Friday, January 17, 2014

Goodreads: Participate, Navigate & Generate

Authors have different takes on Goodreads. Some dislike it, don't understand it and just aren't willing to use it. Some have discovered its hidden secrets and use it as another source of social networking.

I admit that it took me awhile to navigate the site, find all the different ways to use it and make it a useful tool. But, now that I have, it's become part of my media toolkit. I don't spend a lot of time there but I do visit it a few times weekly.

Even before I was an author, I used Goodreads as a reader. I interacted with some authors I enjoyed reading, especially when I wanted to know more about when another book was being released in their series. I also used it to track books I wanted to read and those I'd read. Putting a rating on Goodreads whenever I read a book was second-nature as I kept my growing "Read" shelf up-to-date. I don't think I was alone in this. Many voracious readers gravitate towards Goodreads. So, shouldn't authors too?

Here are the top 12 ways to utilize goodreads as an author.

1. Participate in the site as a reader, not just as an author.
Authors are readers too. List the books you’ve read and want to read. Write short reviews on your favorite books. Be genuine. Notice I said "favorite books". I urge you to think carefully about whether you’ll post reviews that aren’t positive. I make it a policy to only post the books I've read and enjoyed. It's a way to promote those authors while sharing books with others that I liked - a great way to make connections.

2. Friend lots of readers.
Become friends with as many others as possible in the genres of your interest. But don't use them to spam - there's a book recommendation feature on Goodreads that I recommend you NOT use for your own books. Make friends to see what others are reading and share interests. Reading their reviews and posts will give you information on current readers' interests.

3. Join Groups and be active.
Join groups in the categories you read/ write. The groups are similar to Yahoo groups or Google+ hangouts. There is ongoing discussion between members - often a lot of interaction, particularly in the larger groups. There are hundreds of groups on Goodreads, for all different interests. Don't just join author groups - be sure to join groups with readers. Then remember #1 - participate as a reader, not just as an author!

4. Connect Goodreads to facebook.
You can connect to facebook and find your facebook friends who also use Goodreads. You can also allow Goodreads to post your activity to your facebook profile. It's another nice connection to show what books you enjoy as a reader to those who follow you on facebook.

5. List all your books on Goodreads.
They might already be there but they might not. There are a variety of ways books get put on Goodreads - there's even a group of people "the Librarians" who have extra permissions to edit, etc. Excited readers may add a book by ISBN if they can't find it but to be sure that your books are listed as you want, be sure to list them yourself. Include all pertinent information. The more information you include, the easier it is for a reader.

6. Join the Goodreads Author Program.
Through the Author Program, you can create an author profile and then utilize all the other promotional tools they offer. You can host/ advertise events (launch parties, blog tours, book signings, etc) from your profile as well as be able to upload book trailers, excerpts, and create polls or quizzes for your readers.

* Since the site is for readers, here's a place they are likely to look for you. Having a presence here is important. It’s the perfect place to connect with readers who enjoy the genre of books you write. *

7. Link your blog to Goodreads.
You can host a blog directly on Goodreads, or for those who already have a blog, you can connect it to Goodreads so that your posts show up on your profile (see #6). It sometimes takes a day for them to go live but having that connection will draw more interaction to your blog.

8. Create a Goodreads widget for your website or blog.
Goodreads makes it easy to embed a variety of widgets on your site to attract readers to your Goodreads profile. You will be able to choose to promote a shelf (for instance, your "want to read" shelf) or your profile. The directions are simple to follow and its just a matter of cut and paste.

9. Check your Goodreads inbox.
Sometimes readers will try to connect with you through Goodreads because they give you an inbox. I make it a habit to check it weekly so I don't miss an opportunity to "talk" with a reader.

10. Do giveaways.
This is only available if you have print books. Goodreads “First Reads” giveaway program is widely used and is a effective way of getting your book exposure on Goodreads. Once you set the criteria, Goodreads runs the giveaway and you are only required to supply the book once a winner is selected. Having a giveaway will increase those who place your book on their "want to read" shelves and will also lead to more reviews. This is great because the more reviews a book has, the more visibility it gets.

11. Advertise on Goodreads.
I’ve heard positive stories about the outcome of the Goodreads advertising program though it is a big investment. Advertising starts around $500 a month. Authors who've used it do say that it delivered on sales. NOTE: Since I haven't done it personally though, I can't speak from experience. I mention only as a suggestion to look into.

12. Check the Stats.
I love statistics because it gives real data on success. Goodreads gives us this tool. Since our goal is to get our books in reader's hands (aka, on their shelves), we need to know if what we're doing works. As an author member, Goodreads gives updated stats on how many people have added your books to their shelves, how many have reviewed them, your average ratings, etc. Track that data to determine how well your promotional activities on Goodreads are doing. Then make adjustments.

The key to using Goodreads as an author is to learn to navigate the site, participate in a social format and use those interactions to generate sales.

Are you on Goodreads?

Why? Why Not? Share Your Experience.

Paloma Beck is a Romance Author living a life of contradiction... she's a happily married carpooling mom writing erotic romance. It's almost naughty! Paloma writes full-time and has three series in the works with others on the fringes. Her books span both the contemporary and paranormal romance genres. 


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