Goodreads: An Important Part of The Author Platform

Goodreads LogoI had the pleasure of hearing a lecture by Goodreads Community Manager, Patrick Brown at a local Romance Writers of America function, about how Goodreads helps to connect authors with readers. This lecture helped me to untangle my own confusion about what Goodreads is and what part it can play in a writer’s platform. I’ve been a member at Goodreads for some time, but never quite knew what to do with it. Most of the authors of my local writing group did not see what the value of Goodreads was either. You can’t sell your books there directly and it seemed just another place where you had to spend additional time. As I sat at a pink and red covered table that had been scattered with chocolates and listened to Mr. Brown speak, many of my misconceptions about Goodreads were laid to rest. I find that I am now excited about this social media outlet and I wanted to share some of these insights here at No Wasted Ink.

Why use Goodreads as part of your author platform?

The first task we do as authors is to set up a website to serve as a home base for our online presence. A website or blog is more powerful than a social media profile because it is weighted more heavily in search engines. Your website is where you post samples of your work, write about topics that are of interest to you, show your portfolio of published credits and have links to where readers can buy your books.

Twitter and Facebook are the next choices to cultivate in the mission to expand awareness of you as an author, but the people you encounter there are not necessarily people that love to read books. Twitter is more for announcements. Facebook is wonderful with interaction between authors and readers, but not so much with discovering new authors and books. On Goodreads, you see recommendations for books from people that you know, and who’s taste you know. Therefore, you are more likely to try out a new author or book based on a friend’s recommendation. Goodreads is targeted toward the audience you are seeking.

What makes Goodreads different from other social media outlets?

Goodreads is growing. There are over fifteen million readers on the social media site and sixty-five thousand authors. This is a huge pool of potential readers to draw from who are pre-qualified toward buying books. All genres are represented and there are a myriad of book clubs discussing thousands of books every day. Goodreads mission is to catalog every book in existence, including yours! If nothing else, you should see that you fill out an author profile and the basic information about your published book so that it is entered into their catalog.

Goodreads is interactive about books. When a reader puts your book on their to-read list, it goes to all their friends and it is transmitted to other outlets such as their Facebook pages or Twitter feeds. When a reader reviews your book, the review has the potential to be synced to their personal blog and transmitted to other Goodreads partners.

What are the strategies you should follow as a Goodreads author?

Even if you do not have a book published as yet, set up a Goodreads reader profile. Once your book is assigned an ISBN number, you can upgrade your reader profile into an author profile. Doing this before your book is available to the public gives you a little lead time to begin letting people put your book on their to-read list. When your book is published, Goodreads will send the interested reader a notice that your book is available for purchase.

If you have a blog, link it to appear in your Goodreads author page. You can set it to be a summary to bring Goodreads members to your website where your books are set up to be sold, or you can allow the member to read the entire post at Goodreads. Only authors can sync their blogs onto Goodreads. At this time, place Goodreads web-badges on your blog, website and Facebook pages. Let readers know that you have a presence on Goodreads.

If you have rated or reviewed a large number of books, you are eligible to apply to become a Goodreads Librarian. The advantage of this is that you will be able to input your own novels into the system and make corrections to their meta-data if needed. There is no charge to be a Librarian and being one could save you much time when it comes to data entry.

Consider disabling the invite friends button on your profile once you switch from being a reader to an author. You are limited to only five thousand Friends on Goodreads, but Fans are unlimited. To encourage people to add you as a Fan, put in a password into your Friends invite button and post a notice there that you are not accepting friend requests. You will still be able to add Friends, but you will have to send them the password to do so. Fan can see all your blog posts, your status updates and other public information, but do not access your more personal Goodreads profile information as a Friend might.

Goodreads book giveaway promotions are a good way to garner reviews for your book on Goodreads and to create a buzz about your book. Currently, Goodreads only allows for printed books to be given away, not ebooks. You can run these limited giveaways as many times as you wish and for specified times. Mr. Brown recommends doing a book giveaway three months in advance of your publish date. After your book is available, run a second or third give away and extend the giveaways for a month at a time. Make sure you put in a call to action with each book you mail. Ask the reader to write you a review on Goodreads in a small card enclosed with the book. Use Goodreads widgets on your website and on Facebook to promote your book giveaway. Statistics show that good word of mouth generated by giveaways leads to more sales of your book.

Final Word

As you can see, there is a clear benefit to being involved with Goodreads as an author. It is a place to interact with readers, to talk about books, and a new place to promote your novel to pre-qualified buyers of books. If you get the chance to hear Mr. Patrick Brown speak at your local book club function, I urge you to do so. His explanations of what Goodreads is, from the creator’s point of view, and how to use it as an author are only touched on in this article. You can see more of his information about Goodreads marketing campaigns at Goodreads Slideshare.

12 thoughts on “Goodreads: An Important Part of The Author Platform”

  1. In doing research on the Goodreads site, I noticed there are some authors, like G. Norman Lippert, who pimp their fanfiction. It’s free to download of course, but doesn’t this in some way cheapen the legitimate work of authors?

    1. To me, writing is writing. I don’t view fanfiction as not being legitimate. When someone is hired to write for a television series, this writer works in the universe of the show. In a sense, it is fanfiction, it is certainly not illegitimate.

      As for cheapening what others do, I don’t believe this is the case. We all have our own reputations and portfolios as writers. Let the buyer view our reviews and links to our previous work to decide for themselves if they wish to read our work. I know of many people that enjoy fanfiction. I don’t fault them for it. There happens to be some rather well-written fanfiction out there, along with the drek.

      One of the things that I like about Goodreads is that it allows you to build your own personal portfolio on a site that reaches a large number of potential readers. What each author does with that it up to them.

      Thanks for stopping by the blog. This was an interesting question. 🙂

  2. Thanks, Wendy! I’ve been a member for a long time and feel guilty because I forget to enter all the books I’ve read. Still I look forward to the monthly updates. I never knew about registering as an author. This was all new to me and very interesting.

  3. As a reader, I enjoyed Good Reads, keeping track of the books I’ve read, like any other person there. As an author, I dislike it intensely as over the years it seems as if reviews have grown more and more critical, and even wildly unbelievable. When a reader posts something that makes me wonder what the heck they were reading, the last thing I feel I have the right to do is refute what they’ve posted. Or even try to discuss it. The negativity toward authors, at least in the corner where my current books reside, is prevalent, and any attempts by said author to discuss reviews is simply not a good idea. It is very disheartening as an author, so much so I’ve given up participating there at all lest I just give up writing entirely. Of course readers have the right to their views and expressing them, but authors don’t.

    1. This is a subject that we discussed at the lecture. Several authors expressed concern about this growing trend of people trashing author’s books, sometimes for no reason. I am not sure what the solution is. Most say that it is best to not comment on reviews of your books, good or bad, as an author.

    2. I sad to hear this. I’m a Goodreads member as reader, and I always give honest reviews. I have 100+ books registered, and I gave one 2 stars and one or two 3 stars review. I always consider the books to read carefully to avoid wasting time on books I don’t like (which doesn’t mean they are bad, maybe just not for my taste). I have never said that a book is bad, only that it is not for me, and I didn’t enjoy it.
      When picking up books to read I always check the reviews. Sometimes I read the one star reviews, why they didn’t like the book. And sometimes I choose the book based on those opinions, because I like those things they don’t. Kinda reverse recommendation. And I very careful to beleive the negative criticism.
      Just my two cents.

  4. I have only recently gotten involved with Goodreads, but I am liking it! I’m sure we’ll grow together. It certainly does provide a great platform for readers to share their experiences and the books that mean a lot to them.

    1. I’m glad you are enjoying your experience with Goodreads, Renee. I’m still learning the system there myself, but now that I’ve heard Mr. Brown’s lecture, I am putting Goodreads on a higher priority for my own author platform.

  5. Hi Wendy
    Thanks for the post. I have been struggling with the same dilemma as you recently.
    I’m just coming up to the publishing of my first book and have been keen to have a presence on Goodreads but not sure of the benefits. It’s nice to have them made clear here, so thanks.
    My only complaint as a reader so far is that the Goodreads interface feels very clumsy compared with a lot of other sites, so I’m hoping they’ll update it soon!

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