Winter Author Blog Challenge #10: The GoodReads Author Program means good book promoting!
by Laura Orsini
Woo-hoo! The Winter Author Blog Challenge is underway. This time around, the Challenge is just 15 days, and our focus is social media. The goal is for participants to post all 15 days, following the daily prompts provided, if they so choose. As with the inaugural Author Blog Challenge that took place last summer, I’ll be playing along with all of the posts, even though Marcie and I are the hosts!
Alrighty then … catching up on my GoodReads post! This was the TENTH prompt of the Winter Author Blog Challenge:
Are you on GoodReads? It seems a pretty obvious place for authors to hang out, yet I’m not sure authors are using it to quite the maximal benefit. If you are on GoodReads, how often do you visit/use the site? How often do you update your reading list? What other kinds of things do you post? Are you finding yourself using it the way social media was intended: to create a community? If you are NOT on GoodReads, have you made a deliberate choice to skip it? What other mechanisms do you utilize for meeting other readers/writers/authors? How else could you begin to create your very own community?
When invited to join GoodReads a few years ago by a real-life friend, I did so somewhat half-heartedly. I didn’t even create a profile till a year or so ago! Then every once in a while, I’d get email notices that someone else I knew had joined. What’s this joining stuff? I thought, still doing nothing about it.
A lifelong reader, I badgered my dad into teaching me to read at 4 because I wanted to be able to read the Sunday comics to myself. I zipped through towers of library books every summer, earning badges and ribbons and prizes in their annual summer reading programs. Then I grew up and was able to start buying books, and my library has never stopped growing. Its growth has slowed somewhat in the last couple years since I’ve become a Kindle owner, but if my husband and I didn’t periodically purge our books, we’d be sleeping standing up between the stacks. While I will occasionally recommend a book (see my newsletter for last month’s recommendation), even with my bibliophilic ways, I’ve never felt any pressing need to share the titles in my library with large masses of people – which seemed to be the entire purpose of GoodReads.
Until I learned about the GoodReads Author Program.
If you’re an author whose response to the question “Are you using GoodReads to promote your books?” is “Not really,” you’re missing a HUGE opportunity. More than any other site, this is THE pace you should be promoting your books! Did you realize that GoodReads has a built-in mechanism for you to do just that via their Author Program? Better still, it’s F-R-E-E! About 50,000 authors are currently listed on the GoodReads Author Program.
STEP ONE: Sign Up
The GoodReads Author Program is designed for authors of published books or those in the process of publishing a book. The system works best if your work is already listed on a bookseller’s website, like Amazon.com or BN.com, but GoodReads will accept any author who has published a book, including foreign (non-U.S.) and self-published authors.
- Sign in if you are already a GoodReads member. If not, sign up for an account.
- It’s a good idea to join under your published name so your author profile name will match your book(s).
- In the search window, search for your published author name. The author name is listed below the title of your book in the search results. If your book is self-published and is not yet in the Goodreads database, you can add it manually.
- Clicking on your name takes you to your basic author profile page. This page has your name at the top and Author Profile to the right of your name. This page is part of the GoodReads author and books database, completely separate from your member profile page (the one that lists your bookshelves and friends).
- Scroll to the bottom of the page and click Is this you? to initiate a request to join the GoodReads Author Program. Then prepare to wait, as it generally takes a few daysyou’re your request to be processed. You will receive email confirmation your member account is successfully upgraded to an author account. Joining the program merges your author page with your member page.
- Enter your full published name, email address, and a password.
- Click Create an Account.
- Check your email and verify your address by clicking the link in message they send you.
STEP TWO: Take Control of Your Profile
So you can look at this as just another thing you’ve got to do, one of an endless array of online profiles, or the opportunity to distinguish your profile as a scintillating destination for your target readers. Certainly, some of these aspects overlap the profile features on other social media platforms, but some are unique to GoodReads. Here are some of the things you can include in your profile:
- Add a picture and bio.
- Share your list of favorite books and recent reads with your fans.
- Use GoodReads as your blog platform and generate a band of followers.
- Publicize upcoming events like such book signings and speaking engagements.
- Share book excerpts and other pieces of your writing.
- Post a quiz about your book or a related topic.
- Add your video book trailer or other promotional or book-related videos.
- Join one of the thousands of groups – but avoid too much self-promotion.
- Add the Goodreads Author widget to your blog or website to highlight reviews of your books.
STEP THREE: Promote Your Books
The GoodReads Author Program also makes it easy to spread the word about your books. Here are some of the promotional tools you can use:
- Advertise your book to the Goodreads community of 14 million readers.
- Generate pre-launch buzz with a book giveaway.
- Lead a Q&A discussion for readers on your profile or participate in groups and discussion forums for your books.
- Link your blog feed to your GoodReads Author profile. To syndicate your blog on Goodreads, you will need to find the RSS or Atom URL for your blog. This is usually your blog’s URL with a “/feed” on the end. Example: https://marciebrockbookmarketingmaven.wordpress.com/feed
- Go to GoodReads.
- Click your name in the upper right corner to go to your author profile.
- Click Edit Profile.
- Under your picture, click Add/Edit Blog.
- On the right side, find External Blog Feed URL.
- Click Change if the URL field isn’t showing.
- Right-click in the field space.
- Left-click Paste from the dropdown menu.
- Your URL should now show up and look something like this: https://marciebrockbookmarketingmaven.wordpress.com/feeds/posts/default
- Decide whether you want to Show Full Post and check or uncheck the box.
- Click the Add Feed button.
A Few Last Tips
Be sure your profile is complete and accurate. Make sure that your book(s) has the correct ISBN/ASIN, publication date, and cover image. Be sure to include page count. Some of the more die-hard Goodreads members enjoy announcing their progress as they read with comments like, “I’m on page 289 of 624.” You want this kind of commentary, as it can be something this small that translates to commentary and discussion about your book.
As Rachelle Gardner suggests on the Books & Such blog, when it comes to book reviews: “List the books you’ve read and want to read. Write brief reviews saying why you like your favorite books. Be genuine. Treat it like a discussion forum, not a promotional tool. Since you’re an author, think carefully about whether you’ll post any reviews that aren’t positive; at the same time, you don’t want to post only gushing, over-the-top positive reviews. Be honest but circumspect.”
Another suggestion comes from Patrick Brown, Goodreads Community Manager, via a Writer’s Digest article: “If you’re not comfortable writing reviews, make an inspirations shelf and add the books that have meant the most to you as a writer. Not only will these books show up in your update feed for your fans to see, they will also make your profile a more engaging place for readers.”
GoodRead suggests offering multiple giveaways, each open for about a month, as a means of pre-release promotion. Ideally, you’ll start about three months before your launch date. Then run a second giveaway a few weeks before your book hits the shelves and web. GoodReads places no limits on the number of giveaways you can run.
Encourage your fans and followers on other social media sites to review your book on GoodReads. Also encourage participants with a GoodReads badge on your blog and website. Because GoodReads reviews are often exported to other sites like Powells.com, USAToday.com, etc., a GoodReads review can have much further reach than a review on other sites.
Looks like I’ve got some work ahead of me to catch up on this whole GoodReads opportunity!
In the meantime, find me on GoodReads.
We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.
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