How to Use Goodreads to Build Your Author Platform

goodreadsWhether you are self-published, traditionally published, or working on getting published, Goodreads has, in short order, become an effective tool for reaching your audience. We believe that the time for building a strong author platform is NOW, even if you haven’t finished and submitted your book proposal. If you can demonstrate a powerful online reach to an audience of book-buyers, you will be that much more desirable to a potential publisher.

Enter Goodreads.

If you’ve spent any time on Goodreads at all, you’ll know that it’s a robust social network that focuses on books and the readers who love them. No matter your niche demographic, your broader audience—book buyers and readers—hang out there. Here are five tips to get you started.

  1. Add friends to your reading network. You can send invitations to your contacts on other platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Gmail. You can also add friends of your current Goodreads friends, and take advantage of people already inclined to dig you.
  2. Post reviews and ratings. Detailing the books you’ve read and are reading is not just an anal way to catalog your library, it’s an excellent way to partake in the giant community of Goodreads. It’s one of the fastest growing social networks, and the largest one targeted toward readers. To date, it has more than 2.8 million members who have added more than 76 million books to their shelves. Get your book on their cybershelf.
  3. Create an author profile. Linked to the same account as your “reader” profile, an author profile allows you to post events (and invite friends), create an author bio, list all of your books, and add a blog feed, links, and videos (such as your book trailer). You can create a special Q&A author group, where you take readers’ questions for a specific time period. You’ll also have an author dashboard that features useful links and statistics about your book(s). If you are published, read the author tutorial for more information on joining the Author Program.
  4. Offer giveaways. Goodreads giveaways are a fantastic way to promote your book across the site and give it serious visibility. I mean, who doesn’t want a free book? Ask your publisher to put up 5-10 copies and if you’re self-published, give it a go yourself. Giveaways get your book in the hands of interested readers—they are sorted by category—and often lead to reviews on the site.
  5. Interact. Like any social media platform, your effectiveness is directly related to how much you interact with others. There are discussions on particular books and on genres (Read Gone Girl? Join the “Nick: Villain or Victim??” discussion). Jump into an active discussion or start your own around a book, genre, or topic.
  6. Respond to the fans…and the haters. No matter how small your print run, there will be reviews and ratings of your book on Goodreads. It’s inevitable when there’s such a big, active community. If someone leaves a review of your book, comment on it. People are tickled when they feel heard and get a little thrill if you take them behind the curtain. Thank them for their positive review, offer a measured response if they threw you some shade, give them a sneak-peek of your new work-in-progress, you get the idea… Offer up something personal and they’ll be a fan, if they weren’t already.
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10 Comments

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10 responses to “How to Use Goodreads to Build Your Author Platform

  1. Thanks for the information about using Goodreads. I’ve recently started looking at the site and I knew there was a lot to it. This help me understand it better.

  2. Thanks for the helpful tips. What do you think is the best way to respond to the haters? Should authors kill them with kindness in their response?

    Sandra Beckwith

    • To a certain extent, yes. We’ve found that just acknowledging negative comments is a way to show you value them as readers, even if they don’t care for your work. Jen has responded to reviews on goodreads and amazon and has never raised anyone’s ire. However, there are legendary stories where the author took offense and then a huge backlash ensued. Don’t respond if you can’t be calm and thank them for their honesty. If you can, however, keep a cool head, they will respect you even if they don’t want to read your book.

  3. I’ve frequently heard the opposite advice about responding to reviews. I mean if a reader has a question, sure. But I’ve heard it is chilling–that readers don’t feel they can be honest if the author comes back at them. And I’ve seen too many times that authors can take a wrong note and it blows up in their face. Have you known people with GOOD experiences that way–where it has really worked to move things forward?

    • We’ve found that just acknowledging their comments is a way to show you value them as readers, even if they don’t care for your work. Jen has responded to reviews on goodreads and amazon and has never raised anyone’s ire. However, there are legendary stories where the author took offense and then a huge backlash ensued. Don’t respond if you can’t be calm and thank them for their honesty. If you can, however, keep a cool head, they will respect you even if they don’t want to read your book.

      • Seems to me that even if somebody leaves a blistering review, the author should be flattered that somebody took the time to read their work. (I get how this can be harder to go for if somebody trashes your book and didn’t read beyond the first ten pages, if that.) Still, they have invested their time in YOU.

        Thank you for this article, have shared around.

  4. G.E. Anderson

    Stumbled over this courtesy of Twitter. I have an old Goodreads account I’ve been toying with updating. Looks like my decision’s made. 🙂

  5. Great overview of how goodreads can work for authors. Thanks for the tips.

  6. Ryan Carey

    Looks like Goodreads was just acquired by Amazon: http://bit.ly/XK8Mih
    There appear to be some mixed emotion in the gazillion comments that follow the announcement on that page…!

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