Yes, Goodreads can be a great platform for an author to read readers. Here are some easy ways to promote yourself on Goodreads without freaking out about reviews. It’s simple, easy, and might even be fun.
Published authors need to claim their profiles
First, make sure you ARE on Goodreads as an AUTHOR. You must have books published somewhere online and you must claim them to get set up with a Goodreads profile. Once you do, you’ll end up with a page that looks likes this. We’ll go into the various good bits here in just a second.
First, let’s talk Goodread Reviews
Authors seem scared of Goodreads. My guess is because 1.) It’s a place where people who don’t know you can judge your books; 2.) reviews on Goodreads lean to harsh – a book that might get 4 stars on Amazon will get 3 there. You can bank on losing at least one star, maybe two (that’s my thought on it); and 3.) you’re reading reviews by people you don’t know! Scary!
If you are publishing as a hobby, fine, forget Goodreads.
No need to have anyone but friends and family review you. But at Goodreads you are going to find a lot of folks who love reviewing and will give their opinion, whether you want it or not!
I’ve also stopped looking at reviews and let my spouse sift through them for quotes to use. He also passes along the best ones to me so I can stay encouraged about my writing. If reviews bother you, install a gatekeeper to screen them.
Do I get horrid reviews? Sure do, especially those hit-and-run throw out a low star rating but with no comment BS that Amazon now allows. But those are not the majority of my reviews.
If most of your reviews are horrible, I would strongly suggest you start concentrating on your writing.
Why does a book get low-starred reviews?
- The book formatting is wrong and makes it hard to read.
- You never got the book professionally edited/proofread and there are obvious errors that are grating on a reader’s nerves.
- Your book didn’t meet the reader expectation because of the book cover and description didn’t match the content. For example, you have a sweet cover to your romance and it gets steamy. DING. You are going to get it. Your book has a starship galaxy cover and it’s nothing but a mushy, erotic romance with no space battles.
- You didn’t get the genre tropes right, and thus didn’t meet expectations (I have made this mistake).
- The book has structural problems that the reader can’t get over such as being poorly plotted. I’m sorry but bad writing deserves low star reviews.
Most of these things can be fixed easily – hire a proofreader or a formatter and stop being so cheap. Research book descriptions (I mean you ARE a writer, right?), and make sure your cover, description, and categories fit what readers expect.
If you have a badly written book, my recommendation is 1.) get into a writer’s group (that is the cheapest way to learn); 2.) find a mentor; 3.) Use ProWritingAid (I recommend over Grammarly); 4.) take a college course in creative writing (this can even be done online now); and 5.) be critical about your writing.
Okay, you’ve done all that and you still getting bad reviews. FORGET ABOUT THEM! Move on. I no longer look at any review that is 3 star or less. I let my partner do that so if there is anything I need to address I can. Otherwise, I don’t need the mojo.
How to find top-starred reviews for your books on Goodreads
Remember, once a book goes up on a selling platform you need to claim it on Goodreads. I love seeing my books pile up on Goodreads! The order is pretty random and I wish Goodreads gave you more control over this. But overall it shows how many books, ratings (these are star-only), reviews (with text), and the average rating of all your books together as well as individually.
First, realize your ratings/reviews may be higher or lower here than at Amazon.
People have their preferred places to review so don’t get worked up about the numbers being different.
Another thing to realize is that I’ve seen mainstream, popular authors get an average of 3.5 on their books on Goodreads. The MORE reviews you get, the more likely your average will go down. Understanding that upfront makes it a bit easier to deal with it.
I really don’t like how Goodreads only shows your mutual followers first and hides reviews. This is how I deal with that and the not looking at lower reviews.
There is an easy way to find the latest reviews from anyone, and AVOID looking at low star reviews.
Go to your profile page and click on one of your books. At the top, click on reviews.
Scroll down to where reviews start. It will always show your friends so you need to set the filters. I set the filters to 5 or 4 stars. And the date to Newest.
Don’t bother with the 3 star and under. Those people are not your fans.
When to respond to Goodread Reviews of your book
Repeat after me, I will only reply to Goodread Reviews that are four and five star. PERIOD.
Now you can scroll through the good stuff, and hit “like” and make short, positive, comment to readers on the 5 STARS. I do like the 4 STARS but I often don’t comment. That’s a personal choice to make.
Why go to all this time and trouble? Because they reviewed you! You want to build that relationship with those fans. Real relationships builds business for your books!
BTW this doesn’t need to take up your day. I check about twice a week for new reviews and respond if need be. Once I respond that shows up in my feed, letting followers know that I interact with my fans. As well as giving them more reviews of my books to see!
What is on your Goodreads profile?
Most of your Goodreads profile is pretty straightforward: Name, bio, photo, followers, and books you wrote (remember you have to claim them, they don’t automatically load on your profile). You can also post videos so if you are doing Book Trailers, this is a great place for them to be.
Next, genre. This helps readers know if you would interest THEM. After all you don’t want readers who have no interest in what you are writing so be very clear here about what you do.
A biggie is the active website link! This helps guide fans straight to your website and can be a great opportunity to convert them to being on your newsletter list. If you don’t want to mess with a website there are some website communities that let you make a personal page (see AllAuthor).
Currently Reading area at Goodreads
Pick three of your own books and set them to currently reading. This puts them up on your feed right at the top.
Ask the Author Questions area at Goodreads
Ask the Author is a cool feature for several reasons. You get to interact directly with fans who want to know more about you and your books. How flattering! When you are asked a question, it shows up in an email roundup that goes directly to the people who followed you, reminding them of your existence!
Unfortunately, what I’ve noticed is that it can take Goodreads 24-48 hours before they email you that you have a question to answer! Phooey!
If no one is asking you questions, you can ask yourself a question.
This is a good tool to use so you can get the message out there about some aspect of your writing or books that you want your followers and visitors to know about. For example, that you are working on a new book or that you have a book a launch coming soon.
I’m using a routine at about twice a month of asking myself a question. Don’t go overboard but do use it as a way to speak directly to fans and hopefully, it will become active on its own once you get enough books out and generate enough followers.
Post a Self-review to update fans on Goodreads
If your book is up as a pre-sale (claim it!) or has gone live, you can self-review (NO STARs!) with details that help fans know what is going on. Any change you make in the “review” goes into your feed and is seen by followers.
I write a “review” with NO RATING, which is more of a summary and my view of the book I wrote. In the past I’ve published it on the day of book launch.
I now use it leading up to the book launch for my pre-sale books like here for A Spell of Rowans, This announcement seeking Beta Readers. When I’m ready to release ARCS, or it goes up at NetGalley, I will edit this “review” to give readers that info. That update sends out a new notification to my fans.
DO NOT RATE YOUR OWN BOOK!
That is unethical and can get you banned at Goodreads. However, you can write an announcement review with NO RATING on the date it launches. This is acceptable.
Here’s a “self-review” by one of my favorite authors, Intisar Khanani about her book being released. Her style talks directly to friends while highlighting things she feels is important to readers to know about this book, such as where review copies can be found. She does NOT give herself a star-rating (smart lady!).
Ask fans to put your books on their TBR bookshelf
The more your book is listed on bookshelves, the higher its rank of popularity on Goodreads. If it gets enough attention your book could be listed in the articles Goodreads send to their users! So work that link to your Goodreads page for your book during the pre-release leading up to the book launch.
Doing a Giveaway on Goodreads
To find out about them, click on your profile and on the menu will be List a Giveaway. A good time to start a Goodreads Giveaway is 60 out from a book launch. From what I’ve listing read 3-5 books to giveaway is a good number. Also, plan for the giveway to end about 2 days before your book publishes (for pre-releases)
I haven’t done this yet, but will be doing it for A Spell of Rowans in about 2 months. I will report back on how it goes!
Follow or Friend? What to do on Goodreads
I personally do NOT like to friend unless I really know the person. And please don’t ask other authors to friend you unless you DO KNOW THEM. I am more willing to follow others, especially if they review the type of books I like.
Reviewing other Authors on Goodreads
Like Bookbub, your author name is attached to any reviews you do of other people’s books. That is why, to preserve your reputation, do NOT post book reviews unless you can HONESTLY give them 4-5 stars.
Like Bookbub, I try to review on Goodreads books I think my readers would also like to read.
This helps me establish myself as an authority, and helps with networking with authors who may write things that have the same readers as I do. On Goodreads, I give my longest reviews. I take a shortened version, change a few words and use it at Bookbub. This gives me a twofer on social media with little effort on my part.
Allow followers to know what you are reading?
I personally do NOT like this option, but this is purely a personal choice. My husband and I share a Kindle, and both read a lot of things that would be of little interest to others. I also hop around a lot between books and genres. If a sample or book doesn’t interest me, I dump it. So that would look very confusing on Goodreads.
Whether you use this option or not is a personal preference.
Use blog feed on Goodreads or post as an update?
Right now I have my blog feeding into my Goodreads account automatically. However, I did attend a webinar that said this was a bad idea. Better to post it as a new activity yourself. Experiment with this and see what option you prefer and what works best.
On the profile page, only one blog post is shown. When they go to the blog page on Goodreads, more blogs are shown. Be aware of what little info is shown here.
Finding Comps and networking with other authors
One of the hardest things (for me) is finding Comps. These are other books or authors whose readers would like what I write. It always throws me for a loop.
One way you can research this is look at your own book and see what the “also read” is up in the right side. I don’t find this very helpful because I read a lot of things and Goodreads knows this so often shows a skewed result way outside of the genre of the book I’m viewing.
What is more helpful to me is finding a book which I think is a Comp and look at who reviewed it. I only scan through the 4 and 5 star reviews. It also lets me see what they bought.
This is a book that I’ve read and enjoyed. I think it is comparable to my Historical Fairytale Romance series:
Some do’s and don’ts networking with other authors:
- Form a relationship by liking, commenting etc…
- Read and review their books (if you can honestly give 4/5 stars)
- Don’t ask them to read or review your book.
- Be real and friendly, not fake and demanding.
- If you REALLY know them, politely approach about recommending each other.
Networking with Goodread Reviewers (caution!)
Goodreads reviews can be harsh. If you are ready to wade into the water, here are some ideas on finding reviewers. Scrolling down, I do the same for her as I did for my own reviews. I select reviews, 5 stars, and see who I want to follow OR only want to pick through what they are reviewing to find MORE COMPS.
- Find a comp book – a book your readers would like that isn’t written by you.
- Preferably these are well-reviewed, written by mid-to-big sized authors who have a good following;
- Books with over 500 reviews are a good starting point. I prefer 1,000s as it improves the algorithm of what you will find.
- Select the 4 and 5 star reviewers (like I showed you for my own book).
- Scan down and investigate the accounts that leave TEXT REVIEWS.
- Don’t look at everyone. Pick reviewers who would like your book.
- Especially find ones that are active on Goodreads. Some accounts go dormant.
- If they seem to review a lot of books like yours, FOLLOW THEM (please don’t Friend them!).
- Start interacting with them by commenting on their reviews (only post honest and positive comments).
- If you immediately ask for a review, you will probably see seen as a pushy shark and be ignored or earn ill will.
- AFTER building a relationship with them between weeks to months, ask if they would be interested in reviewing something of yours.
Join groups on Goodreads aimed at uniting Authors with Readers
If you are ready to wade in deeper with Goodreads they have a Community with online forums (under Community > Groups. Some are geared towards distributing Betas and ARCs to readers or are specific to a type of genre.
Like all online groups, be polite.
- Read the group rules and follow them.
- If you don’t like the rules, or the group won’t work for you, leave. You don’t have to announce leaving.
- Take some time to feel out the group before jumping in with you comments or needs.
- I usually post replies for about a week or two before starting a new post.
- Don’t get into fights with readers (do I need to remind of this?)
Goodreads is where the readers are at! Especially those that review and are willing to share their reading habits. It’s full of treasure and will help you find Comps, engage fans, and find reviewers. Shouldn’t you be there?