The joy of Goodreads – for readers and authors

I use Goodreads fairly regularly, both as a reader and as an author.

As a reader, there is a geeky thrill to keeping track of every book you’ve read. I don’t have every book I’ve read up there, but I try to add the new ones as I go along. But Goodreads also helps me discover new books. That’s because Goodreads has developed a recommendation engine that looks at your reading list and your reviews to offer you new suggestions. And there’s also an active community that introduced me to, among other books, The Lives of Animals by J.M. Coetzee.

Goodreads has been invaluable to me as an author in helping me raise awareness for my book The Tourist Trail. After my book came out, I gave away two free copies using the Goodreads giveaway program. This is something that all authors can do within six months of their book’s publication — and I highly recommend it. Because one thing you want people to do on Goodreads is add your book to their shelf. There’s no guarantee they will ever read your book, but it’s better to be on that virtual shelf than in the virtual closet. After two giveaways, several hundred people added my book to their shelves. If you’re considering a giveaway, I recommend that you schedule it roughly a month out, which gives people plenty of time to discover your book. And be sure that when you do mail out that free copy, you send a note to the lucky recipient asking for a review if he/she enjoys the book.

Speaking of giveaways, our author John Colman Wood will be giving away a free copy of his novel on Goodreads  — enter to win your free copy now!

For authors, giveaways are just the beginning. Otis Chandler, CEO of Goodreads, recently presented on How Consumers Discover Books Online at the Tools of Change conference.

You can download the presentation here, and I recommend checking it out.

Goodreads is learning a great deal about how people discover books. I pulled out two slides that I found most interesting.

This first slide details how people discover new books. This chart makes it clear that word of mouth sells books. Your “offline” friends as well as your virtual Goodreads friends play a big role in influencing your next read.

The publisher’s website doesn’t do much, I’m afraid. Nor does TV and radio. Word of mouth is what matters most — and virtual world-of-mouth services like Goodreads and Facebook can certainly help.

The next slide details how people on Goodreads discover books — and it’s comforting to see that people have many different ways of discovering books. Which means that authors don’t have to rely on just one approach. But these individual approaches do add up. A giveaway may only make a 2% difference, but if a lot of people review your book highly, this will improve the odds of your book being recommended via the Goodreads engine.  That is, success breeds success.

So if you’re not on Goodreads yet, check it out.

And if you’re an author, what are you waiting for?


5 thoughts on “The joy of Goodreads – for readers and authors”

  1. Excellent … thanks for sharing! And John is working on another one, with Goodreads tips for authors — coming soon! Goodreads is great.

  2. Hi Michael — I’m glad you found it useful. Best of luck on your book — I’m going to drop by the Nature shop to check it out. And let us know if you’re in Ashland — perhaps for a lecture at the local library?

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