How Writers Can Get Started on Goodreads

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How Writers Can Get Started on Goodreads

Goodreads has become the most important networking site on the Internet  . . . Forbes

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

The primary reason the founders of Goodreads started this website 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. Here, you can share a number of items, including:

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

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’re doomed.

How to Get Started on Goodreads

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 your name, email address, and a password. That’s the best way to sign up.

Goodreads periodically adjusts the steps you’ll need to take to sign up. Some of the initial questions about books you prefer to read are to determine which reading suggestions Goodreads should send you through its Goodreads Deals program. Just bear with the surveys. You’re getting closer to being a full-fledged Goodreads member.

It’s Time to Add Books to Your Bookshelves

Before initiating your author profile, you’ll first need to indicate that you are indeed a reader.

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

Let’s say that you want to read The Nightingale.After typing the book title, click the green bar that says Want to Read.


Notice all the information that appears. You find out that it was a 2015 Goodreads Choice Winner in 2015, can buy it directly from Amazon (which owns Goodreads), and you can see which books readers of The Nightingalealso enjoyed reading.

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

Want to read - Goodreads


Repeat this process until you’ve created several bookshelves.

Once you’ve finished reading a book you previously identified as Want to Read, 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.Choose shelves Goodreads

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

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

When you click General Update, for example, the following pop-up appears for you to write a post that will appear from you in your friends’ newsfeeds.

Share your book thoughts


Further down on the left column, you’ll see a listing of all of your bookshelves. And above the list of your shelves will be a pictorial view of the covers of the books you previously listed as Want to Read. You can change the status of those books.

Above the list of Want to Read books, you have an opportunity enter the 2017 Reading Challenge. Just select the number of books you plan to read and click Start Challenge.


A Review of Goodreads’ Tabs

Goodreads Taskbar

The Home tab is your news feed, where you’ll find your friends’ updates and have opportunities to update your books or enter the reading challenge.

The MyBooks tab lists the books you’ve read or are reading.

When you click Recommendations on the left, you’ll find books that the Goodreads algorithm thinks you’ll enjoy based on your reading history. To improve recommendations for you, follow these steps:


  1. Read and rate books throughout the year. If you subscribe to Netflix, you know that the website encourages its users to rate as many movies as possible to improve its recommendations for you. The same is true on Goodreads.
  2. Create customized bookshelves. For example, instead of having two bookshelves for fiction and nonfiction books, create genre-related bookshelves for literary fiction, historical fiction, young adult, memoir, history, etc.
  3. When Goodreads recommends books for you, follow the Netflix custom of indicating that you’re not interested in some of Goodreads’ recommendations.

Once you click Add Amazon Book Purchases, all of the books you buy through Amazon will appear on Goodreads.

Widgets have HTML coding. You can add these widgets to your website to share your reading lists with your website visitors.

Import/Export refers to reading lists you can import from your computer.

Have you entered the same book more than once? The Find Duplicates link will show these books to you so you can delete the duplicate listings.

The Shelf Cloud provides an interesting graph. Here you’ll visually see which genres you prefer. Here’s an example of my graph:

ShelfCloud Goodreads


Which authors do you read the most? You’ll find out by clicking Most Read Authors.

If you want to see a graph of the number of books you’ve read by year since joining Goodreads, click Stats.

The API tab leads to a special page for developers wanting to access Goodreads data.

How to Set Up Your Author Dashboard

Are you enjoying Goodreads so far? I hope so.

Now that you have a Goodreads profile, you can set upan 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 in the right column.

Search Bar on Goodreads


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.

You need to establish yourself as a Goodreads user before setting up your author dashboard. Once your dashboard is established, be sure to use all the features Goodreads offers to position yourself as best you can.

Goodreads is a dense website. Just take your time with it, dedicating yourself to learn a bit more about this channel every week. And remember, your best marketing tactic on Goodreads is to demonstrate that you’re an avid reader who loves books!

You read the post, now buy the book, The Author’s Guide to Goodreads.

Informative and easy to follow. A great guide for authors who are looking to expand their marketing through Goodreads. – Clare

The Authors Guide to Goodreads

Frances CaballoAuthor of this blogFrances Caballo is an author and social media strategist and manager for writers. She’s a regular speaker at the San Francisco Writers Conference and a contributing writer at Frances wrote several social media books including Social Media Just for Writers and The Author’s Guide to Goodreads. Her focus is on helping authors surmount the barriers that keep them from flourishing online, building their platform, and finding new readers. Her clients have included authors of every genre and writers’ conferences. Not sure how you’re doing online? Sign up for her free email course.

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