

Well, I hope you learned your lesson about following my updated. ;)

Donna said...

I've had some conflicting thoughts about this too. For the most part, I just become a fan of authors and admire from a far. ;) But there a few authors that I am friends with on Goodreads but it's on a book lovers basis mostly, not author/reader basis.

I will tell you that I have had some authors friend me first on Goodreads and after I accept, they bombard me with book recommendations of their own books. That to me is not cool. So I've started un-friending them when this happens. I understand that they are trying to get the word out about their books but I don't feel that is the right way to it. Does that sound harsh?

Unknown said...

I suggest friending them. They can always refuse. I think following on Goodreads is meant to be one way, mostly when one person doesn't want to be friends. You could also send friend requests to any of your fans, again, they can always refuse. Some of them may have thought they shouldn't friend you and they may be thrilled by the invitation.
Join the Goodreads Feedback group to learn more and have a place to ask questions. There is an official authors group too.

orannia said...

I have friends on GoodReads, but I don't follow anyone's reviews...but then I see the reviews of my friends, and if they comment on one of their friend's reviews. I'm confused now :)

I wrote a comment about a book (it wasn't a review) and had the author send me a friend request. I accepted, but then starting receiving 'suggestions' about her other books. I can accept that some authors chose to use GoodReads as a marketing tool. But I don't want to play in that pool.

I have 'fanned' a couple of authors, and I seem to see their comments on books from that. I don't think I could friend them - I feel so embarrassed making the friend request..worrying that people might say no. I think Carolyn, you are the only friend who is also an author that I have :) Thank you!

Jon Spayde said...

Wow--all of this discussion just today!

Tez Miller said...

I'm incredibly me-centric. Even if so many people love a certain book, that's no guarantee that I'll love it, because we're very different people.

However, sometimes after reading a book but before I review, I do chase down some reviews to read - to see if I'm alone in my opinions, or if others agree. Yes, it all comes back to me ;-)

I love it when people follow my reviews - it means they value my opinion, and that's a massive ego-boost! (I'm a fragile soul.) Do I friend or follow them in return? Not unless I know them from elsewhere.

But as far as I can tell: FRIENDING means you care about the PERSON. FOLLOWING means you care about their OPINIONS ;-)

Carolyn Crane said...

Carolyn: LOL.

Jackie:I wonder if there is truly a platform for that!

Chris: LOL. Your own review load crashed your computer!

Donna:I get those promo sharks, too! It is such a wrong use of Goodreads, I agree!

Deborah: Oh, some interesting thoughts. And I didn't realize there was an authors' group! That would be a good place to ask this!

Orannia: xxoo Will you still be my friend when you see how terribly I'm doing at your big book challenge?

Tez: That does seem smart. And it's about trusting the person to be asking for precisely what they want, rather than second guessing them.

Patti (@TheLoveJunkee) said...

I would friend them if you have a lot of books in common. It's not stalkery and everyone likes friends, right? And an author friend - woo hoo!

BTW - I was just your friend but now am a fan. Which is different than a friend and different than following. I think.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

I hate when I mispell something.

Ok so Carolyn you are going to laugh out loud. My first week on goodreads I had someone friend me out of the blue and I declined because I really didn't have much in common and she was an aspiring author. I saw your friend request yesterday on Goodreads and thought why not, she looks like a normal person. I knew that your name sounded familiar and clicked ok. Now I see that you are the author of one of my new books to read (which I think that I may have to pick up today lol) and I thought how cool is it that she requested to be my friend. As a non-author but voracious reader I decided to be fans of authors so I could follow their blogs. I thought friending them was stalkerish on my part. I did message Jennifer Rardin praising her newest book about something I thought was hilarious and we messaged back and forth a few times. I think as an author it's cool to request to be someone's friend on goodreads if they share the same interests as you. Why not? They can always decline. In fact, Meljean, I just downloaded one of your books. I run out of things to read too often.

As for reviews, if someone isn't going to give an honest review, what is the point. I'll write an honest review about your book even if we associate on goodreads. I never bash a book anyway. Every book has positive and negative aspects. And, I like to tell an author when they do something well. Very few people in this world get told they do a great job often enough.

Carolyn Crane said...

Patti: LOL. You have your OWN category apparently!

Meredith: You know what's also funny, is that your request was one of the ones that sparked this entire post! Because I was automatically friending review followers until a couple days ago, and then started to worry it was too forward or review-chilling.

Also, thanks for getting my book! I'm grateful for any reader just investing the time and/or money to give it a read, no matter how you feel or what you say. To me, it's huge that you gave it a whirl! (And srsly, unless I get specifically alerted, I really don't read reviews.)

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