Once you have a Goodreads profile and author account, it’s time to use this platform to find avid readers.

Tool #3: Set up a giveaway. For the price of a single book and postage, you can get your book added to hundreds of shelves. While most of those potential readers entered only for the chance at something free, they hopefully were also at least intrigued by the idea behind your book. In the future if they are browsing their own shelves and see your cover as one they “want to read,” it may trigger a future sale at that point. Not to mention their friends can also see what they want to read, further expanding the ripple of exposure among like-minded readers for about ten dollars.

So how do you do it? First, you’ll need to go to your author dashboard and scroll all the way down to bottom, looking for the tiny words to add a giveaway. If you have done one before, your previous offerings are still listed and make it easier to find this section. Oh, and it should be obvious, but you’ll need your book to already be listed inside Goodreads even if it’s still in a pre-sale mode on Amazon. Another way to find the link is to click on the title of the book you want to promote and go to that book’s information page. Near the top right-hand side in tiny print should be an option to list a giveaway.

Once you’ve clicked the link to add a giveaway, you’ll be taken to a screen to fill in the details including the start date (at least a week into the future so Goodreads has time to verify the information on their end) and an end date. For the release of my first novel, I had a six week window ending on my launch date but later I did a two week period. You’ll need to add a few specifics about the book including the ISBN and release date in order to help Goodreads confirm which book is being offered. You can offer one copy or ten, but keep in mind that postage can add up when you’re making this decision.

Next, it’s time to write the description of the giveaway. This is NOT the book blurb, but rather a “Celebrate Valentine’s Day by entering to win one of three copies of MY BOOK TITLE.” It’s okay to add your one-liner description next, but make sure to lead with the giveaway details in an interesting way.

Once the information is complete, click submit. Goodreads will first send an email for you to verify that you are agreeing to send the promised number of copies at the conclusion of the giveaway. Then, they will send you email notification when the giveaway has been approved.

That’s when it’s time to head back to your dashboard and that specific giveaway. First make a note of the unique URL for that giveaway page because that is the link you’ll share on social media with the invitation to join the giveaway. Goodreads does a lot of internal promotion in terms of available giveaways and those about to expire, but you want to get in the habit of spreading the word yourself. On that giveaway page, there is a section of HTML code near the bottom that you can copy and paste into your website to advertise the giveaway there too. I personally add a generic text/code widget to my sidebar and then paste the entire code from Goodreads into that widget. The code does it’s magic and suddenly I have the Goodreads giveaway ad for my book right there.

When the giveaway is over, Goodreads will email you a reminder to head back to find the names and addresses of your winner(s) and let them know the book(s) are in the mail. Since you’ll already be logged into Goodreads as an author and as the responsible party for the giveaway, if you scroll to the bottom of the giveaway page, there’s a spot for names and addresses. Once I copy those addresses onto my book mailers, I tend to scroll back up to the top and hit the “copies sent” button. On this same page, you can see how many people entered the giveaway and how many added your book to their shelves.

[Tweet “Use giveaways and lists to make your book visible. #BuildAPlatform via @CandeeFick”]

Tool #4: Add your book(s) to lists of similar books. As you probably already discovered while browsing Goodreads as a reader, there are lists of books for all types of readers. Most lists allow others to add their recommendations to the list or vote on their favorites in order to rank them.

For the investment of a little time, you can strategically place your book among similar titles. Chances are, a future browser might click through to find out more about your book. Better yet, if you have an eye-catching cover and have put that book in a lot of different places, readers will start to register “I think I’ve seen that book somewhere before so it must be good.”

Try first to find existing lists that already have popularity since you can piggyback off that attention. Except sometimes you’ll stand out more in a smaller pond, so don’t neglect the lists with super-targeted names like “Clean Football Romances” or “Dystopian YA with Female Main Characters.” Someone searching for specific keywords is more likely to find those smaller lists…and your book.

If you can’t find the perfect list, create one and then populate it with titles comparable to yours. If someone is looking at a specific book’s page and blurb, they are able to see the many ratings and reviews left by their friends first and then others. They can also scroll down to see what lists that book has been added to…and might click over to browse for similar titles and therefore find your book too.

You never know what path someone will take to discover you and your writing, but that’s why it’s important to build a platform so people are listening. However, you also need to build a business.

(NOTE: If you found this post helpful, the entire blog series is now collected into a single book here.)

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