As every author knows, finishing your book and having it published is only the beginning of another challenge in the book writing business. Now you have to get your book in the hands of readers. This part of the process can be tough (no matter how wonderful your book is), especially if you’re going the self-publishing route.
With 75 million members, 2.2 billion books added and over 77 million book reviews, Goodreads is the world’s largest social media platform for readers and book recommendations. Since Goodreads is a book lover’s hot spot, it only makes sense that authors and book publishers leverage this platform to promote their books.
If you have the budget for paid promotion, Goodreads offers a suite of advertising products to target your desired audience and take part in giveaways , with pricing beginning at around $120 US. But for the authors and publishers who are looking for less expensive tactics to promote their work while building a community of fans, these tips are for you.
1. Create your Goodreads account and join the Author Program
If you don’t have a Goodreads account, signing up is easy and can be done here. Once your account is created, apply for Goodreads’ free Author Program. Once you’ve signed up for the Author Program, nothing changes about your login process (you’ll still use the same username and password you created for your Goodreads account) but now your user profile will seamlessly direct users to your author profile. Follow these steps to apply for the Author Program:
- In the Goodreads search field (look for “Search books” at the top of the page), search for your most popular book by title, ISBN or ASIN.
- On the book, click on your author name. Scroll to the bottom of your author profile page.
- Click “Is this you? Let us know!” to complete and submit the application.
Confirm all the books featured are written by you. If they aren’t, send Goodreads an email or make a note of it in your Author application and Goodreads will take care of it. If your book isn’t in the Goodreads database, you can add it manually here .
Once you’re approved, Goodreads will send you an email inviting you to update your Author profile within two business days. In the mean time, get more familiar with Goodreads by taking advantage of the free resources for Authors Goodreads provides.
2. Optimize your Author profile
Now it’s time to populate your Author profile and optimize it for searchability and relevancy.
- Upload a profile photo. I suggest using the same photo you’ve used on other social media sites and in marketing materials, this way it’s easy for your fans and readers to recognize you. Goodreads provides some tips on choosing a profile photo here.
- Complete your author bio. Your bio should be concise and under 500 words. List your most popular work within the first two sentences to really gain attention. Goodreads suggests making your bio personal and fun to encourage engagement.
- Enable the “Ask the Author” feature so Goodread users can easily engage with you by sending you questions directly from your author’s profile. Don’t worry, questions will not be made public unless you respond to them. Roxane Gay, Elizabeth Gilbert, Michael Connelly, Sylvia Day, Erik Larson, Lois Lowry, and Christopher Moore are just a few authors who are leveraging Ask the Author to engage with their readers. More information on Ask the Author can be found here.
- Add a blog. Authors are the only Goodreads members who can have blogs that appear directly on their Goodreads profile. If you already have a blog outside of Goodreads you can import it to your profile by following these steps. To see an imported blog in action, check out author, Cynthia Reyes’ blog on Goodreads.
3. Promote your Goodreads profile
Now that your profile is completed, it’s time to show it off and let the world know you’re on Goodreads. Below are some tips with hyperlinked instructions on how to promote your Goodreads profile.
- Add a Goodreads widget to your website and/or blog.
- Create a Goodreads tab on your Facebook page.
- Connect your Goodreads account to Facebook and Twitter so your Goodreads reviews and books you want to read will automatically be published on these platforms, too.
- If you’re a WordPress user, sync your WordPress account so your Goodreads reviews will appear as new blog posts.
- Add your Goodreads profile URL to your email signature.
- Let your blog readers and social media followers know that you’re on Goodreads and encourage them to connect with you there. A simple message such as: “I’m on Goodreads and I’m always on the hunt for a great new read. Connect with me on Goodreads and let me know what books you’re loving! *insert your Goodreads profile URL here*”
- Create a Featured Author Group to interact with readers.
4. Be Active on Goodreads
Don’t let all this hard work go to waste. In order to grow your Goodreads community, you must nurture these relationships by remaining active and engaging with your fans. Many authors have had successful book launches in part due to the relationships they developed on Goodreads. By keeping your Goodreads presence fresh and consistent, this could be your experience, too.
- Join Groups. Goodreads groups are a great place to meet readers with similar interests and conduct some informal market research. If you’re a children’s book author, join a children’s book group to learn what books are popular and why readers are enjoying/recommending them. Don’t be silent, share your favourite books, too. Be sure to read the rules of the group you’re joining to see if they have a special section for authors where you can freely promote your work.
- Post Events. Another benefit of joining the Author Program is you can add your upcoming events to your Goodreads profile. To post an event, visit your profile settings and click on the “Edit My Author Profile” link on the top right. You can select the date, time, and venue for your event, as well as fill in additional details and invite your Goodreads friends to attend.
- Post Reviews. As a bookworm I am always interested in knowing what my favourite authors are reading or have read. After you’ve finished completing your Author profile, I suggest adding a minimum of 20 books you’ve already read (and share your thoughts with a rating and/or a review) and 20 books you want to read. Continue to add books you want to read and books you’ve read on a weekly basis to ensure your presence on Goodreads is consistent. Authors Celeste Ng and Roxane Gay are consistently active on Goodreads and both have more than 500 books marked as ‘read’ on their profiles. I often check Roxane and SJP‘s book reviews on Goodreads to see what books I should be adding to my own “to read” shelf.
- Upload videos to your profile promoting your work.
5. Get Reviews
With Goodreads reviews it’s a numbers game. Of course you want quality reviews, but the more reviews your book has, the more popular it looks and ultimately this will attract new readers to pick up or order your book. It’s worth mentioning that Goodreads reviews don’t just appear on Goodreads. They are exported to other websites (Google Books, Powells.com, USAToday.com and more) thus, a Goodreads review works harder for you than other reviews sites.
The easiest and most cost effective way to solicit Goodreads reviews is to ask. Ask people who have read your book to review it on Goodreads.
- You can ask your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram followers.
- You can ask your contacts over email by including a message in your email signature.
- You can ask readers who subscribe to your blog.
- You can include the call to action for Goodreads reviews on your marketing materials.
Yup. It’s really that simple.
Are you an author on Goodreads? How are you using Goodreads to promote your work? Share your tips in the comments! And if you’re on Goodreads, connect with me here.