In my mind, I liken the journey I’ve taken trying to learn my way through Goodreads to a hobbit on her first adventure. I left home, barefoot, with a bag of snacks and entered into a world outside the safety of my shire that I couldn’t at first comprehend. It was a cold place. Lonely, but I was surrounded by others, most who seemed as lost as me. And there were trolls. Lots of trolls. I had to learn my way around them, but there were so many that it was almost impossible. They pelted me with rocks and taunted me until I almost gave up my wanderlust and headed home. But, I’m a ginger and also Scottish. When they decode my DNA, it will spell s-t-u-b-b-o-r-n. So, taking a cue from the three little pigs, I decided that if I was going to survive in the Land of Goodreads, I was going to have to build a house of bricks. No, not a house of bricks. That wasn’t good enough for me. Instead, I’d construct a fortress made of stone, even diamonds, shining and Impenetrable. Well, I didn’t quite achieve my goal completely. Nobody on Goodreads is impenetrable, but you can still shine and have a pretty serious fortress if you know what you’re doing.

In order to help you all get started, since my first Goodreads blog was about the author bio and photo, I’m going to give you your first couple of stones by going over the functions you have on your author page, only there are so many that I’m going to do two blogs; one covering the left side functions of the page, and the other covering the right. There are so many on both it’s mind boggling, but I will try to remain as organized explaining them as I am able. Goodreads, after all, is basically a mess as far as it’s laid out, but once you can look at it bit by bit, it’s a lot less overwhelming than it seems. So let me begin…

Let’s go ahead and cover everything on the left hand side of the page in this blog. You may want to have your author page open in a different window so you can follow along. There’s too much to remember off hand, but if you can click and see as you read, you’ll have a better grasp. OK, seat belts on? Here, we go!


1. For your first little tip on your author page,let’s begin by looking at your author photo.  Click it. It will appear on a different page where it can be inspected by your adoring public. But, wait! There’s more! Look to your right. There is an “Add more photos” button.  Click that and you can upload more images, add titles to them, descriptions, and even tag them to be found in the Goodreads database. Pretty cool. This is a place to shine and display your brand. Write books about dogs? Post yourself with all five of your rescued Saint Bernards! Write Sci Fi? Post the pic you took in 1982 with Leonard Nimoy at the convention in San Diego. Win an award? Go ahead and show yourself off with your trophy! This is a place to be you and connect with people. But, just so you know, readers can comment. Once you have added more photos, below your profile picture, you will see a quick link that says “More Photos” and the number of additional photos you’ve posted.

2. Directly below “More Photos” and a paid advertisement, you will see two quick links where you can “Like” an author page on Facebook and another where you can share the page on Google+.

3. Next is an area where you can upload videos. Generally, I have seen book trailers here, but there have been a few authors who have taken the time to shoot a video to personally thank their readers for voting in contests and the like. This is a pretty good spot to be creative if you’re a video inclined kinda guy or gal. Keep your brand in mind and shoot for the stars.

4. Under that, you will see “Your Name’s Bookshelves”. If you have added any books to bookshelves, they will appear there. It’s a way for others to compare how much you have in common book-wise.

  • 5. Beneath that, you will see a list of your Goodreads Friends. You are allowed up to 5,000 friends on the site.  These are the things you can do concerning your friends:
  • a) 

If you click on Your Name’s Friends, it will take you to a list of them all. You may click on them alphabetically if you want to look for a specific friend.

b) If you look to your right, directly across from the alphabet provided, is an “Edit Friends” link. Click it and the lovely X’s will appear. Click those to remove unwanted friends. (Note: If you have a really unwanted “friend”, go to their profile page and scroll all the way to the bottom. It is there that you will find the “Block this Friend” option)

c) In the upper right hand corner, you will see 3 tabs. “Friends”, “Popular Books” and “Add Friends”. The “Friends” tab gives you four options:

c.1) Friend Requests (You’ll see the same thing on the tool bar at the top of the page. It’s where you can accept or deny new friends)

c.2) People I’m following (self-explanatory)

c.3) My Followers (Also self-explanatory)

c.4) Friend Stories, where you can pick a friend, tell how you met, and add a story.

Next, The “Popular Books” tab will show you what your friends are reading that month

And, finally, the “Add Friends” tab will do exactly what the option directly below these tabs will do, allow you to add friends by using a variety of social media sites.

6. As stated above, directly below the tabs explained, there is a “Find Friends From” option that offers you a quick link to invite all your friends from Gmail, Yahoo, Facebook and Twitter.  Below that there is a paid advertisement and below that, a little box where you can send a personal message if you like with the invite.

 7. The next option descending on the left hand side of the page is the area titled “Your Name’s Fans”. These are the people who liked your work, or simply appreciate you enough, to publicly state that they are a fan. When other authors fan you, it’s a good idea to return the favor. You don’t have to love somebody’s work to show that you appreciate the effort and heart it took to write a book and publish it. Non-authors can not be fanned back, so they’re almost more precious, in my humble opinion.

8. Next is “Your Name is Following”. This is simply a list of the people you have invited to be a friend, or whom you have fanned, who have not returned the favor. (Note: Like most things on Goodreads, this gets wonky sometimes and will tell you that somebody is not following you and they are. Always double check. Also, keep an eye on this, because some unscrupulous authors will fan you to get you to fan them back, then immediately unfan you. If they only knew the second they tried to pull that scam, they showed up right there (It will say “Your name is following” and then display a number), they might feel a lot less clever. I always unfan them right back. Fair is fair, after all.)

9.  Now, look down and you will see more paid advertising. What a shock! (NOT!)

10. And the last thing on the left side of you page is the 2014 Reading Challenge. This is kind of fun. You can pick how many books you want to read in one year and then keep track of and compare your progress with your friends.

So, My Darling Readers, this is the left side of your author page on Goodreads, unmasked. In my next blog, I shall reveal the right side, which you may find more interesting and far more useful, but at least you now have full knowledge of the left. In the meanwhile, don’t let Goodreads frustrate you any more than you need to. You have a few more stones and a couple of handy weapons to battle the the trolls with now. You also have my hand and I will lead you through the darkness. I promise not to let you trip and fall any more than I do myself.