Goodreads 201: How Authors Can Get The Most Out Of Goodreads

Sure, you have a Goodreads account and maybe you've reviewed a book or fifty, but if you're an author (or publisher), you may be wondering if you're using Goodreads to its fullest capacity to promote your own books. At BookExpo America this year, Goodreads' community manager Patrick Brown gave an in-depth talk on how authors and publishers can get the most out of using all that Goodreads — a reader-oriented book community that boasts 18 million members and 24 million book reviews — has to offer to promote their titles. You can view Brown's full slideshow here, and read on for more detailed information on how authors can master Goodreads.

During his BEA panel, Brown emphasized 5 key points to utilize Goodreads when promoting books:

1. Start promoting titles early.

Brown recommended that authors and publishers start promoting books on Goodreads 3-5 months before publication. This is enough time to jumpstart Goodreads' recommendation engine to include your book, and isn't too far ahead of the publication date for readers to forget about your title by the time it's published. How can you promote books months before the pub date? Brown emphasized giveaways as a huge draw for readers. Offer as many books as you can per giveaway, and hold multiple giveaways for a title. The goal is to have as many reviews of the title as you can by the time the book releases, and this can be done by offering free copies to readers and asking friends and family to review the book (according to Brown, friends and family reviews count!). Brown also stressed that when creating a new title on Goodreads, include as much metadata (information about the book) as you can.

2. For publishers, involve your authors.

If your author isn't on Goodreads, what are they waiting for!? Like Facebook and Twitter, authors being active on Goodreads is vital. Even if your author doesn't want to maintain their own account, publishers can create one on their behalf and contact the author for content (such as blog posts). Authors interacting with Goodreads the same way readers do (adding books to shelves, reviewing books) is also important. Promoting titles through an author's account gives a personal touch, and allows fans to interact with their favorite writers. Authors should also have a link to their Goodreads page on their website.

3. Pay attention to your stats.

For author accounts, when you're logged in to Goodreads, there's a "stats" link in the upper right hand corner of the Goodreads homepage. Don't ignore this! Statistics are important in determining what's working for your audience and what isn't. Are you getting the reach you want? If not, what can you do differently? Your Goodreads success can only be measured by paying attention to your stats.

4. Use content to build anticipation.
Cover reveals and excerpts are also two other effective methods to garner interest. Authors should encourage readers to add the title to their shelves, with a cover reveal or an excerpt as an incentive (e.g. "If X readers add this book to their shelves, we'll release the full first chapter!"). Users who add a title to their shelves will be messaged on the book's release day, reminding them to purchase and read the title.

5. Keep momentum going.

The goal for authors and publishers on Goodreads is to get as many reviews for a title as you can. Promotional tools such as ARC giveaways, excerpts, cover reveals and videos are useful in creating a buzz, but you don't want that buzz to die down. Don't limit yourself to just one giveaway, one excerpt reveal, and while you can only do one cover reveal, make the most of it by creating as much anticipation as you can (see point 4). Mix things up, do a bunch of different promotional tactics at various times leading up to your book's release date.

In addition to these five key points, Brown also highlighted how advertising on Goodreads is another tool authors can use to boost sales. Brown also commented on the recent Amazon/Goodreads merger, saying that “Theres a lot that we’re still working out [and] a lot of really exciting stuff that we wanna do with Amazon that we’re not ready to talk about yet ... we’re not becoming an Amazon-only outfit, [we're] welcoming to all kinds of readers.”

Overall, Goodreads is a valuable tool for authors and publishers and is not only a way for authors to connect with fans, but a necessary part in promoting titles and boosting sales. Curious to learn more? Find additional info on the Goodreads author program here and a comprehensive how-to guide for authors here.