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is an older post and although you might find some useful tips, any technical or publishing information is likely to be out of date.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
Writers are readers first, so today we discuss the number 1 social network for readers, Goodreads, and how authors can best utilize its many features.
Breaking news 4 September 2013: Amazon introduces new Kindle Paperwhite which incorporates Goodreads reviewing, so whether you like it or not, reading customers will be rating your books on Goodreads.
In the intro, I mention a fantastic article by Kristine Rusch on career writers, as well as my imminent trip to India, how the launch of ‘One Day In Budapest‘ went and also some thoughts on screenwriting. We also have a message from Kobo Writing Life, who now sponsor the podcast, all about how authors in the US market specifically can work with independent bookstores through Kobo.
Patrick Brown is the Director of Author Marketing and Community Manager at Goodreads, the world's largest site for readers and book recommendations, with over 20 million members who are passionate about books. It's a feature-rich site with a lot going on!
You can also watch the interview on YouTube here.
The aim of Goodreads is to keep track of books previously read, currently being read or to-read in the future; join book club style groups, get book recommendations and hang out with other readers. Avid readers are addicted to the site 🙂
- Goodreads' recommendation engine is an algorithm similar to Netflix, recommending books based on what you have rated already. Putting them in grouped bookshelves helps the algorithm learn more e.g. my psychology bookshelf vs your psychology bookshelf will help the algorithm provide surprising new recommendations. It won't recommend obvious books like Twilight or Harry Potter as you will already know about them, but it will try to find new books for you. A book does need to get a few hundred ratings before it gets into the recommendation engine, but once it is in, then connections can be made.
- Goodreads is a social network with a news feed that members look at first. Every time someone takes an action on your book, it goes out on the newsfeed and that fuels social amplification. There's a To Read button that will capture interest. Focusing on that before publication can get the book noticed earlier, as it fuels awareness. The To-Read shelf is the first step to getting a review, and ultimately, your goal is to get reviews as this fuels discovery. Generating word of mouth buzz for books is the point.
- If you're starting out on Goodreads, you have to have a regular member account anyway, which can then be turned into an author page. But don't stop using it as a reader. You should be a reader first and be an active part of the reader network. Don't talk about your own books at the beginning. Contribute useful content, which are book reviews and comments on groups and engagement around books. Authors are tremendous readers, so use that knowledge of books to contribute.
- The Author Profile can be quite extensive if you populate it fully. Add your author photo which is important, your blog feed, a bio and then add your books, which you can do manually if they're not already there. You can add video content and link those to books as well.
- On Giveaways and how they work. It's free to list a giveaway for the author and the reader. The goal is to get people adding the book to their shelves and also reviewing the book. This is useful before the book comes out, so it can be used for pre-release opportunities. You can also reach people who would have never heard of you otherwise. Giveaways are only open to authors with a physical book because of the technology compatibility and potential customer service issues with ebook giveaways. Check out giveaways here.
- Combining editions is recommended for your book. There are likely to be many editions e.g. paperback vs audio vs ebook, even down to editions per ebook retailer. The reader may put reviews on various editions. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org to get your editions combined. This will combine the reviews which will benefit your book. You can also get author widgets to use reviews on your own site.
- Note: Goodreads is owned by Amazon now. It is an arms length relationship, but it's very likely Amazon are using the data!
- The difference between friends and fans on Goodreads. It's similar to twitter and facebook, in that you post content and that's shared to your friends. Everyone can have friends but it's not so scalable, people can also be fans of author pages. What I particularly love is the ability to compare your reading preferences with another friend in a Venn diagram. It's so cool to find people who like the same books as you.
- How authors should behave on Goodreads. Remember primarily that it is a site for readers. Beware of etiquette! Groups function a bit like a book-club and you should join some in your genre, but use them to talk about other books, not your own. Always read the rules for the groups as well. Once you're established, it is a great way to meet readers. You can also use Listopia, curated lists by the community around niches and topics. If you want to get lost for a while, join the everlasting book quiz – a must for book geeks!
Go check out the site at Goodreads.com!
You can find more info from presentations on the Goodreads slideshare account.