Weekly Journal

Why Every Writer Should Be On Goodreads

Kaila Krayewski

10th July 2018

With more than 65 million members and 2 billion books, Goodreads.com has grown into an online literary superpower since its launch in 2007. Created to act as an online book recommendation and review platform, it has grown into a trusted community for writers and readers. Today’s publishing climate is tough, and staying active in the online community is a valuable asset for anyone with aspirations in the literary world.

Being active on Goodreads allows you to interact with your readers and gain valuable insight about the industry. 

Here’s a look at the reasons why every writer should be on Goodreads.

When choosing the next book to read, would you rather ask a friend who has potentially read the novel or do you prefer a recommendation from a sales assistant you’ve never met before? This is the question that inspired CEO and chairman, Otis Chandler, in 2006 when he created Goodreads—a place for readers and writers to connect.

In the years following its launch, Goodreads grew at a rate that attracted the attention of Amazon who bought the site in 2013. The exact figures of the deal never went public, but speculative reports of a $150 million sale floated around the business world. Regardless of the price, the acquisition placed Goodreads in the big leagues. Goodreads is today what IMDb (Internet Movies Database) is for movies and Spotify is to music—an extensive library where users connect with friends and professionals.

Your Profile

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Much like a Facebook page, users create a Goodreads profile. Sign up with your Amazon login details or create a new username and password. Either way, the process is simple and doesn’t take long. Part of setting up your account is listing some of your favourite books and rating them with their five-star system. Goodreads does this to tailor recommendations for you, analysing what genres, topics, and authors pique your interest.

Be sure to include information in your bio that reflects your aspirations in the writing world. Are you a publisher? A writer? Or just a bookworm looking for recommendations? Include any links to blogs or personal websites so others can get to know you better.

Once in, you can follow your friends to see what they’re reading. You can also recommend books or comment on their reading preferences. Add to your “To Read” list and purchase directly from Amazon—hardback copy or a Kindle/ebook version—with just a few clicks. Still stuck for ideas on what to read? Browse Listopia, where thousands of lists are gathered to recommend everything from the “Best Books of 2018” to “Single-Dad Romance.” You can also create your own lists with your all-time favourites.

Use the yearly Reading Challenge feature to up the ante on your own reading or browse interviews and articles published by Goodreads for useful and fun information about the industry.

Goodreads Author Profile

Counting literary greats such as Stephen King and Margaret Atwood among its users, these pages are official author pages, curated by the writers themselves (or their PR team). However, you don’t have to have sold millions of copies to create an author’s page: self-published e-books are works by authors too, you know! This page is crucial for writers, as it allows you to directly connect with your audience. Share information, news of releases, book signing engagements, and just generally promote your work. One appreciated feature is “Shelves”, where you shelve books you’ve read, want-to read, or are currently reading. This is available to all Goodreads users, but readers pay particular attention to what authors are reading. Who wouldn’t like to know what Dan Brown picks up before bed?

Publish Your Writing

Share your words with the world —poems, blog posts, thoughts, chapters from your magnum opus… the whole book for that matter. Any content you share must, of course, be original, and is copyrighted automatically once you press that publish button. These posts are a great way to show your followers snippets or whole versions of your work. One tip for published authors is to keep your metadata updated. This means making sure the cover of your book matches the edition, correct page numbers, publication date—boring stuff, but oh so important. Correct details will help your visibility in searches.

Review Books

This is where you really get a chance to connect with other authors and readers. The rating system on Goodreads feels reliable in the sense that ratings are oftentimes backed up by detailed reviews, allowing for good insight into the rating. This is an incredible opportunity for those wishing to go into publishing or reviewing, as it is a chance to publish professional reviews which will be read by thousands—perhaps millions. Naturally, the vast pool of comments makes it easy for your review to get lost in the sea of others, but if you regularly post quality reviews with original thoughts, chances are you’ll get noticed, and people will start to follow you.  

As a reader, this is an open playing field where honest and insightful reviews are welcome. However, if you are an author hoping to connect with readers of other books in your genre, your approach should be a little more tactical. One advice in this regard is to only post positive reviews, as you don’t want to come off as negative and scathing of other writers. It is, after all, a community. This is not to say you should be pouring unwarranted praise over work you do not care for: it is merely a suggestion to only review books that you genuinely liked. In this way, you may connect with the author, and his or her readers. Also, it improves your chances of having favourable reviews written about your own work. Reading your own reviews can give excellent insight into the minds of your readers and target audience, so pay attention here.

Book Club

Join one of the book clubs on the site to engage in deeper community discussions about particular works or genres. Again, a great way to interact with target audiences or other writers. If your aim is to get a discussion going about your own book, one advice is to join a book club first as a reader, gain some trust and insight into the ambience of the club, and then propose to have your book read by its members. No one likes someone with a selfish agenda, so it’s important to give out what you want to receive. Read the recommended books and post constructive feedback and thoughts.

Sync Your Blog

Authors are the only Goodread account holders who can have a blog feature on their profile. You can either publish straight on Goodreads or sync your profile to your website so that Goodreads automatically imports your posts. Your fans and followers will get weekly emails with a roundup of your blog activity as an automated email from Goodreads. This is a great way to maximise growth, both for published and online work.


Giveaways are a crucial part of launching your book or reaching new potential readers. By doing this, writers are very likely to receive a review from the winners of the giveaways. More reviews equals more engagement on your page, meaning more people will be able to find you. This is a proven tactic, used by hard-hitting names in the industry.

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Word of Mouth and Advertise

In the build up for the release of Paula Hawkin’s bestseller The Girl On The Train, her PR team relied heavily on word-of-mouth in the Goodreads community. Here’s what Kate Stark, Vice President of Riverhead Books Marketing, had to say about creating the hype:

“Goodreads played a major role in helping The Girl on the Train break out to early success. We knew that getting early reviews from Goodreads members would be critical. Once the word of mouth started and readers got excited about the book, the social side of Goodreads amplified the buzz it was getting to astounding levels.”

It’s also possible for authors to advertise their books on Goodreads, which will target your specific audience with ads, then charge you per click. For more inside info about targeting through marketing on Goodreads, follow the Authors and Advertisers blog.

Written by:
Alexia Bergstrom is a Swedish writer, currently working on her debut novel. Follow her cheeky adventures on instagram @thealexicat and on her blog, www.theAlexicat.com

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