Posted On April 22, 2013 by Print This Post

Why Goodreads is Now an Essential Part of Author’s Social Media Plans by Oliver Rhodes

Welcome back Oliver Rhodes! Today Oliver leads us through the jungle of Goodreads – authors take note!

Why Goodreads is now an essential part of your author social media strategy: and what to do about it.

You’d have been hard pressed over the last few weeks to escape the fact that Amazon has acquired Goodreads – the social media network for readers.

In my book, this is a perfect fit for both companies.  Goodreads will benefit massively from the exposure and resources it will get through partnering with Amazon, which should help it to grow even more quickly (it already doubled in size last year).  And the bigger a social network is, the more likely people are to find friends – so the richer their experience becomes.

Amazon has a number of opportunities with Goodreads – from adding buy links to the site to better understanding readers through Goodreads data.

For me though, the most powerful potential comes from Amazon adding a social dimension to its book discovery, which has hitherto been missing.

You can already discover books multiple ways on Amazon itself – from charts, to categories, to promotions to what other people bought.  But what if you could see what your friends bought?  Integration with Goodreads would make that possible.

Amazon’s rating and review system has been a key (and oft copied) part of its success – because it helps people to make informed decisions about what to buy.  What could be even more powerful than the views of strangers though is if you could see what your friends thought of a book before you bought it… which is exactly what Goodreads offers.

Exactly how Amazon will run Goodreads and integrate it with their business and website remains to be seen, but you can bet on one thing:

Goodreads just became a LOT more important for authors.

So, what should you be doing with Goodreads?

OK, so Goodreads is important, and it’s going to be even more of a big deal now it’s part of Amazon, but what should you do about it?

Prioritise Goodreads.

There are a lot of social media networks vying for your time, and you’ll need to work out which gives you the best return.  My view would be that Goodreads should now be right near the top, or even at the top, of the pile.

Yes, there are more people on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+  and Pinterest but Goodreads offers authors a more targeted audience – not just of readers, but of heavy readers.  These are real book lovers – not only do they read A LOT, but they’re the early adopters of new authors, the people who will recommend books to their friends, write reviews and start the buzz building.

Can you think of anywhere better to promote your book?  These are people that you want to be connected to and, because Goodreads is a network exclusively for readers, none of your promotional effort is wasted.

Use Goodreads as a reader

The best way to familiarize yourself with Goodreads is to use it as a reader.  Rate and review some of your favourite books, create bookshelves to help organize your library, follow some authors, and maybe even join some groups.

The better you understand how Goodreads works, the better you’ll be at using it to promote your own books.  Every time you discover a book, check that readers are able to discover your books in the same way.

Make it easy for readers to discover you on Goodreads.

There are some very simple first steps that you can take in order to get yourself off to a flying start.  Firstly, you’ll need to make sure that your books are listed – if they are not, you’ll need to contact a Goodreads librarian.

After that, you’ll want to set up an author profile.  This allows you to collect fans as well as friends (there is a friend limit of 5,000), gives you access to an author dashboard and, more importantly, allows you to add videos and a blog to your profile.  Note: you do need to have books listed on Goodreads before you can claim your author profile.

If you have a blog, I’d strongly recommend that you link it to your profile – this is a really easy way of making sure that more people see your posts as they’ll show up in the feed of everyone who follows you.  Goodreads even sends out e-mails to readers with the blog posts of authors that they’re following.

Make connections

Goodreads is a social network, and it will work better for you when you are connected to people with similar reading interests.  There are two ways of forming connections – one is to become ‘friends’ and the other, once you have an author profile, is to become a fan of an author.

To get you started, be sure to connect your Facebook and Twitter accounts.  That will help you find friends instantly, and posting activity updates from Goodreads also helps to get other people involved.

If you have a website, you can also add Goodreads widgets and buttons so that people can link directly to your profile or add your books at the click of a button.

Try a book giveaway

There are lots of ways to get your book noticed on Goodreads, but one of the most effective, and a great place to start, is book giveaways (physical copies only at the moment).  At Bookouture we recently ran a giveaway for signed copies of Lindsay J. Pryor’s new book Blood Roses (out this Friday!) and had over 2,600 entries in three weeks.  That’s a lot of people seeing your book ahead of publication (and potentially adding to their ‘to read’ list for a relatively small cost.

And then what?

Goodreads is a really positive community of book lovers, and the more readers and authors that are involved, the better.

As with all social networks, marketing your books effectively isn’t about spamming people with sales messages.  What it is about is making sure that you and your books are a positive part of the experience for readers.

So get involved with Goodreads, be part of the community, enjoy connecting to readers, try some things to help promote your books – and figure out what works for you.

There are a lots of ways that you can optimize your presence on Goodreads and you’ll find some more tips on getting the most out of Goodreads over at my blog.

You can be sure with the rate Goodreads is growing, and the might of Amazon now behind it, that your time will be well-spent.

You can also find me on Goodreads here.


I’d love to hear whether you’re on Goodreads or not, and what part it plays in your promotional plans.  Let me know via the comments section.

Join us on Wednesday for Giveaways and more – why? Stop on in and find out!


Oliver Rhodes is the Founder of Bookouture – a digital publisher of romance and women’s fiction. Recently picked by The Bookseller as one of their ‘Rising Stars’ of 2012, he’s passionate about building global author brands.

Formerly Marketing Controller at Harlequin UK, Oliver has worked in publishing for over 12 years. Some of his highlights from his time at Harlequin include launching Mills & Boon’s New Voices online writing competition and rapidly growing it’s MIRA imprint – establishing authors such Debbie Macomber, Diane Chamberlain, Susan Wiggs and Alex Kava in the UK market.

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23 Responses to “Why Goodreads is Now an Essential Part of Author’s Social Media Plans by Oliver Rhodes”

  1. Hi Oliver,

    Goodreads is an excellent place to post reviews. As a reader, it’s interesting to compare my opinions with others. From an author’s standpoint, I have a lot of work to do.

    Mary Jo

    Posted by Mary Jo Burke | April 22, 2013, 7:05 am
  2. Oliver, I’ve heard more than once that readers do not want authors actively commenting and participating on Goodreads and many have been shunned (or worse) for doing so. What’s your perspective here? Is this changing?

    Posted by Blythe Gifford | April 22, 2013, 8:23 am
    • Hi Blythe,
      I think approaching someone in any social media channel is just like real life… it’s about gradually building a rapport. If you immediately try and sell someone your book, then that’s not likely to be well received. If you connect with someone over a book that you’ve both loved, or just say thanks for a great review – that’s going to be better received.

      That question is also one of the reasons I think that it’s important to use Goodreads as a reader too – you’ll get a sense of what other authors do that works for you as a reader.

      Thanks for an interesting comment!

      Posted by Oliver Rhodes | April 22, 2013, 8:38 am
  3. Very good article. Think I’ll have to automatize to connect to FB instead of copy/pasting all the time. Thanks for the heads up.

    Posted by Suzanne de Montigny | April 22, 2013, 8:40 am
  4. Morning Oliver!

    Great article! i belong to Goodreads, but I’ve seriously been underusing it. I didn’t know all of these other options were available! I just post what I’ve read and call it a day…..=)

    What changes do you think Amazon will make to GR? Or will it be the other way around?


    Posted by Carrie Spencer | April 22, 2013, 8:55 am
    • Hi Carrie,
      That’s a very good question. I think there will definitely be changes, but not right away. In terms of integration between the two sites, that is a major job and will take some time. What I would definitely expect at some point though is for Goodreads reviews to show on Amazon – and eventually to be able to see what people in your Goodreads network thought of a book whilst on Amazon.

      As consumers we trust the recommendations of people we know more than anything else – so by providing this, Amazon will be letting people shop with confidence.

      thanks for the question!

      Posted by Oliver Rhodes | April 22, 2013, 9:06 am
  5. Thank you for this post, Oliver!

    I am on Goodreads, but am still feeling my way around. I joined a few groups a few months ago, but have been marginally active in them. At your advice, I’m going to make participation a priority in my overall social media strategy.

    Posted by Reese Ryan | April 22, 2013, 11:35 am
  6. Hi, Oliver. I’m on Goodreads as an author and a reader, but I know I haven’t fully grasped all that’s available out there. I’m not sure where to start. Is there one thing participation wise (outside of adding books) you would recommend an author do on Goodreads?

    I do run do-it-yourself ads on Goodreads for my series and highly recommend it for authors. It’s an inexpensive way to reach readers.

    Thanks for another terrific post!

    Posted by Adrienne Giordano | April 22, 2013, 4:38 pm
  7. Hi Oliver,

    I’m a member of Goodreads, but I’m terrible about updating the books I’ve read on the site. I think it’s a great place for readers to connect with authors over the common love of books. Also, it’s nice to see genre-specific chat groups, and I like to know what my friends and favorite authors are reading.

    Thanks for another informative post.

    Posted by Jennifer Tanner | April 22, 2013, 6:04 pm
  8. Thanks for this post, Oliver – I’m sure a lot of people have been wondering about it. I was kind of surprised because Amazon already bought Shelfari a year or two ago, but I don’t think they have nearly as many members as Goodreads. It sounds like this will be a great opportunity for authors!

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | April 22, 2013, 9:15 pm
  9. I’ve got a book coming out in June and am exploring avenues of getting my name out there etc. I’ve really enjoyed Goodreads because it allows me to easily share what I like to read and I’ve easily connected with quite a few people in just the week I’ve been on it.

    Posted by Leisl Leighton | April 23, 2013, 1:19 am
  10. I enjoyed reading this post. I admit I’m a bit leery of Amazon swallowing up other networks, but I see your point about the improvement potential for Amazon to make reading more social, and buying GR is just smart. Why reinvent the wheel, right?

    So I went back to my GR’s account and reevaluated.

    Posted by Pamela Mason | April 23, 2013, 11:07 am
  11. Thanks for this informative post Oliver. I will be investigating my Goodreads presence more deeply now. I confess I use Goodreads app on ipad, but find its use is geared more to the reader than the author. The site isn’t always Easy to use as an author. it can get a bit confusing i find. I’ve found the most functionality I get is from logging onto the site via the Internet.

    Posted by Kate Belle | April 23, 2013, 5:58 pm
  12. Hi Oliver. Thanks for a great post and sharing tips on how to better use the Goodreads platform. This is indeed very timely for me as my debut romance novel is slated for a September release.

    Posted by Adite Banerjie | April 23, 2013, 8:26 pm
  13. Found your info interesting. Didn’t know the half of it. Haven’t fully mastered Goodreads yet- just another marketing chore/tool, a daunting prospect. All I seem to get is running into other authors who are promoting their books. Good advice with the links to websites etc. Thank you. VI also have a writers website. Can I invite everybody here , including Oliver, to check it out and contribute? Maybe even republish yours, Oliver on my site? That would be of great benefit to writers in general!

    Posted by Siggy Buckley | April 24, 2013, 2:48 pm
  14. “Goodreads just became a LOT more important for authors.” – ya bigtime. A body of pure readers to connect with.

    Book giveaways are the bomb for promotion especially if its a kindle version (which is not supported atm). I suspect that will change shortly.

    Great tips Oliver,

    Posted by Neil S. | April 24, 2013, 4:03 pm
  15. Thanks for the interview, Oliver. You make some great points and I’ll admit I’ve been extremely negligent about Goodreads. After reading your comments though, I will become more active on the site.

    Posted by Tamara Hunter | April 25, 2013, 11:34 am
  16. Okay, I get why this could be beneficial to me as an author, but as a reader, not so much. I do NOT want my friends to be able to see what books I have bought. That’s personal and something I will share only if I want to, and I would bet the majority of readers would be leery of having their every book purchase availabe for all their friends to see.
    As a reader too, I like interacting with authors, but unless they’re friends of mine, I leave any interaction for sites and mediums other than Goodreads. Goodreads is for readers, not authors. I’m happy to have an author presence there, to interact if readers approach me, maybe host giveaways, but I strongly believe my ‘author’ presence should be in the background. How can readers have an honest discussion about my work if I’m there hovering over their shoulders?
    Just my tuppence worth.

    Posted by Michelle Smart | April 26, 2013, 2:25 pm
  17. Michelle, I’ve heard similar concerns, which is why I keep a low profile. In addition, I do not want to review romances (or anything my a living, current author!), so that limits my ability to participate as a reader.
    I do put up shelves of my research books, childhood favorites, and unrelated books I love. Maybe that’s enough to give readers a peek at the real me.

    Posted by Blythe Gifford | April 26, 2013, 5:05 pm
  18. It would be good to post an update. How has Amazon interfaced with Goodreads, and how relevant is Goodreads as part of a social media strategy today? How are authors or author-service businesses using Goodreads?

    Posted by Laurel Kashinn | July 11, 2016, 4:20 pm

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