How Authors Can Effectively Use Goodreads
Blogger: Rachelle Gardner
Series: Non-Scary Social Networking
The social networks just keep coming! Yesterday we talked about Pinterest, and today we’re focusing on Goodreads. Over on rachellegardner.com I gave an introduction to what the site is all about, and here, I’m speaking specifically about how authors can use Goodreads to connect with readers and promote their books. From what I can tell, Goodreads may be as effective as Facebook (or more) for many authors, and that’s why I’m addressing it today.
Goodreads has an amazing array of tools for authors, but the one thing I want to emphasize first is that you never, ever want to be perceived as blatantly marketing to people or being overly “promotional.” The site’s intent is for conversation and discussion, and for readers and writers to find each other, but never to make readers feel like they’re being sold or spammed.
Patrick Brown of Goodreads said, “the initial idea was to focus on friends sharing what they were reading with one another. Everything comes back to that idea on the site – the people you know are the most likely to give you a great recommendation. I think that holds true offline every bit as much as it does online.”
I love the concept – taking “word of mouth” to the next level and making it work online. So here are my tips for authors using Goodreads.
1. Participate in the site in your role as a reader, not just as an author.
List the books you’ve read and want to read. Write brief reviews saying why you like your favorite books. Be genuine. Treat it like a discussion forum, not a promotional tool.
Since you’re an author, think carefully about whether you’ll post any reviews that aren’t positive; at the same time, you don’t want to post only gushing, over-the-top positive reviews. Be honest but circumspect.
2. Join the Goodreads author program.
Through the Author Program you can create an author profile and then utilize all the other promotional tools they offer (outlined below).
3. Join Groups
The groups are like forums where there’s ongoing discussion between members. There are hundreds of groups on Goodreads, for all different interests. For example:
- Tips for Self Promotion, Sales, and Advertising
- Goodreads Authors/Readers
- Christian Authors Group
- …and many more
It’s a great way to connect with readers who enjoy the kinds of books you write.
4. Link your blog to Goodreads.
Goodreads allows you to either host a blog directly on the site, or if you already have a blog, you can connect it to Goodreads so that your posts show up there.
5. Create and publicize events.
If you’re having a launch party, a blog tour, a book signing, or any other event related to your books, Goodreads has a place to publicize them on your Author Profile.
6. Do giveaways
Goodreads “First Reads” giveaway program generates considerable involvement from readers and is a great way of getting your book some visibility on the site. Giveaways tend to lead to more reviews, which is important because the more reviews a book has, the more likely it is that people will add it to their to-read lists.
7. Post videos and other materials
Goodreads has places for you to upload your book trailer, book excerpts, and create polls or quizzes for your readers.
8. Create widgets for your website or blog.
Goodreads makes it easy to embed eye-catching widgets on your site to attract readers to your Goodreads page.
9. Decide if you want to advertise.
There are so many ways to promote your books and connect with readers without any financial investment, but sometimes it’s right to consider it. I’ve heard good things about their advertising program, starting at about $500 a month, that can deliver results.
10. You may not want to use the “Recommendations” feature.
When you go to the Recommendations page and click on “Give recommendations,” it asks you for the name of the book you want to recommend, then it asks you to choose which of your friends to send the recommendation to. I don’t recommend doing this, as it’s perceived as spam and too blatantly promotional.
11. Never respond to negative reviews.
Do everything in your power to avoid responding to unfavorable reviews, even if you have to turn off the computer and sit on your hands. Don’t try to correct misinformation, don’t tell them they didn’t understand your book, don’t suggest they spend their time in more worthwhile pursuits. In addition, carefully consider if you’ll respond to positive reviews. Some readers feel a little uncomfortable with the author’s presence. But if you do want to respond with a brief thank-you, you can use the “send message” link to communicate privately.
12. Measure your success.
Your goal on Goodreads is to get your books on people’s shelves, and as an author member, the site gives you constantly updated stats on how many people have added your books to their shelves, how many have reviewed them, your average ratings, etc. In order to determine how well your promotional activities on Goodreads are doing, it’s best to track the data as it changes. Here’s a blog post that explains exactly how.
→The Goodreads site has instructions on how to use all these promotional tools.
Are you on Goodreads?
If not, do you want to, or are you leery?
If so, what’s your experience so far?
Here is a helpful article about Goodreads.
See also my post, http://www.rachellegardner.com/2012/03/goodreads-8-things-writers-should-know/”>Goodreads: 8 Things Writers Should Know