Don’t judge a book by its cover—or its Goodread’s star average.

Good Reads ErrorThis isn’t a slam against Goodreads reviewers. Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion and some people love my books—some hate them.

This is about a Goodreads’ glitch that I’ve experienced, and it seems I’m not alone. I just heard from an author friend who has had a similar problem.

If you skim book covers to read over at Goodreads and move past those that show a low rating average, you may be overlooking books Goodreads reviewers enjoyed. The star tally might be screwed up.

Take for example the second book in my Haunting Danielle series. As I write this, only one person has left a Goodreads rating on the book, a five star. Yet, had you looked at the book’s average last week, you’d see a different picture. Check the above screen shot I took last week. According to that, minus 2 people left a four star rating—and overall only 33% of the reviewers liked the book. Fact was, only one person had rated the book and they gave it five stars.

Kudos to Goodreads for fixing the glitch after I contacted them (twice). Yet, this has also happened several times on the first book in the series. I have no idea if my other book ratings are accurate over there. These just jumped out at me because they were new releases with only a few ratings.

The problem as I see it—how often does this happen? If an author doesn’t contact Goodreads to point out the problem, how many of these erroneous star averages are misleading the Goodreads community? I have a number of author friends who NEVER go to Goodreads and check out their books. The reason they don’t is another story that I won’t get into now. But the point being, without the author reporting the error to Goodreads (or some other concerned Goodreads Citizen) then perhaps those Goodreads rating averages you see with the book covers are totally useless.

Ghost Reviewers at Goodreads


It seems Goodreads has some ghost reviewers—anonymous reviewers who slip in, rate books and then disappear. At least, that seems to be what happened to my newest book, Haunting Danielle.

Less than two days after Haunting Danielle was released I logged into Goodreads and was stunned to find five people had supposedly already read and rated the book on Goodreads, giving my shiny new release a dismal 2-star average.

What struck me as odd was that it had that many ratings in such a short time. As most people in this business know, it takes a good number of readers to read a book before reviews or ratings start showing up. (I’m not talking of reviews left by friends or family members.)

To give you an idea how many sales it takes to generate reviews—I’ve a bestselling author friend whose new release was selling about 150 times more than mine – and during the first few days after his release it only had about 23 reviews.

As for Haunting Danielle, when I checked to see who were the five people who supposedly rated it—there was only one Goodreads member who’d rated my book—and that person gave it 5-stars.

I then clicked on the “Rating Details” tab—and things really got screwy. According to the graph, 2 people left me 5-stars—2 people left me 3-stars—2 people left me 2-stars—2 people left me 1-star—and what was REALLY bizarre, minus-3 people left me 4-stars.

Minus people??? I’ve a friend who’s a Goodreads librarian and I asked her to look at it. She thought the minus-3 reviewers was pretty bizarre and said it looked like some technical glitch. She suggested I try contacting Goodreads, which I had already done. So far, they have not responded.

Sometimes over at Goodreads a rating will show up before it’s reveal who left it. Yet, that normally happens within 24 hours. It’s been over 48 hours, and they remain ghosts.

Since this all started I’ve picked up six more ratings—three are people I personally know who read my books—one is a Goodreads member I recognize who has read some of my other books—and two are my author names. I normally never rate one of my books, as do some other Goodreads authors. Yet, until Goodreads straightens out this technical glitch—and I do believe it is a glitch—I’ll leave up my ratings to balance the scales.

As for those ghost reviews that showed up just a day or so after the book came out, there still is no sign of the 10 Goodreads members who supposedly left those first ratings. Not 10 exactly—7 people and 3 minus people.

Since Haunting Danielle is a ghost story, perhaps it’s fitting that its Goodreads page is haunted.