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Stories To Tell is a full service book publishing company for independent authors. We provide editing, design, publishing, and marketing of fiction and non-fiction. We specialize in sophisticated, unique illustrated book design.

Stories To Tell Books BLOG

Building Your Author Platform on Goodreads

Sarah Hoggatt

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a social media website just for book lovers? Wouldn’t it be awesome to have a place where people can recommend your book to their friends and you can post the books you’re reading in order to better connect with your readers? This describes a website called “Goodreads” and I highly recommend you join if you’re an author. Not only can you post your own books, but there are discussion groups, virtual bookshelves you can populate, a note on what you’re reading, and as an author, you can hold contests as well.

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Goodreads is easy to sign up for. Just go to their main page and create an account. It will ask you if you want to import your friends from places like Facebook or your e-mail address list. You can then search for books you’ve read to add to your bookshelf, mark which books you want to read, and check to see if your local library has them. Adding these books will help people get to know you better and adds a personal touch to your page. The more books you add, the easier it will be for Goodreads to recommend new books to you. (And as a book lover and writer, what’s not to love about that?)  You can also rate a book and write a review other people will be able to read when they go to that book’s page.

Once you get your personal profile set up, you can then apply to be a Goodreads author. As an author, you can add your blog feed, claim your books as your own so they should show up on your page, include videos, and add quotes. To do so, search for your books and click on your author name. This will take you to the “author profile”. Near the bottom of the page, you can click on the “Is this you?” button to apply to be a part of the author program. In a few days, you’ll receive an e-mail from the Goodreads staff notifying you your personal profile has now been combined with your author page. If your book is not listed, you can add it yourself by going here.

Above is an example of the new book page with information filled in.

What I particularly love about Goodreads is the centrality of information about myself as an author. On one page, people can find all my books, quotes, videos, and what other people have said about my books.

If there is information missing or no cover on a book, you can’t add it yourself unless it’s a new book you’ve just added. To do that, you need to ask one of the Goodreads Librarians to do it for you. These folks are registered with Goodreads and have greater access to update information than the regular user.

You can also add a Goodreads sidebar to your regular website thereby connecting the two.

While a fantastic resource and an easy way for book lovers to find out about your books, simply having an author page is not enough, you need to keep it updated and interactive. Here are 5 ways to attract readers:

  • Update your page at least once a week. Whether you update what book you’re currently reading, write a review for someone else’s book, post an author event, or write a blog post, make sure there is something new on your page at least once a week. To make this even easier, load the Goodreads app on your phone so you can do it while you’re waiting in a line or for your coffee to brew.
  • Create a giveaway for your book. Like a lottery, people can enter giveaways for free books. Simply post how many copies you’re giving away and then people enter for a chance to win. At the end of the giveaway, Goodreads randomly selects the winners and sends you their shipping addresses. It’s a great way to publicize your book since whenever someone enters a giveaway, they are given the options to add the book to their “to read shelf”, follow the author, are encouraged to write a review if they win, and the fact they entered shows up on the person’s newsfeed so all their friends see your book as well. Each giveaway attracts hundreds if not over a thousand people. For such a low cost, hosting a giveaway on Goodreads can have huge rewards. One thing to note, though, is Giveaways can only be for a printed book, never an ebook. To run a giveaway, simply go to your book’s page and click on the button “List a giveaway” under “Author Tools” in the top right corner and fill out the information requested.
  • Post an excerpt. To give your readers a taste of your book and induce them to buy it, you can post an excerpt on your book’s page. The file needs to be a PDF and no bigger than 50MB. When you upload it, you have a choice between letting people preview the pages in their browser only or also letting them download the file. ­­People will be far more likely to buy your book if they already like your excerpt.
  • Join groups. Goodreads has “groups” about countless topics for both readers and authors. The discussions can be engaging and infinitely useful as you learn about your readers. It’s also a great way to create some name recognition and to take part in the Goodreads community. Don’t go into it immediately promoting your book, though. That will put people off. Just contribute to the discussion for a while. When selecting which groups to join, make sure it has more than just few members and is an active community. Many groups are started and then abandoned. Find the ones with ongoing conversation. Here is the homepage for groups and here is the page for authors.
  • Add a call to action. When you advertise on a website, in addition to a sales link, you can also include a call to actions such as adding your book to their shelf, reading an excerpt on Goodreads, or entering to win a free book. By creating these links, you’re promoting your page and the more people checking out your book and linking to it, the more other people will see it as well.

Goodreads is like any other tool. You will only get out of it how much effort you put in. A strong community of readers, they are a ready audience for a well-written book so it’s a fantastic place for readers and writers to come together. Give it a try, you may come to really like it as a reader yourself as well as being a place to promote your books.