My name is Kostas Kinas and I recently browsed through a book entitled: “Steal Like an Artist.” So I was motivated to write this current blog-post, having been influenced by an interview of a great reviewer, Jason Denness. He loves reading so much that he even read my own book.
The interview is hosted on the super cool blog “Indie Revolution,” which I highly recommend. I’m so excited to be able to chat now with Anne, one of the most popular reviewers on Goodreads. I think that this is an amazing resource for indie authors because of the helpful tips they can access from experienced readers’ points of view. So, let’s get to it – enjoy the interview.
Q: You have 2441 books read, and 2105 reviews. How do you do it?
How do you manage your time?
A: Not wisely, obviously.
Q: How do you stagger your time between reading, writing reviews,
and interacting on Goodreads?
A: I usually read in the afternoon while I’m waiting in the car line-up to pick up my
kids, then I read in the evenings. It’s all very glamorous. *snort*
As for reviewing and interacting? I spend a few mornings a week with two
tabs open on my PC – one with whatever review I’m writing, and another one
open so I can chat with friends on Goodreads. Oh, fine. And another one open
to whatever YouTube/Facebook crap I’m looking at, as well.
Q: Which author would you like to go out with for a dinner?
A: I don’t like interacting with authors, so it would be super uncomfortable to eat
with one of them. Um…yeah, no. A lot of my friends like to chit-chat with
authors, but to me…? It’s awkward. It’s hard to write an honest review about a
book that someone I like wrote. I’ve done it, but it makes me nauseous.
Thankfully, the few authors that I know are good ones. But I still actively avoid
reading books by people I know or have interacted with, because I can’t bring
myself to lie, and there are only so many ways to be kind to a sub-par book.
I’m always afraid I’m going to hurt someone’s feelings or make them angry,
but just because someone is a great person, doesn’t mean they’re a good
Q: What’s your all time favourite book?
A: No such thing as a favorite book. I mean, sure, if I’d only read a few hundred
books in my life, I may have a favorite. But I love to read. I read every day! I
think asking for a favorite book would be like asking which of my kids I love
the most. Although, in no way do I love reading as much as I love my kids.
Because God knows THAT statement would come back to haunt me
Q: Can you share with us your review that you enjoyed writing the
A: Love You Forever was probably the most fun. First, I read the book with my
kids, which was an experience all in itself. And I would absolutely recommend
reading that one with your older children. <–HILARIOUS! But chatting on
that review thread with friends (and making new ones) on Goodreads was
great. Talking with other book lovers, that’s honestly what makes reviewing
Q: How do you choose which books to read and review?
A: I think I choose books the same way everyone else does. I see something that
looks interesting to me, I look up reviews, and then I grab it and dig into it
like…like some sort of creature that digs. I use reviews just as much as
everyone else. BUT. I know that there are some reviewers who usually like the
stuff I hate. So if they love it, I’ll give it a pass, and it they hate it, I’ll give it a
try. One thing indie authors should try to remember is that not every bad
review is a BAD thing.
A: I have noticed that you love books with pictures and your reviews
contain pictures as well. Why’s that?
A: By book s with pictures I assume you mean comic books (* cough* graphic
novels * cough*), right? Well, what’s not to love?! I mean…COMIC BOOKS!
As far as putting pictures in my reviews? Um, I guess that’s because I’m a
visual person, and I enjoy that sort of thing in other people’s reviews. Also, I
think it’s helpful when you’re talking about a graphic novel to show the art.
The art style of a comic can make it or break it with me, and I assume there
are other readers out there like that, as well.
Q: Do you think that composing a review is a creative work?
A: Anything you make from scratch is creative work, so I guess reviewing a book
counts. Although, how creative my reviews are is pretty subjective. Mostly,
they’re just my rambling thoughts, a bit of bad grammar, some made-up
words, and a few annoying gifs.
Q: Have you ever tried writing something by yourself?
A: Nope. I get asked that a lot, oddly enough. See, just because you like to read,
doesn’t mean you have a story to tell. Not everyone who loves books needs to
write one, in my opinion. And I definitely don’t need to write anything. I’m
satisfied with reading things that others have come up with, and (hopefully)
sometimes helping other readers know whether or not those books are right
Q: Do you read classics?
A: Ha! Yeah, I dip my toes into stuff like that every now and then. I’ve read
I’ve even managed to read Sun Tzu’s Art of War! But if you look at those
reviews you’ll notice that I’m not exactly a literary critic of the highest caliber.
Q: Do you read book reviews by professional reviewers?
A: Not really. I usually stick to the reviews from the book community online.
Q: Are there any indie authors that have attracted your attention?
A: Amanda Hocking got my attention years ago, so now I’m always a bit more
willing to give an indie a try.
Q: What is it that really strikes you about their work?
A: Hers was the first indie stuff I’d remember thinking was really good. It opened
my eyes to the whole world of indie authors, and really pushed me to give their
books more chances.
Q: Do you get often review requests?
A: I usually get one or two requests a week.
Q: Did you choose your profile picture in order to avoid review requests?
I’m curious; is it after you read any book?
A: Ha! No. I just thought I looked funny in the picture and started using it. It sort
of stuck. I’m not sure if anyone would recognize me if I changed it now.
Q: Do you read indies?
A: I used to read a lot, but over the past year or so I’ve only read a limited
number. I have less time now, and I prefer to only read the stuff I’ve had on
my list for a while. Some of it is indie, but the majority isn’t.
Q: Can you suggest some tips to do concerning requesting reviews?
A: Ok, it’s really tempting to look at that Goodreads Top Reviewer list, and think
that THOSE are the people you want to review your book. Makes sense, right?
Those guys have lots of friends/followers, so your book will get more
exposure! Well, yes and no. But mostly…no. Know that those reviewers
probably get quite a few offers for free books every week, so you waving your
freebie in their face is not going to sway them. Unless there’s some sort of buzz
happening around your particular book, or it just happens to be right up their
alley genre-wise, you’ll probably not hear back from them.
If you really want solid reviews for your book, find a similar book in a similar genre. Yes, of course yours is special, but there has to be a book that has a something in
common with it. So, find that book, and find the people who gave it good
reviews. Those folks want to read your book! Not only that, but if they aren’t a
well known reviewer, they’ll probably be extremely flattered to get your
message. It’s a win-win for indie authors and book lovers!
Q: And what not to do?
A: Don’t send out a bunch of generic “check out my new book” messages to
reviewers. If you want a reviewer to read and review your book, then at least
do them the courtesy of checking out their profile page first. If they say they
aren’t in the market for any review copies, mark them off your list. Trust me,
it’s only going to tick them off if you spam them with random emails after
they’ve specifically asked you not to. Only contact them if you see that they’ve
added your book. If so, you can pretty much safely PM that person and offer
them a free copy.
Keep your blurb short and to the point. Nobody has time to read a rambling
mess describing yourself as the next George R. R. Martin, and giving a 5
paragraph rundown of what your book is about. Stuff like that gets deleted
quickly, because if that’s the level of nonsense in your email, your book is
probably 10x worse.
Q: Please let us know and describe some cases of odd requests.
I’ve had authors ask me to please buy and review their book, and after the
review I can get reimbursed. Hahahaha! No.
I’ve had authors reach out to me with stuff that is so far outside my genre it’s
funny. Christian folk fiction? Torture Porn? Um… I like fluffy romance and
superheroes. Again, read the person’s profile page.
Q: Can reviewing books be a stressful activity?
A: God, yes. That’s the main reason reviewers leave Goodreads, stop using
Netgalley, and stop taking review requests. Authors are people, and these
books are their babies. We KNOW that. Books from established authors are
easier to review, because we know that our reviews aren’t a make-or-break-it
deal. But every reviewer that I’m friends with on Goodreads is well aware of
how personal and beloved these books are to the authors. Even the ones that
are (in our opinion) flaming piles of garbage. It’s painful and awkward to
review stuff we don’t like. You feel like the asshole who’s making fun of a fat
kid! But if you don’t tell the truth, then you’re going to end up wasting some
other book lover’s money on this thing.
Then, there’s just the overwhelming number of books that get thrown at you.
And, of course, since someone has given it to you for free, you feel obligated to
read and review it in a timely manner. It can be incredibly stressful, because
most of us have pretty full lives outside of Goodreads, and getting it done can
be a real time-sucker. It can become like a second job that not only are you not
getting paid for, but is also no longer enjoyable. Especially if you are getting
harassed for writing a review that the author or their followers didn’t like.
That’s pretty much the textbook definition of the World’s Worst Hobby, you
know? I know several reviewers who have left the site because the pressure got
to be too much for them.
Q: Have you ever deleted a request?
A: I do it all the time. Most of the requests I get are generic, and I assume the
author has sent out about 400 bjillion of them. If the author seems genuine, I
try to direct him/her toward the correct audience.
Q: Any other reflections to aspiring indie authors?
A: On Goodreads specifically… do not engage .
If somebody says your book is crap, let it go. If you do, you’ll see a few people
say “Oh, I’ll avoid that one!”, and you’ll feel shitty, but…whatever. And if
you’re smart you’ll tell your mom, sister, cousin, BFF, and other pals to do the
If you (or your friends) go on to that reviewer’s thread and argue that they
missed the point, misread your intentions, or just didn’t get what you were
trying to say? Dude, you’re gonna see an apocalypse level of insanity as that
person’s friends and other reviewers jump on that thread, all of them going
crazy in defense of the reviewer. Suddenly, you’re the asshole who is into
censoring what is said about your book, and NOBODY will touch your stuff –
now or in the future. I’ve seen multiple authors go down that path, and it’s
never been good for the author.
No matter what rules Goodreads implements, the reviewers find a way to blacklist you if you do that, because very few reviewers want that sort of drama. There are a lot of introverts on the site, and arguing (even online arguing) is just about their worst nightmare. Again, it’snot like we get paid for this, so once it becomes a chore… ehhhh.
Think about it this way: you’re hoping to make a living off of this, but we’re only doing it for the love of reading. Sure, there are assholes who love to tear books down, but
for the most part, the reviewers on Goodreads are just trying to share their
opinions and talk with other book lovers.
The other thing that can make or break your book is the cover. I know, I know.
Don’t judge a book by its cover. But we do. I get that it’s probably an expense
you don’t want to deal with, but if your cover looks generic, a lot of people will
pass on it. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve been sucked into grabbing
a horrible book just because it had a gorgeous cover! *sighs* And on the flip
side, I’ve mentioned in several reviews that other readers should ignore the
hideous cover and give the book a chance. It’s not a fair thing, but looks
Anne, sincerely, thank you! See you around Goodreads! To all of you reading, remember to keep an eye on this blog. It’s yours and we are looking forward to publishing your posts.