“What is the best social media platform for authors?”
That question comes up for me almost daily — writers ask me via Facebook Messenger, in my free Facebook group, by email and especially when I speak live at conferences and retreats.
And though most people who ask want to know whether to focus on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn or Pinterest, the real answer is none of the above.
Goodreads, to me, is the best-kept secret hiding out in plain sight.
When I mention Goodreads to writers, I am usually met with a puzzled look. Either they aren’t familiar with the platform or they know about it and don’t understand it.
I’m going to fix that for you right now.
This article describes what Goodreads is, why you should care and how all of that makes it the best social media platform for authors.
Goodreads is like Facebook for Book Lovers
Launched in 2007, Goodreads is the largest website for book lovers and book recommendations. According to co-founder Otis Chandler, the entire mission of Goodreads is to help readers discover and discuss good books.
As an author, don’t you want a piece of that?
Here’s a taste of what you can do on Goodreads:
- Promote your books
- Develop relationships with readers
- Connect your blog to build a bigger platform
- Share updates with your readers
- Connect with other authors in your genre and readers who like similar books
- Participate in sponsored giveaways
I consider Goodreads to be “Facebook for book lovers” because it’s an expansive community of readers, boasting 90 million members, a catalog of 2.6 billion book titles and 90 million reviews.
Half of the world’s population might be active on Facebook, but on Goodreads, you are guaranteed that every single member loves books. They love books so much that they read them, talk about them and hang out with other people who want to talk about books.
Goodreads is where you find people who know the difference between science fiction and speculative fiction or between Christian inspiration and Christian lifestyle.
Like Facebook, Goodreads will send you notifications to keep you updated with what’s happening in the community even if you’re not checking in regularly. You can also join discussion groups, send and receive private messages and connect with your offline friends and friends from other social networks.
Goodreads Makes it Easy to Be Social
Designed to connect readers with each other and with the authors they love, Goodreads makes it easy for writers to be social. The platform hosts book giveaways (usually paid promotions) and reader challenges to entice readers to try new books, new authors and to explore different genres.
You can recommend books to your friends based on mutual interest or even have a little friendly competition on who can read the most books in a year.
You can also connect with like-minded members in groups. There are book clubs, reading challenges and even groups devoted to reviewing books by Goodreads authors (ahem…you know how important reviews are, don’t you?).
As a Goodreads author, you can host “ask me anything” sessions, connect your blog to the platform to expand your audience and have direct conversations with people who review and recommend your books. They even have articles to show you how to maximize the platform to promote your book.
What Makes Goodreads Special
If you know much about the publishing industry, you know that online reviews can make or break a book’s success in the market. However, reviews are harder and harder to come by these days.
You can’t review books on Amazon unless you’ve spent at least $50 with the company in the last year, and you have to buy the book from Amazon if you want your review to have the authority-boosting “verified purchaser” badge.
The biggest limitation with Amazon reviews, however, is that you’re not allowed to review books until the date of release. This poses a problem for authors who are traditionally published because pre-order campaigns are crucial to the overall success of a book.
Since we know that people are most likely to make purchasing decisions based on recommendations from friends, it’s important to have reviews posted online before your book is released.
This is why Goodreads is the best social media platform for authors. Goodreads allows readers to review books before they are publicly released AND they allow readers to update their reviews. This means a reader can post a review even before they finish the book based on their early impressions, editing the review to update it once they complete the book.
Goodreads helps you to create buzz around your book among people who are already known to buy and read books.
5 Steps to Getting Started on Goodreads
- Spend an hour getting to know the culture of the platform — Since Goodreads is like Facebook for book lovers, the tone members use is quite different than on other social media platforms. Sign up for an account if you don’t already have one and start exploring. Click around the site, read reviews, blog articles and check out the discussion area.
- Add the books you’ve read — When Amazon bought Goodreads in 2013, the sites were integrated. You can connect your Amazon account to Goodreads to add your Amazon purchases to your Goodreads bookshelf and to keep track of your Kindle reading. Adding the books you’ve read to Goodreads might take a little time, but it will help to connect you to readers with similar interests.
- Connect with your friends — You can send invitations to friends through Facebook, GMail and Twitter. By connecting with friends on Goodreads, you can create a community where the only thing you talk about is what you’re reading.
- Join discussion groups — Like on any social media platform, Goodreads members expect authenticity in their connections. Don’t join groups to shameless promote your group (unless that’s the purpose of the group). Join groups to build real relationships with readers. Groups are a great way to get inside the heads of super-fans within your genre and to see what is trending among your ideal readers.
- Apply to the Goodreads Author Program — Not everyone qualifies to become a Goodreads Author, but the bar isn’t impossibly high. If your book has an ISBN or ASIN, you qualify. The process takes some time, but once your application is accepted, several doors open up to you on the platform, including opportunities to advertise, participate in contests and host “ask me anything” author sessions.
A Word of Caution About Goodreads
Like any social media platform, establishing yourself on Goodreads will take time and energy. Instead of dabbling, make sure you have the capacity to lay a strong foundation on Goodreads before you get started. An intentional investment of time now will pay dividends later.
Though I believe every author needs to be on Goodreads, make sure you have a thick skin. Goodreads members tend to be more critical than Amazon reviewers. Expect Goodreads ratings to average 1.5 stars lower than Amazon. Because Goodreads members are book lovers, they tend to have a wider perspective to draw from than Amazon reviewers. Don’t take it too personally if your book on Goodreads averages 3 to 4 stars.
Just because Goodreads members are more critical in their reviews doesn’t make them right. Example: I launched a Christmas book that received 3 stars from a reviewer who felt “lukewarm” about the numerous references to faith and religion. Did I mention the book was about Christmas? Maybe that’s a story for another day.#Goodreads should be part of every author's marketing strategy. It allows readers to review books before they launch, building pre-order momentum. Click To Tweet
Wondering whether Goodreads is the right place for you to grow your audience and promote your books? Borrow my brain for 20 minutes to explore whether you should include Goodreads in your marketing strategy. You can book your free session here.