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.
I’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.
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.
Well 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.