Goodreads and sock puppets

Authors! Not getting enough ratings and reviews on Goodreads? Already tried rating (5 stars obviously) and reviewing your own book, only to find the rating from the author doesn’t count? Fear not, there is an answer! Sock puppets!

What is a sock puppet you ask? It’s a fake identity set up by the author on Goodreads, or elsewhere, pretending to be someone else, totally not the author, for the purpose of “reviewing” and rating the author’s own book – with high ratings to bring the average rating up, and gushing reviews about how amazing this book is.

Goodreads No PhotoI’ve been sadly disappointed with the quality of sock puppets I’ve seen on Goodreads lately. A bad sock puppet is an obvious one. A profile with no details, no picture, with only one author’s books shelved and only friends with the author and with other suspected socks. Sorry, that’s fooling nobody. You can do better than that! You’re an author. Making people up out of your imagination is your bread and butter. In a book you call them characters. So take the same approach to your socks.

Think ahead!
It’s very suss if all these massive fans of the book joined Goodreads in the same month the book was published. Start adding well before release date for verisimilitude.

Who are they?
An empty profile can be a dead giveaway. Goodreads may not want to know your birth weight, bra size, medical history and eyeglass prescription like Facebook, but there’s plenty you can fill in there to make a convincing person. Where are they from? How old are they? What are their other hobbies and interests? What’s their job?

A picture for their avatar
A picture adds the cherry on the cake. Get a good variety. Selfies, celebrities, cartoon characters. The internet is full of photos to steal. Make them appropriate to this sock’s persona. A middle aged history professor probably won’t have an anime character as their avatar. Put some thought into it.

Don’t have your sock only friend your author profile and your other socks until you and your socks are all going around and around like you’re in a big ol’ tumble dryer. Look for authors and users who have hundreds, even thousands of friends. Chances are they’ll accept your request. But you can be more selective. Have your sock friend other writers in the genre, readers who actually read that genre, top reviewers of the genre.

Find the biggest and most active group in your genre and have all your socks join up. Get your socks into any conversation that can be worked around to the subject of your books (pro tip – this includes 100% of all conversations.) Have one of your socks noimate you for “Author of the month” or “Book of the month” polls and have the others vote for you.

You can’t recommend your own books to someone from your profile. But hey, your socks can do that for you.

Make sure all of your socks sound different when you’re commenting or participating in discussions and groups. Think characters again. You try to make sure your characters don’t all sound the same. Put the same effort into the socks. Have some socks write reviews that are enthusiastic squees, while others are more considered and eriudite.

This is key. Goodreads is all about the books. There’s nothing less convincing than a sock with only one author’s books shelved – all rated five stars of course. So populate those shelves and rate some other books. (Bonus points for 1 star rating the books of your rival authors of course.)

Start with the classics. Everyone has To Kill a Mockingbird and the Harry Potter series on their shelves, so get those on. Go to Goodreads most popular books page and add them wholesale. Or go to the profile of a real Goodreads user and mark everything on their shelves as Read.

But you can put more effort in to make it match the profile.
* What kind of books is this person likely to have read?
* What genres do they love?
* Do they read more fiction than non-fiction, or vice versa?
* What’s the book they read at 14 that influenced their impressionable teenage mind for years to come?
* What’s the book they read at age 30 that changed their old ideas?
* What’s their favourite book?
* What are their “guilty pleasure” books?
* Which book did they love when younger and were disappointed in when they read later in life?
* Which books do they reread and find something new in every time?
* Which book did they read expecting to find it a chore, but actually loved?
* How many books do they read in a year?
* Do they just have a few basic shelves or do they classify books multiple ways?
* Do they have 20 books on their To Read list, or 2000?
* What books have they preordered because they are so excited for them?

It’s all about the books.

Goodreads LogoWell done! You have now created a well rounded, layered sock with personality, who will convince the most suspicious of Goodreads users.

Alternatively, you can forget all of the above and put all that creativity into creating good characters for your books, and into writing more books and getting better at them. You can put all that time and energy into improving, which in the end is what will get you more and better reviews and ratings in the future.

And you can even spare some of that time to use on genuine participation in Goodreads.

12 thoughts on “Goodreads and sock puppets

  1. Oh dear, has it really got that bad over there? I’m sure all the apparent hysterical thirteen year olds aren’t socks – there have to be one or two genuine teenagers in there somewhere. You’ve tempted me to wander off and create some characters, but I don’t think I’ll let them join Goodreads or any other social media. Maybe I should think about using them in something weird like a story?

    1. >Maybe I should think about using them in something weird like a story?
      Radical idea. 😀

      There were a couple of particularly egregious puppet masters going on the last couple of weeks. This kind of stuff always makes me think “Shouldn’t you be, you know, writing and not fighting on Goodreads?”

  2. This seems like an awful lot of work, just to review your own book… lol! Why not just ask friends to review it? I do have a sock puppet for Livejournal (though I think it’s been cancelled now), which I then used as my private Twitter… Jaffacakemoomin. That won’t quite work for Goodreads though. lol!

    1. So much work to do little purpose they put in. And the drama! How they have time for it, I don’t know. Kerfuffles are very time consuming, if I recall.

        1. It’s a sign of underlying insecurity in the quality of the book and their writing in general I think. If they truly believed their book was good – or at least not entirely awful – they’d let it stand or fall on its own merits and not create a bunch of imaginary friends for it. Which is basically like hiring people to come to your birthday party and pretend to be your friends.

  3. LOL! Yeah, considering how much time and effort it takes to do socks right, people could just write better books.

    Sent here by Mara, who read my recent post on street teams who are way-too-obviously all playing off the same press release and thought I’d appreciate this. 🙂


    1. Thanks for popping by, Angie. I’m always amazed by the time and energy people waste getting in fights on the internet. I’ll have to go read your post about street teams. I find those very annoying.

      1. I don’t have a problem with street teams in principle, I just wish they’d at least do a decent job of pretending to be individual fans expressing their appreciation. [wry smile] And it’d be nice if they could provide some useful info in their reviews rather than just generic squeeing.


          1. Because articles in the news aren’t trying to look like a grassroots movement…? In all seriousness, that’s really the difference — a street team is trying to kick up enthusiasm and attract positive attention by looking like a bunch of spontaneous individuals. Doing a decent job pretending to be a bunch of spontaneous individuals should be number one in the job description. 😛


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