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Goodreads is a social network specifically for authors and readers. It has over 90 million users, and most of them are voracious readers or people who want to read more. You can see why it’s worth the time for authors to set up a Goodreads account.
Why do readers use Goodreads?
Goodreads is popular because it helps solves two problems Amazon creates.
Solution 1: Goodreads shows you your friends’ book recommendations.
When readers look for their next book, they often ask their reading friends for recommendations, and Goodreads helps facilitate that conversation.
Goodreads shows you your friends’ reviews first. While Amazon is buying social graph data from Facebook so they can delete your friends’ book reviews, Goodreads wants you to read what your friends are reading.
Solution 2: Goodreads has more useful reviews than Amazon.
While most books ratings on Amazon hover around the four-star mark, the star ratings on Goodreads tend to be more varied and generally lower because it has a different rating system.
A three-star review on Goodreads means a reader liked your book. Readers find these distinctions more helpful than Amazon’s typical four-star ratings.
MYTH: Goodreads is full of trolls.
Due to the overall lower star ratings on Goodreads, some authors believe that Goodreads is full of internet trolls. There are trolls in every corner of the internet, but Goodreads actually has fewer trolls than other social networks.
Trolls don’t take the time to read and review a book. Even if they did, users wouldn’t see a troll’s review very often because Goodreads prioritizes reviews from the readers’ friends, not trolls.
Who uses Goodreads?
If positive three-star reviews come from real humans, who are they, and what are they like?
A typical Goodreads user
- Reads 50+ books per year
- Enjoys popular and obscure books
- Is often asked by their friends for book recommendations
- Needs book recommendations from other voracious readers on Goodreads.
- Loves to review and discuss books with other readers in real life and in forums on Goodreads.
- Wants to read more each year.
If you are an author, Goodreads users are your people. If you spend time on Facebook trying to connect with readers, remember that only 30% of the population has ever read an ebook. But on Goodreads, 100% of the users are readers of books, and most of them read ebooks.
So how can you connect with this huge community of readers? Here are six ways you can use your Goodreads author account to promote your books.
7 Tips to Help You Get the Most out of Goodreads
Tip #1: Use Goodreads as a Reader
The key to using any social media platform is to learn the language and participate in the platform’s culture. The best way to learn Goodreads is to sign up and start exploring. Creating an account is free, and Goodreads will walk you through the setup.
Set a Reading Goal
Since most Goodreads users aspire to read more books, Goodreads lets you set an annual reading goal and then tracks your progress throughout the year as you finish and review books.
Read in Your Genre
The only way to avoid writing a book that sounds derivative is to know what authors in your genre are writing. When you know what’s available, you can write a book that conforms to the genre’s conventions without accidentally creating a seemingly derivative story.
Review Books You Read
Post reviews on Goodreads for all the books you read. The reviews will count toward your reading goal, and they’ll also be useful to your friends and followers on Goodreads.
While Amazon reviewers typically only review books they loved (five-star) or hated (one-star), Goodreads reviewers tend to leave longer, nuanced reviews for all the books they read.
Review Your All-Time Favorite Books
You can review classics you loved or books that have influenced your writing. These reviews will give your future readers an idea of which books shaped you as a writer and what you’re drawn to as a reader.
Reviewing your favorite books will help define you as an author and help you connect with readers.
Tip # 2: Claim Your Author Page
Cost: 1-2 hours setup and up to two days for approval of your Goodreads author account.
Setting up your author page is the first step to connecting with your readers on Goodreads. Think of it as a Facebook Author Page on Goodreads. Creating an author page will give you statistics about your books, and it will give your readers a place to see what you write and read.
Your author page includes your photo, bio, and your published books. When you fill out your author page, include as much information as possible. The more robust your author page is, the more helpful it will be to readers.
Once Goodreads approve your page, you’ll receive their signature “g” by your name to show that you’re an official Goodreads author.
Join the Goodreads Author program and follow the instructions for setup.
Tip #3: Give Books Away
Cost: 1 hour + books + shipping + $119 for Standard Giveaway or $599 for Premium Giveaway
A book giveaway on Goodreads is the most popular and effective tool for authors on the platform. Giveaways are one of the cheapest ways to get exposure as an author, and they drive positive reviews.
Should I giveaway print or ebooks?
Their powerful giveaway engine allows authors to give away either print copies or ebooks to giveaway entrants. While giving away print books used to work, I currently recommend giving away ebooks rather than print books because of recent fraudulent entries for print books.
Some super-resellers have created thousands of bot accounts to enter print book giveaways just to get a free copy of a book. Then they resell the book on Amazon.
A print giveaway is also more expensive since it requires you to print and ship the books to winners.
Ebooks, however, don’t require printing or shipping, and Goodreads allows you to give away up to 100 ebooks.
When the winners receive their free book, they’re happy. That positive feeling creates reciprocity, and they’re much more likely to leave you a review. I’d encourage you to give away as many copies as possible so you can get as many reviews as possible because
If you run a Premium Giveaway, Goodreads will even send an email on your behalf reminding winners to review your book. You can learn more about the difference between Premium and Standard Giveaways here.
When should I host a Goodreads giveaway?
I recommend hosting your giveaway at least 30 days before your launch. For thirty days, your giveaway will be the only way readers can get an advanced copy of your book. Anyone who enters your giveaway will be connected with you on Goodreads and will receive future notifications from Goodreads about your book’s release.
Tip #4: Connect Your Blog to Goodreads
Cost: 30 minutes
Blog integration is one of the perks of the Goodreads Author Program. When you connect your blog’s RSS feed to your Goodreads account, Goodreads users will be able to see your new blog post while they’re on the Goodreads website.
Goodreads will even send a weekly email to all your followers to tell them you have published a new blog post.
Even if you only blog when a new book comes out, all your Goodreads followers will get an email from Goodreads with a link to your blogpost announcing your new book.
Connecting your blog to your Goodreads author page is a great way to increase the number of people who read your blog posts. Once you set it up, it’s done.
Tip #5: Ask Fans for Reviews on Goodreads
Cost: 1 hour
Goodreads features a book based on the number of reviews it has. The more reviews your book has, the more popular it looks. The more popular it looks, the more people read it.
Once you have 300 reviews, Goodreads will start promoting your book to readers who will likely enjoy it.
But how do you get that many reviews?
You must ask your readers to review.
Amazon’s terms of service are a little tricky when it comes to asking readers for reviews, and it often removes reviews from people linked to you as friends on Facebook.
Goodreads’ terms of services are more relaxed for authors. Goodreads wants your friends to review and see your reviews.
Encourage your friends and launch team members to leave their reviews at Goodreads.
It’s easy to direct people to Goodreads since they are not selling books. Amazon and Kobo don’t want you to link your book to their competitors to get reviews, but they don’t mind if you link to Goodreads
Tip #6: Connect Goodreads to MyBookTable
Cost: 10-15 minutes per book
The MyBookTable WordPress plugin has a Goodreads button built in. If you already use the plugin, you’re just a few clicks away from having the Goodreads button on your website.
Users can add your book directly to their Goodreads shelf right from your website. You can also show Goodreads reviews inside MyBookTable. The plugin allows you to have reviews on your website and increases yournumber of reviews on Goodreads.
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 to find out what they were reading.
Soon, other readers started connecting with her by reading her book reviews.
When her first book came out, she claimed her author page (see tip #1). That allowed her to host a book giveaway (see tip #4) and connect with more 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 following of readers who are eager to buy her next book. Her growing readership led to a bigger book deal with bigger publishers, and she now has many more books published.
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Daniel Bishop, author of Ralley Point: Place of Refuge
Leif and Dyanna Jo are devastated when she miscarries after so many years of trying to get pregnant. The miscarriage becomes a catalyst for their roller-coaster journey to becoming a foster family.
Very informative piece. Nice to know for the future when I have books to promote. Thanks
yes, very informative. Well done, and thanks!
Thank you for a most timely and helpful article!
My first book, a memoir of my time as a chaplain in the South African army, is about to publish, and I am a third of the way through the writing of my next project, a historical novel. I will definitely be putting these suggestions into place in the next few months. Thank you for every article having gems of wisdom in them.
I find the Goodreads staff extremely helpful as well, and can answer any question ranging from putting up your book cover to dealing with abusive ‘friend’ requests. Ten out of ten for Goodreads.
Thank you for the nice list of tips. I’m new to Goodreads with my eBooks and trying to promote them now. You have helped me today. Sharon at fitinfun.
Many thanks for making this information available. I plan on using your marketing plan with my new book–The Lullaby Illusion. Great info!
Once again, you’ve used your Windex wisdom to make things crystal clear.
I’m on Goodreads, have been for years, and did post and advertise the 1st edition of my book, “The Mormon Missionaries: An inside look,” and my other book “Out of the Cults and Into the Church.”
However, the site wouldn’t let me post the new 2nd edition of “The Mormon Missionaries.” I guess it thought I was trying to post the same book. Had no luck with that. So far my experience with Goodreads has been too complicated, never allowed me to do what I needed to do, so never used it anymore.
Excellent post, but me and a friend are a little confused by this statement in #7:
“You can hijack it if you are afraid of negative reviews.”
What do you mean by “hijack”?
Definitely an underused promotional tool for writers. I’d love to see case studies about how authors used it and the actual return on investment. There are so many marketing resources for authors that it’s difficult to know where to focus attention.
We have some GoodReads case studies on the Novel Marketing Podcast. See http://www.novelmarketing.com/12/ and http://www.novelmarketing.com/14/
Thx so much for this post! I never knew about Listopia, and have now added my book (Chocolatour) to an existing list about chocolate books and have also created a new list. Here’s hoping that will help draw more readers my way.
Nitpick. In your title “Book” should be plural. Correct version: “8 Ways Authors Can Use Goodreads to Promote Their Books.”
You cannot add your own book to a list. That seems not good….So I have to ask other people to add my book to a list???
Very helpful. Short and precise. I will try all the suggestion. Especially about listopia. I will add my book (A bet on a heart). Thank you so much.
Its very helpful Article.
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I have bookmarked this article. I feel as if I’m standing at beach edge, looking out at sea. There is so much to learn . . . But I have begun.
Would like info on how to market picture books. My book is about to be released.
Thanks for a most useful post. I’ve been using Goodreads for a while, but not very successfully for promotion. This post will help me greatly.
Re: The Goodreads trolls, there was a group of them around 2012 who didn’t read the books they disparaged, but gave generic low ratings and bad reviews to any author who any one of them didn’t like for whatever reason.
The slightest disagreement led to swarms of them attacking all of an author’s books.
Most of them are gone now, but their remnants are still there. You can spot them by one star reviews on ALL of an author’s books. If they hated the first one, why would they read the entire catalogue?
My few bad reviews came mostly from a GR giveaway, from readers who obviously didn’t read book description or sample or other reviews, grabbed a book they thought was a Romance (it isn’t – it’s mainstream, and clearly described as such, and doesn’t have the right kind of cover for one), and then objected because I didn’t meet the expected Romance tropes! And lectured me about it.
Maybe it works for genre books better.
nice article i really impressed the way u explained everything in detailed way