Confession: I hadn’t heard about Goodreads, the largest site for readers and book recommendations in the world, until I was preparing for a presentation at the Independent Book Publishers Association’s Publishing University last month on how authors can reach online communities of readers.
I hurriedly signed up, promising myself to return to the site after the IBPA conference to beef up my profile. I’m hoping to do that this weekend, and I’m grateful that my friend, Joel Friedlander, passed along a terrific suggestion about something that I had overlooked when I joined the community of more than 7.5 million book lovers.
Friedlander is a book designer, blogger, and author of A Self-Publisher’s Companion: Expert Advice for Authors Who Want to Publish. He’s only been on Goodreads for about five months but already has 1,728 friends.
One of the first rules of social media is that the person with the most friends doesn’t necessarily win. Much more important is how you connect with your friends and how much you can help them.
But many of his friends aren’t strangers. They already follow him on Twitter. And I had overlooked the fact that I can import Twitter and Facebook friends into Goodreads.
“You can integrate Twitter, Facebook, Hotmail and Yahoo,” Friedlander said. “When I created my account, it suddenly dawned on me that if I dumped all of my Twitter friends into Goodreads—and Goodreads seems to add them a little at a timet—I could keep adding friends for months.”
That’s exactly what he did.
“I now have quite a few connections and I’m at the point where I’m building my relationships,” he said.
More Tips for Using Goodreads
He offers these other tips for authors on Goodreads:
- Import your blog into your profile. “Every time I publish a blog post, five days a week, that RSS feed is going into Goodreads and my friends are alerted that I have a new post. I get comments on those posts that I don’t get at my blog site.”
- Create digital bookshelves. Your friends can see what you’re reading, and you can promote your own books. “I’ve created shelves filled with books that are published by me and designed by me.”
- Review several books at a time. Keep the reviews short so you have more time to review more books. “Reviews are part of the echo system of Goodreads. If you get on there but never contribute, you aren’t really using the site like you should be.” He writes only positive reviews and never shares negative comments about books he doesn’t like.
- Join the best discussion groups where you can learn and contribute the most. But monitor how many you’ve joined so you aren’t overwhelmed. “The discussions can be very powerful for authors.”
- Check out local groups that are in your own community. “I joined a group from San Raphael, Calif., where I’m from, and it’s a lot of fun.”
Friedlander says another big plus for authors who are members of Goodreads is that it keeps them from falling into the trap of writing for other writers’ blogs and discussing topics such as how their sales are going, or what they think of Kindle Select—topics their fans don’t really care about. Their time would be better spent, he said, using Goodreads to connect with, and write reviews for, the people who are reading their books, and others who love to read.