When I first joined GoodReads, not long before Reckless Rescue came out, I have to admit to being a little overwhelmed. I'm pretty used to forums, having been on one or another for fifteen plus years, but GoodReads forum system is something else, and when you're starting out, it can be hard to make sense of. So I thought I'd post a few tips on how authors can make use of GoodReads to get news of their book out there, without annoying readers.
Your Author Profile
GoodReads authors can apply to have their account linked to their Author Profile (instructions on how to do this can be found here). This will link your books to your profile, and allow you to do things like import posts from your blog to display within GoodReads. Make sure you use a professional looking photo, and have a good bio, as these are the first things someone sees when they go looking for you.
Your book page is one of the most important tools on GoodReads, so make sure you make the most of it. If your book isn't already on GoodReads, you can add it here. Make sure you upload your cover image, and have a good blurb. Once your book page is set up, you can also upload the first few chapters as a sample for people to download.
(*Edited to add – I just looked into this, and uploading the first chapters is complicated, and I never actually did it! What I did do is link from the book description to where I have two chapters uploaded on my blog.)
Once your book is on GoodReads, people can leave reviews there. Unlike Amazon, there is no limit on other authors adding reviews, and GoodReads actively encourages people to rate and review when they list that they've finished a book. I've found that this means I gain more reviews on GoodReads than I do on Amazon. Be aware though, that the GoodReads star system is different to Amazon's. On GoodReads, a 3 star review is still a positive one, so don't get discouraged by getting slightly lower ratings than you do on Amazon.
I've noticed that quite a few authors will like reviews posted on their books, so feel free to do this. However, if you receive a bad review, DON'T comment on it. Authors engaging reviewers is frowned upon, and never works out well for the author.
If you want to encourage more reviews, there are many forums you can offer your book up for review. Look for R2R (Read to Review) forums and subforums in your genre. This is where you can offer a certain number of free copies for your book in exchange for reviews. This is well worth it! Make sure you read the rules before posting though, as each forum does this slightly differently.
As well as personal recommendations and chats in groups, GoodReads has a section for book lists called Listopia. These are great if you're looking to read other books in your genre (I found them very useful when I had trouble finding other Sci-Fi Romance books initially), and there are some great and creative lists, such as Best “Strong Female” Fantasy Novels, and Best Books Involving Forbidden Love.
If your novel has a particular category that it fits into, add it to the list. Or make your own list! Don't just advertise your own book though, remember to vote for other books. And don't go overboard and add your book to every possible list! I, personally, avoided adding my book to many of the ‘Best' lists, as I think that's up to readers to decide, not authors. (Because let's face it, we always think our book is the best, but we may be a little biased.)
GoodReads is a social media site, and as with other social media sites, you can add people to your list of friends, and then see what books they're reading, their blog updates, reviews etc. I started out adding people from Twitter and Facebook (GoodReads can search for these automatically), and then adding people as their comments in groups or on books seemed interesting to me.
I've left this one until last, because I found the GoodReads groups very overwhelming at first. There are SO many different groups, on anything and everything. Unless you're already used to GoodReads, I'd start adding groups slowly, and only add new ones when you feel like you're keeping up with the ones you have!
I've joined groups for my genre (sci-fi romance, sci-fi, romance etc), some for the area in which I live (Australian groups), writers groups, indie writers groups, bloggers, and that's just the tip of the iceberg!
Once you're in a group, many have a place to post an introduction. Make sure you read the rules too. Often there is a place where authors are free to post about their books, but some groups don't like this! If you're unsure, as a mod. I've always found them very friendly.
Make sure you participate in groups because you're interested, not just to promote your book. (Trust me, people can tell!) Check the flavour of the group. Some don't mind if you join in a discussion about a topic close to your book, and mention how it relates, other's do. Posting promotional information in a group that doesn't allow it won't get your book noticed, it will only upset people!
There are other options on GoodReads that I haven't mentioned because I have no experience with yet. For example, if you have a print book, you can do a giveaway. I've heard these are quite good for getting your book noticed. There is also the option of GoodReads advertising, which I've heard is cheaper than Facebook.
GoodReads offers many opportunities for an author to connect with readers, so if you haven't tried it already, I suggest you check it out.
Do you use GoodReads as an author or a reader? How do you use it, and what do you like about it? If you're a reader, do you like hearing from your favourite authors there, or not?