Goodreads is a social network specifically for authors and readers. It has over 20 million members and is one of the most visited websites in the world. Why is Goodreads so popular? Because it helps people find the next book they want to read. Think of it like Pandora Radio or Spotify, but for books instead of music.
When you get on Goodreads as a reader, you list the books you have read along with a star rating and an optional review. Then as you connect to your friends, you can see the books they read and their ratings for those books.
But, it gets better than that.
You can also vote on lists of your favorite books. Goodreads has a feature called Listopia where people publicly vote on the top books on all manner of lists. Curious what the best Amish fiction book is? There is a list for that. Curious what is popular in Christian Contemporary Romance? There is a list for that too. The more votes a book gets, the higher it ranks on the list.
The best way to learn Goodreads is to sign up at www.goodreads.com and then start exploring. The website will walk you through the process of getting started. There is no cost to signing up, and figuring it out is a lot of fun!
So have you signed up? Great. Here are some ways you can Goodreads for marketing.
1. Setup an Author Page
Cost: 1-2 hours
Getting an author page is the first step to connect with your readers on Goodreads. Think of this as your Facebook page but on Goodreads. Creating an author page will give you statistics about your books and will give your readers a place to see what you are up to and what you are reading.
You can find out how to join the Goodreads Author program. This page has detailed instructions that will walk you step by step through the setup process.
2. List Your Books on Listopia.
Cost: 30 minutes
The Listopia section of Goodreads has a list for every kind of book imaginable. Make sure your books are on the appropriate lists. You can find this section at http://www.goodreads.com/list. Find a list your book would fit in and then click the “add books to this list” tab. Make sure to add more than just your book to the list. Pick your top 10 books in that category and vote for each book. Your readers want to know what books you like to read.
Often the difference between 30th and 10th on these lists is only a few votes. So feel free to invite your readers to vote for your books as well.
Cost: 1-3 hours + $50-$500
This is optional but worth the effort. Goodreads has a powerful book-advertising program that allows you to target people who have highly rated specific authors. Are your books similar to James Scott Bell? You can target his fans with an ad for your book.
You can also use this tool to target people who have rated your books in the past. You may have fans who loved your other books and who have no idea about your latest book. Goodreads allows you to connect with those readers.
The ads can cost as little as $0.15 per click. This is one of the cheapest ways to let your readers know about your new book.
4. Give Books Away
Cost: 1 hour + books + shipping
On average, 750 people enter each Goodreads book giveaway. Of those who enter, 8% will add the book to their to-read list and 45% of the winners will review the book. Goodreads has a book giveaways section designed specifically to help you raise awareness about your books.
5. Lead a Q&A Discussion Group About Your Book.
Cost: A few hours
Goodreads allows you to host a book discussion about your book. This allows your readers to ask you questions and talk with each other about your book. This is a great way to turn lukewarm readers into passionate book evangelists. You can be as involved in these book discussions as you want to be. The key is to start the conversation and then let your readers take it from there.
For the steps on how to start a book discussion, visit Goodread’s Featured Books.
6. Connect Your Blog to Goodreads
Cost: 30 minutes
Did you know that Goodreads will email your fans once a week of all your new blog posts? This is a great way to boost readers for you blog for little to no work. Just set it up once and then you don’t need to worry about it. Blog integration is one of the perks you get when you join the Goodreads Author Program.
7. Ask Fans for Reviews on Goodreads
Cost: 1 hour
GoodReads features books based on the number of reviews. So the more reviews the better.Don’t be afraid of negative reviews. Those actually help boost sales. The most important thing these days is the number of reviews. The more reviews your book has the more popular it looks. The more popular it looks the more people read it. This is a virtuous cycle. You can hijack it if you are afraid of negative reviews.
8. Connect Goodreads to MyBookTable
Cost: 10-15 minutes per book
Did you know that MyBookTable integrates with GoodReads? MyBookTable has buttons so that users can add your book directly to their GoodReads shelf right from your website. You can also show GoodReads Reviews inside MyBookTable. This allows you to have reviews on your website while also boosting the number of reviews you have on GoodReads. Win win.
Doing it Right: Jill Williamson
Back in 2008, Jill Williamson started using Goodreads as a reader. At first she used it as a place to post her book reviews and connect with her friends and find out what they were reading.
Other readers started to find her by reading her book reviews. Then when her first book came out, she claimed her author page (see tip #1). This allowed her to host a book giveaways (see tip #4) and connect with her readers. She also integrated her blog into Goodreads (Tip #6) so that her book readers could become her blog subscribers.
Her Blood of Kings Trilogy now has hundreds of positive reviews and she has built a solid reader following that is eager to buy her next book. This led to bigger book deals with bigger publishers and she now has many more books published.