Monday, October 24, 2011

Lia Keyes: Making Full Use of Goodreads

With more than 3 million members, Goodreads is the largest social network for readers. If you’re an author, and you’re not controlling the content on your automatically generated Goodreads profile, you’re missing out on a major opportunity to reach readers who haven’t yet heard of you, and connect more deeply with those who have.

You may already have a website with a blog. You may be on Facebook and Twitter. You may be thinking you can’t possible deal with another social network/time-suck, but Goodreads should be a vital part of any truly efficient author marketing plan. Why? Because you want to reach as many readers as possible, right? Not all of them are on Twitter. Facebook is fabulous, but it’s not JUST about reading. Goodreads is where you’ll find the deepest concentration of confirmed book addicts looking for the next great read. They go there to catch the gossip, join groups focused on their favorite genres, vote for the best book covers, book titles and myriad other topics. You can get involved in the discussions there, find new friends and fans, and present your best front to readers who don’t visit your website or blog or Twitter or Facebook accounts because they don’t know you exist. Yet.

There are lots of social networks for readers (LibraryThing is another) but GoodReads is far and away the most versatile and interactive place to promote your book. Even before you’ve published you can make friends and build a following by being an active member of the community.

To build an online presence and wait for visitors is naive. Go where the readers are, create a GoodReads profile that drives traffic to your blog. Once they arrive at  your blog you’ll be able to lead them through a customized exploration of your online world, but you’ve got to get them there, first.

Setting up a GoodReads Profile is easy:


Register as an author (if you’re published):

To do this, search for one of your books. Then click on your name. This will take you to an author profile page. At the bottom of that page you’ll find a link that says “Is this you?” Click on that to request admission to the author program. After you’ve been approved you can upload an image of yourself, enter a short biography (make sure you get your website url in the first two sentences, as the rest gets cut off with a “read more” link once you’ve saved it).

Update your Goodreads blog section

From your current blog via RSS so you don’t have to manually add posts. This will save you a lot of time!

Add your book trailer

There’s a section on your newly created profile that says “Videos about Your Name.” Click the link that says “add new”, fill in the form, and upload the video.  It’s important to tag the video appropriately, as Goodreads automatically adds your video to various video lists according to the tags you choose. If in doubt, check the profile of an author working in your genre to see what tags they’ve used. Or browse the video lists to see which ones you’d like to appear on and use the tag that will take readers there. (Click “explore/videos” to see the lists).

Add Your Book to Lists

You can categorize your books into lists HERE. Either create a new list or search the existing lists and add your books there. Your book’s position on the list is dependent on votes, so bring friends and followers over to vote for it and watch it rise closer to the top of the list and gain more exposure.

Join Relevant Groups

Goodreads groups are a great way to make friends with readers interested in your genre or topic, but it’s not an opportunity to spam! Really make friends with others who share your interests and fascinations. Just like your other online presences, this is your chance to participate in a two-way conversation and form a personal connection.

List Your Book for a Give-Away

At the top right of your book’s page there’s a link that says “list this book for a give-away”. Avid readers are always short of money, so give-aways are popular and a great way to garner more exposure for your book.

Add dialog excerpts to the Quotes section

Is snappy dialog your forte? Showcase it by including an excerpt in the Favorite Quotes section of your profile. Cassandra Clare and Neil Gaiman are examples of how this can work to your advantage.

Create a “Q & A with (Your Name)” Group

I’ve seen this used really effectively, especially around book launch time, notably by Cassandra Clare. You can set a date for when you’ll be available to answer questions, perhaps a window of three days. Promote it heavily for a week or so before, inviting questions in advance. Then prepare to spend a busy three days answering them all. But with a pre-advertised end to your involvement, this is not something that will continue to eat up your time. Set a moderator to watch the group in your absence to alert you to any unpleasant or inaccurate chatter, and check in once a month to see what’s being said. This is a great market research opportunity for your next book! When you next want to conduct a limited time Q & A session you can edit the group description with the new dates. Find out more HERE.

Events, Quizzes, Trivia Questions, and More

Add your book signing engagements and author appearance events HERE. If you have a short story or excerpt you’d like to share as a teaser, you can add it to your author profile. You’ll want to add the right tags to it before saving. Once it’s tagged, readers will either find it on your profile, or search on the Stories and Writing page HERE. Visit the page and you’ll understand why tags are important. Create a quiz HERE or ask a Trivia Question HERE to get people interacting with each other and talking about your book.

Advertise Your Book

While most of the strategies I share here are free social media options, this is one time where spending some money might not be a bad idea. After all, this site is full of readers, right? Check out the rates and info HERE.

Link Everything Up!

At the top of your profile page you’ll see two tabs – Apps and Widgets. These two pages have everything you need to seamlessly link up your Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, iPhone, and blog. Without links, your Goodreads profile is only half as effective as it might otherwise be. I’ve added the Goodreads Facebook app to my Facebook Fan page, for instance, which creates a tab on my Facebook Fan page that shows FB users who ‘like’ me a mini-Goodreads profile page, right there on Facebook, effectively exploding the potential number of people who get to see it. You can also add your Twitter account so that you can automatically let Twitter followers know what you’re reading every time you update your book list. There’s quite a variety of widgets you can add to your blog’s sidebar or your website, too. I particularly like the “Favorite Quotes” one, but there are also widgets for showcasing the books you’ve read, your TBR pile, your favorites, or your own books.

Are You Convinced Yet?

You should be. As the largest social network for readers on the net, you need to be there. And if you set up a page and want to show it off, feel free to leave a link to your page in the comments here so we can friend you!

Lia Keyes is a British expat writer of speculative fiction for young adults, represented by Laura Rennert, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. 

Thank you so much Lia, for this MOST comprehensive explanation of all Goodreads  has to offer!


Wild About Words said...

Excellent post, Lia! I thought I was using Goodreads to my advantage, but now I've learned a lot of new ways to get involved with it. Thanks so much for sharing this information!

Anne E.G. Nydam said...

Thanks for these suggestions. One comment/question for others - have you found the give-aways helpful? I gave away two books and got one very thoughtful review, but the other book disappeared into thin air. With my very limited publicity budget I've been reluctant to give away more books without a better return of reviews than 50%. What experience have others had with this?
As for my Goodreads author page, here it is:
Anne E.G. Nydam
I'd love to exchange some befriendings with others on here!

Anne E.G. Nydam said...

(I meant to add that I clearly haven't done much with my Goodreads author page yet, so I appreciated the ideas in this post!)

tanita✿davis said...

I've been on Goodreads; it never occurred to set up an author page. This is sad! I admit to being a little leery, because in the past I've given a novel I read less than four stars, and received a note from the author wanting a detailed explanation as to why (full disclosure: it was a self-pubbed novel). While I'm sure they didn't mean to sound aggressive, I sort of fled, and merely use the site to list to myself books I *want* to read, or haven't yet read - no stars from me, thanks.

Soo. I'm not sure I *want* to do this - I mean, I don't read reviews, or I try not to, so I'm a little leery of putting myself out there. But, it's probably a good idea to at least try - especially since I couldn't hack FB or Twitter...

(Okay, reading back on to that, I sound very lame. I swear, I do like people! I do!)

Cari Galeziewski said...

I'm trying to embrace the concept of getting yourself out there BEFORE your book gets published. Thanks for yet another great idea to do just that!

Liz Michalski said...

Lia, this was very helpful -- thank you. I have a Goodreads page, but haven't done half the things you've suggested. I'm off to remedy that!

Natalie Aguirre said...

Wow! These are all great ideas I hadn't thought of. Thanks so much.

Lia Keyes said...

@Anne - Giveaways are mysterious things. The person who receives it may not review the giveaway, but they're likely to pass it on to someone else who might. So see it as a way to get the book circulating. You'll have no way of knowing who reviews it down the line, but it's still a good idea to get your book out there.

@Tanita - I'm a firm believer in choosing which social media sites you're most comfortable with and doing a good job with a limited number rather than spreading yourself too thin. That said, Facebook and Twitter are high-trafficked sites that one can't really afford to ignore in helping your publisher to market your book.

I tend not to give reviews on Goodreads myself, as I don't want to burn bridges with other authors or publishers. I'm too invested in the industry to do that. But I do want to reach out to readers, and Goodreads is a site for readers.

Negative reviews are a very real fact of life for authors. Not everyone will love your book, even if it's a huge bestseller, and people seem to have very little self-control about stating their opinions bluntly online. But when you investigate their background, you'll often find their opinion isn't that well-qualified, or they have a personal axe to grind. These are not people to worry about or waste time over. Move on.

It is better to get your book noticed and talked about, even negatively, than have it disappear into the aether. A little controversy and discussion can actually help a book. People will read it to see if they agree or not!

Ruth said...

Excellent post. I haven't got an author page (agented, not published yet) but I'm on there as a reader:

Bookmarking this to use GoodReads effectively when the time comes!

Jennifer R. Hubbard said...

Anne: The advantage to a giveaway is not so much that one person wins the book and reviews it, although that's one purpose. The bigger advantage is that the book, with its cover and synopsis, is featured on the Goodreads giveaway site for the duration of the giveaway. Hundreds of people see the cover and synopsis, add it to their "to-read" shelves, and maybe order it if they're not the ones to win. I get far more entries in Goodreads giveaways than I do when I give away a book anywhere else.

Lia: Thanks for this post! I agree--I have a Goodreads author page, and I don't review or rate other people's books, but I do have one shelf of "recommended" books, and my blog feeds to my page.

Kenda Turner said...

Thanks so much for this post--you've helped me navigate the process and understand the importance of Goodreads. Appreciate the info'...

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

wow, this is a great post, Lia. I've joined Good Reads but I haven't made full use of it because I get so busy with other things. But now you've motivated me to get more involved. Thanks.

Lia Keyes said...

@Ruth - Congratulations on clearing the first hurdle by finding an agent. All the best to you in your search for a publishing home!

@Jennifer - Having a shelf of "recommended" books is a terrific way to share safely! I love to see what my favorite authors are reading, and especially what they recommend.

@Kenda - So glad you found it helpful! Take your time, get familiar with it. There's no rush. It'll still be there when you're ready. :)

@Elizabeth - It's a fun site to poke around, there's no denying. I like to read the group discussions and see what people get fired up about. The lists are fascinating, too - particularly the ones for favorite cover art!

Jessica Snell said...

Like everyone else, I think, I'm bookmarking this post for later use but - OH MY GOODNESS - thank you so much for introducing me to goodreads! What a site! It's like Ravelry, but for BOOKS.

Thank you so much, I think I just found a new addiction. ;)

Susanna Leonard Hill said...

What a terrific and really helpful post! Thank you so much! I've been on GoodReads for a while, and I've done some of the things you mention, but I have definitely not taken full advantage, so now I have a whole bunch of new things to look into and try.

One question: do you know of a way to do giveaways of books that aren't just published? I've done a couple, but they had to be done within a year of publication. I'd like to do a couple of my older books, but I can't see how. Any advice, or is it not possible?

Lia Keyes said...

@Susanna - You have me stumped! I suspect that they like to keep things to the most current, talked-about books, but there's nothing wrong with using your Goodreads clout to drive traffic to your blog for your own giveaway. If you link your blog posts to your Goodreads account your readers there will here about it even if it's not Goodreads' policy. They can't inhibit your own blog's content. ;)

Susanna Leonard Hill said...

That's a good idea, Lia. Thanks!

Kimberley Griffiths Little said...

Lia! You are SO smart! LOVE these tips! I've used the Event accessory and the blog accessory and the video accessory, but I don't write my reviews on a regular basis (writing reviews is HARD!) or add enough friends, or do enough convos. Thank you for the shot in the arm! I need to get with the game plan now that I have a YA trilogy with Harper coming out in 2013. Promoting YA instead of MG is gonna be a whole new beast! :-)

laurasalas said...

Thanks, Lia! I have an author profile that I just set up a few weeks ago. I had done a couple of your suggested tasks, but I am going to go through your list to do them all now! (GoodReads is down this morning--maybe too many people followed your advice and overloaded the system:>)

One GoodReads question: Is there any way to use it to privately rate and review books, just for my own use? I thought I was doing that but then discovered, to my horror, that all my info was public. As far as I can tell, there is no way to make your ratings and reviews private. Is that true?


Rhea Rhodan said...

Very helpful post and just the nudge I needed. Thanks!

Richard Hacker said...

Great post. I'll definitely steer others to your blog.

Unknown said...

This is a great article! While I've never considered myself an introvert, I've been leery of embracing yet another social promotion site - even one as profound to writing as Goodreads.

Your article made it concise and much clearer in a step-by-step fashion how to effectively utilize this tool. I am far more comfortable navigating and using Goodreads to promote my work now.

Thank you!

Suzi M said...

Excellent article, thank you so much! I do have a Goodreads author page, and have played around with the promo videos, but I had no idea about lists and groups! Looking forward to reading more from your blog and seeing what else I've missed! :)

January Bain said...

Excellent help for authors. Thanks so much. Just used the idea of linking with RSS feeds to save time to posting blogs from mine to Goodreads! best, January

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