A Timely guest blog post by my friend, critique partner and fellow author CJ Andrews – Dan.
Sunday afternoon Dan and I were chatting about his post on how authors can use Goodreads. As I rambled on about my thoughts on the topic, we (okay, Dan) realized that a lot of authors may struggle with this platform, because they’ve never used it as a reader—there’s a disconnect.
(To read that post, click HERE)
In my mind, Goodreads is a more valuable place to have a strong presence as an author than any of the other social media sites. That’s just my opinion, but it comes from my experience as a reader who used Goodreads and appreciated the valuable resource it is.
I started writing about a year and a half ago. Before that, I was an avid reader devouring 75-100 books a year. Not even James Patterson writes fast enough to keep up with that appetite for books! I often found myself searching for new authors, or at least new-to-me authors, and my next good read.
I’m a fussy reader—I read mostly in one genre, but not exclusively. I want to be entertained by an interesting story and realistic characters, and I despise poorly written and poorly edited books.
I started out searching for something to read in the “recommended books” on sites like Amazon or B&N, but finding something that met my standards wasn’t always easy. I read a lot of duds—sometimes bailing after only a few awful pages—before encountering a book worth reading.
I eventually stumbled upon Goodreads, and some might say the discovery was like Christmas morning.
From a reader’s perspective, Goodreads is an amazing resource.
- I simply check off what types of books I like to read, and
- they give me suggestions based on my selections.
But wait…there’s more!
As a reader, I have my very own bookshelf—a place to list the books I’ve read—where I can rate how much I enjoyed them . . . or didn’t enjoy them. Now when I ask Goodreads to recommend more books for me, they take this information into account, along with the check-list I created, to further refine their suggestions of books I might enjoy. The list even tells me which books on my shelf were used to determine each recommended title, so I know what to expect.
For a reader, this is awesome! But . . . it gets even better.
I can connect with other readers, similar to social media formats, and join groups. Now I can talk to readers who enjoy the same types of books as I do. I can see their bookshelves to know what they’ve read and how they’ve rated those books, and compare that to my own bookshelf and ratings.
I can also see when they’ve given a review on a book I might be interested in reading. This isn’t just some random stranger’s review, one who might even be a friend of the author and gave a supportive but unwarranted five-star review. This is a review by someone I’ve built a relationship with—a friend—and that carries a lot more weight. I already know this person likes the same books I do, so I can trust his/her opinion and recommendation.
When I started writing, I learned about the importance of building an author’s platform with a presence on social media, primarily Facebook and Twitter. Of course I complied—I want to be successful, after all—and set up my profiles. I even created an author page in addition to my regular Facebook profile, despite the fact that I’m still writing my debut novel. And, of course, I set up an author website and blog. (cheap plug for the guest blogger: visit me at authorCJAndrews.com)
Transitioning to an author’s mindset, these are the places I go to learn about fellow authors and what they’re up to. So imagine my surprise when I discovered my non-writer friends are still going to Goodreads to look for authors and their new books.
Now I see the value of Goodreads from the other side of the page.
But, as Dan’s post pointed out, figuring out how to make it work as a part of our author platform can be tricky. People on Goodreads don’t want to see ads by an author to buy their book. They go there looking for dependable referrals from other readers.
A wise mentor once pointed out to me that writers are readers too. So the key to being successful on Goodreads may lie in that premise. Establishing ourselves as readers among a highly active group of other readers is probably a better approach than playing the part of the pushy salesperson who gets ignored.
So, here’s my game plan.
- I’m working on filling up my new bookshelf and adding my ratings.
- After that, I’ll write some reviews of books I’ve enjoyed—this should help me gain some exposure and establish credibility.
When the time comes to put my own book out there, which is in the same genre as most of the tiles on my bookshelf, hopefully I’ll have built an audience eager to follow my recommendation and read it.
Gang, CJ’s tips here are invaluable if you are trying to figure out how to make Goodreads work for you as an author – and judging from Sunday’s post and comments, that’s most of us. Use these suggestions and follow CJ at her blog http://authorcjandrews.com/ – Dan.
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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.