Yes, I wrote readers. Not registered users, but actual readers who LOVE reading. Can you guess where they are?
First, I have to admit that I was wrong. Because I thought this social platform was dead, aging out in the way of Facebook. Despite seeing other fantasy authors have a strong platform and success on it, I figured it came from other things. And maybe it does, but cultivating a relationship with 85 million readers probably didn’t hurt them one bit.
So where is this place that I’ve totally ignored and I’m afraid you might be too? Goodreads.
Oh, I have an author profile on there and have linked my blog so that new posts automatically show up. I joined a couple of groups and even attended a cyber conference there ages ago. But nothing really panned out. I sort of ignored it and let it languish. Those email updates and message notifications… I delete them. Or at least I used to.
Because I couldn’t figure out how to connect.
Since I set up my profile on Goodreads, I’ve learned a lot more about marketing. Like to question all your initial assumptions, especially when what you are currently trying doesn’t seem to be working or not as well as you’d like or it used to. Because if your underlying basis is wrong, all of your efforts will be off target.
So when I recently said that I thought Goodreads had an older audience, I heard myself say the word “thought” and paused.
Does it? Is it really a languishing platform just because I made a few rough attempts to interact there years ago? Heck, I have my settings on to allow reader questions, but I check the account so rarely that a question might be four months old before I answer it.
Who is at fault for not having an amazing profile on Goodreads with tons of interaction? Me or the 85 million readers?
What Goodreads Has To Offer
With some research, not only did I find that there are 85 million readers on Goodreads as of March 2019, but that isn’t all!
It is hard to pin down ages because of the optional settings on Goodreads, but if you take Great Briton as a small subset, it looks like the readers are overwhelmingly younger (and possibly male but I seem to run across a lot more female readers than this chart would suggest).
In other words, this is the perfect age bracket for fantasy readers.
Plus, when you look at the figures that my barely used author profile has 1,028 ratings with a 4.1 star average, that I have 97 follows of my blog on the platform, and my books have been added to 2,613 unique users, and that I have real readers asking me questions, and I wonder why I’ve been so blind!
This has all been without actually trying, guided by active readers adding me. I haven’t run giveaways or joined any contests. I haven’t paid for advertising. I feel so stupid.
Of course, nothing is ever as simple as finding you’ve ignored a fantastic reader platform and simply showing up will suddenly cause great things to happen. And no platform is without its pitfalls and problems.
Goodreads has a strong reputation for hosting trolls.
The reputation isn’t as bad as Reddit (thank goodness), but I’ve heard far too many stories about authors being bombarded by one-star reviews for the smallest perceived slight like not giving someone a free book. There is that risk. But, of course, the same thing could happen directly on Amazon. And I’ve heard stories of authors being banned from Facebook advertising because an add used “questionable” wording.
Problems come in all forms on any platform.
But it is best to be aware and always on your best behavior. It won’t save you, but not joining in the fray while requesting help from moderators will help in a favorable outcome.
How to Build Your Profile
So what can you do if you don’t interact much on Goodreads but want to start? Well, here is a list of suggestions!
- Friendship Requests
- Run a Giveaway
- Create an Event
- Blog Posts
- Answer Ask the Author Questions
- Add books to your library
- Review books
- Comment on other people’s posts
Goodreads connects folks through friendship requests. You both receive and can request others to become friends. Once you do, you see their reviews, posts, and comments on your timeline just like Facebook. So go out and meet people, add your contacts from other platforms, and cultivate a list of friends – both readers and other authors.
There are always groups to join from reading to authors. It is a great way to network and meet folks, even if not the best way to make your books visible. Just like Facebooks groups, you shouldn’t spam Goodreads groups with your books.
Goodreads has an advertising option. I’ve heard so many stories that it isn’t worthwhile, but, as I mentioned, I’m done with believing and not trying. So, I’m giving them a whirl. I’ll let you know if I find them worthwhile. Just like any advertising though, expect to do a lot of testing until you find the right wording and target audience.
Running a giveaway on Goodreads used to be free… at least I remember it that way. I might be wrong! In any case, it isn’t free now. There are two paid options, and it is exclusive to fairly new releases. They get a lot of attention though and if you have the budget would be a great way to cap off a series (and bring attention to all the books in it!).
You can still create an event on Goodreads for free. So, if you happen to be planning something, either an event in person or a Facebook Event, a giveaway on your blog, looking for ARC readers, a release party… whatever it is, you can create that on Goodreads too and then invite everyone in your friend’s list.
Goodreads allows you to link an external blog to your profile, so if you have one, this is a great tool. Then, once you post on your blog, it will show up in Goodreads, and your friends will see your latest post. This is a great way of letting readers know news of you WIP. Be sure to like and comment on your posts, ask questions, and answer any comments.
Ask the Author Questions
On your author platform, you can turn on or off the option for Ask the Author questions. These are great because readers can ask you about your books! And, if things are slow or you want to cultivate more interaction, make a deal with a fellow author to ask you a new question while you ask them. Readers will see the question on your profile when they add or review your books, plus it will show up on the timeline of friends.
Add Books to Your Library
Adding books to your library creates a notice on the timeline of friends, and just helps to show that you and your profile is active on Goodreads. So show support to fellow authors, especially any who write similar books, and add them to your library as books you want to read.
Similar to adding books, actually reading and reviewing books keeps your profile active. Plus, it supports other authors while showing readers what sorts of books you like. All of these little things add up! Remember that it takes 5 to 7 interactions of a reader seeing your book or profile to make a choice to purchase and follow. These little reminders are key to hitting that target!
Comment on Other People’s Posts
Don’t just be the person waiting for people to come to you. Go to them! When you see a great review, let the poster know you’ll go check it out. Look at blog posts and ask questions. Interact! This is a social media platform, and if you want to have a profile readers notice, you have to be active. That means more than linking your blog to your profile and never showing up again (ahem, like I did).
What do you do?
Are you on Goodreads? How do you manage your profile? What do you think of the platform? Any tips that have worked for you? Let us know in the comments!