5 Ways to Increase Visibility Through Goodreads

Janet Grant

Blogger: Janet Kobobel Grant

Every author and/or publisher who has attempted to publicize a book knows that the greatest challengeΒ  is that title’s being “discovered.” Since we readers seldom stroll through a bookstore’s aisles any more, we aren’t snared by a book’s cover, intriguing title, or our intuitive sense that this might be a book we’d enjoy.

Goodreads, with its audience of 19 million, can help to build awareness of your book. Here are five ways you can increase visibility.

1. Join the Goodreads author program (for free). Once you do, you can help readers to discover your books these ways:

2. Set up your profile.

–Customize your profile with photos, a bio, and other information about yourself.

–Create a blog or syndicate one from another site. (Great way to increase blog traffic!)

–Edit your book information and upload cover images.

–View stats on how many readers have added, rated, and reviewed your books.

–Promote your upcoming events.

3. Work to get reviews. You’re likely already doing that via Amazon, but Goodreads’ reviews work harder for you than other reviews because they are syndicated to USA Today.com, ecommerce sites, and library-related sites. You can stimulate reviews by:

–Posting excerpts of your book on your Goodreads page.

–Linking your blog to your Goodreads page and creating a blog post announcing your book is available for review.

–Joining Goodreads Groups and reviewing others’ book from your Groups.

–Putting a Goodreads widget on your website. When you sign up for your account, you’ll see instructions on how to obtain the widget. You can attracts more Goodreads followers via the widget.

–And the most effective way of all: scheduling a Goodreads giveaway.

4. Give away copies of your book.

–Giveaways are free for you.

–The average 20-copy giveaway in the US attracts 940 entries.

–Nearly half of all entries will add the book to their shelves.

–Giveaways have directly generated more than 18,000 reviews in the first half of 2013.

–Run two giveaways for maximum effect: one pre-publication to generate reviews and build buzz, and one at publication to increase awareness.

5. Stay active.Β I know. We already feel over-the-top with social media commitments, and here I am, ranting about yet another place for you to while away your hours. Here’s the good news: You don’t need to monitor what’s happening on Goodreads 24/7. Checking in about once a week should do the trick after you’ve established your profile. When you check in, follow this to-do list:

–Add a new book to your shelves, either one you’re reading, one you want to read, or one that inspired your writing.

–Write a review for a book. If you already created one for Amazon, re-post it on Goodreads. You also can post a Goodreads review on Amazon.

–Rate books. All you have to do is give a starred rating; you don’t have to review these books.

–Post to a group, comment or respond to someone’s question.

–Add friends. You’ll find people in the Groups that you want to friend or reviewers you want to follow. Building a healthy friend list is key to expanding your network (and getting more reviews) on Goodreads.

Okay, so it’s not painless. Still, adding Goodreads to your publicity arsenal can be a strategic way to attack the discoverability conundrum.

In what ways are you engaged in Goodreads?

Which ideas strike you as most effective–either from my list or something you’ve tried?

Note #1: I’m traveling today and will have limited opportunity to join in the discussion. Drat!

Note #2: Special thanks for some of the marketing tips to Penny Sansevieri’s “The Book Marketing Expert newsletter,” a free ezine offering book promotion and publicity tips and techniques, and to Patrick Brown from Goodreads, who supplied the statistics.


5 ways to increase an author’s visibility via Goodreads. Click to tweet.

Why authors should be involved in Goodreads. Click to tweet.

37 Responses

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  1. Goodreads is new social media territory for me. Thank you for the clear breakdown of its benefits and how to engage as an author! Safe travels, Janet!

  2. Just having an interesting discussion with Mike Duran and friends on the ethics of authors starting a Goodreads list (Listopia), only to list their books on it. I do think Listopia is a great way to plug your novel into its respective categories and make it less invisible (especially if you’re self-pubbed!)–but we agreed that nominating it as “Best _________ Novel” or starting a list only to put your novel at the top was NOT the way to go. I can’t tell you how exciting it is to see your Goodreads Author Page go live–and you can do so BEFORE your book releases to build buzz (both Wendy Paine Miller and I did that a couple months ahead of release date)–but you need to have the cover art ready to go for your listing. I have been truly impressed with Goodreads as a marketing tool, but can’t wait to get on Amazon (that can’t happen until the book releases and you have an ISBN #, as far as I can tell).

  3. Jeanne T says:

    For someone who hasn’t joined Goodreads yet, this post is very helpful. I will get on there, eventually.

    I have a question for you: I think I read somewhere that once book reviews are posted in a place like Amazon, that they become Amazon’s property, for lack of a better way to describe it, and that they should not be re-posted elsewhere. What’s your take on that?

  4. Love this post, Janet. Thank you! I’m already on Goodreads as a reader, but I do plan to use the site as an author too. Thanks for the great tips. I’m copying this to my marketing file.

  5. Norma Horton says:

    Two words: LOVE Goodreads. Thanks for this post, Janet. (Oops! That’s seven.)

  6. Jenny Leo says:

    Thanks for this post, Janet! I’ve joined Goodreads but have been unsure of how exactly to use it. Now I see its potential for literary community-building and I appreciate the detailed tips you’ve given.

  7. Thank you for such specific information and pointers, Janet. I have the Goodreads widget on my blog, but I must admit I’m not consistent with activity there. Your suggestion of once a week is freeing for me. I can do that.

    I have noticed that author blogs are linked there, but I got the impression that that option was only available for published authors. Since you’re largely unavailable today, could another reader weigh in? Thanks!

  8. I was quite surprised when I was looking up a book at my public library and noticed the listing included reviews from Goodreads. I’ve always added my blog reviews to Amazon and Christianbook.com, but now I’m making more of an effort to include Goodreads, too!

  9. Kate says:

    I am at the very beginning of my writing…well I can’t even really call it a career. Anyway, I have never written a book review although I am an avid reader. What a great way to stretch my writing muscles. Any advice on how to construct the best review possible for Amazon or Goodreads?

  10. Thank you for the great ideas, Janet. I am a member of the Goodreads community and I highly recommend the site to people. Yes, it is one more social network to add to the list, but I think Goodreads is worth it.

    As I mentioned in my comment to Meghan and Heather, I haven’t set up an author page because I am not published yet, but I am a member of the Goodreads community and have set up my bookselves. I’ve gotten a number of friends just from doing that, so it’s a good way to network, especially since the people on Goodreads are people who LOVE books. It’s a great way to connect with both a potential audience and to connect with other writers, much more so, I think, than Twitter or Facebook. At first, I joined in open conversations, but found that many of them were uncivil, so I tend to be quite cautious about which threads I join. That, to me, is the only down side to Goodreads.

  11. Sarah Grimm says:

    I SO need this info right now. Thank you for sharing.

  12. Printing this article!!! Need to study and act on :o).

  13. Diane Stortz says:

    Love this “rant,” Janet! Not a rant at all, just really helpful information. Thank you!

  14. Lynn Hare says:

    Janet, thanks for highlighting Goodreads today. I’d heard of it before, but didn’t know how it worked. Sounds simple and manageable.

  15. Karla Akins says:

    I couldn’t afford to give away more than five books and I still generated over 1000 entries. So the giveaways do work! I love the blog feature. And goodreads makes it look good on the page, too.

  16. Did you say we can make TBR lists Goodreads? I already do that, and now I have permission to show others? Sweet. One can never have too many social media commitments (typed with my tongue in my cheek). πŸ™‚
    Goodreads sounds intriguing, and if it helps with the discoverability conundrum, them I’m all for it. Thanks for the great pointers Janet.

    The authentic community of writers that congregate and interact on this blog are life-giving to say the least. I’ve saved a plethora of posts because they serve as stepping stones for the writing journey. I even found a critique partner here. Giving her a shout out right now!

  17. Elaine Faber says:

    Not yet published and havn’t explored GoodReads but it sounds like it might be a place for us ‘Yet-Undiscovered’ authors. Thanks for the tip. I too, will be printing this and see if I can make it zing for me.

  18. Dianne says:

    I’m on Goodreads but you taught me a few things I didn’t know. Thanks, Janet! Thanks also for the tips to become more active. That’s so helpful.

    Another effective idea is to use their “Events” to list your upcoming author events and appearances. Click on the “Explore” menu, then on “Events,” then on “Add an Event.”

    Also, just a note you might find interesting if you don’t already know it: Goodreads is owned by Amazon.com. (Amazon purchased Goodreads on March 28, 2013, which shocked many business people.)

  19. . . . my dog, Dinozzo, has a profile, now I have to write one for myself.

  20. Books covers for some reason always look so great on Goodreads! It makes me want to read everything πŸ™‚

  21. Katya says:

    I actually don’t feel comfortable reviewing books on Goodreads, because it seems that the authors of those books are just as likely to read the review as other readers. I don’t want to sound all hypocritical when I say I didn’t like something about a book, especially since there is a good chance I may get to meet those writers in person once I become published.

  22. Melody says:

    Thanks for writing this post! I’m glad someone’s put all this helpful information in one place. πŸ™‚ I have a goodreads author profile that is dunce with my blog, so that’s good. My paperback version comes out in a week, so maybe I’ll do a giveaway then… πŸ™‚

  23. Thanks for the great tips! I utilize Goodreads, but have always wondered what is the best way to use it for promotion. πŸ™‚

  24. Camille Eide says:

    Thank you for the detailed info, Janet. I had no idea that Goodreads was so well “connected.” Good to know where to spend some of my media time & energies.

  25. Cleo Lampos says:

    You have made Goodreads approachable to me. thanks.

  26. Punit Pania says:

    Thank you Janet

    This is a most usual piece, I am marking it for reference

    GoodReads invariably pops up rivaling Amazon’s listings in Google search

    Now I know why and how

  27. Great post. And, you’ve made a believer out of me. I WILL become more active on Good Reads. Thanks for the nudge.

  28. I’ve been a member of Goodreads for quite a while and just figured out how to become a Goodreads author instead of reader, so this post is particularly helpful. I also just figured out how to get my blog to feed into Goodreads. Thanks for the advice.

  29. Amy Reade says:

    Thanks for the post. I love Goodreads as a reader, and I’m waiting for cover art on my first book before getting an author page. I can’t wait to get started! You have some great information, all of which I appreciate. I, too, am saving this post to my marketing file.


  30. Janet,
    What is the best way to build publicity around a coloring book? Is Goodreads the place for that, or is a coloring book in a separate category of its own?