I was invited to talk to a group of authors a while ago about Goodreads.com which is a terrific website for readers and a must for any author or aspiring author. My talk went down very well and seemed to be of use to everyone, judging by the comments I received afterwards, so I thought I would share some of it with you today.
What is Goodreads.com?
If you haven’t come across Goodreads before then let me start by giving you some background information.
Goodreads was launched in 2007 and although it has now been bought by Amazon, there have been no great changes to it yet.
According to Goodreads’ CEO, Otis Chandler:
“Goodreads is the world’s largest site for readers and book recommendations.
Our mission is to help people find and share books they love.”
No mention there of the word author because the focus is on the reader and books rather than the author. So I, as a reader, can have virtual bookshelves and fill them with books I like, that I have read or would like to read, I can review those books and recommend them to others. That’s Goodreads in a nutshell!
So it is a bit like Amazon in that you can review books and we all know how valuable they are. But that is probably where the comparison ends as Goodreads doesn’t sell books; it is all about reviews and commendations as Otis Chandler says.
It is a little like some of the top social media sites: like Facebook because you can acquire friends or become a fan of an author. You can join and participate in groups a little like LinkedIn.
Let’s look at some statistics
If we look at the results of a survey by Goodreads of over 3,000 members we can see how influential the site is by looking at how people find a book. Goodreads friends and recommendations are well up the scale with author websites, Facebook and even Twitter being well down the list.
70% of members are female, 30% male.
To give you an idea of the scale of the site:
25 million members
750 million books
29 million reviews
BUT INTERESTINGLY only 100,000 authors in the Goodreads Author Program as of Jan 2014 so, at the moment, the site is definitely underused by authors which makes it even more of a must because not that many (proportionally) authors are using it.
You may also find it interesting to know where members are situated.
The following chart shows the breakdown of visitors around the world with the USA taking 41% of the total.
So you can reach out to readers across the world, not just the UK which is particularly good if you are thinking of breaking into the US market.
There is an incredible amount of movement (potential readers of your book) too:
140 million page views and 19 million unique visitors per month.
And we aren’t talking just about traffic; every day 1,000’s more recommendations and reviews are posted.
You could get really lucky – it is reported that 50 Shades of Grey owes a large part of its success to Goodreads.
So what can you do on Goodreads as an author?
Try following my 14 point plan:
- Sign up as a reader – before becoming a Goodreads Author you need to sign up as a reader and complete your profile. Don’t forget to add a photo of you, no one wants to connect with a faceless icon.
- Claim or add your books to become part of the Goodreads Author Program. Your existing profile will then be upgraded to an author’s profile.
- Complete the extra details on your Author Profile
- Make use of the widgets provided to you as an author on your website or email signature to let everyone know you are a Goodreads Author
- Sync your blog to your Goodreads profile and then every time you post on your blog all your friends on Goodreads will get to know automatically
- Join and/or set up groups – these aren’t just a place to promote your books though, it is all about being sociable so join in the discussions and only promote your books if the guidelines for the particular group allow it.
- Create a Giveaway and/or an event – agree to mail out at least 10 books (not ebooks) to winners of the giveaway and let Goodreads do the rest.
- Make use of Lists (Listopia) and vote on other authors’ books
- Reviews – Goodreads have guidelines for reviewing which is why they think that reviews on the site are ‘…the best and most authentic in the world.’ They are probably also the most valuable as they are syndicated to ecommerce and library sites whereas Amazon reviews are not. Don’t forget to review other authors’ books too
- Take part in polls
- Set up a quiz or take part in someone else’s
- Read through the huge number of quotations to be found on the website
- Mind your manners and remember that Goodreads is not about selling your book, it is a community for talking about books, connecting with readers and discovering new books. It is not just another place to sell.
- Have fun and enjoy talking to other authors and readers. Then you will sell books without having to shout about it.
If you are already part of Goodreads, how do you use it and what do you enjoy most about the website? Let me know your thoughts below or look me up on www.goodreads.com, you’ll find me under my name – Sarah Houldcroft. Would be great to connect.
Sarah Houldcroft, the founder of Goldcrest Books, has been working with authors for many years. She has a background in sales and marketing as well as publishing, is tech-savvy and as an avid reader brings a new perspective to the publishing process.
Her writing workshops and publishing programmes have been very well received and she is often asked to speak at events, writers’ days, webinars and take part in Facebook Lives.