If you’re like me, you have a Goodreads account and occasionally use it to update your list of books that you’ve read—but haven’t used it for much else. Goodreads Community Manager Patrick Brown offered up this guest post to me on how authors can use Goodreads to their benefit (and I’m testing it out myself). I found the information very useful and informative, so I thought I’d share. Here it is:
5 Ways Writers Can Get the Most Out of Goodreads
As the head of the Author Program at Goodreads, I get to work every day with a variety of writers: bestselling authors such as Neil Gaiman, Maggie Stiefvater. Diana Gabaldon and Margaret Atwood, and new authors looking to unveil their long-nurtured book into the world. It’s a fantastic job and there’s nothing better than seeing readers get excited about their books.
The Goodreads Author Program is free and we currently have more than 48,000 authors in our program. Over the years, the same question has come up: “How can I get the most out of Goodreads?”
So, I thought about the authors who have been most successful on our platform and came up with five pieces of advice. If you follow them, you’ll be off to a strong start toward helping your book be discovered by the more than 10 million readers in the Goodreads community.
Patrick Brown serves as the Community Manager of Goodreads, the largest book recommendation website in the world. Prior to heading up the Goodreads online community, Brown was an independent bookseller at Book Soup and Vroman’s Bookstore. With an intense interest in group interaction online and a love for books, Patrick helps connect people with one another and with their passions. Currently Brown heads the Goodreads Author Program and Customer Care Team. He supports and cultivates one of the largest literary presences online by answering member questions and growing the Goodreads Community through social communication.
1. Use Goodreads to help build your platform.
Every author today needs a platform. By creating a Goodreads author profile, you actually get three major benefits. First, you become part of the Goodreads community, which allows readers to easily check out the latest information about you, see a photo of you, and browse which books you have written. And it allows readers to view the books you’ve read.
Second, you can sync your blog with your Goodreads profile. Not only does your blog help make your author profile more interesting, but there’s an added benefit to having your blog on Goodreads. Each week, we send an email to members with new blog posts from authors they like.
Third, you can promote events–simply add your events and invite your Goodreads friends to attend. Virtual events, like online discussions and book releases, are just as welcome as bookstore signings and author appearances.
Bonus Advice: One part of building your profile is making sure that your metadata is accurate and full. This point might sound a bit dry, but accurate metadata is absolutely essential for online discovery. Make sure that each of your books has the correct ISBN/ASIN, publication date, and cover image. Even something seemingly as trivial as page count is important. Many Goodreads members like to update their progress through the books they read—”I’m on page 231 of 540.” This translates to great news for you, the author, because when readers do this, their friends on the site often comment and discuss. Unless, of course, you didn’t enter the page count for your book.
2. Use giveaways to generate those all-important pre-release reviews.
By analyzing our data, we know that the number of reviews – regardless of whether they are good and bad – significantly impacts the amount of interest in a book. When a Goodreads member reviews a book, it automatically appears in the updates of all their friends on Goodreads, providing word-of-mouth marketing.
But how do you get those reviews? The pre-release giveaway is a very effective way to get your book read and reviewed. (Here’s an example of my current giveaway on Goodreads—feel free to enter to win a copy) Each month, more than 1,500 titles are given away on Goodreads. But not all giveaways are created equal. To get the most bang for your pre-release buck, we recommend running multiple giveaways, each open for about a month. Your first giveaway should ideally start about three months pre-publication. Then, a few weeks before your book hits the shelves, run a second giveaway. This is what the publisher of the new Jess Walter book Beautiful Ruin did and the results have been tremendous. There is no limit to the number of giveaways you can run on Goodreads.
Bonus Advice: For some added attention, pair your giveaway with a self-serve advertisement. These inexpensive advertisements allow you to target your giveaway to precisely the right sort of reader for your book. You can target by comparable author or genre. Giveaways supported by ads attract roughly 56% more entries than giveaways without ads.
3. Make it easy for fans to write reviews.
If reviews are essential for discovery, it makes sense to encourage your readers to review your books on Goodreads. Your website likely already has Facebook and Twitter badges on it, but is there a Goodreads “G” on there, as well? Add a Goodreads badge and encourage people to leave a review of your book.
Bonus Advice: Reviews on Goodreads don’t just appear on Goodreads, they are also exported to many other sites, including Google Books, Powells.com, USAToday.com and more. So, a Goodreads review works harder for you than other reviews.
4. Join the discussion.
Goodreads is home to more than 20,000 book clubs and thousands more groups about nearly every topic imaginable. Find a few groups that interest you and join them. But here’s the tricky part: don’t talk about yourself as a writer initially. Use the group as a reader first. After you’ve been an active and enthusiastic member for a bit of time (we recommend at least a month), you can approach the moderator about hosting a discussion of your book. Popular groups like The Next Best Book Club, Romance Readers Reading Challenges, and The History Book Club regularly host chats with authors.
Bonus Advice: While it may be tempting to join the largest groups, you may be better off becoming a member of several smaller groups where you can get to know readers more easily. Always keep in mind with this tactic that you are essentially walking into a great party where everyone loves books. Who would you rather talk to? The person who will engage in a conversation with you about your interests and be genuinely interested in a broad range of topics before you then discover that they are an author? Or the person who walks up to you and says, “Hi, I’m an author and I’d like you to read my book”?
5. Be a reader!
Authors are, by nature, tremendous readers. Goodreads is first and foremost a site about sharing the love of books. Share yours by talking about what you read. Reviews and reading progress updates are two major sources of activity on the site. Members love seeing what authors are reading and if they have common favorite books.
Bonus Advice: If you’re not comfortable writing reviews, make an “inspirations” shelf and add the books that have meant the most to you as a writer. Not only will these books show up in your update feed for your fans to see, they will also make your profile a more engaging place for readers.
For more information about or to join the Author Program, please visit Goodreads Author Program.