What Am I Supposed To Be Doing On Goodreads?

Dan's pic
Your humble host.

I’m going to tell you this little story for several reasons. It’s a sad cry for help, yes, but in a good way. Also, I’m a pretty honest guy, depending on who you ask. When I’m clueless, which is rare but it happens, I’ll probably admit it.

(Recently, we discussed building your author platform HERE, and how to auto post your blog HERE)

I don’t usually do it so publicly…

 But what the heck; I ask you guys to open yourselves up in your writing even though it’s scary; here’s an example of opening yourself up to ridicule for the sake of getting an education.


See? After a while, opening yourself isn’t that scary. Nobody is gonna punch me in the nose for posting this. Probably.


They may laugh


Okay, ready?


So I joined Goodreads a few years ago because I was supposed to – you know? Like starting that blog? And getting on Twitter? Well, Goodreads was yet another thing I was supposed to do as a new author.

(We discussed Goodreads recently HERE but it’s time to rally the troops! As authors we are missing the boat on this one)

Goodreads profile pic
That’s me! (This is the new profile. No, you don’t get to see the old, horrible one.)

Anyway, I put up a (mediocre) profile and listed my books…. And that was about it.


A visual representation of my Goodreads activity for about 2 1/2 years.

I was essentially inactive from then until about 2 weeks ago when I decided to get re-involved. I had accumulated about 30 friends on Goodreads by then, maybe fewer, really; I don’t remember. It wasn’t a lot. Could have been ten. Doesn’t matter.

But since we’re supposed to attack one new social media every so often. It was time to look at Goodreads.


I went to my author profile on November 25, 2015, updated it, clicked on a few other things – and BOOM, people started friending me.


NO idea what I did.


I added a few hundred friends like three hours. I didn’t click things to do this, it just happened. I mean, I clicked some things originally during the profile update stuff, but I didn’t keep clicking things. (These are technical terms, in case I lost you.)


Next day there were more people who had become my Goodreads friends.

500 Goodreads friends 11272015 b
This was TWO days later, on November 27, 2015

A few days later there were a LOT more.

616 on Goodreads 11292015 b
November 29, 2015

And it kept going…

700 Goodreads 12022015 B
December 2, 2015

Today we hit 900.

900 goodreads friends 12092015 b
That’s good, right?

I have NO IDEA what I’m doing. Or did. No idea what I did.


But that’s not the point.

I’m pretty sure it’s not like a golf score, where lower is better…


I need to know what I should be doing with these folks. Interact, yes – how? What do you do there? Market to these folks? Sure! How – what is the right way?


SOMEBODY is being effective on Goodreads. Let’s find them and get them here to explain it in a guest blog post. (I have books to sell, and GR is the world’s largest book club.)


  • If you are on Goodreads, friend me. “Dan Alatorre” – that’s me. You’ll recognize my smiling mug on the profile page.
  • If you are clueless about Goodreads, too, REBLOG this and let’s find a friend of yours who’s not.
  • If you are active on Goodreads, tell us a little about what you do there in the comments section.
  • If you find a good article that explain how authors should utilize Goodreads, think about doing a guest blog for us. Or link to the article in the comments section.
  • If you know people who market effectively on Goodreads, track them down and use enhanced interrogation techniques to get them to fill the rest of us in. (It’s not torture and it’s not illegal. Allegedly.)


From what I understand, Goodreads is a little bit of a different animal. You don’t post about “buy my book” there. Or maybe you do – I don’t know. But I sure don’t want to piss off 900 people figuring it out.


That’s where you come in. There are a lot of you, so if we all work on this we’ll come up with the answers fast. You weren’t expecting homework? Think of it as a writing challenge. (I don’t know how it qualifies as a writing challenge, but work with me on this one.)


Meanwhile, you guys have books you’ll want recommended to these 900 friends of mine. You’ll want reviews for your books. Well, so will I, from you and your friends, when I put out my next book. So we can all help each other eventually. But we gotta figure it out first.


It’s time to figure out Goodreads!


And as always, when we do, we’ll learn it together.


00 Santa DanREBLOG me! Or SHARE this post on Facebook and Twitter! See those little buttons down below? Put on your glasses. There they are. Click them. The FOLLOW button is now in the lower right hand corner.


Got a QUESTION? ASK IT! Hit the Contact Me button and I’ll see what I can do. (I have lots of smart friends.)


Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers and the hilarious upcoming novel “Poggibonsi: an italian misadventure.” Click HERE to check out his other works.



Published by Dan Alatorre AUTHOR

USA Today bestselling author Dan Alatorre has 50+ titles published in more than 120 countries and over a dozen languages.

53 thoughts on “What Am I Supposed To Be Doing On Goodreads?

  1. I’d also like to know what a yet-to-be-published author can do to build a platform on Goodreads. I have an account set up, but I can’t list myself as an author until I have an ISBN for my book…which I don’t, since I’m still writing it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good question.

      I only joined Goodreads after I had a book out, but I assume a lot of the information transfer over, like friends. For example, not all of the people I am friend with on Goodreads are authors; most are readers. They can all recommend books, review books, etc. So joining as a reader and then switching to author when the times comes seems like it would be the smart way to go. All the accumulated friends would certainly transfer and the relationships you built would be supportive of your book. Might be a smart move to actually be on GR for a while before switching to author mode.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Here’s a relevant thread in the KBoards.com forum (“Someone please walk me through what an Author should be doing on Goodreads”):


    I couldn’t find a way to promote my books without feeling spammy, and I gave up.

    I do NOT recommend doing a giveaway (paperbacks only). (1) It’s expensive. I ended up spending $20 per review), and, (2) GR readers are a tough crowd. I figure that a GR reviewer will give, on average, one less star than a regular Amazon reviewer.

    I’m curious as to why you got so many friends so quickly. Keep us posted as to whether that has an effect on anything (bottom line, self-esteem, community respect, stuff like that).

    I use GR simply to keep track of the books I read, since I have CRS (Can’t Remember S___). I recently forgot to check GR, and slogged through an entire grammar book before realizing that I’d already read it!

    Check out my GoodReads shelves: https://www.goodreads.com/PianoAl . I have forty-one books on my “How To Write” shelf along with the ratings of each.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. One of the comments in the thread is from Nathan Van Coops, a fellow Tampa area author and FB friend of mine. When we met at an author forum, Nathan strongly recommended Goodreads participation and said that working within a group there (like fantasy, romance, etc.) helped him a lot with book sales, and when he became co-moderator it helped even more. Here is his comment from the thread:

      One of the useful tools Goodreads offers is the chance to get in book of the month club reads. I’ve found that very useful. I am a co-moderator of a group for time travel and we do a group read each month. Members typically vote for books they want to read and we tackle them. The cool thing about that is if your book gets selected, you tend to get linked to all the other books a group has read in Amazon’s also bought. My book for example was selected a while back, and since the group had also read a lot of classic time travel and also contemporary bestsellers like Stephen King’s 11/23/63, it now has a connection to those books on Amazon. A Goodreads group of even as small as 10-20 people all reading the same books together has an interesting effect on your visibility.*

      You can’t just barge into a group and get your book read obviously. You definitely need to be a member of a group as a reader. That is your number one priority, but I think you should be doing that anyway. Joining a group related to your genre keeps you informed of your target readers’ likes and dislikes and helps make you more knowledgeable on the genre in general. If you are writing science fiction but not reading it, you won’t be likely to know what’s new and capturing readers attention. I believe the value of reading critically and heavily in your genre can’t be understated. Talking to other fans of the genre really opens your mind up. It’s also my favorite place to reach other authors and develop connections and friendships.

      *If you want to see what other books yours is linked to right now, check out http://www.yasiv.com and type the title of your book into the search bar on top. Fun tool.


      1. Excellent arguments. As a reader, I think I might want to join in just to be a part of that.

        Later today I am going to my first writing critique. It’s terrifying of course. But your encouragement and feedback about the importance really mattered to me. Oh, gosh, wish me strength!



    2. Oh, and one of the things I did that caused so many friends was I tried to “invite friends” or something from Twitter and Facebook. I say tried because when I went to do it, GR gave me an error message and said it couldn’t. I guess later it did, probably via Facebook.

      Liked by 1 person

    3. Pianoal, I agree about the stars, BUT I think the star system is slightly different in that 2 stars on Goodreads is ‘It’s OK’ whereas it’s ‘I don’t like it’ on Amazon. I did a giveaway (for just one book) and I thought it was worth it as I gained a lot of friends/followers that way.

      I do have my blog automatically sent to Goodreads? Maybe you did that when you updated your profile, Dan?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. There IS a difference in the star/rating systems on GR versus Ammy, so take that into consideration. It’s been my experience that once somebody starts giving ratings and reviews, the more they do, the more they tend to rate HIGHER. That’s just what I’ve seen, though. Usually the harshest reviews and ratings are from people who were new to it.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes, I agree, but here’s the problem: The GoodReads reviewer is likely to put a review on Amazon as well as on GoodReads, and people won’t know that since it’s a GR reviewer, that 2 stars means “it’s OK” and doesn’t mean “I don’t like it.”

        Liked by 1 person

    4. I have to disagree on the usefulness of giveaways – they result in a lot if inexpensive exposure. I gave away three copies of my first book; two of the winners were in the UK. So yeah, that wasn’t cheap, but it got the ball rolling on people noticing my book. To date, 1,300 readers have added it to their “to read” list, and it has 300 ratings. I don’t look at giveaways as a way to get reviews (though that’s what’s supposed to happen). I see them as super easy exposure. I ended up doing two for the first one and am currently in the middle of one for my new book.

      You’re right about GR being a tougher crowd, but I find the ratings there to be more valuable than Ammy reviews. 3 stars on Ammy is listed as a critical review, whereas on GR 3 stars means “I liked it” and is seen more positively. I like the description given with each star rating. My first book’s overall star rating is lower on GR than Ammy, but 86% of GR readers said they liked it. I think that’s much more useful information than the more arbitrary ratings on Ammy.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. As with any promotion, your mileage may vary. The easier the promo, the less benefit derived. A good looking ad, a smart angle to the promo, and lots of other things play a big role in a successful giveaway. (Mainly, a good book attached to it!)

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes, quite true. I have tended to ignore the exposure, since I couldn’t measure how many sales resulted from that. Since I was mostly after reviews, I gave away too many copies. I gave away 18 copies of Contact Us (over several contests), which cost me about $150 in printing and shipping. I have only gotten 490 people to add it to their to-be-read shelf. IIRC I got about seven reviews.

        Perhaps I’m just disgruntled because my most critical reviews on Amazon came from giveaway winners.

        But maybe giving away just one copy now and then would be a good strategy. I will rethink it, thanks.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. It is tricky to measure the value of exposure, to be sure. According to one advertising theorist, it can take up to twenty exposures before a would-be consumer decides to buy. So even if that GR reader doesn’t buy today, they might a month from now after seeing your cover a dozen more times. That’s also the argument for being active on social media every day. It builds your author brand.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Somebody smarter than me may have to put two and two together here, or NOT put it together if it doesn’t belong, but…

            Think of Ammy as an impulse buy. Goodreads? Maybe not as much. Users have a different reason for being on each site. Ammy is more geared towards shopping/browsing/buying; Goodreads is more about sharing your reading experiences with like-minded people and seeing what they are reading, liking, and recommending.

            Either way, impulse buys are accelerated by the Kindle Unlimited aspect, because it’s not additional money out of pocket.

            If I liked the last ten books Al liked, I’d strongly listen to his recommendation on a book he had just read. So that “friend refers two friends, who each refer two friends, and so on, and so on” – THAT is the AUTHOR’s benefit to authors on Goodreads. HOW to make that happen is slightly elusive, but my guess is there aren’t any shortcuts.

            Whatever you do would be geared to get a lot of people recommending your book, and the people you’d want most to recommend it the most would be people who (A) like the genre you wrote your book for, (B) read a lot, (C) have lots of friends or followers on Goodreads, (D) and don’t mind making recommendations.

            So? How do you find those people and get them to read your book? Me, I’d actively target them like I did on Ammy (as long as it is NOT a violation of the GR terms of service – and it might be, I haven’t checked). I emailed Ammy’s top reviewers and asked them to review my book. Some did. A few became friends, a few became fans, but all were respected by me (if they wanted a PDF, they got it; or an audio book. Or when they said no, or if their information said no XZY-type books, or no books ta all right now. You get the idea. I respected that). I have to believe there’s a similar way to interact with top folks at GR.

            See? I told you we’d learn it together. And we are. Bit by bit.

            Liked by 2 people

      3. I have been on GR for a while now, done several giveaways and loads of people added my books to their TR list. But none of this has resulted in much interest in my books and only a few reviews.
        I assume I am not participating enough and would dearly love to understand GR better…

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Dan, I just went to your Goodreads page and saw you have the opportunity to fill in “Dan’s Quotes,” which means pithy quotes from your many books. People will love reading your quotes. And I think you’re correct in thinking that your invitation to friends on FB and Twitter may have given you a boost. What this does is remind people that you exist! Giveaways do the same thing: many readers troll Goodreads and enter the giveaways- most people like receiving a free book and it takes little to fill out the form. In so doing, readers learn about your book, and most add it to their “to read” list, where it affords one more spot of visibility for your book. I’ve found that posting book reviews I’ve written on Goodreads ( the same as I post on Amazon) generates traffic, as does listing my books under categories. I couldn’t tell you how, but because my book Dancing to an Irish Reel is set in Ireland, somehow it became #1 on the list of Irish Contemporary Romances ( even though it’s not a romance!) But I’ll gratefully accept the exposure, and it gives me one more twitter subject! Lastly, I believe there is a Goodreads tutorial on “How to use Goodreads” for authors. You’ve posited a great question here, and I’ll be watching everyone’s comments.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Great suggestions, Claire! When we do #1lineWednesday on Twitter, I am somehow able to find lots of funny, witty quotes from my books. Then I stared at Goodreads and I was like “Uhhh…”

      I can probably start with some of the Twitter stuff and go from there.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. I AM pretty damned funny. I need to give that some thought.

          What a blast it would be to put a bunch of book quotes up there and then see that people liked them, and I could say, hey, that came from my book…

          Think of how many times we’ve liked a small quote and decided to read more because of it. Every newspaper headline, every internet article, every blog post…

          You may be on to something!

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Yeah, goodreads is so different from all other social media. But I like that. It’s more about books and authors than popularity. (Of course you need to invite people to read books, attend events, and be your friend to really utilize it properly, but it’s fun)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve been a member of Goodreads way before I was published. Like you I have NO idea what to do with it now that I’m published. I will be following this with great interest. I have been thinking of redoing my Goodreads page since I’ve written a couple of books now. Guess I better do that now. If I come up with anything interesting I will contact you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “Goodreads is a book lovers heaven. It’s where readers go to chat and share their love for books. As authors, Goodreads is a marvelous window into who are readers are, what they like, and what they don’t like. It’s absolutely invaluable.”

      This is one of the comments in the thread that I found helpful. I take it to mean, GR is really for readers and not for writers, but writers can learn a lot by going there and watching.

      The rest, we’ll learn together.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m still scratching my head over Goodreads, too. I reblogged an excellent post: http://cathleentownsend.com/2015/09/24/is-goodreads-good-for-you/. Be sure to follow it back to the source article. Most of the information is in the comment section.

    But I haven’t done any of this stuff personally yet. I’m still trying to catch up on other stuff I’ve been doing as a result of publishing, so I can’t tell you if any of it works.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Here’s another helpful piece of information from Margitte, a blogger and GR user, from about a year ago:

    I am not an author, only a blogger, but love Goodreads for various reasons. It was 1) my first account with a book lovers community on the internet and I felt thrilled, 2) I have since joining the site, read about 200 books I would never have found on my own 3) encouraged me to do the crazy blogging thing 4) joined other similar sites.

    Goodreads are, as far as I am concerned, the best book-sharing site in my experience. I normally look at all the people reading the same book(s) as I do and invite them to be friends. I get similar invitations. For me personally it is about shared interests.


    So, basically if ten friends of yours read a book and like it, the odds are you will read it and like it. And so on and so on.


    1. Another blogger, Maggie James, suggests this:

      As for events, they can be whatever you like. For example, authors can host Q & A sessions with members, so that counts as an event, to which you can invite people, letting them know when you’ll be hosting the Q and A.


  8. Reblogged this on Kim's Author Support Blog and commented:
    I’ve been on there for years and I’m still clueless. I have almost 2,746 friends and still have no idea. I do keep up with what I’m reading and what I’ve read and leave reviews for authors I’ve read. Just started leaving the reviews here recently. I’ve seen some authors post giveaways. I usually post a book sale in events. It would be nice to learn what works for authors on GR though.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Dan, why don’t I make this subject more complicated by adding that my publisher also recommends Shelfari and Library Thing, which are similar to Goodreads. Both are endlessly complicated to me! If you haven’t taken a look at these two, please do; I’ll be interested in your take on both.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good idea. We should probably go through a lot of these one by one (I haven’t worked on either of those sites yet) and the starting gate would be the biggest and best, which is Goodreads. Luckily, I listened to a lot of smart people Sunday and we gathered tons of helpful information that we posted in the comments, plus CJ did a guest post today on my blog following up on Goodreads from a reader’s standpoint. Very eye opening!

      Liked by 1 person

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