There are loads of social media resources to help budding self-publishers become part of the conversation, but none so effective as Goodreads. Which is why we asked Michelle Booth, author of Goodreads for Authors, to tell us how authors can use Goodreads to their full advantages, promoting themselves, their books, and becoming part of an author and reader community.
How much time do you fritter away on social media? If we were all brutally honest, we’d have to admit to some pretty unproductive Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest time. We usually do it when we could be improving our websites, building our email lists, and all the other marketing stuff that authors tend to avoid.
But there’s a trick that can automate a good deal of your social media, help you reach out to potential fans, engage existing fans, and—unbelievably—keep your website fresh and current in Google’s eyes.
It’s Goodreads: an incredible, powerful tool that you can use as a savvy author. Goodreads is a site for book lovers—over 20 million of them, to be specific. It’s a giant database where members put books on virtual shelves, chat about books and authors, and enter competitions.
At its most basic level, it’s a great place for authors to be, simply because millions of readers hang out there. Go a little deeper and you’ll find special features designed for authors, which you can implement quickly.
Get started by signing up for an account at Goodreads. Spend a minimum of half an hour exploring the site. Add some books to your virtual shelves. Trying to remember what you’ve read? You can link your Amazon account to import your purchased book history.
If you let Goodreads connect with your email or Facebook, you’ll find friends of yours who already have accounts, and you’ll be able to connect with them. It’s a good idea to make friends on the site, since over time this will expand your reach. Accept friend requests, and be sure to send out your own. And be sure to befriend regular readers, not just other authors.
You then need to ‘claim’ one of your books in order to convert your account into an author account. It isn’t difficult. Search for one of your books and then click the button to claim it. Goodreads will get back to you in a day or so to tell you that you have a brand new author profile, which you can sprint over to and start populating. Add a great photo of yourself, any videos that you may have, and any other information you can to fill out your profile.
Then you can start to get clever, use their features, and save yourself a ton of time.
- Start a free blog on your Goodreads author profile, or import your existing blog using its RSS feed—whenever you update your blog, your Goodreads account will be updated at the same time.
- Grab a Goodreads widget to put on your website. This will update your website when you do something on Goodreads. Goodreads is respected by Google so this will help your SEO and social authority (i.e. Google will believe that you are actually an author!).
- Sync your Goodreads and Facebook and/or Twitter accounts.This saves you lots of social media time because things you do on Goodreads will populate your Facebook/Twitter accounts. You can also add the Goodreads app to your Facebook page, so Facebook followers/friends can see your books and activity on Goodreads.
When you have those three things in place, you will save yourself a lot of time on social media. The widget on your website will update every time you do something on Goodreads, keeping it fresh and vibrant in Google’s eyes.
Now you can move on to some book promoting activities on Goodreads:
- Schedule a Goodreads giveaway. These are mini competitions that readers enter to win print books. The idea is that authors and publishers offer one or more print books as the prizes in individual giveaways—both to raise awareness of the book and to increase the chances of getting reviews. The average giveaway attracts 725 entries. That’s 725 people who have now seen your book cover and who may have never come across it on Amazon. Many of them will add your book to their ‘To Read’ shelf (knowing that the Goodreads algorithm that chooses the giveaway winners favors those who have added books in your book’s genre to their shelves). When users add books to their shelves, that activity appears on their wall—being available for all their Goodreads friends to see (and possibly their Facebook friends as well, if they have linked their accounts). More eyes on your book cover mean more potential buyers.
- Start getting people onto your email list, perhaps with a blog post inviting people to sign up for your regular updates. If you don’t have an email list, start one. It’s the easiest way to increase book sales at the moment. The best technique is to offer something free as an incentive, maybe a video interview with you, audio of you talking about your inspiration and characters, or a PDF of tips and advice. Don’t let not knowing what to offer stop you starting a list, though. You can simply ask people to sign up to be beta readers for your next book.
- Add your book(s) to lists in Goodreads’ Listopia section. This makes your book look popular and links it with other popular books. So if you have written a dystopian thriller, you can have it sitting alongside The Hunger Games and other top-selling dystopian books. You can add it to lists that other people have created, as well as to lists that you build yourself. Just be sure to only add it to relevant lists. Take some time to complete this. Don’t add it to 20 lists in one day; spread this out over time.
Even if you’re already using Goodreads , there are many ways you can increase your author presence, interaction, and promotion. Build a reader and writer network, market your book, and grow an audience you previously didn’t have.