An author’s guide to online reader communities: Shelfari

By Rob W. Hart

This is the first in a series of articles exploring the ins-and-outs of social marketing websites designed for the reading community.

Shelfari is a virtual bookshelf that has similar functionality to sites like GoodReads and weRead. What sets it apart is the ease of signing up – you sign in using your Amazon profile, and it populates your bookshelf with prior purchases, both hardcover and purchases made through the Kindle store. It also combs through your e-mail right up front to find friends already on the network.

Because of its connection with Amazon, many of the books sold on that site are already available on Shelfari. They do not support authors whose books are not available on Amazon. If you are using Author Central on Amazon, it’s very easy to add your book to Shelfari.

The site is similar to Wikipedia, where you can edit your book information, but you don’t own the page. Anyone can make changes to it. Still, you can ensure that the information for your book, as well as your biographical information, is up-to-date.

Also, there is an option to be notified when someone makes a change to your page.

Readers can add your book to their bookshelf, as well as review it and rate it. There are discussion threads linked to individual books, as well as ‘groups’ that are focused on particular subjects.

Once you’ve established your presence on the site, make sure to promote yourself. Encourage people you know to rate and comment on your work.

 

Interacting with readers

  • Add tags to your books (i.e., mystery, romance, etc.) so that you end up in more searches and more readers can find you.
  • Search through shared networks of friends to find people with similar interests.
  • Writing reviews for books can encourage people to review yours.
  • Join groups and discussions in your area of interest.

Special features

  • Shelfari has a widget that you can use to display your books on your website.
  • Setting up the site is incredibly easy to start – even more so if you’ve already established with Amazon.
  • Because of the site’s connection with Amazon, information for purchasing the book is displayed on the book’s page.

Keeping your page up-to-date

  • Write semi-regular reviews to keep yourself visible and engaged.
  • Maintain a presence on the discussion board, especially in your genre or area of interest.
  • Encourage people to add you to their bookshelf.
  • As anyone can edit a book’s information, check in occasionally to make sure yours is up-to-date and accurate.

 

About this post’s author:

Rob W. Hart is a writer with a background in PR and journalism. He just completed his first novel, Apophenia, and maintains a blog about books and writing at blogduggery. You can also find him on Twitter.


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