How a Goodreads juggernaut chooses her books

I just posted something about “”.  Sorry for the back-to-back posts, but I just got permission to post Tammy K’s wonderful breakdown on how she chooses her ebooks.  It’s sort of fascinating:

[link to the original discussion]

Tammy K, of Pro-Active Destruction says…

Yesterday, while on Facebook, I came across an author asking about her book’s blurb and cover. She was looking for ways to increase her downloads/sales.
I offered her some advice on her cover. Today I seen that she had ideas to improve her books blur (description).
The more that I thought about this conversation the more I pondered the ‘reasons’ that I download one book over another.
When I browse titles at any website, a couple of things are running through my mind before I even click on the books.
• I have X amount of time to shop.
• I have x amount of room on my kindle/cloud
• I have an interesting in reading w, x, y and z genres
• I have X amount of money left on my monthly eBook allowance.

I use Jungle Search, search engine to aid me in my shopping. If you’re not familiar with it, here is the link to it.…

It is pretty easy to use.
On the left hand side you select your genres. For this example I will select Science Fiction & Fantasy.
On the right hand side you add keywords: Bigfoot, or Fairies, whatever floats your boat.
Continue down the right hand side using the drop tabs until you find all the requirements that you are looking for.
For this example I will use Bigfoot as my keyword. I do not care about the other ones until we get to language which I want English.
For Publication Date: I unusually vary based on how much time that I have. The longer the time frame the more options you will get but after you have done this a while you pretty much have a baseline of where you want to start. For this example I will use the drop tabs to make it two months’ timeframe.
For the ‘Sort Results By:’ you always want to use low to high.
The rest of the results do not matter to me.
So I have filled out all my boxes, now I hit enter.

This is where the shopping begins!

Here is what I am looking for:

1. They say never judge a book by its cover. Bull! Sorry but its human nature to do just that! The clock is ticking, you’ve got to grab my attention. If I am looking for a Bigfoot book and you have a Red cover with two white lines in it, dude you’re not even close! If you do not care about the accuracy of your book’s cover, chances are you’re not that particular with your writing either.

2. After the cover the next thing that I look at is the page count, my eyes have been programmed to hone in on that. I do not even think about it, I just look. If the book is anything less than 50 pages I tend to dismiss it rather quickly. If the book is over 70 pages I will consider it for a buddy read. If the book is over 150 pages I will consider it for a BOTM recommendation.

3. Next the title. Does it capture the theme I am after?

4. This is where I look at the books description. Yeah I know strange to see me say that so far down the list! But if the book doesn’t have those first four requirements, then it is not what I am looking for. Remember that clock is ticking! I am not looking for a book review here! Nor am I looking for the first chapter, or the characters history. I am looking for a plot synopsis. Tell me in two paragraphs or less, what I can expect to see in store for your characters. It’s been a while since I used to attend movies at the movie house on a regular bases, but back when I did, I recall the announcer guy come on and saying something like, “One ring to rule them all.” – The Lord of the Rings and then shows us the photos illustrating that. A book synopsis can be similar, start with one tagline and build from there. “In the woods you are never alone. – Having wondered off from the campsite, lost, with nightfall minutes away Alice realizes that someone is following her.”

5. How many people have reviewed this baby? I have two thoughts on this. First, am I picking the book for me? Or I picking it for my group to recommend as a future BOTM or Buddy Read?

If I am picking the book for me and the book has over 20 reviews, than I am less likely to purchase it. Why? Because I write reviews or rather used to write reviews for Amazon. A book with that many reviews will do nothing for my Amazon review ranking. (I am being honest folks!)

However, if I am picking the book for my group, Pro-Active Destruction. I want a wide variety of views by a wide number of reviewers. Why? Because I want the books that we read to “stimulate” conversation. If everyone comes on and say, Yeah that book was awesome! There is not a lot of conversation going on. Some of the best BOTM’s and Buddy Reads that I have in my group and in other groups that I belong too were of mixed ratings/reviews.
Now I do not go in looking at all the reviews. I look first for the most recent reviews and then a little from the high’s and the lows. I do not count/consider grapevine reviewers reviews! Sorry folks but those reviews are stacked and we all know it! I want the average Joe.

6. Costs: Again I am of two minds here. As a requirement for the Pro-Active Destruction groups BOTM the books must be “reasonable prices at the time of nomination” and/or available on KLL/KU or a commonly found at a public library. So far I have found that books over the cost of $2.99 have flopped in their polling selection. In fact if the book is free or $0.99 at or around the time of nomination and announced with warning so the member can pick it up, then it’s chances of being selected as a BOTM are greatly improved. Same goes with available on KLL/KU and the local library.
However for me personally, if I am wanting to read a book, I will go as high as $3.99 for a page count of 300+. I figure about one dollar per 100 pages is fair for a ‘good’ book.

Whew! All that work looking for a book! But these books, once read will become a part of our lives/our memories and hopefully our hearts.
You wouldn’t let just anyone walk off the street and into your home, would you?
You want to use the same care in selecting what goes into your mind! You cannot un-read something.



Filed under Writing Market

3 responses to “How a Goodreads juggernaut chooses her books

  1. #QuotableQuote of the day: You wouldn’t let just anyone walk off the street and into your home, would you? You want to use the same care in selecting what goes into your mind! You cannot un-read something. Thanks for sharing your criteria on choosing books. I don’t look at page count as much as price. Rarely do I pay up to $10 for an ebook – might as well look for a paper copy. My comfort zone is Free, 99 cents, or up to $2.99. A quirky voice, a fresh angle, is what catches me.

  2. P.T. Hylton

    Interesting stuff. Thanks for sharing. I rarely look at page count (other than verifing I’m not accidently buying a short story). The $1 per 100 pages is an interesting philosophy.

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