Last weekend saw the online Romance Festival organised by Harper Collins and Harlequin. Like last year’s festival, it was an interesting, fun and useful event, and I picked up a lot of advice from all sorts of experts in the industry.
One of the topics discussed was how to make better use of Goodreads as an author. I already have a Goodreads author page (please feel free to friend or follow me there), with all my books listed. I have over a hundred reviews of my books (thanks so much to anyone who has reviewed me) with an average rating of 4.5, which “isn’t too shabby,” as my nephew would say. I also love adding and rating books I’ve read myself, too, and checking out other listings and reviews. Apart from that, though, I don’t connect with people as I should, and I’m sure I could make better use of Goodreads.
During the Romance Festival, Cynthia Shannon, marketing co-ordinator at Goodreads, answered questions live in this post on Facebook, and Goodreads librarian, Julie Whitely wrote an excellent post on Understanding Goodreads for the Romance Festival blog.
What I learned from both was invaluable, and I’m determined to start using Goodreads much more productively, both as a reader and an author.
Here are the main facts/tips I came away with:
- Goodreads is used by an incredible 25 million readers. That’s a phenomenal audience of people who love books, who are looking for great books to read, and who are discussing and debating new releases.
- I admit it’s daunting to put your books out there in front of millions. Goodreads has had a bad press in some quarters for allowing trolling and author bullying. In my limited experience so far, though, people have reached out to me and been willing to make friends and discuss books. Of course there are the exceptions, unfortunately, but as Julie Whitely points out, “Any site that encourages readers to read more and get involved can’t be all bad.”
- Goodreads is a reader site – it’s not there for author promo. Since I’m an avid reader anyway, I’m quite happy just to mingle in a club full of other readers. But if I want to promote my own book, how do I go about it? One suggestion was to choose a few reader groups, join them, and more or less promote by stealth. I feel quite uncomfortable doing this! I’d sooner just join reader groups and be me – a reader who writes romance novels. So if anyone reading this post has any suggestions for groups I’d enjoy, I’d love to hear from you!
- If you do join a group, read the guidelines about promotion. Julie Whitely says “Nearly every single genre specific or discussion group has a folder for book promotions. Find that folder and use it to tell readers about a sale, a promotion, a new release or whatever else you want to share. Post in that folder only.” I hadn’t realised this about the folders. I’ll check this one out, as I feel more comfortable doing this than promoting in front of an actual group. But do people actually read the entries in the folders? I suppose it’s worth a try!
- You can link your Facebook author page to Goodreads. I already have a Goodreads tab on my FB page – you can check out my FB page here. Whether anyone has ever actually clicked through from the tab to go to Goodreads is another question. You can also add a Goodreads widget to your FB page, but I’ve struggled to understand how to do this. Is it worth the effort of working it out, I wonder?
- You can also add Goodreads author widgets to your blog. I have yet to work out how to do this, too! It looks quite complicated. I’d like to invite my blog followers to add my books on Goodreads, though, as I would appreciate the support. So I’ll put out a plea for readers to take the trouble to go to my author page and add some or all of my books to your shelves. I’d be very grateful!
- You can add your blog feed to your Goodreads author page (I have done this, and I do have some followers there).
- You can add an “Ask the Author” box to your Goodreads author page, which is there to invite readers to ask you any questions they like. I have done this a while ago. So far, no one has asked me anything. Please go to my Goodreads page and ask me a question! :) Even what did I have for tea. Just so I can know it was all worthwhile!
- There’s also a section called Listopia, which enables you or your fans either to create or add one of your books to a list. That doesn’t mean add your book to a list that says “Best books of the 21st century” – no one likes a braggart – but a list that tells the plain facts is OK. For example a long while ago I added my novel The Silk Romance to a list of romances set in France/Belgium/Luxembourg. Since then – other readers have voted for it! It’s now 1st out of 239 books. I only realised this when I went to check the list right now. So exciting to see it top of the list! But has anyone bought my book because of it, though? This is what I don’t know. But again, it can’t hurt, and it doesn’t require a lot of effort to add your own book to a list.
- The most important tip of all I learned was the importance to authors of listing your book in the giveaway program. Authors who host a giveaway of their books can expect to receive on average over 800 readers entering their giveaway.
So from the Festival I’ve picked up quite a few tips – some I knew already, some were news to me. I’ve also learned just how much reach Goodreads has.
And, most exciting of all, I’ve now entered my novel A Way from Heart to Heart in the Goodreads giveaway program. If you’d like a chance to win a signed copy, and if you live in the UK, US, Canada, Australia or New Zealand, you can either enter through the link at the top of the page, or you can click here. The giveaway runs from now until 13th March 2015.
Do you use Goodreads as an author? As a reader? If so, which aspects do you use and like? Is there anything you don’t like about it? What other advice would you give?
If you have any questions or comments at all, I’d love to hear from you!
And finally, I hope you do try out my giveaway, and if you do, good luck with it. I look forward to sending the winner a copy – signed by my own hand! :)