Jessica Keller @AuthorKeller here: Confession time. Goodreads used to terrify me. Especially as an author. I couldn’t figure out how to interact on it and felt overwhelmed the first time I signed in. Avid Goodreads users have told me that authors can really get themselves into trouble by using Goodreads incorrectly for promo—which made me shy away from it even more. But no longer. My friend, critique partner, and David C. Cook author, Amanda , taught me what to do with Goodreads and now I’m loving my time there. You can too!
What to Do With Goodreads
by Amanda G. Stevens @AmandaGStevens
Do you fear that you have nothing to add to the Endless Conversation of social media? If so, Goodreads might be a great place for you to start. Here, the topic has been predetermined for you. Unlike Tumblr and Facebook, Goodreads is not limited to an age demographic. Young and old gather here, united by a common love of books. What author doesn’t love to talk about books?
Below are some valuable ways to use your time on Goodreads, as well as some related caveats. (And each “don’t” below is based on behavior I have observed from authors, both traditionally and indie published. I wouldn’t make this up.)
1) Join a group. Several, if you can manage them, but like everything else in social media, ’tis better to invest deeply than to invest broadly. Find a group that reads the kind of fiction you write. Jump in and start talking about books. Other people’s books, not yours. You are not a salesperson here; you are a reader.
2) Many Goodreads groups have one thread where authors are invited to self-promote. By all means, post here! Share your passion for your book! Give readers the back cover blurb, a link to the book’s Goodreads page, and a few sentences about why this story burns so brightly in your heart.
3) Join a group/buddy read. (My Goodreads group does both of these.) Again, this is an opportunity for you to connect with readers of similar taste. Long-distance book club—what a fun way to spend social media time.
4) Increase your book’s visibility with Listopia. Search for applicable lists; specific is better. You’re more likely to stand out on “Amish Romance 2014” or “Christian Allegorical Fantasy” than on “Christian Fiction 2014.” (But by all means, go ahead and vote your book onto all three of those. I mean, if your book is an Amish allegorical fantasy.) Lists are only useful, however, if you’re not the only one voting for your book. One or two votes won’t get you high enough on the list to be worth it, but five or ten, believe it or not (depending on the list), can make a difference. Draft the most enthusiastic of your “tribe” for this task. Keep in mind that list voting shows up on your Goodreads profile permanently. Don’t vote your book onto “Books Every Person Should Read At Least Once” or “Deserves To Be A Movie.” (As I said, I’m not making this stuff up.)
5) Rate books! Review books! This is the fun stuff (if, like me, you enjoy writing reviews). Remind people you exist by updating your progress and posting a short comment as you read. Do not—please, do not—rate your own books. Even if you add a review to the effect of, “I know I’m biased, but I hope you all enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it” … even then, rating your own books comes across as unprofessional and/or self-absorbed. Just don’t.
6) Give away your book! Goodreads has a function for authors to do this; you can link to it in your other social media, choose how long to run the giveaway, and choose how many copies you want to offer. In addition, contact the moderator of any Goodreads group in which you’re active, and offer to give away copies there. My Goodreads group does monthly contests and pulls random winners from the participants.
7) The home page of Goodreads shows your friends’ latest updates. Be friends with strangers who read the genres you read and write. If they’re reading a book you enjoyed, comment on their progress. Ask if they like the book and why/why not.
In short, Goodreads is about utilizing your love of books to build common ground with people you’d never otherwise meet. It is not about self-promotion. Be visible, be professional, and be generous. You’ll find that book lovers are a great group of people on which to focus your time, and along the way you’re likely to enjoy yourself. After all, you’re a book lover, too, right?
As a child, Amanda G. Stevens disparaged Mary Poppins and Stuart Little because they could never happen. Now, she writes speculative fiction. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in English and has taught literature and composition to home-school students. She lives in Michigan and loves books, film, music, and white cheddar popcorn. Amanda’s first novel, Seek and Hide, will be available September 15, 2014 from David C Cook.