Get into Goodreads!

SilverWood author David Ebsworth shares his tips on how to get the most out of the bookworm’s networking site Goodreads.

Author David Ebsworth shares his tips on how to get the most out of the bookworm’s networking site Goodreads...

Imagine having access to ten million potential book-buyers, world-wide, through a single source. It’s called Goodreads - Facebook for book lovers!

GR is a very well organised online book club, founded by Otis Chandler and Elizabeth Khuri Chandler in January 2007. And yes, they DO now have ten million members across the globe.

As somebody who’s only come recently to "social networking", I find GR refreshingly easy to understand. I maintain my website, FB, Twitter and Pinterest pages, naturally - there’s always that CHANCE that we’ll make a marketing breakthrough for our writing there - but the time that I spend on GR, from a marketing point of view, always feels more useful than all the others put together.

First, the basics:

You need to set up an account (easy and free) and use the "Friends" option to find people you may already know who are existing GR users. Add to "Friends" in the normal social networking way. Add books by using "My Books", friends’ recommendations, "Listopia", etc. Then add a link to your FB Fan Page wall, if you have one.


Use the GR "Author Program" to set up an Author Dashboard for yourself and add details of your own book(s), plus anything else you want to include. This also gives you access to the GR Giveaway facility, which is self-explanatory. You offer, say, two free copies of your book and other GR members - who seem to check for interesting Giveaways very regularly - put themselves forward to win a copy if they like it. You should run the Giveaway for at least two weeks, preferably a month. Run at least TWO Giveaways for your book - one just before/after publication, another 3-6 months later. Make sure that you re-draft the book’s "blurb" to attract the maximum interest. GR arrange a "draw" once your particular Giveaway end-date is passed, they notify you about the winners, and you’re then required to dispatch the copies immediately, direct to the recipients.


If you have any form of blog elsewhere, you can (and should!) copy the content to your GR Author’s Blog facility.


Search "Groups" to find relevant discussion forums about genres in which you might be interested and join a few with decent numbers of participants.

But why bother with all this?

Basically, ALL authors - independent or otherwise - have to devote a lot of time to marketing their product, and marketing relies heavily on making your product as virally visible as possible. On GR, for example, the more people review your book, the more visible it becomes. GR reviews also appear on sites like the Sony E-book Store (if the book’s listed there in the first place, of course) and Google Books.

And how do we get reviews? First, through the Giveaways facility. This works in two ways. You can obviously ask the lucky winners to provide a review. In fact, winners seem to understand that they’re expected to do this ANYWAY. But this is pretty limited. The better outcome seems to arise from the number of people who ENTER for the Giveaway and, whilst they may be unsuccessful, then "add" your book to their To-Read list. GR tells you who they are (on the page which details your own book) and allows you to send them a message. In my own recent Giveaway, 1200 people entered the draw. Only two winners, of course. But over 100 also "added" my book to their lists. Great! Now I can contact them and either ask them if they’d mind writing a review when they finally get around to reading it. Or whether they’d like to be added to my Newsletter list. I’ve also got the option, depending on the replies, of providing THEM with a free copy, though I wouldn’t do this too often. In addition, once I’m established in one or more of the Group Forums, and I make good contacts there, I can encourage potentially helpful folk to review for me. I can also spread the word about my Giveaways in these groups, helping to "target" the book within the genre(s) in which it sits.

So what do reviews do for us anyway? As it happens, both Goodreads AND those who regularly analyse these things agree that you can measure the number of people who’ll "add" your book by the number of reviews it’s got. GR say that books with NO reviews will be added, on average, by just seven people, whereas books with five reviews will be "added" by forty. We have to remember that "adding" isn’t the same as "buying" but, all the same, this is an important marketing advance.

In conclusion then, my three Top Tips for engaging with GR members through Genre Groups and Giveaways...

  1. Establish yourself as somebody who DOES reviews. You can’t expect people to review YOUR book unless you also review books written by others. It doesn’t matter if all you do is write reviews for books that you’re read recently and listed in "My Books". It takes very little time to write a paragraph. People will then "follow" your reviews and you can/should follow them in return.
  2. Establish yourself as an active member of Genre Groups. Again, you don’t have to be a daily contributor but you DO have to be a regular one. Maybe search the threads once a week on, say, a Wednesday or Thursday evening and add your own comments. I’ve never known ANYBODY who wouldn’t have a view on one or more of the many topics covered in these groups.
  3. Establish yourself as somebody who’s not afraid to ask. We can’t be cheeky, of course, but as you build up lists of contacts - friends, people who’ve "added" your book to their lists, Giveaway winners, those in Genre Groups who share the threads on which you comment - don’t be TOO shy about asking them whether they’d like to review your book.

Well, good luck with Goodreads and happy marketing!

David Ebsworth was a 2014 Finalist in the Historical Novel Society's Indie Awards with his novel The Jacobites’ Apprentice. His other work includes The Last Campaign of Marianne TambourThe Kraals of Ulundi and The Assassin's Mark.

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