Friday, February 8, 2013

Goodreads for Writers

by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

GoodreadsI’ve talked about Goodreads a little bit here before.  It hasn’t been a huge part of my online platform, but after reading a few posts in January about how important Goodreads is becoming for authors, I decided to try to become a little more involved there.

As I’ve mentioned before, Goodreads can be scary for writers.  Actually….Goodreads stresses me out.  The reviewers are tough and you’ll find the average ratings a bit lower than you’ll see on Amazon (which, actually, probably reflects a more genuine review system and reviews that are more on-the-mark.) Just be prepared and steel yourself.

I’d set up my Goodreads account in 2007 and basically forgot about it once I did.  I felt like it was enough to have a presence there….like I have a presence on LinkedIn. So I set up my blog to feed over to Goodreads, I listed all my books over there (which wasn’t particularly intuitive, I didn’t think), then I  left it.  I didn’t really want to review books, didn’t really want to share what I was reading, and I felt awkward interacting as a reader there because I’m a writer—it’s sort of like crashing a party.

I saw an infographic that Goodreads put out about their 2012 and the amount of growth the site had seen.  I’d also heard authors on several of the email loops that I’m on talk about successful giveaways they’d hosted on the site.  They boast that 40,000 people enter giveaways on their site daily and that the giveaways increase awareness of our books.

I’d never checked into the giveaways program at Goodreads because I assumed that the process would be time-consuming and require a lot of oversight on my part.

Instead—it’s easy.  It took me about three minutes to fill out the form for the giveaway.  The longest part of the process was just me remembering what my username and password were.

A note:  Goodreads requires that these be physical books, not ebooks.  I’m wondering if they’ll change that rule before long.

The next screen looks like this:
Then you save it:
Goodreads randomly selects winners and after your giveaway end date, they send you the winners and their addresses.  If you don’t send the books, you’ll end up on some sort of Goodreads blacklist.  Authors can’t store the winners’ info for mailing lists, etc.

Goodreads recommends that authors give ten copies away…but I didn’t.  I’m keeping it at three and will see how it goes.  

They also recommend doing two giveaways of the same title: one several months before the sale date and one that runs for a month when the book launches. I honestly didn’t see the value in that, however.  If someone thinks they might win a copy of my book, why would they purchase it?  I’ve set my giveaway to last for a week.

The Goodreads giveaway is free, although they (naturally) encourage writers to buy ads to promote the giveaway.  I didn’t buy an ad.  The only cost is the physical copies of the books (mine were author copies), and the cost of postage (I kept the giveaway restricted to residents of the United States.)

More general information on Goodreads:

The Goodreads author program tutorial is here: 

Agent Rachelle Gardner posted tips for writers in her post How Authors Can Effectively Use Goodreads.

Are you on Goodreads?  Do you interact as a reader or writer or both?  Have you ever listed a giveaway?  How did it go?