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Frances Caballo is the author of The Author’s Guide to Goodreads (which is the perfect guide for Goodreads for authors), Social Media in 30 Minutes a Day and other books on social media specific to authors. I have noticed Frances putting more and more emphasis on Goodreads. Here, she tells us why Goodreads is essential for authors and how you can best create community, connect with your readers and sell more books through Goodreads.
Lisa: Why is Goodreads such an important “space” for authors? How many readers are on Goodreads?
Frances: Consider this quote from Forbes: “Goodreads has become the most important networking site on the Internet . . .” Forbes may be overstating the issue, but it’s true that Goodreads is the most important networking site first for readers, and secondly for authors.
Presently, Goodreads has 50 million members, 1.5 billion books that are listed, and 50 million reviews. It’s important to remember that Goodreads members are educated, many have graduate degrees, and they are avid readers. These factors make it the perfect networking site for readers and authors.
Lisa: Is Goodreads more for fiction than nonfiction?
Frances: Goodreads is equally beneficial for fiction and nonfiction authors. Nonfiction writers, depending on the topics of their books, have the added advantage of being able to start a group around the subject matter of their book.
The best example I have of a nonfiction author succeeding on Goodreads is Charles Duhigg, the author of The Power of Habit. He started a group centered on the theme of his book and interest in his work grew exponentially. Over time a publisher discovered him, released his book widely, and Duhigg’s book became a New York Times bestseller. As of January 2016, he had 106,208 ratings and 6,505 reviews. The book went on to become a Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year Nominee for Longlist (2012).
Lisa: What kinds of big picture goals should authors have for Goodreads? What can it do for them?
Frances: The founder, CEO, and the software engineer who developed Goodreads, started the website for readers and this is a fact that authors need to keep in mind at all times. If authors approach Goodreads with the mindset that they can ramp up friends and promote their books ruthlessly without first proving themselves as avid readers, those writers will fail miserably.
Goodreads can provide visibility for authors and expand readership only after authors prove themselves as readers and members willing to help others in the groups they join.
Lisa: What are some of the things you advise your clients to do when they first get on GoodReads?
Frances: Once you open an account, create your author dashboard. Then start adding the books you’ve read, rate them, and review them. Categorize your bookshelves by genre and every two weeks add one or more books that you’ve read.
Authors can also sync their blogs to Goodreads and host giveaways of paperbacks and ebooks. The giveaways are an important strategy to expand awareness of your books, and you should see a correlation between giveaways on Goodreads and book sales.
Lisa: How do you advise clients to get more Goodreads reviews? What should someone do if they get a negative review?
Frances: Joanna Penn has coined a useful term: social karma. If you want people to read your books, read books by other authors. If you want book reviews, take the time to review other books. I know this advice sounds simple but on Goodreads, reading and reviewing books are the best way to become noticed, aside from giveaways.
Lisa: Is Goodreads more or less important than Amazon for reviews?
Frances: I still think that Amazon reviews trump reviews on Goodreads simply because when a consumer is on Amazon, the reviews there can sway a purchase.
Lisa: Are there any benefits to authors outside of book sales?
Frances: Don’t sign up for Goodreads if you want book sales. Certainly, book sales can result from being active on Goodreads but an author’s approach and goal on Goodreads should at first be singular: prove to Goodreads’ members that you’re an avid, intelligent reader.
Lisa: What are some of the biggest mistakes authors make on Goodreads?
Frances: The biggest mistake that authors make is they try too hard. They join Goodreads intent on racking up their 5,000 friends right away and try to use Goodreads to sell their books. That is the wrong approach. Take it slow and easy on Goodreads, proving yourself along the way.
Lisa: What are some benchmarks authors might use to evaluate how they are doing with Goodreads?
Lisa: I find number 5 critical. I always advise my authors to focus on activities they expect to enjoy most or those that can stretch them. If you have fun, you’ll stick to it, the fun comes through and affects others. You’ll spend your time well.
Blogger’s note: I had not synched my blog before this interview. In fact, it became stuck in July 2014! Then I tried synching to no avail. Luckily, Frances helped me and officially synched my blog!
About the Author: Frances Caballo is an author and social media strategist and manager for writers. She’s a regular speaker at the San Francisco Writers Conference and a contributing writer at TheBookDesigner.com and blogger and Social Media Expert for BookWorks. She’s written several books including The Author’s Guide to Goodreads, and Social Media in 30 Minutes a Day. Her focus is on helping authors surmount the barriers that keep them from flourishing online, building their platform, finding new readers, and selling more books. Her clients include authors of every genre and writer conferences. Not sure how you’re doing online? Ask Frances to prepare a social media audit for you.
Are you on Goodreads? Share your experiences or your questions as a comment below.