What’s Goodreads Good For? by Laurie Boris

Author Laurie Boris

Author Laurie Boris

Last year, I attended a workshop given by a local published author on how to promote your book on social media. “Goodreads?” she sneered, in response to an audience member’s question about the site. “I don’t know anyone who’s on Goodreads.”

Uh…well, there are LOTS of people on Goodreads. And they love books. I mean, seriously love books. Some members of this community read hundreds of books a year. They talk about them. Review and rate them. Many blog about them.

Yeah, Goodreads can be buggy, like so many other social media sites, and isn’t the most intuitive place out there. But its many features outweigh the occasional glitch. For one, you can maintain a “bookshelf” of books you’re reading, have read, and plan to read, so you can make friends based on common interests and favorite books or authors. You can join a multitude of groups and grow into the community. Participate in a book club, and read and comment on the selection of the month. You can become “fans” of your favorite authors and follow their reviews and blogs.

But what has helped me most is one of Goodreads’ most popular features: the giveaway. Okay, everyone wants something for nothing. But specifically choosing your book out of dozens offered up at any given time signals interest. If you have a new book coming out, a giveaway can help you generate early buzz. Almost 900 members signed up to receive eight ARCs (advanced reader copies) of my first published book. That’s 900 motivated readers who hadn’t known about me or my work prior to the event. This boiled down to eighty-some readers who decided to add me to their “to-read” shelf. And of my eight winners, six gave me a written review or a star ranking. (Giveaway winners are encouraged, but not required, to reciprocate with reviews.)

Ready to give it a try? Okay!

1. Sign up for Goodreads at http://www.goodreads.com. It’s free, and mostly straightforward.
2. Build yourself an author page. Populate it with your books and, if you’d like, your blog.
3. Schedule your giveaway:

a. Go to http://www.goodreads.com/giveaway.

b. Click on “list a giveaway” from the list on the right side of the page.

c. Fill in the form.

4. Watch in awe as the entries pile up.
5. Send your book(s) to the winner(s)!
5. Wait for their reviews and ratings.

Come on, is it really that easy? Uh…mostly. For one, Goodreads won’t accept e-books for giveaways. Sorry, Charlie. There are plenty of other places you can throw yourself a download-a-palooza. Also, Goodreads wants books that are either set for release or have been out no longer than six months. (We are talking early buzz, here. Find another way to launch your second-wind tour.) And think about how you set your giveaway timetable. Not only do you want reviews to coincide with your final release date—or with the promotional event of your choosing—you want to give potential winners enough time to read and review the book. Also, it’s a pain in the ass to change the dates once you’ve submitted them.

Good luck, get buzzing, and have fun!

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Laurie Boris is a freelance writer, editor, and proofreader, and author of the novel, The Joke’s on Me. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, watching baseball, or cooking, not necessarily in that order and in varying combinations. She blogs about books, writing, and the language of popular culture at http://laurieboris.com.  

Note:  If you want more information about the Goodreads Author Program, please visit their Author Program page here.

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10 thoughts on “What’s Goodreads Good For? by Laurie Boris

  1. Well, my experience with Goodreads has been pretty much the same as all the other social media I get involved with … I always feel like there is a rockin' party going on somewhere, but I wasn't invited … so I sit and listen to the clock tick.

  2. Yes, Laurie, quite right – I find the Goodreads giveaways a very good way to create a buzz around my releases. I held five or six very successful ones in 2011, all with over a thousand participants.

    Another good reason to watch this site? The discussions – I watch the Australian readers, who have separate clubs for different states, genres discussions, author discussions, genre discussions… and they are pretty free with their opinions and suggestions, so you might find yourself being discussed as an author. You can't buy publicity like that. But you must participate, and hold back from promoting explicitly, so it's hard work, but it can be very worthwhile.

  3. I started using Goodreads as a reader. Love the bookshelf feature, reviews, ability to keep track of what I read, the ability to search for books by genre. Most of all I like it that this is not a shop…that is trying to sell me books. It is nice making friends with like-minded folks from around the world based on reading habits, and reviews too.

  4. I just started using GoodReads about a week ago. Now I'm completely obsessed with tracking down books I've read so I can rate them. :) I have heard of people using GoodReads as a promo tool, focusing specifically on getting "to-reads" the way some people aim for Page "Likes" on Facebook, but this is the first I'm hearing about giveaways. Sounds like a great way to promote a book, if you have a print edition. Thanks Laurie!

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