The Ultimate Guide To Goodreads For Authors

    Categories: Marketing and Promotion

OLD POST ALERT! This is an older post and although you might find some useful tips, any technical or publishing information is likely to be out of date. Please click on Start Here on the menu bar above to find links to my most useful articles, videos and podcast. Thanks and happy writing! – Joanna Penn

 I've been on Goodreads for years now and have used it to track my reading habits as well as rate and review books from a reader's perspective. I have also used it as an author for giveaways and for linking reviews to Kobo as well as ensuring readers can rate my own books.

Last month, Amazon bought Goodreads and reactions have been varied even though Amazon have indicated they will let the social network run independently. Personally, as a reader, I think it is a great thing for discoverability since Goodreads is a tremendous recommendation engine for books. As an author, I'm thrilled because more data on more good books and easier purchase should mean it's easier for people to buy.

But whatever you think, if you want your books to be found, I think you need to make sure your books are on Goodreads and discoverable. After all, readers will add them for you if you don't take control yourself. But there are also lots more opportunities on Goodreads and today, Mayor A. Lan, the Savvy Indie explains what else you can find on the site.

Goodreads is a social media network site for book readers, as well as authors, to connect and network.

It’s the Facebook for authors and book readers!

It might seem confusing to Goodreads newbies but if carefully explored, Goodreads is a wonderful and useful book marketing tool for self-publishing and indie authors because it's custom built to cater for the need of authors and book readers, unlike Twitter and Facebook which are all generic Social Media Networks.

So, what are the best features offered by Goodreads that you can take advantage of?

(1) Author Profile With Blog And Video Posting

Once you register as a Goodreads user, you can join the Goodreads Author program and add all your contact details. You can add a photo of you, add your bio, your books and upload your eBooks and add more friends.

Note that there is little you can do with a basic Goodreads account, the one everyone who first register on Goodreads get by default, you need to apply for a Goodreads Author upgrade after having some basic experience on the site. You might have to wait for few days for your account upgrade to take effect.

If you have a blog,  you can also link your blog posts to your Goodreads page via RSS feeds. With this, your blog post can be read by everyone from your Goodreads page without even visiting your blog and this can earn your blog posts some comments and some fans.

If you have a video about your books, something in the way of a video trailer or any other video for book readers, you can add it to your Goodreads page.

(2) Book Listing

As a Goodreads Author, you can add your books to your Goodreads Bookshelf, either by manually adding it by supplying all the information about your books or by using the add feature that searches for your book from several book stores online like Amazon, Kindle Store and anywhere you have your books for sale.

After you have got your books listed on your bookshelf, readers can rate your books and leave a review for your books right there on your Goodreads page.

Another variant of this feature is the Add Ebook feature which you can use to add and upload your books in PDF and ePub format. You can also sell your eBook with this feature on Goodreads.

With this, you can instruct Goodreads to only show part or all of your eBook as you might like to. Note here that if you decide to sell your eBook, you can only upload the ePub version of your eBook which can be viewed online using the Goodreads eBook previewer.

(3) Giveaways

Example of one of my own giveaways on Goodreads

Goodreads Giveaways is a great program where you can give free copies of your print books to readers and hope to receive reviews on both Goodreads and Amazon if the reader likes the book (although a review is certainly not guaranteed).

This giveaway is open for a number of days that you specify and at the end, Goodreads will randomly choose winners for your book and will send you the names and mailing address of the winners of your books. It's your responsibility to actually send the books.

The only drawback for this program is that you can only give away a print book, not an eBook.

But what if you have your book on Kindle Store and not as a print book? Well, there is a way to give away ebooks and that takes us to Events.

(4) Events

Goodreads Events can be used to promote events like book launches, book tours and author appearances and the best part is that it can be used to give away free copies of eBooks.

It works simply as having a book launch, blog tour or eBook giveaway page on your blog and you organize a Goodreads Event with all the details of your events with a link to your promotion page on your blog to direct your event invitees to your blog for your book launch, blog tour, author appearance or eBook giveaway.

(5) Featured Groups

Featured Groups are a way that authors can interact with readers and create buzz for their books. Author form a special Question and Answer group and agree to answer questions about their books for a period and Goodreads will help in promoting such groups using its word of mouth tools.

All authors need is a few people to join such groups and Goodreads takes it from there to make the group go viral and spread across the Goodreads community. Goodreads will also help feature these groups in the author and group section of the site.

(6) Groups

Goodreads Groups shouldn't be confused with the Featured Groups, as they are two different Goodreads programs.

Goodreads groups are communities of readers who share similar interests and they are purely meant for interacting, networking and connecting with readers. They are NOT about active marketing – only being part of a community who love a particular genre.

There are Q&As and discussions and people get to know each other as the groups grow and expand with new members.

The wise use of this program by indie authors is to find some groups which are of interest to you as a reader and join a few of them. Get to know how it works and first be a listening reader who ask questions and as time goes on some readers may notice you as a member of a group, then people will naturally be interested in what you write.

The key here, as with every social network, is to give more than you expect to receive and be both helpful and useful to others.

Now that you are a Goodreads Author, you can play with all these features and programs mentioned in this post. You can add an event, organize a book giveaway for your print book, create a Q&A Featured Group to discuss about your books, or join a Goodreads Group of your interest. The possibilities are just enormous as to what you can do and achieve within this social network.

As with all social media networks, you need Friends to build your audience base and there are lot of way to add friends on Goodreads. You can link your account with Twitter and Facebook to search for your friends who are also on Goodreads and you can add all of them at once. This is my favorite way of adding friends on Goodreads as it's easy and also for the fact that I can also connect with my Twitter followers also on Goodreads as well.

How do you use Goodreads? What other ways have you use Goodreads for connection with readers? Please leave your comments and questions below. 

You might want to get a free copy of My book – Book Marketing: The Complete Goodreads Guide For Self Publishing Authors.

Mayor A Lan is a Motivational Writer, Self Publishing Authors of Motivational and Self Publishing Books. He blogs for Self Publishing Authors and Writers at TheSavvyIndie.com where he gives away a free book – The Smart Self Publishing Blueprint and also shares free resources and information about book marketing, publishing, writing and blogging for Self Publishing Authors.

Lover of motivational and self help books can check his motivational blog at http://www.MayorALan.com where he blogs about life success and motivations for life’s success.


Joanna Penn:

View Comments

  • Is it considered socially acceptable to add authors as friends on goodreads? I'm not sure if the friend button is like on Facebook where you only add people you know in real life or if it is like Twitter where you follow people you want to know more about. I have used goodreads mostly for a record of books I have read and I not really explored the social part of it.

  • Is it considered socially acceptable to add authors as friends on Goodreads? I'm not sure if the friend button is like Facebook where you only friend people you know in real life or if it is like twitter where you follow people you want to know more about. I have used Goodreads mostly for keeping a record of what I read and I have not spent much time on the social part of it

  • Thank you so much for this post - and for your helpful and energetically-smiling talk at the Writers & Artists Self-Publishing in the Digital Age day the weekend before last. You're inspiring and so clear, thank you.

  • Joanna, I have heard you both on John Lee Dumas' Entrepreneur on Fire and just yesterday on the New Business Women Rock Podcast! So glad because the first time I was driving and got distracted but this time I was able to write your name down and here I am. Love your inspiration and this good reads blog is so timely! Keep up the great work!

  • What about creating an author profile on Goodreads several months prior to publishing? How does that work? Is it recommended?

  • Hey, hope it's all right if I put my book on here. I'm new at this thing. Do bloggers find it acceptable for new authors to advertise on their website? I self-published a few weeks ago, and I'm trying to get the word out. The title of my book is called Supernatural Family: The Path Less Taken. The pen name is under Greg Tom. Feel free to pass it along.

    Since the demons lost the war, they've been hiding, waiting for their chance to take over Heaven. Now, that moment has arrived. Demons and angels are recruiting supernatural creatures to aid them in the upcoming battle. The Nicks family seems like your ordinary family, but they're far from it. When Ethan goes to college, he learns that a nest of vampires are residing on campus, and he must fight them in order to save everyone. When Chelsea goes to Washington, D.C., she finds that supernatural creatures are prowling the capital. Chad learns that demons are trying to create chaos in order to possess students at his high school. In order to survive, they'll have to face their fears, and learn what being a family really means.

  • Thanks so much. Joanna. Can always count on you when I need to get up to speed fast on self-publishing questions.

  • Learned about your site from the recent Joel Friedlander webinar!

    Thanks for this interesting and very positive post. But...am I the only person on earth who finds getting ensconced in Goodreads Authors to be difficult? Not to say hugely complicated, stubborn, and massively frustrating? Among the many puzzlements, when I tried to create a widget it rejected an ISBN as "incorrect": that ISBN was copied and pasted directly from Bowker into a spreadsheet, and then copied from the spreadsheet into GA's form. Just the high point of an entire afternoon consumed by similar roadblocks.

  • Thank for you this very informative post. I have one additional question and I think you may have covered it but just looking for confirmation. If you decide to only sell your book/ebook from your author site, will Good Reads allow you to link direct to that or will it force you to sell it from Amazon...ect?

    Thank you in advance.