September 19 – 25: “Do you interact with readers on Goodreads?”

thriller-roundtable-logo5Social media is all the rage (and sometimes causes rage), but has been proven to bring authors and readers closer together. This week we ask ITW Members Judy Penz Sheluk, Sheila Lowe, Wendy Walker, Robert Dunn and Don Helin: Do you interact with readers on Goodreads, or any other social media?




skeletonsJudy Penz Sheluk’s debut mystery novel, The Hanged Man’s Noose, the first in the Glass Dolphin Mystery series, was published in July 2015 by Barking Rain Press. Skeletons in the Attic, Judy’s second novel, and the first in her Marketville Mystery series, will be published in August 2016 by Imajin Books. Judy’s short crime fiction appears in World Enough and Crime (Carrick Publishing), The Whole She-Bang 2 (Toronto Sisters in Crime), Flash and Bang (Untreed Reads) and Live Free or Tri: a collection of three short mystery stories. She is also the author of Unhappy Endings: a collection of three flash fiction stories. In her less mysterious pursuits, Judy works as a freelance writer; her articles have appeared regularly in dozens of U.S. and Canadian consumer and trade publications. In addition to ITW, Judy is also a member of Sisters in Crime International, Sisters in Crime – Guppies, Sisters in Crime – Toronto, Crime Writers of Canada, and the Short Mystery Fiction Society. She lives in Alliston, Ontario, Canada, with her husband, Mike, and their golden retriever, Leroy Jethro “Gibbs”.


ALL IS NOT FORGOTTENWendy Walker is a family law attorney in Connecticut. Prior to her legal career, she worked as a financial analyst at Goldman, Sachs. All Is Not Forgotten is her first psychological thriller. Wendy is currently writing her second thriller and managing a busy household of teenage boys.




Sad young woman and a rain dropsThe mother of a tattoo artist and a rock star, Sheila Lowe lives in Southern California with Lexie the Very Bad (sometimes Evil) Cat, where she writes the award-winning Forensic Handwriting series. Like her fictional character Claudia Rose, she’s a real-life forensic handwriting expert who testifies in court cases. Sheila writes “medium boiled,” books (definitely not cozies) that she think of as psychological suspense. In other words, she puts ordinary people into extraordinary circumstances and makes them squirm. She also writes non-fiction books about handwriting: The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Handwriting Analysis, Handwriting of the Famous & Infamous, and Handwriting Analyzer software.


a-living-grave_final_smRobert E. Dunn grew up in the Missouri Ozarks. Through a long career as a video producer he wrote and produced everything from documentaries to training films and travelogues. He returned to writing mystery, horror, and fantasy fiction after the turn of the century. It seemed like a good time for change. He lives in Kansas City with three daughters, a young grandson, and an old dog. He tweets sometimes as @WritingDead.



angels revengeUsing his experience from the military, including eight years in the Pentagon, Don Helin published his first thriller, Thy Kingdom Come, in 2009. His second, Devil’s Den, was selected as a finalist in the 2013 Indie Book Awards. His latest thriller, Secret Assault was selected as the best Suspense/Thriller at the 2015 Indie Book Awards. Don is an active member of International Thriller Writers, Military Writers Society of America, Pennwriters, a state-wide writers group in Pennsylvania, and a mentor with the Mystery Writers of America. He makes his home in central Pennsylvania where he is hard at work on his next thriller, Long Walk Home.


  1. HELLO! To be completely honest, I have found other social media to produce more interaction with readers. Goodreads is amazing at getting people to review books and post comments. It seems to me that people go to Goodreads to choose books well. The review activity far surpasses anything else around and readers can communicate with one another to obtain additional information. They can also follow each other and see the recommendations being made by other like minded readers whose opinions they trust. I am curious what my fellow authors have to say. If I am missing ways to interact with readers on this forum then I would love some advice on how step it up!

  2. Goodreads. Sigh. The truth is, I have an account, but have never taken the time to learn how to make it work for me. Once in a while I remember to log in and update my Author page, but compared to Facebook, only have a handful of friends there.

    On Facebook, I have an author page that I neglect almost as much as Goodreads, giving most of my time and attention to my personal page, where all my “friends” are (and my posts are automatically tweeted—not always a good thing). I have two careers (writing and handwriting analyst) so, among all my Facebook friends, many are my readers, but not always knowing which are which, I haven’t found a good way to separate them from the rest of the crowd. As you probably do, I receive friend requests on a daily basis. The ones I welcome are those who are connected to other authors because I know they’re connecting with me for a reason.

    I post a lot of political and anti-gun messages on Facebook. I figure those who don’t like those posts probably wouldn’t like my books, either (in fact, a few negative reviews reflect that). I love hearing from readers and do as much as I can to encourage them to interact. For example, last month, in the week before my new book release, I posted on FB a series of photos that depicted scenes from the book, which generated interest and enthusiasm.

    So far, I haven’t used Instagram (though I know I probably should), or any of the others social media. I’m looking forward to input from my fellow authors on this question.

  3. Good morning: I attended a seminar with Donald Maass and always remember one of his key points, “It’s not only about selling books, but building a community.”
    There are many ways to build a community. You can do book signings, attend conferences, talk at libraries, but one of the most important I have found is the use of social media.
    I’m not big on Twitter, but I utilize Facebook, LinkedIn, a lot and am learning to use Goodreads. There are groups you can join, but I think more importantly, it’s a community of readers and you can share what you are reading and find out what others are reading.
    I look forward to a discussion of ways to maximize the use of Goodreads and other social media.

  4. I do use Goodreads. I belong to a couple of groups. I take part in the Goodreads reading challenge every year (I always set my books to read at 52 but never quite make it, though I do get close). I’ve answered a couple of the Goodreads preset questions for authors. I post reviews for any book that I rate 3 and up. I like the odd quote, and keep my bio up-to-date. I’ve even posted a couple of short videos. All my blog posts stream onto my GR page. And I have the GR widget on my website and Facebook page. But none of that is interaction with readers.
    As authors, we’re told not to respond to our reviews. I think this is wise advice; you can’t pick and choose only the great reviews, and reacting to a negative review is a definite lose-lose. That said, I do appreciate every review, if only because my book resonated enough (good or bad) with someone to comment on it.
    So how else do we interact? In my 2 years on Goodreads, I’ve had 1 question from a reader, which I responded to about a month later (I didn’t receive a notification it was there and sort of stumbled on it).
    So I guess the bottom line for me is that I like Goodreads, and I do use it, but I don’t find it an effective venue for reader interaction.

  5. I talked to my friend, Maria V. Snyder, about how she uses Goodreads. She uses the site to connect with her readers.
    Her readers have created a couple of groups that focus on her books. In each of these groups there is a thread called “Ask Maria” where they can ask questions. Readers can also ask questions on her profile page and she usually gets a couple of questions a week.
    Maria said that the good thing about Goodreads is that everyone on the site are readers and all they talk about is books. It works for her and sounds good to me.

    1. Don, Maria has about 20 books on Goodreads. I don’t think this is something a 1 or 2 book midlist author could hope to emulate. But I agree that everyone on Goodreads are readers, so the potential is there. But I also allow readers to ask questions on my profile page (everyone with an author page can do this). I’ve had 1 question in 2 years…I even answered some of the preset questions (as noted in my earlier response).

          1. Hi Judy: Maria did add in a note that she also enjoys Goodreads as a reader and posts reviews and likes to talk about books. She believes the more engaged you are in the discussion and you’re not “buy my book!” all the time, it helps other readers to connect with you.
            I agree with all of you that Goodreads is kinda frustrating, but I think I’m going to keep trying to make it work for me.

  6. I’m not sure how to build a community on GR. GR says you have to review/rate books then readers follow your reviews. I haven’t had much luck with that. Frankly, it’s somewhat problematic authors reviewing other authors because you can fall victim to revenge reviews! I agree having a huge website with dedicated bibliophiles seems to be a boon but I’m not sure how to really harness that.

  7. I’m glad I’m not alone! I will say that my publisher was very active in getting GR reviews by sending galleys and they set up some things on my page. My sense is that unless you do get a large, loyal fan base from multiple books, the readers on GR like communicating with each other without interference or inhibition from authors. And that’s all fine! It serves a really great purpose and as long as we can get out books circulated and in front of an audience, there are plenty of other places to interact when readers are looking to do that.

MATCH UP: In stores now!


ThrillerFest XVI: Register Today!



One of the most successful anthologies in the history of publishing!