November 18th, 2013

10 Steps to Make Goodreads Work For You

By Lisa Verge Higgins

Lisa Verge Higgins

Lisa Verge Higgins

Goodreads – with its 18 million rabid readers – is one of the most powerful places for an author to be discovered.

Goodreads is where folks converge to discuss novels, offer recommendations, write reviews, and keep compilations of the books they’ve read and want to read.  Etailers like Kobo and Google feed Goodreads reviews directly into their websites.

Even if you’re not a member, your books are still listed and attracting reviews.  Take advantage of the opportunity to control your own profile and book data and provide information that’ll bring the reader directly to you.

Here’s how, in ten easy steps:

1. Become a Member of Goodreads!

In order to join the Goodreads Author program—where all the perks are—first you have to join Goodreads as a reader.  If you are joining for the first time, I strongly recommend that you use your author name in its exact spelling to make the approval process much easier.

2. One Name, One Profile

Do you write under multiple pen names?  Unfortunately, Goodreads doesn’t allow multiple pseudonyms under one profile.  Most authors work around this quirk by creating multiple Goodreads accounts using different emails.

3. Connect with Friends and Fans

In the process of joining, Goodreads will ask if you’d like to connect to people through Facebook, Twitter, or email.  Saying ‘yes’ helps build your Goodreads community of friends and fans.  With your permission, Goodreads will then share any updates (like reviews) on your choice of social media, letting the world know what you’re reading.

4. Join the Goodreads Author Program!

Type the title of one of your books in the search bar.  Then click on your hot-linked author name, which will bring up your author profile.   Fans may have filled out some of this information for you—I found a cheesy old publicity shot on mine!

Now, look around for a hot-linked query that asks “Is This You?  Let Us Know.”  It may be at the bottom of the page or under the photo.  Clicking on this link will bring you to a short application.  Make sure to include your website and other info to convince them of your true identity.  Within a few days they’ll verify the information and then allow you access to your books and Author Profile.

5. Believe in the Power of the Profile.

Here’s your opportunity to insert a compelling bio, your website and social media info, upload your video trailers, book excerpts, and automatically feed in your blog, Twitter, or Facebook posts.  You can post your future events and even invite friends.

Here people will “friend” you and “fan” you.  Fans will get a weekly email with all your Goodreads posts (including your blog/Facebook/Twitter feeds, if you’ve linked them.)  As you get established in Goodreads, folks will soon be posting book quotes and putting you on lists (“People Who Write Like Jody Picoult.”)

If you do nothing else with the Goodreads program but maximize this Author Profile, you’ve already increased your discoverability tremendously.

6. But Wait, There’s More!

The more reviews your book has, the higher that book rises in the algorithms.   A year ago, a Goodreads representative said that when a book gets “a couple of hundred reviews,” it increases your chances of being included in the direct emails sent to folks who read in that genre.  The best way to take advantage of this perk is to aim to increase the number of reviews and the number of people who put your book on their “To-Be-Read” list.

7. How do I Get my Book on Everyone’s To-Be-Read list?

Ah, grasshopper, that’s the One True Question.  Goodreads offers several tools:

  • Widgets.  Goodreads will create for you html strings for a variety of widgets that you can insert directly into your website.  Some are simple buttons that, with one-click, adds a book to a TBR list.  Other widgets are more elaborate and include a scroll of the highest-rated reviews for your book.
  • Advertise.  The last time did this, it was a beta system, and I ran an ad to support a giveaway I was running on one of my books.  I didn’t think it was particularly effective, but the metrics may change now that they’re working with Amazon.
  • The Almighty Giveaway:  This is Goodreads most powerful offering, and but for the cost of books and postage, it’s FREE.  Currently, Goodreads only allows giveaways of PRINT books, but that may soon change.  The point of a giveaway is to increase the number of folks who put your book on their TBR list, and to (hopefully) generate pre-publication reviews from the readers who win.  The control is all in your hands:  You get to choose how many books to offer, the geographical limits, and the time length of the giveaway. When the giveaway is over, Goodreads will send you the names and addresses of the winners which you must pinky-swear to burn after you’ve shipped the books.
  • Goodreads’ Greatest Perk for Book Launches.  If you’re launching a book, it’s strongly suggested that you run a giveaway three months and then three weeks before the release date.  Why?  On your lay-down date, Goodreads will send out a targeted email to announce your book’s arrival to everyone who has your book on their TBR list.  That’s pinpoint-targeted publicity, and it costs absolutely nothing.

8. Engage.

Like any social media website, you get more out of Goodreads if you engage socially.  We’re all readers, right? By writing reviews of books, I’m showing those readers out there that I’m a reader, too!  By joining a number of “Groups,” I’ve developed relationships with folks who love women’s fiction and chick lit.  But be warned:  Some authors have been flamed for being pushy marketers or complaining about ugly reviews.  So if you’re inclined, join groups to engage, not to market, and let the readers discover your books on their own.

9. Stay Positive.  

Yeah, you’ve heard the horror stories, but don’t let the recent dust-ups between readers and authors deter you from joining Goodreads.  Goodreads has already taken steps to calm the turbulent waters. And those bad reviews?  Ignore them.  They often mean that you’re expanding your reach outside of your usual audience . . . and that’s what Goodreads is all about.

10. Connect on Goodreads! 

Join me!  I’d love to see what you’re reading. 

How do you discover new books?  Do you take into account Goodreads, Riffle, Shelfari, and/or vendor reviews? Have you used Goodreads to promote your books? What worked for you?

FMTHGF hiRes CoverAbout Lisa

Lisa Ann Verge is the RITA-nominated author of sixteen novels that have been translated into fifteen languages—quite a switch for this former chemist. She’s is a five-time finalist in Romantic Times’ book awards, her women’s fiction has won the Golden Leaf and the Bean Pot, and twice she has cracked Barnes & Noble’s General Fiction Forum’s top twenty books of the year.  She currently lives in New Jersey with her husband and their three daughters, who never fail to make life interesting. Check her out at

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