Go Where Your Readers Are – Goodreads!

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Go Where Your Readers Are - Goodreads! by Frances Caballo
Today’s post is the first in a two-part series I am publishing on Goodreads.

“Goodreads has become the most important networking site on the Internet …” Forbes

“There is one book-focused start-up that has arguably had the largest effect on changing how people discover new books. Goodreads.” Digital Book World

Perhaps you’re wondering, “Is Goodreads really a social media network?”

The primary reason for starting Goodreads was to create an online venue where friends could chat about and recommend books, the same way they might if they were dining together or meeting at a café.

Its secondary goal was to serve as a social media network. Users even can link their accounts to Facebook and Twitter to further spread the word about books they liked and reviewed.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Goodreads is first a readers haven, then a social media network via @CaballoFrances” quote=”Goodreads is first a readers haven, then a social media network via @CaballoFrances”]

On Goodreads, you can share a number of items, including:

  • Your reviews
  • Information about books you’ve recently read and those on your to-read list through virtual bookshelves
  • Blog posts
  • Favorite quotes

If you don’t already belong to a book group in the city where you live, you can find one here, and it won’t require you to leave your home or provide refreshments. Similar to a regular book group, you can share your insights, thoughts, and love of reading right from your home office or kitchen table.

You see, at its core Goodreads is all about the reader, not about using this platform to hawk your books. If you intend to start a Goodreads account for the purpose of merely acquiring readers and selling more books, you won’t succeed. And you might even be mocked.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Goodreads is about the readers, not the authors via @CaballoFrances” quote=”Goodreads is about the readers, not the authors via @CaballoFrances”]

For example, if you try to rack up a high number of fans, like some writers do on various social networks, you might encounter a few unkind remarks. More than one reader warns writers looking for fans, “If you’re a self-published author wanting me to read your book, don’t bother.”

It’s a harsh comment, I know. While you’ll occasionally find similar comments on this website, that shouldn’t deter you from joining.

The Online Readers Haven

Goodreads launched in January 2007 by Otis Chandler (Founder, CEO, and the software engineer who developed it) and his wife, co-founder, and editor-in-chief Elizabeth Chandler. The idea of developing the site came as an epiphany to the founder one evening. (Source, Goodreads blog)

One afternoon while I was scanning a friend’s bookshelf for ideas, it struck me: when I want to know what books to read, I’d rather turn to a friend than any random person or bestseller list.

So I decided to build a website – a place where I could see my friends’ bookshelves and learn about what they thought of all their books.

And so Goodreads began.

On Goodreads, you can see what your friends are reading, and they can find out what you are reading, want to read, and have read. You can create virtual bookshelves to organize your books (not the books you’ve written). You can read and comment on another reader’s reviews, and explore new genres and discover new authors.

Goodreads even has an algorithm, not unlike the one Netflix and Amazon uses. The algorithm examines prior ratings and books you read to sort through and find new books you might consider next. It’s the perfect idea for avid readers.

To succeed – however you’d like to define success – you must first be an avid, active reader. Don’t worry about generating book sales through Goodreads. Write the best book you can and readers, here and elsewhere, will find you.

Goodreads User Statistics

As of January 2016, Goodreads had 40 million members, 1.3 billion books, and 47 million reviews.

In terms of demographics, Goodreads reports these numbers for 2014:

  • Women read twice as many books as men.
  • Men were twice as likely to write a 500+ page book.
  • 80% of a female author’s audience will be women.
  • 50% of a male author’s audience will be women.
  • Women seem express a slight preference – according to their ratings – books written by women.

You’ll find additional information here.

In 2013, Amazon purchased Goodreads. With Amazon taking over Goodreads, mainstream authors joined, including Stephen King and Khaled Hosseini.

Quantcast provides these statistics for the 30 days occurring between 11/30/15 and 12/29/15. Consider these numbers for just that month:

Quantcast provides more recent statistics for the 30 days occurring between 11/30/15 and 12/29/15. Consider these numbers:

  • Goodreads had 41.4 million global unique website visits; of those, slightly more came from outside of the United States. (The unique website visit number doesn’t include multiple visits from any one user.)
  • The gender demographic trended in favor of women.
  • The 18 – 24 demographic was the largest although there were sizeable numbers in the 25 – 44 age group.
  • Many of its users attended college and, even more, attended graduate school.

Frances Caballo - Goodreads for Authors


If you’re wondering which books fare well on this site, in the Goodreads’ Choice Awards in 2015, the winners ranged from Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman (fiction category) to Girl on the Train (mystery and thriller) to The Nightingale (historical fiction). The debut Goodreads author that year was Vitoria Aveyard, author of Red Queen, a young adult novel that made the New York Times best-seller list. An estimated 1.9 million Goodreads users voted for the Choice Awards winners.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Goodreads has 40 million members, 1.3 billion books, and 47 million reviews” quote=”Goodreads has 40 million members, 1.3 billion books, and 47 million reviews”]

Final Word

Readers arrive at the virtual steps of Goodreads eager to share their critiques, participate in a group or two, and find their next great read. They read voraciously, love books as much as Hermione, and consume books of every genre. Enter the world of Goodreads knowing that if you can’t match their passion for reading, your time might be better spent on Twitter or writing your next book.

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Sell More Books with These Tips by Frances CaballoAbout the Author: Frances Caballo is an author, podcaster and social media strategist and manager for writers. She’s a regular speaker at the San Francisco Writers Conference and a contributing writer at TheBookDesigner.com. She’s written several books including Social Media Just for Writers, Avoid Social Media Time Suck, and Twitter Just for Writers, which is available for free here on her website. Her focus is on helping authors surmount the barriers that keep them from flourishing online, building their platform, finding new readers, and selling more books. Her clients include authors of every genre and writer conferences. Not sure how you’re doing online? Ask Frances to prepare a social media audit for you.


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