How Authors Can Reach 20 Million Readers on Goodreads

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Goodreads iconI often find myself talking with other writers about Goodreads. Most published authors know that they need to be on it yet at its core, Goodreads is all about the reader, not about hawking our books.

And I say Hooray!

Because where would writer be without readers?

Goodreads members tend to read voraciously, blog about books, recommend books, and form book clubs and online book groups. Readers consume books of every genre in both hard copy and e-copy formats.

They arrive on the virtual steps of Goodreads eager to share their critiques and find their next great read.

However, writers rush in with one thought: sell more books! Consequently, we have incongruous goals.

But as writers we can still use this platform to market our books by engaging with reader, which is exactly what we need to do on all social media channels.

There have been times when Goodreads was a tad confusing to me so I tuned in to the Nonfiction Authors Association teleseminar recently featuring Patrick Brown, Director of Author Marketing and Community Manager at Goodreads. It was a rich discussion and what I share here are some of the highlights.

books 4 smReach 20 Million Readers on Goodreads

Goodreads now has 20 million users with 624 million books listed on their bookshelves. This may not compare to Twitter’s has 554,750,000  Tweeps or Facebook’s 1 billion users but it’s still a huge gathering of bibliophiles. All members can create custom shelves and organize their very own online library.

The founders of Goodreads started this platform with this principle in mind: to be an online venue where friends could chat about and recommend books, the same they might if they were meeting at a café.

Its secondary purpose is to be a social network where members can help each other find new books. Users can also connect Goodreads to their Facebook and Twitter accounts to spread the word about the books they read.

If you’ve ever wondered how Goodreads decides which books to recommend to you, the website uses an algorithm similar to the one Netflix uses. It examines prior ratings and books read to sort through and find new books you might like to read next.

How Authors Can Get Started on Goodreads

If you are new to Goodreads, follow these steps:

  1. Create an account for free and join more than 85,000 authors are already on it.
  2. Your book has to have a presence on Goodreads before you can open an author account. Manually add your book by navigating to the My Books tab and clicking on add books (it appears in green font) and finally clicking on Manually add a book. If you were traditionally published, Goodreads should already have the data. Note: You don’t need to have ISBN of book to manually add a book.
  3. Claim your author profile and add a photo of yourself as well as a bio and website URL. It’s also a good idea to sync your blog or your RSS feed from WordPress or Tumblr.
  4. Add as much content as possible including videos.

This isn’t a marketing venue so adhere to the culture of reading books, recommending books, and writing reviews.

GoodReads as Part of Your Social Media Strategy

Goodreads icon 2By adding a widget to your website, you can easily connect your blog to Goodreads and generate more reviews. Here is a sampling of the widgets available:

  • A Goodreads follow icon.
  • An icon that says “add my book to your shelf.”  
  • Icons that show your reviews or favorite quotes.

You can also sync your Twitter and Facebook accounts. Goodreads won’t pull in your tweets but it will send to Twitter your recent book recommendations.

To add Goodreads updates to your Facebook Timeline, click on edit profile and then navigate to the apps tab. Then decide on which features you’d like to add to your Timeline.

Goodreads sync Facebook

On the same apps tab, you can decide which events you’d like to announce on Twitter.

Goodreads sync Twitter

How Nonfiction Authors Can Benefit from Goodreads

If you write nonfiction, you may be wondering how Goodreads can benefit you. There are a number of ways.

  • Add you books to Listopia. It is one method that people who go to Goodreads use to search for nonfiction titles by topic, subject or keyword.
  • Groups: You can start a history group, a travel group or a hiking group. For example, Holly Tucker started a group around her book Blood Work:  A Tale of Medicine & Murder in the Scientific Revolution. At the time, she was a new author and didn’t have many ratings. Therefore, she created a group that still exists today.

Brown said that popular nonfiction writers have quite a following. For example, The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg started as a self-published title then became so popular the author found a publisher and was featured in the New York Times.

Recommended Best Practices

Here are some best practices that Brown suggested.

  • Always start early. Start your author profile as soon as your book is published.
  • Promote your books as far as advance as possible, and at least six to eight months before they are published.
  • Enter your books in giveaways, which should be at least one month in duration. Start publicizing your giveaway three months in advance.
  • Read and recommend books.

Have you joined Goodreads?

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  1. Great article, with lots of info, thank you!

  2. Jason, You are absolutely right! That’s a horrible typo on my part. I just double-checked and Twitter now has 554,750,000 users. Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I’ll correct my post. Thank you for adding a comment and I hope to see you back soon!

  3. Great advice! I’ve been wondering about this for awhile. Looks like a great blog as well. Thanks!

  4. So glad you enjoyed our teleseminar, Frances! Joel gave our listeners a lot of great advice on how to use Goodreads. I also made the recording of that event free to download from our member “Join” page here:

  5. Andrew Claymore says

    Great post, Frances. The comment about Goodreads not being a marketing venue is very important for authors that might be new to the site. There are a lot of readers over there who’ve grown very tired of the near continual book spam. Newcomers showing up with their digital book under their ‘arm’ need to keep that in mind or they could be sticking their heads in the hornet’s nest.

    It can also be a great place to meet other authors and engage in collaborative projects. I’ve met some great folks at the site who were recruiting writers for anthologies.

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