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The LitRate Mission & Policies {LitRate KickStarter!}

LitRate Kickstarter

 Mission & Policies of LitRate!

Today on the blog I’m very very excited to have Ashley talking about her new brain child LitRate! I actually finally made an account on Kickstarter and I’ve already contributed to the KickStarter since I’m that psyched about this project, and I really hope that you’ll get excited about it too!

Hi everyone! My name is Ashley and I’m a book blogger over at Nose Graze. I can’t thank Anya enough for letting me make an appearance on her blog today. That girl rocks!

I’m going to tell you a bit about a new site I hope to create with my husband called LitRate. If we can get the funding to help launch the site, LitRate will be a new online community for book lovers. Imagine Goodreads but newer, a better interface, less spam, less drama, and more control (for you!). We want to make this idea happen!

What will the LitRate philosophy be?

When starting a new site, you have to think carefully about your philosophy. What will your policies be? Your values? What will you allow or disallow? These are some REALLY tough questions, but I knew I had to tackle them.

In particular, I’m going to talk about two things: marketing and rating books.

Authors and marketing

What’s your least favourite thing about Goodreads? For me, it’s the sheer amount of spam and marketing. Sometimes I feel like I’m being held up on a pedestal for authors and publicists to pitch their books to. I have authors recommending their own books to me, people requesting to be my friend who have 0 books on their shelves, or just tons of “read my book, I think you’d like it” spam.

Well, authors will certainly be welcome on LitRate, but we want to limit the aggressive marketing campaigns. Look, we’re readers and as readers, we freaking LOVE authors! But we don’t like being marketed to at every second of the day. There’s a fine line between marketing and spam.

LitRate will have rules in place that prohibit marketing outside of the designated areas. That means authors can’t send people private messages saying, “Hey, read my book.” They can’t create topics in the “YA Lit” forum saying “You’d love my book: check it out.” We want to try to eliminate unsolicited marketing.

So where can authors spread the word about their books? We will have designated areas where authors can do this, including:

  • Their own profiles. Authors are definitely welcome to mention their books in their bios.
  • In instances where someone has asked about their book or explicitly expressed an interest in it.
  • In the designated “Author Promotion” (or whatever) forum.
  • In forum signatures.

Ultimately, we just don’t want people to ‘farm’ our users to promote their books or sell their products. We’re readers and we love books, but we don’t want people throwing their sales pitches at us as we work through our TBR piles.

Please don’t rate books you haven’t read!

Now this is a tough one to police, but it’s something that’s always bugged me. On Goodreads, you can apparently rate books to show your ‘excitement’ for that book. Meaning, if you haven’t read the book but you’re really excited for it, you’re welcome to give it 5 stars. Or if you’ve read the first book in the series and hated it, you’re welcome to give the second book in the series 1 star because the first book sucked. Whaaaa?

Does that make sense to you? Not to me!

On LitRate, we want the average ratings to actually be an accurate representation of the book itself. It doesn’t matter how excited you are or how much the first book sucked. If you haven’t actually read the book, you’re not in a position to rate it!

As I said before, this is hard to police because unless the person comes out and says “I haven’t read the book but…” you can never know if they’ve really read it or not. But on LitRate we plan on making it clear that we don’t approve of rating books you haven’t read.

First and foremost, LitRate is for readers and book lovers

I read a pretty interesting quote the other day that was something along the lines of:

“When something is free, you’re really what’s for sale.”

I don’t want that to be the case on LitRate. We plan on making the site free, but I don’t want it to be a marketing platform or a sales platform. It’s a place for people to keep track of their books and share their love of reading with others.

Help make LitRate happen!

If you’re on board with our philosophy, consider checking out our Kickstarter campaign. In order to make LitRate happen, we need to raise $16,000 to pay for a licensing subscription for book data. Yikes! Hopefully we can raise the money, because we can’t wait to get LitRate out into the world. :)

© 2014, Anya. All rights reserved.


  1. I completely agree with Ashley; the fact that readers are online in a “free” space does not equal marketing free-for-all. I understand authors’ frustrations with making their work visible and getting it out there with so much competition, but let’s approach it more like The Fonze (just be cool) and less like ravenous vultures. :)
    Kel (Booked til Tuesday) recently posted…Discussion: Online Book CommunitiesMy Profile

  2. It has always bugged me that people rate books that they haven’t read. I guess that this is very difficult to police, especially if the userbase is huge, but I wonder if it would be possible to disable ratings for books that aren’t out yet and only allow them if the user checks an “I have an ARC”-box. I have seen a few things about LitRate, but this is the most thorough information that I’ve read so far. Thanks for all the information!

    • Ohh that’s a good idea. During the Twitter chat another idea that was brought up was that you’re not allowed to rate a book until you’ve marked it as “read”. Obviously people could still mark it as read even if they haven’t read it, but hopefully that idea might deter people.
      Ashley recently posted…Review: Landline by Rainbow RowellMy Profile

      • I think a lot of people who do the rating to indicate excitement aren’t even trying to pretend they’ve read it, they just think it is okay to skew the rating, so having any sort of checkbox to indicate you actually read it would probably make them stop and think. Maybe they would still mark it read and then post their comment about being so excited though, would we be able to report those sorts of ratings?

  3. One question: Do we still get to shelve books? My biggest complaint was if we made a shelf for books we did not want to read, GR called it bullying and deleted the shelf. I am all for naming a shelf something non-insulting, but I am NOT okay with a shelf calling “no thank you” getting deleted because someone’s butt hurt that they were asking like an ass and it turned away readers.
    Lyn Kaye recently posted…Book Review: Rain ReignMy Profile

    • Absolutely! I think we’ll be pretty liberal about what you can name your shelves as long as they’re not extremely vulgar. I’m not sure it will be available straight away but I’m also hoping to look into private shelves (in case you DID want vulgar shelf names, then they just wouldn’t appear publicly).
      Ashley recently posted…Review: Landline by Rainbow RowellMy Profile

      • You know me, I can’t live without my ridiculously inappropriate shelf names, haha. I do love how dedicated you both are to letting users have whatever content they want and just separating it from the general community if it is way out there.

  4. Oh those ratings when they haven’t read the book drive me crazy! As do authors rating their own book five stars. Really? Have some pride, don’t skew your own rating. But I think what irritates me most is when a book isn’t out yet, isn’t available as an arc yet, and has tons of ratings. I like Felicia’s idea to add a like button or something similar for those who want to express their excitement.

  5. I actually found out about this site last week via Pintrest. It sounds really good and if I had any money I’d help you out. Good luck!

  6. I backed it :) I actually hate having to scroll through pages of ratings for books that aren’t out yet (or just released) but are just all about the excitement about the book coming. I think a good way to get around that would be create an “excited this is coming” shelf or built in rating for just that. I get excitement and wanting to show it but it should be separate from the actual read.
    Felicia the Geeky Blogger recently posted…Top Off Tuesday: The Sweetest Revenge by Dawn HallidayMy Profile

  7. Yes! Down with spam! I haven’t gotten many pitches from authors lately, but I do notice that most of the friend requests that I deny are from authors. I’m assuming they want to earn my “friendship” before trying to shove their book at me. No go! Just wondering: will there be special author profiles like on GR? Or will authors just be treated like regular members?

    I love that you don’t want people rating books they haven’t read! I hate how people do this and it skews the average rating. I mean, I don’t pick my books based on their average rating, but I do notice it and I know it can subliminally affect my own opinion of it.
    Angie F. recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday #70: This Book is Gay by James DawsonMy Profile

    • I’m sort of unsure on the author profile thing. I’m thinking we’ll at least give authors the ability to edit their own books, but that would just be an extra feature on the back-end for them. I’m not sure we’ll have any kind of visible, public difference like Goodreads has. I’d kind of like to even the playing field for readers and authors and have us exist together rather than make us out to be separate. But I can certainly see the benefits of allowing authors to edit their own books.
      Ashley recently posted…The Best Way to Sort Review ArchivesMy Profile

  8. Great post!
    It’s nice to see some of LitRate’s details fleshed out a bit-getting so excited about this idea!!
    Finley Jayne recently posted…{Reading Highlights} The Wonders of Water & Invasion of the Sex Crazed, Man Eating Bug!My Profile


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