Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Adventures in Self-Publishing: Goodreads

Here are a few tips I've learned about Goodreads in the last couple of months:

*To become a Goodreads author, you simply "claim" your author profile.  Search for your books, and then where the author name is listed, click on it, and there should be a place to click to claim the profile.  Fill out the form and in a day or so your status will be changed from reader to author, which opens up a lot of promotional opportunities.

*Set up an author user profile for each separate pseudonym.  Unlike a lot of social networks, which limit you to only one account, Goodreads actually encourages you to set up a separate account for each pseudonym, since they don't have a way to link various pseudonyms to one author profile.  To do this, you need to sign up as a new user with a different email address, then "claim" your profile by clicking on the author name on one of your books.  Do this for each pseudonym.

Having a bunch of accounts (or two, in my case) makes it more difficult to keep up, so I set up my pseudonym to link to my real name.  I wrote in my author profile for "Barb Lee" that I could be found under "Barbara Cool Lee" (my main name), and wrote a blog post referring people there, and put that information in the pseudonym book's description as well.  That way I don't have to spend much time logged in on the pseudonym account.

*If your books aren't listed (common with small press or self-published books, you can manually add your book at  But be sure it's not listed already before you do this!  Adding a duplicate could mess up things, so do a thorough check before adding.

*Dashboard.  Once you have claimed an author profile, and Goodreads has validated it, you can do a lot of things to promote your work.  Start at your dashboard: profile is listed, showing the number of books you've written, the number of people who've added your books to their lists, the number of ratings, reviews, etc. Then each book is broken down individually, with the same information.

You also have a blog.  This is easy to create (just write a post), and you can make announcements about promotions, releases, and/or just copy the same info you post on your regular blog.

*Next comes the Advertising section.  I have used Goodreads' self-serve advertising, but honestly I'm not seeing much response to it.  It's easy to do:  just follow the directions and it'll pull the cover photo and link from the isbn you enter.  You have a very small space to enter advertising copy, so think about what you want to say and play with it a bit.  They recommend a "call to action," for example, "click here to add the book," instead of simply telling about the book.  You can also target specific genres and authors, which they recommend (this means the ad will appear when people who expressed interest in those genres and authors are surfing Goodreads).

As I said, I didn't get much response to my ad for The Honeymoon Cottage:

but I did get some results from my Cat's Blood giveaway ad:

*Which brings me to Giveaways, one of the best promotion tools I've found.  On Goodreads, you can give away a copy of your book (must be a printed copy, not an ebook, and must be published with the last 6 months or be an advance copy).  How is that a good promotion?  Well, you simply list a giveaway (they walk you through the steps from your author dashboard), and they do all the work.  They list it, gather the entries, and pick the winner.  When they inform you of the winner, you mail it to the person (do NOT add the winner to your mailing list, by the way; it's against the rules to ever send them anything but the book they win), and that's it.  

I did my first giveaway last week.  From June 5-10 readers could enter to win a copy of The Honeymoon Cottage.  Results?  507 entries, 1 winner, and... over 90 people added the book to their to-be-read list.  That's the big payoff.  All of a sudden, 90 people became aware of my book, thought it sounded interesting, and put it on their list of possible future reads.  The intriguing thing is that when they did, their 2000+ friends saw  a message that said "Jane added The Honeymoon Cottage to her to-read list."  So those are the numbers from a mere 5-day promotion:  507 entries, 90 adds, 2000+ potential readers who at least had a chance to glance at the book.

Last week I had my highest sales of the previous 6 weeks.  I don't think it was a coincidence.  Good return for a promotion that only cost me one paperback and postage.

My only mistake I think was doing such a short giveaway.  I noticed the books with the most contest entries were not just from famous authors; they also were giveaways that ran for at least a month or two.  So I've listed a second copy of The Honeymoon Cottage, and a copy of Cat's Blood, and am running the giveaways for a long time.

*The last three items on the author dashboard are E-books (you can actually sell your ebooks directly through Goodreads, unless you are doing the KDP Select program which restricts sales outlets), Q&A groups, and Facebook Fan Page tab.  I haven't done any of these yet.  I'll write another blog when I get to them.

So that's what I've learned so far on Goodreads.  I'm finding it one of the best places to directly interact with readers, but I've barely put my toe in the water so far.  There's a lot to learn.  If you're on Goodreads, stop by and enter my giveaways, and be sure to "friend" me if you haven't yet so we can follow each others' journeys!

Happy writing, everyone!



Genene Valleau, writing as Genie Gabriel said...

Good info, Barb! Thank you for making this so easy to understand. This is on my list of things to do, but probably not for a couple weeks or so. :)

Deborah Wright said...

Another post full of great info Barb!

Did you know that the head of Author Programs at Goodreads is presenting a workshop at RWA National? It's called, "How to Get the Most Out of Goodreads." I've got it highlighted as one of the workshops I'm interested in.

Barbara Cool Lee said...

I am really glad at how many workshops RWA is having that I can use, including talks by the Goodreads exec you mentioned, as well as with the founder of Smashwords. Lots of stuff from the cutting edge of publishing is being covered. Looking forward to it!