Sunday, August 5, 2012

Goodreads Tips for Self-Published Authors

If you're not using Goodreads to promote yourself and your book, you're doing yourself a disservice. Goodreads is the book nerds' version of Facebook -- with a whole lot more features. If you don't already have a profile on Goodreads, get one! Join the site's author program (if you're an author), and you're ready to take your marketing efforts to the next level. Master a few Goodreads tips, and you'll expose your writing to a much larger market. 

Mastering Goodreads

If you have a Twitter account, Facebook profile or an email address, you can sign up for Goodreads. You've got to sign up for the site first and fill in the requisite profile information. Once this is done, you can sign up to be in the author program to distinguish yourself as a writer of books. It's a great first step...but it's only the beginning of what you'll need to do to really establish a presence on the site. 
  • Blog. Your GR profile automatically has blog space. You're free to post pithy writings here and attract all sorts of new readers...but you may already have a blog. If you do, you can link your existing blog to your Goodreads account and still attract readers anyway. To do it go to your profile, find the area for your blog, and use the "edit" option to update it. In the space provided, add your RSS link and Goodreads will take care of the rest. The site is slow. Some of your posts may take hours or even days to update, but just be patient with the system and it will update itself.
  • Links. Edit your profile to add links to your Twitter account and your website. Always add this! Lots of Goodreads members might visit your profile to see if you're also on Twitter, and I know because I'm one of them. Every time I get a friend request, I take a look at my new friend's profile so I can find them on Twitter, too. 
  • Bio. Add a professional bio. If you already have a standard author bio, just use this -- there's no need to get fancy. Remember that professional author bios are usually written in the third person. Some authors are very good at this, and they create copy that's exciting and compelling. I'm terrible at it, so that's one Writing 101 post you're never going to get. Basically, come up with a few lines about yourself and about what you write, and try to make sure it's good enough that it won't drive potential readers away.
  • Join forums. Goodreads has more forums than you can shake a dictionary at. Look for forums that are relevant to you and your genre. I belong to several groups dedicated to indie writers and self-published authors, not to mention groups about YA and mystery books (because that's who I am, and that's what I write). Don't go crazy. Only join forums that are relevant and somehow interesting to you, because a big part of maintaining and establishing a strong Goodreads presence is reading forums regularly. I try to check my groups every day (it's a great source for new post ideas, not to mention a fountain of addresses to review blogs).
  • Use the widgets. Goodreads has a lot of different widgets for authors (you can find some of them here on my blog). Use them! With the widgets, it's easy to invite readers to add your books to their GR shelf and to show off your GR reviews.
  • Kobo. Speaking of reviews, you can link all your Goodreads reviews to your Kobo listing. If you're on Smashwords, you're automatically on Kobo unless you go into your channel manager and turn this option off. I know this is true because I was surprised to find myself on Kobo. I was even more surprised when I learned it's possible to link Goodreads reviews to Kobo book listings. The problem is, there's a trick to it. In order to get Kobo to read your GR reviews, you've got to change the ISBN number of your book. Don't worry -- it's totally easy. Go to the Home page tab of Goodreads. Look to the left to access your dashboard, and then hit the edit link to your first book. Copy the ISBN from Smashwords into the ISBN on GR. Wait about 1 day, and the GR reviews should appear. 
Most importantly, you've got to add your books to your Goodreads profile. They'll appear right there in the middle for all to see, so you want to do this. To add your books to your profile, first search for them on the Goodreads system. Don't bother looking by title; search using your ISBN numbers. If you can't find them this way, you'll have to manually enter the info yourself. The GR site will walk you through the whole process. 

Goodreads is a little tricky. They'll automatically add "buy" links to your book's page...and chances are, these links aren't going to work (they don't work for me). I banged my face against my keyboard in frustration for a few days before I found a way to circumvent this system that doesn't work: I added my links straight to the book descriptions themselves, which I do have control over. This is the easiest way to get the correct buy links with the correct books. Unless you want to have several different versions of the same book on the site, do yourself a favor and copy my quick and easy method. 

[+/-] Show Full Post...


  1. Don't forget to add as many friends as possible. Don't wait for others to befriend you. Send requests to people who share your interests or read in the genre you write in, but be sure the request doesn't have the appearance of a marketing tool. A lot of the members are easily put off by authors whose presence on Goodreads is nothing more than a marketing footprint.

  2. Great tips, Dan! Thanks for weighing in.

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. A lot of good info..I need to do for my new book (Rainbow and Friends Love One Another). Sounds much better than just my Facebook presence. Thanks!

  5. Glad you liked the post, Nicolette!

  6. Hi Jade. I published a romance, suspense novel in Danish that is now being translated into English. Is it possible to sign up with Goodreads and join forums and so on even though I do not yet have a book for sale?
    Great post :-)

  7. Hello, romance author! To answer your question, yes. Goodreads is for readers and writers both, so anyone who loves books can join the site. All you need is an email address.