Social Media for Writers #6: Goodreads

Posted on July 30, 2013

social media for writers: goodreads, goodreads tips for authorsAs we near the end of this series of Social Media for Writers (one more next week, and it’s a doozy!), it’s time to look at Goodreads.

The online Mecca for readers, reviewers and booklovers of all ages, types, genres, levels of passion and levels of politeness.

Sometimes I wonder how any author possibly makes themselves heard over the veritable babble of book talk going on.

Fortunately for us, it is not up to me to answer this week’s questions about Goodreads. I’m just asking them. Same as always.

In the hotseat is Kimberley Grabas – whom I know best as @writerplatform. Kimberley is a writer, entrepreneur and the founder of YourWriterPlatform.com, where she provides writers with the resources, tools and inspiration they need to build their platform, engage their fans and sell more books.

Will Goodreads help me to sell books? How?
Kimberley Grabas: “Book sales are a byproduct of an engaged readership. The more interested and engaged your audience is, the more likely they are to buy your book and spread the word to other potential book buyers.

“Goodreads greases the rails for reader engagement. Not only by providing access to a ready-made community of 17 million avid readers, but by encouraging authors to promote their author presence and develop connections with readers and influencers who will discuss, promote and share their work.

“Both new and established authors can promote their work for free to thousands of buyers, conduct informal research, participate in groups on a myriad of topics (or create their own), and link their Goodreads audience with their blog and other social media platforms.

“The onus is still on the author to do the work of building relationships with like-minded individuals and crafting a book that is worthy of sharing, but the framework supplied by Goodreads creates a distinct marketing – and sales – advantage for authors who make the effort.”

How exactly do I set myself up to make the most of Goodreads?
KG: “Follow these steps to make the most of Goodreads:

  1. Create your free Goodreads (Reader) Account at Goodreads.com.Add friends, choose your favorite genres, add books to your shelves and join interesting/relevant groups.
  2. Apply to join the Goodreads Author Program.
  3. Edit your author profile. Add an image, your bio, link to your blog, embed videos or book trailers, and add your book to your shelf.
  4. Promote your book on Goodreads. Participate in groups (or create your own), answer questions, give/ask for reviews, run a giveaway, advertise.

Do I need huge numbers of friends/followers for it to work?
KG: “Regardless of the platform, quality trumps quantity every time. Your goal is to create relationships–even friendships–not rack up ‘followers’ that have no real interest in you or your work. The value of a disinterested following is very low. And even if impressive numbers on Twitter or Facebook get you some notoriety, the dismal or non-existent sales of your book will help push you back into obscurity. Goodreads is no exception.

“Focus on your true fans, your evangelists, those people who noticed your potential early on. Nurture those relationships and let them help you spread the word about your book.

“Then connect with people on Goodreads (or elsewhere) who are in your genre, write on the same topic of interest or resonate with your message. It’s the engagement and connection with your fans that will grow your writing career, not the numbers.

“Keep in mind that, even with the head start you might gain from Goodreads, building a solid platform takes time; don’t expect it to evolve overnight.”

Top three tips for making the most of Goodreads

KG: “Get started now. One of the biggest mistakes writers make is that they wait until their book is published before ‘owning’ their author status and building their readership. Tons of connections can be made, even just by interacting via your Goodreads reader account. Promote yourself as an author, and get started making connections with readers, bloggers and influencers on Goodreads now.

“Maximise the opportunity Goodreads provides by optimising your reader or author profile. Make sure your photo is professional, your bio is up-to-date and enticing, and that you’ve linked to your author website. Use every avenue that is provided to show your commitment to your work and your professionalism as an author.

“Make friends, not followers. Perspective is important, so be sure you are going in with the right one. Don’t use the Goodreads platform to troll for unsuspecting book buyers. Be friendly and helpful, and focus on creating strong relationships with people who will potentially support you throughout your writing career.”

Biggest mistakes authors can make on Goodreads

KG: “Getting overwhelmed. Most social media platforms have a bit of a learning curve, and Goodreads is no exception. Take it slow and ask questions when you get stuck.

“Spamming your book. This often comes into play when authors are scrambling to find an audience for their book after it’s published. Keep to the 80/20 rule: about 80% of what you share should be helpful to others, 20% of what you share can help you.

“Neglect or unprofessionalism. Out-of-date bio or updates, missing information, broken links, blurry photo with a beer in your hand… None of these things will represent you or your author brand well.”

Five authors you think are doing Goodreads well
Hugh Howey
Cassandra Clare
Paulo Coelho
Becca Fitzpatrick
Natasha Deen

Visit Kimberley Grabas at Your Writer Platform, or say hello on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+. And, for more information, check out her complete tutorial on How to Market a Book and Strengthen Your Author Platform with Goodreads

So You Want To Be a Writer bookAre you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait and you can find out more about me here and more about my online writing courses here.

 Subscribe to So You Want To Be A Writer podcast for more amazing writing advice.

 Or check out So You Want To Be A Writer (the book), where my co-author Valerie Khoo and I have distilled the best tips from hundreds of author and industry expert interviews. Find out more and buy it here.


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  5. JodiGibson (@JFGibsonWriter)

    Fantastic advice, thank you ladies. And Al this social media for writers series has been a cracker!

  6. Crystal Collier

    I LOVE Goodreads, but I’ve basically come to the point where it’s my “TBR list.” The groups on there are amazing, and I LOVE the promotions/freebies I hear about from authors, but where does one put their energy? Amazon? Twitter? Facebook? Tumblr? Pinterest? Youtube? There are so many options now days…

    • Kimberley Grabas

      My two cents, Crystal: know your audience.

      Knowing your ideal reader’s age, interests, guilty pleasures, and in this case, online hangouts, will give you a great deal of insight as to where you should be spending your time on social media. Your target audience will tend to ‘pool’ on certain platforms – find them and you’ll know where to focus your time, Crystal.

  7. Amy

    Interesting stuff. Very timely. Thanks Kimberley and Allison.

  8. Kimberley Grabas

    Thanks, Allison! I appreciate the opportunity to ‘chat’ with your readers!

    BTW, is this a new site design? Love it!!


    • Allison Tait

      Hi Kimberley, thanks so much for your insights – and yes, this is my newly renovated home. Glad you like it!


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