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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Getting the Good out of Goodreads: Six Methods to get Your Novel Noticed

By: Heather Day Gilbert

(Goodreads illustration from Cass Co. Public Library)

I'd like to offer a few short and sweet tips on how to make Goodreads work for you; specifically if you are self-publishing, but much of this will also hold true if you're traditionally published. An alternate, yet equally effective title for this post could have been "Learning from Heather's Mistakes on Goodreads."

1) The moment your cover art and blurb are ready, list your book on Goodreads. This gives people time to get it on their To-Read lists, which will increase your visibility on search engine sites. I'd suggest getting your cover art and book blurb up about two months ahead of time to build buzz on all your social media sites. You can also post quotes from your novel, which is another effective way to draw people into the story. A fun way to do this is to use PicMonkey and edit free pictures (I got many from Morguefile), if you can find some that fit your fave quotes.

2) Give yourself an author page to link with your book, pre-publication. When you write your author biography, try to use action verbs as much as possible and don't make it all about the one book that is coming out. Take the long view of what kind of fiction you write and who you are as a person. 

You can also easily link your blog to your Goodreads author page, as well as upload vlogs, trailers, or YouTube videos so people get a visual picture of your novel.

3) Nominate your book for Listopia lists. Yes, even before it's released. Yes, it seems really self-serving, but it will help it get noticed sooner in its appropriate genre. Use judgment as to nominating your own book for "Best of" lists before it's even released/reviewed. I stuck to lists like "Eye-Catching Cover Art" or "2013 Releases." 

Oh, while you're poking around in Listopia, nominate your other favorite books for lists! Boost those authors, too.

4) Send out a Goodreads friend request to all your Twitter followers. This is something I did by accident, and I felt bad for asking all kinds of people to accept my Goodreads friendship. But it added a whole plethora of readers to my follower lists and increased visibility. In short, it was a brilliant mistake.

5) Join Goodreads groups in your genre, but READ the group regulations before linking to your book. I confess this is something I learned the hard way. I *gasp* got kicked out of a group, because I misunderstood their rules on sharing links to your own book. I felt like a heel and offered a personal apology, but never heard back. In short, I felt like a jerk. Make sure you keep your groups straight —if you're in several, it's easy to forget which ones allow author shout-outs and which ones don't. 

6) Once your book releases, if you have softcovers in hand, do a Goodreads giveaway. This is a GREAT way to gain exposure for your novel. You can't offer an e-book in a Goodreads giveaway, though—only hard copies. I would strongly recommend you offer at least three copies of your book to reach more readers, and run the giveaway for at least a month

I made the mistake of only offering one copy of my book for a two-week giveaway. I still got lots of requests, but I could've reached even more potential readers if I'd extended the giveaway and offered more copies. Bonus perk: when people sign up for the giveaway, there's a handy button they can hit to add your book to their To Read lists. I would rough-estimate that over 200 people added my book to their list in that two-week giveaway period.

In short, it's relatively easy to make Goodreads work for you as an author. You just have to spend time/effort getting your book cover/blurb ready ahead of release, fixing up your author page, and exhausting built-in marketing opportunities such as giveaways and groups. 

Here's hoping you go forth and get the good out of Goodreads!

Heather Day Gilbert enjoys writing stories about authentic, believable marriages. Sixteen years of marriage to her sweet Yankee husband have given her some perspective, as well as ten years spent homeschooling her three children. Heather is the ACFW West Virginia Area Coordinator.

You can find Heather at her website, Heather Day Gilbert--Author, and at her Facebook Author Page, as well as Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, and Goodreads. You can find her Amazon best-selling Viking historical novel, God's Daughter, here on Amazon and Smashwords.

***Question for you: If you're an author, what's been the most helpful aspect of Goodreads for you?***


Ron Estrada said...

Great advice, Heather. I've found Goodreads to be my "go to" source to look for new books, and I suspect that it will continue to grow. I haven't seen Amazon make any major changes yet. Hopefully they'll leave it as is, with a minimum of marketing intrustion.

Connie Almony said...

Thanks--as always--for your great advice on marketing for the indie author. Printing this page for the work I have over the next few months!!!

Nike Chillemi said...

Thx. Great ideas. I'm going to put a few of them into practice. I want to get more active on Goodreads.

Heather Day Gilbert said...

I agree, Ron--I've been wondering what Amazon will do to change it up, if they do. So far, so good. And I really love the Goodreads community. It just adds an extra layer than what Amazon has, it seems.

Heather Day Gilbert said...

Thanks, Connie! It really is a great platform to reach readers. AND to keep track of your own books! I'm doing the 52-book challenge this year (via Ron Estrada's blog, above), and it's nice to have a proper list to keep track of how I'm doing.

Heather Day Gilbert said...

Excellent, Nike--so glad this helped. I know I just went into it determined to milk it for all it's worth, so to speak. Which of course means I made some mistakes, like "advertising" in the wrong groups, as I said. I think the Listopia lists are easier and less intrusive than groups, anyway!

Janet Sketchley said...

Thanks for these tips, Heather. I notice you've used the discussion feature at the bottom of your book page. Any advice on how/when/what and of course what not to do? Do we assume anyone who responds will have read the book, or should we avoid spoilers?

Heather Day Gilbert said...

Ooh, great question, Janet, and one I haven't really thought through. I tend to post giveaways there (esp. Goodreads ones). I asked a question on my Amazon page and so far the discussion is zilch. A good idea is to check w/your fave authors and see what they're doing on discussion pages. I believe readers can start discussions? That would be the ideal. But if you don't have enough readers yet, I don't see why you couldn't start discussions yourself!

Janet Sketchley said...

Thanks, Heather. I'll check out what others are doing. My first thought was to post a link when I have an interview or something, but that's hardly "discussion." Depending on what I see, I may test it out with one of the discussion questions from the back of my book.

Ian Acheson said...

Love how you keep serving the writers community with the provision of your wisdom, Heather. Thank you.

Heather Day Gilbert said...

Ian, thank you! I want to save authors time as they wade into the self-pub waters. I've learned so much by sites like Novel's nice to give back!

Judy said...

Thank you. These are great ideas that I need. Goodreads is the hardest media for me to handle. I am printing this off. Blessings

Heather Day Gilbert said...

So glad it was helpful, Judy!

Heather Day Gilbert said...

Let me know how it goes, Janet! Discussion questions would probably work great for that!

Nathan D. Maki said...

Thanks for this Heather; I put A War Within: The Gladiator and The Legionnaire and a blog post on Goodreads and then honestly haven't done anything more with it. Wasn't really sure what to do. This has given me some ideas, thanks! I'm reading God's Daughter right now!

Heather Day Gilbert said...

Just saw this comment, Nathan. Glad this helped you w/Goodreads ideas and thank you again for the review on God's Daughter! My hubby is reading your book now!