Goodreads and Me

GOODREADSInevitably, when someone asks me a writer- or reader-question in real life, it is going to end up on the blog. This used to happen with my food blog. The thing is, if someone has taken the time and effort to ask a serious question, there are probably other people wondering the same thing. Plus, a lot of the time, the question just gets me thinking, and then researching, and then I know so much I just burst out into my blogspace.

And I am so terrible at speaking impromptu, like in normal life. So now that I have processed…

The question was: Have I tried Goodreads as an author, and how has that worked out? (In reality, this question was directed at a group of writers, but I was the author with perhaps the most online presence, so I tried to answer.)

Goodreads prides themselves on many things. The reality is that they are a ginormous gathering place for book titles, reviews, and readers. They also claim to be a great place for authors to host forums, events, and put their information out there. (And they also have myriad book clubs and lists, but I won’t answer to any claims about those, here.)

To be brutally honest, I don’t find Goodreads to be a great way to generate interest in me or my books, which may be why many writers don’t host their own page there. On the other hand, I do maintain my page, in hopes that someday people will look for me there, and when they do…

Well, that and these reasons.

  1. I like to spread it around. The theory behind many modern publicity campaigns is this: be everywhere! These days, you can even adopt that policy without spending money. Sure, it would cost money to put ads in The New York Times, on a billboard in your town, or even on the sidebar of Goodreads, but what we’re talking about here is building a long, consistent web presence so that someday, if someone Googles you, bam!, you are there. Or if some random reader is surfing blogs, bam!, there’s your highly interesting guest post. Or if the search words “awesome book” are typed in, bam!, there’s your viral vlog from your book release. Like five years ago. Which, besides economy, is one of the best things about slowly and surely taking the web by storm: it sticks around. Billboards change.
  2. You might as well have information, and plenty of it, on one of the biggest book and reader sites in the world. People use Goodreads. I am still not totally sure just what they do there in droves, but I am pretty sure it has to do with reading and writing reviews. In other words, you want your book there so it can get reviews. And then, alongside those reviews, it wouldn’t hurt to have some accurate and flattering information, complete with hyperlinks to your charming corner of the blogosphere and purchasing links. This sort of approach wouldn’t take much maintenance, just a day or so making your author page look real nice and then updates every time you come out with a new book.
  3. Blog feed. I feed my blog anywhere it will feed, basically. Why? Why not? It does all the work for me. Goodreads is a great place to feed your blog and forget about it. Plus, it makes your author page seem very updated when you keep those blog posts rolling. And you forgot it was even there…
  4. Review of other books. I review books for The Starving Artist, obviously. In fact, I review more than forty books per year. There is no reason that I can think of that I would not slide those reviews over to Goodreads. Then, at the end of each review, I write, “***THIS REVIEW WAS WRITTEN FOR THE STARVING ARTIST BLOG.” Look it up. You’ll find me. Then you’ll find out I am interesting and can write. Then you’ll find a book of mine that you can’t say no to. Then you’ll buy it. (At least that’s the idea.)
  5. Giveaways, or Want to Reads. This is the caveat to my saying that Goodreads has not gotten me much attention from readers. Whenever I have a Giveaway, I get literally thousands of readers noticing my book. I get hundreds of people who tag it “Want to Read.” I can’t say how this has translated into sales, but I also can’t negate all those eyes looking at my cover and reading the description. Plus, I know of at least a few people who now have the book in their hands, people who generally use reviewer services, ahem, Goodreads.

I have been much less successful getting people interested during blog tours, Q and As, and events. Like almost no one notices those, every single time I list one. In fact, I’m pretty sure that it depresses me, making me a slightly less efficient author.

So that’s the longer answer to the question. We’ll cut it off there. I like Goodreads for a pretty and updated author page linked to your books. I like it for Giveaways. And I like to post my reviews there because I write them anyhow. The moral: don’t be afraid of putting some minor effort into a presence on Goodreads, but never–oh never–put all your eggs in one basket.

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