You may remember a little while ago I did a series on the online things an author needs to succeed. We examined websites, blogs, mailing lists, and social media in a quest to create a list of which things you really need to promote your book and which ones are optional. Today, I’d like to zoom in on one social network in particular: Goodreads.
What Is Goodreads?
Goodreads is a social network aimed specifically at readers. After creating an account, you can add books to “shelves” as read or want-to-read, plus make any custom shelves you like. You can set a reading goal for the year and mark your progress through the books you’re reading. And you can leave reviews on the books you’ve read.
A special point of interest for authors is that Amazon acquired Goodreads in 2013, and since then has incorporated it into its Kindle software as a way for readers to share the books they are reading. At the end of a book on Kindle, readers are now prompted to leave a rating or a review on Goodreads, which Amazon then cross-posts to its own store.
Do You Need It?
You’ll remember from my post on whether authors need social media that I concluded that the best use of social media for an author is to choose the networks you enjoy and leave the others alone. Social media in itself isn’t a great way to drive growth or sales. But while Goodreads is yet another social network and I believe it’s not absolutely necessary for author success, it is a special case since it’s a huge network targeted specifically at readers. Add in the fact that it’s connected to Amazon and you have a very compelling case for giving it a second look. It’s probably the one social network where an author should consider establishing at least a bare-bones presence.
Two Things Every Author Should Do on Goodreads
Even if you don’t plan to use Goodreads extensively, there are two things that I recommend every author do. These are quick, one-time tasks that you can do, then get on with your life if you don’t want to invest in yet another social network.
Claim your author profile
The first thing you should do is claim your author profile. Just follow the instructions from Goodreads to let them know that you are the author of your book.
Why should you do this? This gives you a page on Goodreads where people can see your author profile. You can add a link to your official website, keep track of reviews people have left for your book, and engage with your readers. Setting up an author profile gets you one more place online where readers can find you, and since your author page is just one click away from your book’s page, it’d be great if there was something there for your readers to find.
Make sure your books are in the Goodreads database
The second thing you should do is make sure all of your books are listed on Goodreads. Search the Goodreads site for each of your books, and if one isn’t listed, go ahead and add it. It’s important to make sure your books are on Goodreads so that when your readers want to add one of your books to their shelves, it’s there waiting for them.
How You Can Use Goodreads to Promote Your Book
If you decide that you want to go farther with Goodreads, there are plenty of other ways you can use it to promote your book. Here are some ideas:
This is one of the best parts of Goodreads for authors. If you have a book that is in pre-release or has been recently released, you can list a giveaway on Goodreads. I’ve run several of these giveaways and have always gotten hundreds of entries with minimal effort—most of the time all I did to promote it was tweet about it once. Goodreads does all the promotion for you. Even better, everyone who enters the giveaway automatically has your book added to their want-to-read shelf, meaning when that reader goes back to their want-to-read shelf looking for a new book, yours is right there as a suggestion.
Engage with your readers
You can engage with your readers by enabling the Ask the Author section on your author profile. That allows readers to ask questions that you can choose to answer and feature on your profile.
Another way to engage with readers is to search out Goodreads groups where people are discussing your book and join the discussion. Now, this is a little bit of a tricky subject because you don’t want to just spam the group, but many groups will allow authors to participate in some way. Make sure you check the group’s rules so you don’t unintentionally alienate your readers.
Add a quiz about your book
Quizzes are a fun way that you can engage with your readers. These won’t generate much in the way of sales, but they are great for keeping your current fans engaged while you write your next book.
Now, there are two kinds of quizzes on Goodreads, so let’s clarify those real quick. A Goodreads quiz is about just one book or series. You could make a quiz that lets your readers test their knowledge of your book. A Goodreads trivia question, on the other hand, is a single question that is added to the Never-Ending Book Quiz, which is full of questions about all kinds of books and lets readers try to build a big correct answer streak. You should probably stick with posting a quiz about your book, since the trivia questions are for the entire Goodreads site and you’ll probably just annoy a lot of people if a random question about an indie book they’ve never heard of breaks their answer streak.
Post books you’re reading
This final tip doesn’t directly promote your book, but it does give your readers a window into your life. Readers love to find out what their favorite authors like to read, so if you use Goodreads as a reader, you’re forming a great connection with your fans. Post the books you’re reading, rate them, leave reviews, and generally just participate on Goodreads as if you’re just a simple book-lover.
I hope these tips help you get started on Goodreads. Remember, at the very least you should claim your author profile and list your books so your readers can find you. And if you want to take it farther, there are plenty of ways to use Goodreads to connect with your readers.