What do you do when you want to read a good book? Ask a friend for a recommendation? Ask your book club? Check out the library? Browse the local bookstore? Google the book title to find a review? Check your list of books to read? If you want to do all of these in one place without leaving your computer, Goodreads is where you go.
For readers, Goodreads is like a Facebook devoted to books. You make friend and trade recommendations, everyone shares reviews, and the site itself recommends books based on books you say you’ve liked. You can rate books, discuss them with other readers, join book clubs, set reading goals and track your progress, become fans or friends of authors, download free books, enter contests, set reading goals, find out about new books, and find out where to buy them. Buy some of them on the site. And no doubt more I haven’t discovered yet!
So what’s in it for authors? In a word, publicity. Goodreads claims to have 25 million readers, all of whom are interested in books. Through the author program you can find and interact with the ones that like the kind of books you write. You can do this in many ways:
- set up an author profile
- write a blog on Goodreads
- publicize upcoming launches and other events
- post excerpts of your books, or book trailers
- start a discussion group about your book
- create a poll or a quiz
- add one of several ready-to-go widgets, highlighting you or your books, to your own blog or website
- link your Goodreads activities to your other social media
You’re not on your own doing this either. Goodreads has a very slick author program with detailed instructions and slide shows to tell you things like how to set up your campaign and how to respond to negative comments readers might post about your book.
If you have money to invest, you can even set up an ad campaign on Goodreads and target it to those readers that like your kind of book. Or host a giveaway contest–on average, 825 readers enter to win. That’s pretty good publicity for the price of one book–and a fair chunk of your time to figure this all out and build those relationships with potential readers.
And there is the rub. Connecting with your readers, building an audience through social media–we’re told this is “wildly important”, even essential to selling books today. I recently heard from an agent that without an internet platform, authors can’t hope to get any attention from agents or publishers. But it all takes time. How do I decide which of Facebook, Twitter, blogging, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Goodreads and a host of other possibilities I should spend my time on–time that I would otherwise spend on writing my next book?
I’m very new to Goodreads–in fact, I just joined today. So I can’t tell you how it’s worked for me. But how about you? Do you use Goodreads either to find books to read or to promote your own books? Has it been beneficial? Have you found new readers, or made book-loving friends? Have you hosted a book giveaway or put out a targeted ad? How does it compare with other social media that you use? I’d love to hear, and learn from, your experience.