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Harnessing the Power of Goodreads

If you are like most writers I know, you would rather not get involved with social media. So why would you want to discuss another social media site? Because this one—Goodreads.com—is targeted at people who will read books.

Today, on Day 21 of National NonFiction Writing Month (NaNonFiWriMo) I challenge you to check out Goodreads, if you haven’t already. But don’t do so until you read what Penny C. Sansevieri, CEO and founder of Author Marketing Experts, Inc., has to say about why this site is important and how to use it. Whether you are writing a book now as part of the Write Nonfiction in November (WNFIN) Challenge or you plan to write on in the future, you want to get familiar with this site—and use it. ~Nina Amir

Harnessing the Power of Goodreads

By Penny C. Sansevieri,

During the past year, Goodreads has really become a front and center social network for authors. First, with their new Amazon relationship and now it seems they’ve doubled their readership to 20 million. Though many authors and publishers vowed to close their account after the Amazon merger, Goodreads is still going strong and maintains its independence of Amazon. If you’re not on Goodreads, or if you haven’t touched your account in a while, you should consider this site and the benefits it offers.

There have been many success stories from Goodreads, such as authors who “got noticed” by having lots of activity there, mingling with other members, getting tons of reviews. While success isn’t guaranteed on this site (or anywhere), Goodreads can really help you get a leg up on your promotion. So, how did the massive growth of this site happen?

Their CEO, Otis Chandler cited three primary factors behind the acceleration: “a critical mass of book reviews,” “explosive” mobile growth, and international expansion.

To understand Goodreads as an author, what works and what doesn’t, you have to understand the average demographic of the site, which is adult female, many with college age kids and surprisingly, a whopping 81% of them are Caucasian. They are avid readers, though many are less affluent than the average Internet user, so low-priced books and free books do very well on this site.

One Main Focus on Goodreads

Your #1 goal on Goodreads should be to get reviews. The more reviews you have, the more readers will see your book.

 Some of the most successful authors and the books that were “dark horses” came up in the ranks using the power of Goodreads both for reader engagement and for reviews. Goodreads reviews also work harder than most reviews. Goodreads syndicates its reviews to USA Today.com, ecommerce sites, and library-related sites.

One note on reviews:  You could get slammed. It’s a known issue that reviewers and readers sometimes get into it on Goodreads. So here’s a tip for you: If someone doesn’t like your book, just drop it; let it go. It’s a much trickier walk if you start to battle the reviewer, who may have a huge following of people who will battle right along with her. Stay positive. Not everyone will like your book, even on Goodreads.

Now, how can you get more reviews? Here are a few tips:

  • Posting excerpts of your book on your Goodreads page.
  • Link your blog to your Goodreads page, and don’t hesitate to create a blog post that says your book is available for review!
  • Groups are another great way to get reviewed on Goodreads. We’ll look at groups in a minute, too.
  • Make sure that your website has a Goodreads widget. Once you sign up for your account, you’ll see where and how to get these widgets. It’s a great way to attract an additional following.
  • And the #1 way is to schedule a Goodreads giveaway. We’ll talk more about this in a minute.

Goodreads Newsletters

Goodreads offers several newsletters that you might find helpful. It’s also a good way to stay in touch with the community, what’s trending, etc.

The first is the Goodreads Author-focused ezine. This is a fantastic newsletter, though not published with any regular frequency (or as often as their main newsletter). It often has some great marketing tips, ideas for promotion on Goodreads and website shortcuts. It’s worth the sign up. You can do so by clicking here.

Their regular monthly newsletter can be found by clicking here. There are a lot of advertising opportunities within this newsletter, and though generally their webpage advertising does fairly well, I have no current data on how well the ads in their newsletters do, so proceed with caution.

Your Goodreads Profile

When you first start with Goodreads you’ll start as a User, once you have that profile you can easily upgrade it to an Author Profile. There are a lot of articles out there on creating a great profile on Goodreads, but if you’re on any kind of social media site, you know the value of a complete profile including a professional headshot. I don’t recommend leaving any of the areas blank here. So, filling in the about you, books you like to read, etc. Here’s a quick link to the Author Profile info on Goodreads.

Add Your Blog to Your Profile

I really encourage you to do this. It’s not only a fantastic way to promote yourself on the page by continually posting good and consistent content, but it’s a great way for your readers to get to know you. Also, it’s a good bit of SEO “juice” with your followers because a blog post on Goodreads generates a link (and hopefully traffic) back to your website.  You can add your blog feed by clicking the dropdown arrow, then “edit profile” next to your picture (at the top right hand side of the page).

Add Video

If you have a book video or an author video, Goodreads is another great place to promote it. It’s easy to add video once you’re in the profile settings. Though if you do this, I recommend you pull it from YouTube. In other words, you want your video hosted on YouTube.

Goodreads Groups

Goodreads has thousands and thousands of groups, and I recommend that you join at least one or two right off the bat. You can add more later as you get used to navigating the system. Groups, generally, are great places to network, and some will let you request book reviews, too, which is fantastic.

To find and sign up for groups, start pretty simply by searching for them. When deciding on the right group to join, consider a few things like genre and activity. Search by genre, and remember that you really want to be part of a group that’s robust and active, otherwise it might be a waste of your time and effort. Additionally, you can jump groups. If you find the activity isn’t right for you, you can leave, and join another group or groups and then sign up again later if you want. As far as I’ve been able to tell, Goodreads does not have a limit on the amount of groups you can join, but I recommend only joining those you can participate in, otherwise it’s like showing up for a fabulous party but watching from the sidewalk outside. It won’t do you much good and it can get pretty cold.

An Action List for Goodreads Groups

First and foremost, you are a reader not a promoter. Yes, you are there to promote your book, but launching into that right off the bat is not recommended and could get you banned from some exceptional groups if you’re not careful. Your goal should be to be helpful, join in on a discussion. Engage first, promote later.

  • If the group has freebie days (days when you can announce your Goodreads giveaway) then, by all means, do so. If they don’t have freebie days I don’t recommend you do this. If you aren’t sure, then ask the group moderator(s) for their input.
  • Most groups have a bookshelf. If you want your book placed on this shelf, ask the moderator. Though here again, I suggest you be a contributing member of the group before you do this.
  • Participate in things like polls, roundtable discussions, etc. Remember the key to getting noticed in these groups is by discussion. Without participation you’re just sitting on the sidelines, or standing outside, watching everyone else.

Finally, you can also create your own group. It’s called The Featured Author Group, open only to Goodreads authors. Readers can discuss your book, its topics, your writing, or anything related to your book. It can be a fantastic vehicle to share with your readers, get to know them and grow your base. If you’re ready to be a superstar and start your own group, you can click here.

A couple fantastic Goodreads groups to join are below. Both of these groups allow you to highlight your book and request reviews!

http://www.goodreads.com/group/show/60696-making-connections

http://www.goodreads.com/group/show/26989-goodreads-authors-readers

A Quick and Simple Action List for Goodreads

In order to build your presence on Goodreads, you’ll need to be active. But keep in mind that by “active” I don’t mean that you need to be on there daily. If you can, that’s great, but if not that’s fine, too.

Once a week you should:

  • Add a new book to your shelves, one you are reading, want to read, or a book that inspired your writing.
  • Write a review for a book. Hint: if you do a lot of Amazon reviews feel free to grab the content from there and repost it to Goodreads. And to make yourself the real “darling” of the review world, feel free to grab your Goodreads review and cross post it to Amazon. I mean why not? Wouldn’t you love it if someone did that for you?
  • Rate books. This is easy. Give books a starred rating. You don’t even have to write a review for this one.
  • Blog post. If you update your blog post weekly that’s fantastic, if you don’t then I suggest that you update your Goodreads status once or more a week. You can also just add a favorite book passage or author quote. It doesn’t have to be a long post. You’re just aiming for profile activity, that’s key.
  • Post to a group or comment or respond to someone’s question.
  • Add friends. I recommend adding friends weekly, as you can. You’ll find people in the groups that you want to friend or reviews you want to follow. Building a healthy friend list is really key to expanding your network (and getting more reviews) on Goodreads.

About the Author

Penny C. Sansevieri, CEO and founder of Author Marketing Experts, Inc., is a best-selling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most cutting-edge book marketing campaigns. She is the author of five books, including Book to Bestseller, which has been called the “road map to publishing success.” AME is the first marketing and publicity firm to use Internet promotion to its full impact through The Virtual Author Tour™, which strategically works with social networking sites, blogs, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube, and relevant sites to push an author’s message into the virtual community and connect with sites related to the book’s topic, positioning the author in his or her market. In the past 24 months their creative marketing strategies have helped land 11 books on the New York Times Bestseller list. To learn more about Penny’s books or her promotional services, you can visit her website at www.amarketingexpert.com.

To learn more about WNFIN/NaNonFiWriMo, click here. To take the WNFIN challenge, click here to register. You’ll be taken to a forum where you can “sign in” and introduce yourself and your project.