Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Digging for Gold on Goodreads—Guest Post by Stina Lindenblatt



I'm relatively new to Goodreads, and I'm still getting my bearings there. I've thought of it as a way to see which books I'd like to read, but hadn't thought of the reviews as a way to improve twists in my own fiction.

Today Stina Lindenblatt, author of the NA novel Tell Me When, is here to share how authors can learn from Goodreads reviews. It's all yours, Stina!

Digging For Gold On Goodreads

When my debut novel went live and reviews started popping up on Goodreads, I refused to read them. I was terrified that everyone would hate the book. I eventually found the courage to peek at them and found a gold mine of information.

I’m not talking about great reviews saying that I’m the next J.K. Rowling (which there were none, though that would have been fantastic). The reviews I’m talking about are the ones that dissected the tropes I used in my story. These reviewers took the time to analyze what I did right with the tropes and explained why they loved my twist on them. Some reviewers had actually requested the book off NetGalley because they disliked the trope. This just meant they were super critical and were waiting to be surprised.

It dawned on me that reading the reviews for both my book and others in my genre can benefit my writing. When you study reviews like these, you learn what it is about certain tropes that irritates readers, what tropes they feel are overdone, and what books deal with them in a different way that make them fresh. When you apply this knowledge to your own stories, it helps you avoid the “I’ve read this same story a million times” reviews. This will also help you gain agent and editor attention. Like readers, these individuals are craving fresh stories. They’re craving your fresh story.

Have you used Goodreads to help you improve your stories?

Amber Scott should be enjoying life as a college freshman. She should be pursuing her dream of becoming a veterinarian. She should be working hard to make sense of her precalculus math class.

She shouldn’t be waking up her college roommate with screaming nightmares. She shouldn’t be flashing back, reliving the three weeks of hell she barely survived last year. And she definitely shouldn’t be spending time with sexy player Marcus Reid.

But engineering student Marcus is the only one keeping Amber from failing her math course, so she grudgingly lets him into her life. She never expects the king of hookups will share his painful past. Or that she’ll tell him her secrets in return, opening up and trusting him in a way she thought she’d never be able to again.

When their fragile future together is threatened by a stalker Amber thought was locked away for good, Marcus is determined to protect her—and Amber is determined to protect Marcus…even if that means pushing him away.

Thanks, Stina! I think I'll do a little mining over at Goodreads.
What about you all? Do you mine Goodreads reviews for fresh ideas? Any tips you can share?

Stina Lindenblatt writes New Adult contemporary romances and currently lives in Calgary with her husband and three kids. When she isn’t writing, lost in a romance novel, or checking out romantic photos, Stina loves to spend her free time behind the camera lens. She can be found on her website, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

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33 comments:

  1. Goodreads can be a wealth of info, but there are plenty of haters on there too

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    1. Pat, I've heard about that. One agent said get your book on there then get off.

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    2. I haven't issue with haters YET, but they are out there. I've seen them review other books. I skip those reviews. They are useful at all!

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  2. That's a great point, Stina. I hadn't thought of reading reviews for books in my genre and taking mental notes on how I could apply that knowledge to my own writing. Nicely done!

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    1. Sheri, I hadn't thought of that either. It's a great idea. Thanks for stopping by!

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    2. I hadn't thought about it either, Sheri, until I read some of my reviews. :)

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  3. I wouldn't want to see my reviews either, but what you say makes sense. There's definitely wisdom in reading reviews. But, unfortunately, there are reviewers out there who only hurt and don't help. So I think I would have someone else look at them for me and let me see only the ones that offer constructive criticism.

    Happy reading and writing! from Laura Marcella @ Wavy Lines

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    1. Laura, I like that idea! Or only reading reviews for other books in our genre might be a good way to remedy that. Thanks for the tip.

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    2. Laura, at first I wasn't going to look at my reviews. At. All. But after reading the ones from my blog tour, I gainned confidence. I don't look very often though. I keep expecting a not so nice review to pop up.

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  4. Love Stina! :D I definitely see how you can use reviews to your benefit, but I do try to avoid reading mine--at least not often. I just get a little fidgety (not in a good way) afterward, good or bad.

    That being said, I can't help but read the first four or five that come across. It's so scary waiting, and I always hope the first one isn't horrible. LOL

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    1. EJ, I know what you mean. Oy! So scary to put our babies out there :/

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    2. It is scary reading your own reviews. It's much easier reading it for someone else's book. Unless you love that book. Then it's easy to take the bad reviews personally.

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  5. Hey Stina!
    I read my reviews. They can provide insight and help with the next book.

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    1. Alex, I wonder if readers have any idea how much they influence an author's writing? I never realized it before!

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    2. I know some authors do pay attention to the reviews and learn from them. Many avoid GRs because it can get ugly. And depressing.

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  6. That's a great point, Stina. I think if you take the reviews as learning experiences whether you agree or not with them, it can strengthen your writing.

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    1. Natalie, I agree. It's all about learning--even when it hurts.

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  7. I didn't think of reviews as a learning process. I had thought never to read my own. Maybe this will change my mind and dig for the gold you suggested.

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  8. I hadn't thought of it that way! I don't know if I'll ever look at my reviews - I'd like NOT to, but I think I'll probably cave (when/if I get my books out there that is!!)

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  9. Ooh, I love books when there's a stalker involved! Ok, so that sounded weird... What I mean is I like how the mc's love interest always steps up and is determined to protect them, no matter what. Also, if they're good looking w/muscles- even better, lol! Great post!

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    1. LOL I'm a sucker for books where the love interest steps up and determine to protect the character. Especially when the mc doesn't want to be protected and is stubborn about it.

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  10. I haven't read a lot of Goodreads reviews, since I usually rely on Amazon's reviews instead. But I'm interested in Goodreads because I've heard a lot of cool things about it. And Stina's book sounds cool too!

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  11. Traci, like others have said, I suppose we can do this carefully. I think I'd rather read reviews for other books in my genre. That's the chicken in me talking!

    Leandra, I agree! And Marcus fits the bill. I especially love it when the guy tries to protect the girl and can't. Oh, the helplessness!

    Neurotic, I'm really enjoying Stina's book. Gut-wrenching at times, which is good :)

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  12. Great idea for using reviews. I've always heard an author shouldn't read reviews, and you probably have to have a thick skin to do it, but hey, that's what the years of crits and querying is for, right?

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    1. Sara, I think that's why it's easier to check out the reviews for a book you read but didn't write. Then it's not personal. :)

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  13. Yes, there can be some insightful input from reviews. Other things, like wishing that I'd showed a sex scene (I write clean romance), don't match my genre.

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  14. Interesting post. I do read reviews, not only of my books but of others. Reading how someone writes about several books help me gauge the professionalism of the reviewer. I appreciate it when someone takes the time to offer helpful criticism, and I attend to it. After all, I'm a learner here, and I'll always be a learner. Thanks for the great post.

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  15. This is such a great idea. As a reader, I like to go on Goodreads to see what other people have said about a book I've just read. I'm curious to say if they saw the same things, etc. I can see it would be really helpful to look at your own reviews.

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  16. I can't say I read a lot of reviews from other people about books that aren't mine, but I would agree, if constructive criticism is offered, it can be a good learning experience for other authors.

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  17. I have to become more Goodreads literate. You've inspired me.

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