Social networking can be both a blessing and a curse for the writer. A blessing because it gives us an avenue to connect with both writers and readers, but a curse because it can be a massive timesink. So when a new social networking site starts up, I usually avoid it. I can find plenty of ways to proscrastinate as it is, thanks very much. Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest – I haven’t tried them (although I confess I’m eyeing Pinterest with interest). So when I first found Goodreads, I was hesitant to jump in. But, oh boy, am I glad I did.
I admit it: I’m a Goodreads junkie. As soon as I start a new book, I update Goodreads. When I finish the book, I rate it. I’m constantly adding to my “to read” list and right now I have more books listed there than I could read in 18 months. So what are the benefits of Goodreads?
For the reader:
- A place to interact with writers I enjoy. I can follow them, see what they’re reading, what they’ve liked and not liked.
- A place to store my ever-expanding “to read” list. No longer is my desk covered with post-it notes bearing scribbled reminders about books I thought looked interesting. Now it’s all in Goodreads.
- I can see what my friends are reading. A lot of the books on my “to read” list are there because a friend added them to their list.
- I can show my friends what I think of each book I read. My personal policy is that I don’t rate any book as less than three stars. If I disliked it to that extent, I leave it unstarred. I also have a “not finished” shelf for the books I couldn’t bear to persist with.
- I can check out reviews and ratings of books I’m considering reading before I purchase. On the odd occasion that I’ve ignored low ratings and scathing reviews, I’ve left the book unfinished. Unfortunately I have gotten caught a couple of times with books that had high ratings and glowing reviews but which turned out to be awful.
- I can connect with other readers via various reading groups.
But what about the benefits of Goodreads for the writer?
I got as far as:
- A place to interact with readers and potential readers.
- A place where readers can easily write reviews and rate books.
- A place to generate buzz by providing giveaways and writing blogs. Your Goodreads account can be synced with your blog for easy updating (although, I confess it bores me seeing the same blog post everywhere I follow a writer).
- A place to connect with like-minded writers via various reading groups.
What am I missing here? How else does Goodreads benefit writers? Or is it more about the reader? Should writers stay out of the way?