There is no shortage of Social Media where authors can build awareness of their books. Facebook is a great place to meet friends, see grandbabies, and keep tabs on where your friends are vacationing. But if you want to talk books, there is nowhere that tops Goodreads. It’s the social media site for book lovers. And when the folks at Goodreads discover a good book, they tell their friends about it. In fact, they have been known to shout it from the rooftops.
Let’s start with the assumption that you have done your job in that your book is well written, professionally edited, has an eye-catching cover and is available in both print and e-book formats. You’ve invested a sizable amount of time and money thus far but when you get to Goodreads, the site that’s primarily for book lovers, are you going to simply set up a profile and wait for readers to happen by?
Trust me, they won’t. The months will fly by and you’ll sit and wonder why people aren’t flocking to read your book. This is what I call the “Write It and The Will Come” Syndrome. It doesn’t work.
Goodreads is all about relationship building and networking. You can’t simply join a group and then stop by every so often to check on what they are reading. You have to make friends, participate in group discussions, and let readers get to know you. This doesn’t mean posting the name of your book on a discussion thread and saying read my book or even worse – buy my book. There is a Goodreads etiquette and unless you abide by it, you will be worse than unknown…you will be known as a pushy and obnoxious author.
Let’s take a look at some of those Goodreads Do’s and Don’ts.
Today, I am going to talk about two of the main areas, Finding Friends and Group Behavior. Both are areas where etiquette is demanded or it can crush you, giving you a bad reputation in the process. In future posts, we will discuss things such as giveaways, review requests/reviews, book information and professional networking. If there are topics that you would like addressed, please let Rachel know and I will do my best to address them for you.
So, let’s get started:
Developing a friends list is critical on Goodreads. Like all marketing efforts though, it must be done strategically. Bigger doesn’t always equal better. Remember Goodreads maxes out your friend capacity at 5,000, so you want every friend to be someone who you truly want to connect with. People who enjoy your genre, people who will someday want to read your book. It may take a bit of searching, but when you do find those friends, they will be well worth having.
- Find friends who share your likes/choice of book genres or hobbies.
- Be selective about who you friend. Make sure that they enjoy the genre of your book. A hint from an author I call the Guru of Goodreads, Bette Lee Crosby, who, in my opinion, has an excellent, best practice model for choosing Goodreads friends. She looks at the profile of the person who has added her book, particularly if it is during a giveaway. If they have a number of things in common, she will go ahead and friend them. Her reasoning, she has found that they will bump up her books on their “To Be Read” list.
- Get to know their profile. Try to find something to connect with your new friend from that perspective.
- Include a message with your friend request. Mention that you are in the same group, or enjoy the same books, or have mutual friends. Give them a reason to want to accept your friend.
- Send a note thanking them for accepting the friend request, but don’t mention your book. Something along the lines that you look forward to discussing books with them.
- Use the groups to expand your friend invites.
- Pay attention to books/updates your friends have posted. Find little ways to comment on them.
- Make yourself accessible!
- As you develop the friendships, friends will figure out ways to help you. I met Bette Lee Crosby because the Admin of another group took a liking to Bette and suggested she join the Sisterhood of the Traveling Book group and offer a copy of her latest release for review. Bette did join the group, but interestingly enough, she never once posted a promo saying “buy my book” instead she offered review copies to the group so that the gals could read for free. That book was “Spare Change” and with the running start from all those reviews, the book is now a USA Today Bestseller.
- Spam a new friend by sending them a link to your book either through private message or on their “friends comment section.” Most people will immediately unfriend.
- Throw random friend requests out. It looks spammy.
- Simply use your friends list to send out invites to “events”
- If unfriended by someone, do not send another friend request. I had an author who friended me and then constantly sent invites to sale events. Since I had no interest in reading his book and we had no other communication, I unfriended him. After I unfriended him, he continued to send a new friend request almost every month. I finally blocked him. Obviously, he was not at all connected to me, he was just sending out mass friend requests. (a definite no-no)
Goodreads groups are great! They have everything from genre-specific groups to political groups to author networking groups. Whatever tickles your fancy! That group can more than likely be found. Can’t find one you like? Make one up!
- Join Groups. As long as you are respectful, most groups love interacting with authors.
- Do a mixture of small and larger groups. Sisterhood of the Traveling Book is cut off at 300 members to retain the coziness of the group. This group is a good size for an author to experience group interactions and get to feel comfortable on Goodreads. Successful interaction within a group of this size readies an author for moving into the larger groups that number in the thousands and if approached initially, can feel overwhelming.
- Participate, participate, and participate some more. Get to know the members. For example, in Sisterhood of the Traveling Book, we have 3 author members who interacted with the group beautifully. Each of these three women has walked away with faithful followers ready to review their books the moment a request is given. Two of the women started “street teams” with STB members who became the founding members. What did these women do differently? They made a decided effort to get to know our members first.
- Focus on joining groups that are within your genres. This is where you are going to get your biggest readership.
- Join some professional groups. Many of these authors have already navigated Goodreads and have tips/best practices to offer.
- Identify if there is a way to offer your book up for review/giveaway
- Find if they have rules for authors and pay attention to them.
- Reach out to the moderators if you have questions. The concept that it is better to ask for forgiveness than to ask permission does not apply in most Goodreads groups. The truth is that overstepping your bounds can get you bounced from the group and labeled as a pushy, obnoxious author.
- Join just to tell readers about your book.
- Spam members with your book every chance you get
- Recommend your own book for a book of the month selection. Not only does it look unprofessional, it looks desperate.
- If your book is recommended for book of the month, don’t ask your friends to join the group just to vote for your book. Most moderators can figure it out and it never fairs well for you.
- Don’t join groups, just to join groups. We have authors who join STB and do nothing with it. They make no comments, not even an introduction. It is like buying a car and just letting it sit in your driveway. What is the point? When we hit our group cap and need to clean house, they are the first to go.
- Don’t argue with members! It is the fastest way to become known as a troublemaker. It doesn’t matter if you weren’t the one to start an argumentative discussion, walk away. If you find the group to be abusive, LEAVE IT. It’s unfortunate but that can happen even in some of the best groups.
I tell my author clients to be prepared to spend a half hour on Goodreads each day. Do it while you are drinking your coffee in the morning or before you head to bed at night, but do it! Once you put the effort into it, those relationships will start to build and then everything becomes easier.
I want to reiterate that while Goodreads can be intimidating, it doesn’t have to be. I have become friends with both authors and members throughout the world, as a result of it. It is a matter of lassoing it and making it work for you. It takes baby steps, but once you get the hang of it, it’s easy and it’s fun.
Have questions? Feel free to contact me or follow me at:
The Author CEO: http://authorceo.com/
Naomi Blackburn, owner of The Author CEO, a consulting firm dedicated to helping independent authors navigate the development of strategic business plans and the marketing world, holds an MBA and has worked in the field of business development, sales and consulting for 12 years. A former social worker, she has helped hundreds of clients meet their life goals. A top 1% Goodreads reviewer, she comes to the world of books from a reader/reviewer’s perspective. She strives to help authors achieve their goals by teaching them to think of themselves as CEO/entrepreneur of a small business and helping them negotiate the business side of selling books.
Purchase The BadRedhead Media 30-Day Book Marketing Challenge right now, and learn how to do much of what I mention here in a daily, step-by-step format. You can do this. What are you waiting for?
Need help optimizing your blog posts? Not sure what that even means? Grab this little mini-book and you’ll be in wonder at what you didn’t know and how your blog traffic starts increasing right away!