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Goodreads for Authors: Why Forbes Calls it The Most Important Networking Site on the Internet & How You Can Benefit!

Why “Goodreads for Authors”?

Frances CaballoFrances 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.

What Type of Authors Should Focus on Goodreads? Click To Tweet

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).

goodreads for authors

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.

Getting Started on Goodreads

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.

Avoid Goodreads Gaffes

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.

Goodreads Benchmarks for Authors Click To Tweet

Lisa: What are some benchmarks authors might use to evaluate how they are doing with Goodreads?


  1. Are you scheduling giveaways every six months?
  2. Have you synced your blog?
  3. How many groups are you active in?
  4. Have you started your own group? If so, how active are its members?
  5. Are you having fun?

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 AuthorFrances 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 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.

  • Sara Pence shares why Guest Blogging is such an excellent strategy for authors–and how to guest blog successfully.
  • Rusty Shelton shares his favorite strategies on Twitter for Authors, along with several inspiring examples.





Lisa Tener

Lisa Tener is an award-winning book writing coach who assists writers in all aspects of the writing process—from writing a book proposal and getting published to finding one’s creative voice. Her clients have appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, CBS Early Show, The Montel Williams Show, CNN, Fox News, New Morning and much more. They blog on sites like The Huffington Post, Psychology Today and WebMD.

Reader Interactions


  1. Barbara Bischof says

    Another marvelous article, a must read for the author and especially the ‘to be author’. Begin to establish your presence on Goodreads and Twitter, now! Then when your book comes out, you can hit the ground running. It never occurred to me that Goodreads was such an important site for an author, and yet I use it for reviews and recommendations of books, but ironically never list what I’m reading. That will change. Thank you again for this informative series.

    • Lisa Tener says

      Thanks, Barbara. It’s always great to hear when a post really makes a difference and you can implement something from it right away!

  2. Denise says

    Thank-you, Lisa for the life tip of the day: “focus on activities you expect to enjoy most or those that can stretch you. If you have fun, you’ll stick to it, the fun comes through and affects others. You’ll spend your time well.”

  3. Marina says

    I just have to say that even though I am still working on my first book every advice/post from Lisa’s website is priceless for my future(hope near future) publishing and promoting experience.

    • Lisa Tener says

      That’s fine, Helen. You’re writing in that field, right? So it will actually be helpful that your reads will be there, too.

  4. Cara Bradley says

    Great article and timely for me. I’ve been slowly building my Goodreads presence and am planning to start a group based on the material from my book. Do you have any do’s and don’ts regarding Goodreads groups. For instance, should it be the name of your book? Thank you.

    • Lisa Tener says

      Thanks, Cara. Unfortunately, Frances had trouble commenting, so I am posting her response here: “If you want to start a Goodreads group I recommend that you name it after a subject area related to your book. If you were to name it after yourself or after your book’s title, that may be deemed as over promotional. Instead, discuss the topic that is the theme of your book.” My takeaway is maybe something with the word “Mindfulness” so that it comes up in a search.


  1. […] For writers confused about how to approach social media, Frances Caballo suggests that you CARE about your readers and shares social media best practices for authors. Chris Syme sets out 4 steps to less wasted time when selling books on social media, Lauren Sapala reveals the secret to using Twitter that most authors overlook, and Lisa Tener advocates Goodreads for authors: why Forbes calls it the most important networking site on the internet and ho…. […]

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