The Author Toolbox: Use Goodreads to Find Avid Readers (Part One)

Readers go to Amazon to buy books, but avid readers flock to Goodreads where they can add books to their virtual “want to read” shelves, rate and/or review the books they’ve read, recommend books to friends, jump into groups that are taking about their favorite genre, discover new authors, and even enter giveaways to win free books.

Goodreads is all about finding that next good book to read, so it makes perfect sense for authors to hang out there too. Once again, the main purpose is to build relationships and trust while leaving the sales-y pitch at the door.

Tool #1: Sign up for a free account and start adding books to your virtual shelves. Start with the books on your “want to read” pile or list, then move on to your overcrowded shelves of keepers you would happily read again some day. Search by your favorite author to easily find old favorites, complete series…or even standalone a that you were unaware of.

Let the connection between Goodreads and Amazon work for you by importing the books you have purchased and then picking which ones you want to add to your shelves. (Why pick? I buy college textbooks for my son as well as a book about zombies for one of his classes. Not exactly the kind of books I would chose to put on my virtual bookshelf.)

Add the books that you are currently reading and rate the ones that you have read. Maybe even leave a thoughtful review or gushing praise for the last book you finished while it is fresh in your mind. Just make sure you do something with your account because nothing screams “I’m only here to sell to you” like an author without any books on their shelves.

Beyond adding books to your virtual shelves, keep your reader hat on and poke around to learn more about the many features of Goodreads. Create a reading challenge goal for the year and let Goodreads do the math for you. Join a group to discuss a popular book or genre. Add friends (conveniently imported from Facebook if you choose) and see what they are reading. Browse the lists and maybe even add a book to someone’s list of “Books Set in Michigan” or “Best Dress on a Cover.” I’ll bet that in the process you are coming up with a list of ways to organically market your novel within those areas.

Once you’re more familiar with how Goodreads works, click on the name of one of your favorite authors. Some simply display a list of their books, but others have a more complete profile that includes the books on their own shelves, Ask The Author section, and more. In addition to the various types of information displayed, there is an option to “follow” this author and get notifications when their next book comes out.

Tool #2: Now that you’re established as a reader, tell Goodreads that you are also an author. There is a verification process that will require confirmation of the existence of a book available for sale (even if it’s still in the pre-sales stage). If you aren’t quite to that stage yet, get your Goodreads reader profile up and active, then bookmark this section for later. At this point, your reader account will automatically be switched to a Goodreads Author account but you will keep all of your existing shelves and friends. (This eliminates the confusion found inside Facebook where one wonders if they are commenting and liking things as themselves or their page. Goodreads has only one label for you.)

Once approved as an author, it’s time to make the most of that profile. Starting within your author dashboard, add a headshot and that biography paragraph that has already been used many times. Make sure all of your books are included and add any titles that are missing from that list. If your book is completely absent from Goodreads, you may need someone with librarian status in order to add the details and cover.

But there’s a lot more to the Goodreads Author profile than a list of books. Remember that blog feed you could add to Amazon’s Author Central? You can feed your blog into Goodreads as well so readers can get a taste of your writing style and personality. There’s also a place to upload videos if you have a book trailer or even a simple YouTube video where you relate the story behind the story or teach on a portion of your non-fiction topic.

One of the features I love is the question and answer section of the author profile. This is where fans can ask their own questions for you to answer and get a conversation started. Or you can use the suggested questions from Goodreads to get a jumpstart on this area. Keep in mind that your answer is a reflection of your personality and writing style, therefore giving a taste of your book to potential readers. If you are interesting or show a sense of humor here, they will expect the same inside the pages of your book, but if you are dry and boring…

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