Thursday, March 21, 2013

Indie Author Series: Goodreads (What's Good & What's Not)

This week, the YA Author Club sponsors will be talking all about Goodreads. We will share with you all of the wonderful and amazing things it does for authors, readers, and bloggers... and a few of us might actually have some tips about what to avoid while you are there. 

For me, 
Goodreads a great way to keep my finger on the pulse of my Fans/Friends/ Followers. I can see quickly the response to my books and adjust accordingly. It is really the indie author's best friend.

  • Author Page. I'm going to reiterate what I said two weeks ago. If you are an author, you must create an author page and identify yourself as such (at least you must if you intend to sell books). You've worked too hard writing your book(s) not to lay claim to your title/role.
    • With your author page, I'd strongly suggest that you fill in all the important pieces of information. This is how you will connect with readers, how they will contact you, and how they will get to know you even though they don't really know you. Leaving anything blank is a missed opportunity.
  • Books. Load all of your books (if they aren't already there) and update the book's information  until it is completely accurate. I would suggest that you go with the recommendations coming straight from the librarians. They are very, very good at their jobs. (P.S. You will have to request to be a librarian so that you can make the necessary changes.)
  • Link your blog, Facebook, and Twitter account so that others can work for you. When you add a book to your list or you review a book or any of the many things you can do on Goodreads, the information will automatically post to Facebook/Twitter, which means you can keep your audience engaged in many forums with just one update on one site. As for your blog, you can post on your blog and have it available on Goodreads or those who want a one-stop-shop.
  • Read, rate, and/or review some books. This is how people are going to get to know you and what you like. It will bring you new Friends, Fans, Followers. People want to connect with other people who like the same types of books they like. As you post ratings/reviews, they will begin to trust your recommendations. The more they trust you, the more they will follow you.
  • FriendshipsGoodreads is not the place where you want to be selective with your friendships (unless someone is obviously offensive). The more the merrier is the rule to follow. By this, I mean that Goodreads gives you the option of refusing friendships and/or keeping your reviews/ratings private. Well if you do that, you have just prevented your future fan from getting to know you.
  • IMPORTANT! Get to know the bloggers. (I do not mean for you to weirdly stalk them.) As they mark your book as to-read, you can go to their page and see if your book is in line with those that they've rated favorably. If it is and you believe your book is something they will like, go to their blog, Fan them, Friend them, and Follow them. Basically, you are showing them the respect they deserve. In turn, they will take notice... possibly look at your book again... and if all goes well begin reading it right away.
  • Book Clubs can be joined (or you can do role play if that's something you like to do). Again, this is another great way to meet people and share your opinions of books. Personally, I shy away from 'selling' my own books unless there is a forum dedicated to that very thing.
  • Stats should be monitored. You will be able to see who has added your book to their shelf and which shelf they have added it to. You will also be able to see if readers put in mid-read comments. I don't know about other authors, but I love to read the comments people write while they are in the throws of the book. 
  • Giveaways are a GREAT way to get people interested in your books. In order to do a giveaway, you must be able to produce a paperback copy (no e-book giveaways allowed). This is something I highly recommend if it is at all possible. I would also recommend that you send the books out as soon as the contest is closed. It is a requirement in order to be able to do another giveaway in the future.
  • Widgets are an opportunity to link your blog back to Goodreads. There are widgets for your bookshelves, giveaways, reviews, etc. Take advantage of the chance to link your blog followers to your Goodreads page. 
  • Reviews (and ratings) of your books are critical to your success as an author. This is a very delicate subject because we've all been on the receiving end of a negative review (if you haven't congratulations). The MOST important thing I can tell you is to 'look away from the review'. Don't respond to it. Don't harass the individual. Don't. Don't. Don't. The best thing you can do for yourself and others is to take the high road and move on... all the while reminding yourself that 'Everyone has their right to their opinion.'  By the same token, I make sure I ALWAYS thank anyone who reads/reviews/rates my books with a 4 or a 5 star review. 
    • The only exception I will make to a negative review/rating are situations where 1) the book is not even read/released yet, or 2) you have been targeted by a reviewer who is going in and rating hundreds and hundreds of books (usually indie books) with poor ratings, or 3) you are being used by a disingenuous vendor to draw people to his/her Goodreads site to sell you a 'same day cash loan'. In these situations, I report the people to Goodreads and let them go after the person themselves. There is no need for you to do anything more than report the issue. Believe me, they act on these situations quickly (all except the rating even when the book is not written... that is.).
  • Events are a good way to keep your Fans, Friends, Followers engaged (unless you do too many of them). 
  • Writings is a great location to share excerpts, but I'll be honest. I've never gotten any feedback from anyone on my writings so I'm not sure how many people pay attention to it.
  • Quotes is a place for you to share your favorite quotes or those most highlighted in Kindles. I love this!
  • Favorite Authors is all about sharing the love. Let people know who inspires you. I find myself inspired by lots of indie authors for their kindness. As such, I make a special point of Fan/Following them. 
Really, I love Goodreads so much that I could go on for days. The bottom-line is that it's a powerful resource for authors and readers if it is used to its potential.