A place that not only allows, but encourages, both new and established authors to promote their books.
A place that provides FREE opportunities to
- get your book in front of thousands of buyers,
- conduct informal research (polls),
- participate in a highly viral environment,
- join or create groups with like-minded people on every literary topic imaginable,
- create an author presence, connecting your book, your blog and your social media platforms.
Now imagine if Amazon purchased this magical realm of high quality, book-buying, book-loving influencers in the spring of 2013, likely leading to big opportunities to align your Amazon marketing to this Utopia.
If such a paradise existed, would you want to be a part of it?
Goodreads: The Path to Author Nirvana
Ok, perhaps I’m overselling a bit, but certainly you can see the potential in incorporating Goodreads–the fastest growing platform for influencers in the writing space–into your book marketing and platform building strategy.
Not only do you have a way to connect with passionate readers and influential people in the industry, but a path is also provided for those readers and influencers to discuss, share and promote your work.
And as a preemptive strike against the groans of “Not another social network!”, consider this: where Twitter and Facebook provide access to the masses, Goodreads provides access to insatiable readers, book bloggers and book buyers.
It’s definitely worth a little effort up front to become a part of this community and generate ongoing promotion for you and your books.
Goodreads Tall Tales:
As potentially one of the most important places for an author to spend time on line, Goodreads is not just for fiction writers. There is a growing number of non-fiction titles (some of them world-wide bestsellers), and there is unquestionably an audience for them.
And to dispel another common misconception, Goodreads is not just for physical books. Ebooks are also popular, and although not all books are available in digital form, the library is growing dramatically.
Too Good to Be True
With so many positives, why hasn’t every author linked themselves to the Goodreads gold mine? [click to tweet]
Despite the enormous potential for authors, the unfortunate truth about the Goodreads site is that it isn’t the most intuitive of platforms. Many of the features are hidden, and some are more than a little confusing to use. Authors often find themselves grappling around with the basic offerings, and often miss out on the most valuable aspects of the site and member base.
So to make things a bit easier–and because there is such great potential for authors building their brands and platforms–I have simplified the process from sign up to book promotion below.
Ready to get started?
Create Your Goodreads (Reader) Account
Go to www.goodreads.com to join Goodreads.
- Create your free (reader) account. Enter your full (published) name, email and password to join.
Note: Currently, there isn’t a way to link two names to one author profile (eg. a pen name), so you can choose one of two options: 1) create a separate account for your pen name or, 2) add your real name as a second author to one Goodreads account.
- Click ‘Sign Up’. An email will be sent to the account you used, asking you to verify your email address. Click verify email.
- Add friends. Find your friends on Goodreads via your social media or email account.
- Select genres. Choose your favourite genres, but be strategic. Keep interests centered and relevant to your brand.
- Add books to your shelves. Books you’ve read, want to read and are currently reading.
- Join groups or create your own. Again, be strategic: choose groups that strengthen your image or brand. Participate in book clubs, discussions, and topics of interest. Add value to the conversation; contribute.
Reader Profile vs. Author Profile
When you join Goodreads, your initial profile is as a reader. To access or obtain an author profile, follow the steps below to convert or merge your reader profile into your author profile.
Goodreads Author Program
The Author Program is for any author who has a published book–including self-published authors, or authors from other countries. If you are a writer but do not currently have a published book, check out the writing section of your profile where you can post your writing by genre for other members to read and review.
How To Apply
Now that you have a reader profile, you must merge it into your free author profile by claiming your book or by entering it manually.
To claim your book:
- make sure you are signed in.
- search for one of your books and click on your published author name located just under the title of your book.
- Scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the link that says “Let Us Know” (to the right of “Is This You?”)
- It usually takes 24-48 hours before your author profile is merged.
- Once it says “Goodreads author profile” in the top right corner, you’re in!
If your book is self-published or is not yet in the Goodreads database, you will be asked to manually add it.
If you receive a message that says “Sorry, only librarians may add books“, then head over to The Goodreads Librarian Group. These are people who have received librarian status on Goodreads, and are able to edit and improve the Goodreads library:
“Activities include combining editions, fixing book and author typos, adding book covers and discussing policies.”
~ Goodreads Librarian Group
They will be able to add your book or give any additional direction.
Make Your Author Profile Stand Out
The process to log in doesn’t change after you’ve signed up for the Author Program (you will still use the same username and password). Your user profile will now point to your author profile.
Finally! You are now a Goodreads Author which allows you to engage with your readers by sharing your recent reads and favorite books, publicize upcoming events like speaking engagements or book signings, add book excerpts and even video to your author profile.
Edit Your Author Profile
- Click your name in the upper right hand corner to go to your author profile.
- Click ‘edit profile’.
- Add an image, either your book cover or a professional photo of you, your bio and your blog URL.
- Link your RSS feed so that your blog posts are automatically updated. Paste your feed link into the ‘external blog feed URL’ section– your feed should look something like feed://www.yourwriterplatform.com/feed/.
- Embed YouTube or other videos. Add book trailers or talk about your book, your research or additional details, characters, influences or other important or interesting tidbits.
- Add your book(s) to your shelf. Click on the ‘want to read’ green bar, add to ‘to read’ shelf, click the stars and rate it. It will then be added to your ‘read’ shelf. (Hover to add to a particular shelf).
- Update your fans with status updates.
- Add your events and invite your Goodreads friends to attend.
- Remember to save!
The more completely you fill out your author profile, the more compelling your offering is to your future readers. Missing or blank sections, no photo or outdated info on your author profile will not induce trust–or support–from potential readers.
How to Promote Your Book on Goodreads
With a beefed up author profile, you can leverage the free resources and tools provided by Goodreads to strengthen your author platform and build your reader fan base.
The Author Dashboard contains many useful links: you can get book statistics, upload a free ebook or excerpts, and utilize free widgets and buttons to add to your author website or blog.
Be active! Update feeds, leave useful or insightful group comments, vote in polls, include blog and book updates, and give/ask for reviews.
Click on ‘Groups’ and search for groups that read books in your genre. Click on the group name you wish to join, click ‘join group’, select your email settings (‘none’ is best to avoid being swamped with email notifications), and then click ‘ask to join’.
- Participate in groups as a reader first, and make sure you read and understand the group rules. Your goal is to add to the discussion, not detract from it with spammy comments and blatant self-promotion. Safe guard your author brand and image by expressing your courtesy, not your hustle.
- Try to have your book added to the community or group bookshelf–ask a moderator, or check the group’s rules for guidance.
- Get involved and establish your expertise in a particular genre or topic. Answer questions, fuel discussions and provide a unique or fresh perspective.
- If acceptable, promote your free promo days.
- Participate in the polls. If the group chooses a Book of the Month, they will vote for it via the poll–if your book is voted Book of the Month, it will likely be added to the group shelf.
- Ask for reviews, give reviews.
- Consider creating your own group:
“A featured Author Group is a special group that only Goodreads Authors can create. It’s a forum where you and your readers can discuss your books, your writing, or any aspect of your career. These groups are a terrific way to promote a new book, generate interest in a specific backlist title, or spark conversation about your work in general.”
- You can promote your Featured Author Group on your other social networks, add videos and create polls to increase discussion and engagement.
Tip: View all the members in a group and note the most active members–get to know these people! Remember, they have already self-selected themselves by genre, and active group members are usually ardent bloggers and reviewers! Find the ones with websites and follow their blogs, their reviews, and ‘Like’ and follow them on social media. If you support their work, they may be more inclined to support yours when the time is right.
Now that you’ve made some possible connections, politely asking for reviews should be a little easier, and hopefully more rewarding.
Getting reviews from people who are actually interested in your genre will also be more relevant and helpful to future readers–reviews from friends and family, less so (although still much appreciated).
Added bonus? Reviews on Goodreads are generally more credible than those on Amazon, which can be manipulated. Reviews are critical to people’s buying behaviour, so nurturing relationships with influential people on Goodreads is time well spent.
Tips for enticing more reviews:
- Use your Author Dashboard to post an excerpt.
- Consider adding a Goodreads Reviews widget to your author website to show off or coax more reviews. Or try adding another of the many free widgets or buttons available to your site to encourage your blog readers to check out your Goodreads profile. (Note: The more external widgets you add to your site, the slower it may load, so be selective).
- Make use of the relationships you worked hard to establish with your group members and politely request reviews when appropriate.
- You can review your own book, but for obvious reasons, this won’t carry much weight. So use it to post your inspiration for the book or anything else you feel should be shared with your reader about your book.
A giveaway is a mini contest to win a physical book (no ebooks, currently) and a great way to generate advance reviews and create buzz for your book. According to Goodreads, the average giveaway attracts 825 entries, and over 40,000 people enter Goodreads giveaways daily. Combine advertising and social media with your giveaway and it can often have a viral effect.
It is free to list your book in a giveaway. You can decide how long to run your giveaway, which countries are eligible to participate (reduce shipping costs) and how many books you want to give away.
Tips for a an effective giveaway:
- Start early. Build buzz and anticipation for your book by planning your giveaway three months prior to publication or your on-sale date.
- Run your giveaway for a about a month to let as many people as possible enter.
- Offer as many books as you can in your giveaway:
“Roughly 60% of the giveaway winners review the books they win. The more books you can offer, the more reviews you’re likely to get.”
- Use the Goodreads giveaway widget on your blog or Facebook page and encourage your fans to enter.
- Linking your giveaway with Goodreads advertising can also be very beneficial (see below).
- You can have a giveaway at any time, not just when your book is new. Or have two for the same book, one prior to the release and then one on the release date.
Advertising on Goodreads is a great way to target those book lovers who want to read your book.
“With an audience of more than [17 million] affluent, educated, self-identified readers, Goodreads is the ideal place to advertise your book.”
- Giveaways combined with Goodreads ads increase entries by approximately 45%.
- Remember to add a call to action–like “enter to win” or “add to your shelf”–to increase engagement.
- Goodreads promotes that: “The average giveaway attracts about 825 people, while the average giveaway supported by an ad campaign attracts 1292 people–that’s a 57% increase!”
- Ads are a relatively inexpensive way to get your book noticed, and are especially effective if combined with a giveaway or other promotional strategies.
What are your experiences with the Goodreads Author Program? Any additional tips that I’ve missed that will help grow your author platform and allow authors to bask in the Goodreads Shangri-La?
Please share your experiences in the comments below.
Photo by dave