At its core, Goodreads is a social media platform. It lives for the interaction between its users. Yet authors aren’t as active as they need to be to get the most out of Goodreads. A recent survey showed that nearly half of all author profiles were out of date, and another 50% had a broken website link or none at all.
Some authors are wary of Goodreads; reviews tend to be harsher than on Amazon, and community discussions can be robust to the point of hurtful. However, Goodreads is a readers’ platform and therefore a prime site for writers to get free or low-cost exposure to over 80 million readers.
Building a presence on Goodreads can be very useful for your author career, and we’ll show you how to do it.
Avoid pitfalls setting up an author profile
Goodreads will prompt you to connect your account with your Facebook account. Dave Chesson of Kindlepreneur and Alex Newton of K-Lytics both warn against doing that. Goodreads is owned by Amazon, and there is a possibility that your Facebook contacts will be banned from leaving reviews for your books on Amazon if the accounts are linked.
Per Amazon’s terms of service, friends and family are not allowed to leave reviews. Amazon doesn’t disclose how they determine who your friends are, but there is no need to make it easy for them to see your social media contacts and potentially delete reviews from your books.
If you’re already published, claim your book. That will automatically convert your profile on Goodreads to an author profile. For a new profile, this can take up to two weeks. Join and post in the GR Librarian Group if after two weeks your profile hasn’t been updated. (https://goodreads.com/group/show/220-goodreads-librarians-group).
Make your profile outstanding
Format your page in Account Settings, using simple HTML. One example is Alessandra Torre’s profile, displaying a 400 x 400 pixel author photo, in a casual setting. Underneath is a list of her social media links, followed by a full list of her books, sorted by series. Make sure you keep your text, your social media links, and your growing list of books up-to-date.
Pro-Tip: Customize your URL. Go to Account Settings, and above your profile picture is a link “edit my user profile.” Under the Profile tab, you can pick your preferred URL, e.g., including your name.
Use your WIP to become visible right away
You can do this even if you haven’t got a cover or blurb yet. Create a Goodreads entry for your work in progress, without a cover or placeholder blurb. Once you publish, you can update your blurb and ask a Librarian to swap out your image.
Pro-tip: Clicking the green ‘Want to Read’ button under your listing makes it appear on the left of your author profile. So every time somebody lands on your profile, they will see your latest book (plus another two) prominently displayed.
Share your Goodreads book link constantly
To gain followers on a new platform, you need to let people know you are there. Once your book is up on Goodreads, copy and paste the link from the browser. Share it everywhere on your social media and in your newsletter. Ask your readers to add the book to their ‘Want to Read’ shelf. It lets their friends know about the book and shows it on their news feed. Goodreads will even email those readers when your book releases. You’ll exponentially expand your outreach to new readers, and also market each new release to existing readers and their friends for free.
Pro-tip: When you have a preorder, encourage your Kindle Unlimited readers to add your book to the ‘Want to Read’ shelf, since they’ll read it in KU rather than place an order.
Interact daily to enhance visibility
You should treat the author page like your personal blog. Post short updates like, “I wrote 1000 words today. Yay!” or “Only another week for the book to drop.” There are two methods: use ‘Update progress’ next to a specific book, or ‘General update’ for interesting author updates. These missives will pop up in your friends and followers’ feeds to remind them of your existence. You might want to limit your general status updates to twice a week to avoid overwhelming your followers’ feeds.
Pro-tip: If you don’t have an update to share, click ‘Like’ on some of your favorable reviews, which still shows as an action in newsfeeds.
Twice a month, write a blog post
You can link your existing blog to Goodreads via RSS feed. New blog posts are promoted by the platform and appear in your followers’ news feed every few hours, sometimes 8-10 times. They are great for cover reveals, blurbs, teasers, and excerpts.
Pro-Tip: If your RSS feed displays badly, simply copy and paste into the Goodreads blog.
Use the Goodreads Giveaway for massive outreach
For $119USD plus the cost of your giveaway prize, you can potentially reach thousands of US and Canadian readers who are pre-selected to be interested in your book.
How does this work? Every reader who signs up for the giveaway will have your book added to their ‘Want to Read’ shelf. This is immediately shown as a notification to their friends. And when your new book drops, Goodreads sends an email to everybody who entered your giveaway.
Pro-Tip: Goodreads gives a push to brand-new and ending giveaways. You can run two giveaways back to back to double your exposure. Plus your book will be listed both on the ‘Newly Listed’ and ‘Ending Soon’ pages.
Pro-Tip: Consider offering an autographed paperback. The number of entries will be a lot higher than for an e-book.
Add quotes from your finished books or work in progress
At the bottom of your author profile, you will find a section that allows you to add quotes or excerpts from your books. These are added to the Goodreads quotes database and show up in your friends and followers’ feeds whenever you add another quote.
Ask your readers to nominate you for a Listopia list
Listopia is a section of Goodreads which groups books together by subject or interest. Some are created by Goodreads, such as Best Young Adult Books, but anyone can start and vote on a list. Search Listopia to find a suitable list for your book. Add your book and then ask your readers to vote for it. When a reader searches for “best cowboy romances 2021” in Google, the first link is often a Goodreads list, hopefully with your book included. You can’t buy this kind of exposure.
Pro-Tip: Ask your fans to shelve your book on the monthly ‘Most Anticipated Releases’ list to gain even more visibility.
Leave a review for yourself. No, seriously.
Go to your book listing and use the review box to add your release date, teasers, excerpts, and pre-order links. This also works for your back catalogue. While you can’t add any links to your book description, the review section is the perfect place for it. Don’t forget ARC links or information about series. Caution: don’t leave any star ratings for yourself. That’s seriously frowned upon by readers.
Pro-Tip: Goodreads allows minimum HTML like bold or line breaks. To add an image, you need to host it outside of Goodreads, maybe on your website, and use the following formula: This also works if you add an image to your blog or your status updates.
Everything you post in Goodreads—any blog post, update, or review you leave for a fellow genre author—will show up in your followers’ feed. This is non-stop advertising for you, and it’s free. What’s not to like?