How to Set Up Your Goodreads Author Dashboard

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This post is the second in a two-part series on Goodreads for Authors. The first post was Go Where Your Readers are – Goodreads!

How to Set Up Your Goodreads Author Dashboard by Frances Caballo

Set Up Your Author Dashboard

You are about to enter a world of avid book readers. Share your love for the written word by following the steps below.

Open An Account

If you are new to Goodreads, get started by navigating to You can sign up either by signing in with your Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Amazon accounts. Or, you can enter you name, email address and a password.

How to set up a Goodreads author profile by Frances Caballo

Find Friends

Next, look for your friends. Click on the two-person icon to the left of your image on the top taskbar. Then click one of the icons in the Find Friends From widget or type in the name of a colleague or friend and search for them one-by-one.

Find friends on Goodreads by Frances Caballo

Goodreads gives users the opportunity to add a challenge question to their profile. If you select this option, then prospective friends will need to know the correct answer to your question. I recommend that you don’t take this step because you will limit the number of friends you’ll have and potential readers of your books.

Goodreads also provides users with an option to exclude posts from your update feed. Here are the directions, quoted directly from Goodreads:

An easy way to exclude certain people from your feeds is to make a “top friends” list. This way, you can put all the people whose updates you would like to see in one place, separate from the people whose updates don’t interest you. Then you can edit your feed only to display the updates from your “top friends”.

To do this:

  • Click on the “Friends” icon in the header (it’s the closest one to your profile pic).
  • Click “edit friends” on the top of the page.
  • Select the checkboxes of the people whose updates you would like to see as “top friends.”
  • Go back to the home page.
  • Directly underneath the “updates” tab, there is an option that says, “showing: friend and people I’m following”. Click the arrow to the right to display the list of settings.
  • Select the radio button for “top friends” underneath the “From People” column on the right.
  • Click the “apply filters” button.

I think this option would limit your ability to find deeper connections with people you don’t immediately know but with whom you might unexpectedly find shared interests in books.

Add Books to Your Bookshelves

In the search bar, type the names of the books you want to read, have read or are reading. If you can’t find the book by its title, use the ISBN or author’s name.

In this example, The Nightingale is a book I want to read so I’ll click the green bar that says Want to Read.

How to set up your Goodreads author dashboard by Frances Caballo

When you click on the arrow, you can see several options. You can separate your books by category, create a new shelf, and note a reading status such as Want to Read, Currently Reading, or Read.

How to Set Up Your Goodreads Author Dashboard by Frances Caballo

Repeat this process until you’ve created several bookshelves.

Once you’ve finished reading a book, simply click My Books in the top taskbar, navigate to the book you just finished and click edit. You’ll now be able to add the book to your shelf of books you’ve read.

How to Set Up Your Goodreads Author Dashboard by Frances Caballo

How can you update the status of a book you’ve been reading? Follow these steps:

  1. Navigate to Home, which serves as a newsfeed. Here you’ll see what all of your friends are reading or have read, and find links to their reviews.
  2. Look at the right column and you’ll see a widget noting the book you’re currently reading. In this widget, you can update your reading status, add a new book you want to read or have read, or add a general update for your friends.

How to Set Up Your Goodreads Author Dashboard by Frances Caballo

Set Up Your Author Dashboard

Are you enjoying Goodreads so far? I hope so.

Now that you have a Goodreads profile, you can set up an author account. Your first step will be to search for your books. Follow the steps below.

How to Find and List Your Books

Go to the search bar and use your book’s ISBN. If you don’t have an ISBN, use your book title. Goodreads may not recognize the title if you haven’t yet uploaded your book to Amazon. In that case, click Manually Add a Book. You’ll find the link in green lettering on the right column.

How to Set Up Your Goodreads Author Dashboard by Frances Caballo

Once you click Manually Add a Book, you’ll arrive at a blank form. Here you’ll need to add the title, author name, ISBN, ISBN 13 or ASIN, your book cover, and other details including your back cover description.

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. Add as much content as possible including videos.

Book Preview Feature

Would you like a preview of your book to appear on Goodreads? The previews, which are powered by the Kindle Cloud Reader, are possible now that Amazon owns Goodreads. Therefore, if your book isn’t on Amazon, a preview won’t appear for your book.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Learn to add a preview of your book on Goodreads via @CaballoFrances” quote=”Learn to add a preview of your book on Goodreads via @CaballoFrances”]

For an excerpt of your book to appear, follow these directions, which are from Goodreads:

  1. Navigate to your author dashboard by clicking on your image in the top taskbar. The link is
  2. Underneath the book in question, click “add preview”.
  3. Use the “Choose File” button to upload your ebook excerpt in PDF format. Your file should ONLY contain the excerpt of the book. If you add a PDF that contains your entire book, the entire book will be available on the site.
  4. Choose which permissions you’d like to allow using the radio buttons (either “Members can only read this preview in their browsers” or “Members can read this preview in their browsers and download it”).
  5. Click “Upload File.”

Note: I didn’t follow the steps mentioned above and yet a preview of my book was available on Goodreads. Before trying to add a preview, search for your book. If the word Preview appears beneath your book cover, you won’t need to take any further actions. This feature appears to be another benefit to listing your book on Amazon.

How to Set Up Your Goodreads Author Dashboard by Frances Caballo


Contests are easy to create and run on Goodreads because Goodreads is a partner in the endeavor. Follow these steps:

  1. Navigate to the arrow next to Explore, click it and select Giveaways. On the right column, you’ll find a green link that says List a Giveaway.
  1. You will then arrive at a page asking for details about your book giveaway, such as the start and finish date for your promotion, ISBN or Book ID, the number of copies you’ll give away, genre, contact information, and a few more details.
  1. Agree to the Goodreads’ terms and click Save. Goodreads should review and approve your giveaway in about two days.
  1. At this time, Goodreads doesn’t allow eBook giveaways. Therefore, you’ll need to send hard copies to the winners. If you live in the U.S., you probably won’t want to mail the books abroad so be sure to designate which countries are eligible for the giveaway. If you can, include Canada in your promotion.
  1. Goodreads will notify you of the winners and provide their names and addresses. You can add a bookmark with the book and a note that says you hope the winners enjoy reading your book. However, you can’t ask them to take any actions, such as writing a review on Amazon or joining your email list. Goodreads strictly prohibits marketing to the giveaway winners.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Planning a giveaway? Don’t forget to include Canada if you live in the US @CaballoFrances” quote=”Planning a giveaway? Don’t forget to include Canada if you live in the US @CaballoFrances”]

Giveaway Best Practices

Follow these suggestions for a successful giveaway.

  1. You can give your book away at any time. However, Goodreads recommends that you offer it for free before your book’s publication. Scheduling a[clickToTweet tweet=”Be sure to schedule pre-publication giveaway on Goodreads via @CaballoFrances” quote=”Be sure to schedule pre-publication giveaway on Goodreads via @CaballoFrances”] can help to increase awareness and generate early reviews.
  2. Give away as many books as you can afford to, taking into account the postage costs. According to Goodreads, “The average 20-copy giveaway in the U.S. attracts 940 entries.”
  3. Goodreads recommends that you run the contest for one month.
  4. Use your social media and email list to promote your giveaway. You can also purchase a self-serve ad on Goodreads to aid the promotion.
  5. Get in the practice of periodically hosting giveaways to raise awareness of your published work. Allocate as little as five books at a time and when you can, increase the number of free books to 20 or more.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Goodreads giveaways: Give as many books as you can via @CaballoFrances” quote=”Goodreads giveaways: Give as many books as you can via @CaballoFrances”]

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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 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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