No, I’m not sharing about books authors should be reading (though it is important that writers read). Today, I’m sharing a tool every author should have in his/her publicity toolbox: the social media site devoted to readers, Goodreads.com. While it has been in the news lately for some not so good things, Goodreads is a great way for authors to get their books noticed and interact with fans.
Last fall, Goodreads.com recorded its 6 MILLIONth member and catalogued its 200 MILLIONth book. That’s a lot of people and a whole lot of books. You may be thinking that you will never be discovered there. Well, you are right and you are wrong. I’m going to share a few things with you that will help increase your presence and get your book more noticed.
While I’ve been a member of Goodreads.com since 2009, it has only been since 2011 that I’ve been serious in using the site. And more recently, I started my author page there. I didn’t know all the options authors had available to them and wonder why the authors I’ve worked with aren’t using more the features. As I’ve talked more with authors, I’ve found that many just didn’t know what they could do on Goodreads.com. But never fear, I’m here to guide you through.
First things first, make sure your book is in their catalog. Earlier this year, Goodreads stopped using Amazon as a source to feed books in their catalog. A number of books were “lost” because data couldn’t be located anywhere else on them. Most of those books happened to be books self-published through Amazon. Librarians and dedicated readers worked tirelessly for several weeks to “rescue” the titles by manually inputting the information. By now, I think all the books have been recatalogued, but it wouldn’t hurt to check your listings for accuracy. For most published books they get added to Goodreads.com as they become available in publisher’s catalogues and listed in WorldCat.org. However, this means your book isn’t visible to readers until it’s available for sale. You want to build pre-publication buzz, right? That is why you sent out those ARCs, right? Well, guess what…Goodreads.com can help you build that buzz.
Authors (and any member) can add their title to Goodreads at any time. I recommend authors doing this as readers sometimes get information wrong. You may need the assistance of a Librarian to upload the book cover, but a number of us at The Indie Exchange have librarian status and would be happy to help you. You might be wondering what difference does it make to have a book on Goodreads before it’s available for sale. There’s a few reasons. One, you know those ARCs you sent to bloggers? Many bloggers are on Goodreads and use it to organize their reviews. If your book is listed in the catalog, they can easily add it to their shelf. When they add it to their shelf, their friends see it (most marketers believe it takes 7 – 12 impressions to make a sale. This is a good post about impressions). You are one impression closer to a sale. Two, Goodreads sends out a monthly newsletter that mentions upcoming releases. At the top of the newsletter is a section called “New releases from authors on your shelf”. Your fans are now notified that you have a new book coming out. Another impression closer to a sale. Three, your fans not only can add your book to your shelf, but vote for it on lists. Users have created lists for everything on Goodreads. Each time your book is listed it shows up in the user’s feed for their friends to see. More impressions and you haven’t even really gotten started. Four, on your book listing you can upload sample chapters for readers to view right there on Goodreads. What a great way to give an early glimpse of your new book!
Now, your books have a presence on the site, it’s time to work on setting up your author presence on the site. An author page is set up for every author who has a book on the site. It is just waiting for you to claim it. (Members with librarian status can make entries on to author pages, so there may be information already there). To keep your page as accurate as possible, I recommend claiming it.
Like any social media site, there is some basic information for you to fill out. Since most of us have dealt with social media, I’m going to skip that tutorial and get to the features that you can use to increase your presence.
On your author dashboard you will see several headers. The first is “my books” and all the books associated with your author name should be listed there. If not, then check to make sure your name is spelled exactly the same on all listings (extra spaces are almost always the culprit). If there are books listed there that aren’t yours, it means that another author has your same name. Goodreads librarian fix this by adding extra spaces to make the names different. You will probably need the help of a librarian to get this fixed.
Next is “Your Blog”. You can connect your blog to feed directly to the page. Each week, I receive an email listing all the authors who I follow who have updated blog posts that week. It’s a great way to get another impression. We are alway inundated with information, so this is a great way to get a reminder sent without it really coming from you. If you aren’t blogging somewhere else, you can always write your post right there.
The third section is for advertising. You can set up book launch and other campaigns to get your book in front of their 9 million users. I haven’t used their advertising and not sure about pricing. But with their stats, I would think it would be worth looking into.
Giveaways is the fourth section and is meant to help you launch your book. Any title not yet released (a fifth reason to list your book prior to publication) or has been released in the past 6 months is eligible. Sorry, digitally published only authors, books must be physical copies to participate. For those looking for more advice on running a Goodreads Giveaway, check out this post from Novel Publicity.
Moving on down the dashboard is a section to manage the ebooks you have uploaded at Goodreads. I mentioned that you can add a sample of your book, but can also choose to load your entire book. It will allow members to browse, preview, download, and even purchase your work all right from the site. This could be a way to capitalize on impulse buyers or another place to provide your free books.
Using the next section on your dashboard, you can great a special Q&A group. Goodreads groups can be quite active and a Q&A group can add an additional method for readers to connect with you. Follow these ‘Featured Author Groups’ instructions to set up the group as it is slightly different than creating other groups at Goodreads. Goodreads will help advertise your group and you could have it featured in their monthly newsletter.
As with any social media site, Goodreads has a way to connect to your other networks. You can advertise your books, ratings and reviews with a Facebook app on your Facebook Fan page. In the side bar, there are widgets for adding this information to your website or blog.
Goodreads offers a lot of publicity potential and should not be overlooked during your pre-publication planning.
**Please note that guest posts and columns reflect the opinions of the individual author and not The Indie Exchange as a whole. Also note, The Indie Exchange uses affiliate links to offset the costs of hosting etc.**