Writers in the Storm

A blog about writing

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November 18, 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.  http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3466934.Lisa_Verge_Higgins 

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 www.lisavergehiggins.com

42 comments on “10 Steps to Make Goodreads Work For You”

  1. I spent several months attempting to promote my first book on GoodReads, mostly using the methods that you outline. My own experience was that it wasn't worth the time I put into it. Since users are allowed to preemptively rate a book based on their own genre preferences, only books that fit neatly into a genre that has a significant following are going to garner enough positive ratings to get any visibility.

    1. Misha -- I agree Goodreads is not the best place to *promote* a book, outside of the giveaways. It's really a venue for discover-ability. By controlling your book data and having the ability to add a good bio,social media links, events, videos, etc., you increase your chance of being noticed.

      1. Again, I think that "getting noticed" on GoodReads is only positive if you write in a popular genre. I have a number of positive text reviews from people who read my novel, but for every one of those I have a dozen of "not interested" ratings. GoodReads rankings have less to do with the quality of the book than the popularity of the genre.

  2. Thank you for blogging with us today, Lisa!
    You've inspired me to get more involved with Goodreads. It doesn't sound quite as scary anymore. 🙂

  3. Oh my gosh, Lisa, a widget to add my book to their wish list? I had no idea!!!
    And here I thought I was using Goodreads to my best advantage. Thanks SO much for the tip - off to download!

    Oh, and thanks for blogging with us!

      1. Who knew. This is probably the one thing I find most interesting on Good Reads. I was bit turned off by recent bad publicity on "how" readers are allowed to review books. But I guess no site is perfect. Perhaps I'll give it another look-see. Thanks for the informative blog. 🙂

  4. Great advice -- thank you! I joined Goodreads a while ago and have connected with some wonderful readers, getting great advice/reviews of other books. Never quite sure how to promote MY book.

  5. Excellent post, Lisa. I'm particularly interested in your suggestion to do a giveaway of a novel three months before the launch. Did I read this correctly? I presume you note that the book won't be available for a while? Thanks!

    1. Carol-- Yes, you read correctly! As a traditionally published author, I get physical ARCS about 3 months before publication date, and these are the books I offer in my Goodreads giveaway. I usually offer 10-15 books, and include a note encouraging the readers to leave an honest review on Goodreads when they're done. So not only will I build the number of people who put my upcoming book on their TBR list (people who'll later get an email on my laydown date) but, hopefully, I'll also get some pre-publication reviews.
      ...of course, this won't work so well if you're launching an indie-book, unless you've built in a long lead time.

      1. Thanks, Lisa. I am an indie publisher, and I'm building in a long lead time to allow me to do the marketing right. I'm factoring in physical ARCs. Your advice is perfect for my plan.

  6. Reblogged this on Christine's Words and commented:
    I love Goodreads...as an author and a reader. I've found some great books to read and met some awesome people....both authors and readers. Love the information shared in this blog post and hope some of you learn something new too...

  7. Definitely review! Readers love authors who read and write. I always click "compare books" when I get a friend request. If I see an author looking for friends and fans but who only lists her/his own books, I pass on the request. If I see an author with 1,000+ friends who's read 3 books, I'll block them as spammers.

  8. I don't have much experience with Goodreads but it's obviously time I checked them out. I know this is a bit of a cliché but isn't it amazing much smaller the world is thanks to technology. I remember when I was a kid writing letters to my favourite authors, now readers (adults and children) can connect almost in real time...that's certainly worth something.

  9. Thanks, Lisa! Is there a way to UNjoin groups? I inadvertently joined a group recently and want to get out of it. lol Oh, and I friended and fanned you!

    1. Yes, there is! Hit the "Group" icon on the top bar, then click on the particular group that you want to leave. On the particular group page, you'll see a hot-linked "Edit" button under the description. When you hit that, you'll be sent to a page where there's another hot-linked button "Leave The Group." Clunky, but possible. And thanks for the friending and fanning!

  10. I joined Goodreads a couple of months ago, now that I've finally become more involved with social media, in general. I'm not a published author (yet!), so I'm in there as a reader and am really enjoying it. I write occasional reviews and have made some wonderful connections! I just don't do the 5-star ratings. I find them unreliable and it sort of demeans the value of books, I think.

    Anyway, whenever that time comes I DO have a book coming out, I'll be referring to your wonderful list of suggestions to be sure I'm doing my best! Thanks, Lisa! 🙂

  11. When I checked my book on Goodreads, there were 2 authors listed when I'm the only one. How can I remove an author that's listed in error. I had to fix this mistake in Amazon when the book first came out.
    Also, I write Bible Studies. Is there enough interest in this genre to spend the time on Goodreads?

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