Become a master of GoodReads: Groups, events, polls, much knowledge to be had!
This is a guest post by John Corwin
Welcome to Part Deux of my series on Goodreads! *waves*
In Part The First you should have learned:
1. How to slap yourself
2. Streaking is a questionable promotional tactic
3. How to set up your Goodreads author page
4. The intarwebz is a series of tubes
By now I also hope that you’ve explored Goodreads a bit, read some reviews, and maybe even added a few books to your shelf that weren’t part of the Goodreads sign-up quiz especially if the author has a name exactly like mine. John Corwin. *stares expectantly*
If you haven’t—well, I think you know what to do. (Hint: it involves slapping yourself.)
Goodreads consists of three main components: readers, writers, and books. While Twitter, Facebook, G+ and the other social networks offer you a way to reach the masses (some of whom have questionable literary interests), Goodreads has already filtered out the weeds and offers you some of the most voracious readers on the planet.
Not only that, but Goodreads is overflowing with people who not only read books, they blog about books, write long reviews about books, and discuss in their group forums about books. These are the people with whom you want to connect. Why? Because they connect with tons of other readers.
By connect, of course, I don’t mean spam. The moderators for most of these groups participate because they love books. In short, they’re bookaholics. Each group has its own rules about author promotion so make sure you READ THEIR RULES before posting anything in their discussion forums.
Goodreads Groups! Finding. Joining.
Let’s get started finding a group that reads what you write. At the top of Goodreads is a menu list: Home, My Books, Groups, Recommendations, and Explore. If you can guess which one to click, congratulations! You can read!
After clicking “Groups” you can use the “Find Groups” search box to search by genre. You can also browse groups by tags, listed on the right side of the page.
If you want to sort groups by those with most members, etc. click on the “Recently Active Groups” header, usually on the lower left side of the groups page. After clicking on it, you’ll see several sort options across the top.
1. Popular – Sorts groups by total number of members
2. Recently Popular – Sorts by most new members in the last 3 days
3. Recently Active – Most recent activity time
4. Near Me – by geographical location. This is the least valuable sort option in my opinion.
5. New – Most recently created groups
6. My Books – Sorts by groups that have your books on their shelves.
Out of all the sort options, “Popular” and “Recently Active” are two of the most valuable. Just because a group has more members doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s more valuable to you. Some smaller groups have very active members. Most groups have a small core of highly active members no matter the size. There are hundreds of groups to explore and probably at least two or three with over a thousand members that discuss the sorts of books you write.
After you’ve found the groups that read your genre:
1. Click the group name
2. Under the group icon, click “Join Group”
3. Select your email settings. I suggest “None” because otherwise you will be inundated with notifications.
4. Click “ask to join”.
Most groups don’t require permission to join so once you’ve done the above steps, you’re in!
Now that you’re a member, let’s explore the group. On the right you’ll notice several links:
Group home – The group’s home page. *duh*
Bookshelf – These are the books that members have selected for the group’s bookshelf. This is their community bookshelf which is not the same as your personal Goodreads bookshelf. If possible, you will want your book on this shelf!
You may be thinking: But how? Who do I have to bribe? What sort of brutal initiation must I undergo to get my book listed there? I’ll do anything. ANYTHING! I will even *gulp* ask someone politely.
Fear not, gentle author. I will guide you through this process.
Please note, however, that some groups have it set so that only moderators can add books to the group’s bookshelf.
1. Click “bookshelf”
2. Under “add books” type in your author name, i.e. “John Corwin”. If only moderators can add books to the bookshelf, it will say “search for books” instead along with a notation above it. If that’s the case, you cannot add your book to this group’s bookshelf.
3. Click “search”
4. Find your book in the list.
5. On the right side of your book name, click “add to group”
Discussions – This is where you’ll make friends, READ THE GROUP RULES, and discuss all things books with other group members.
Events – If the group is holding events, you’ll see them scheduled here.
Photos – I searched everywhere but never could figure out what this was for.*
Invite People – Invite friends to the group
Members – This lists the members, moderators, and friends of yours that are in this group. This tab is awesome. Why? Because under the “all” tab, you can click the dropdown to sort all members of the groups and see their last activity dates.
Polls – If the group has any polls, you’ll find them here. I think it’s instructive to answer them just to see what the answers are. Also, if the group has a BoTM (Book of The Month) they’ll usually vote for it here. If your book is voted as a BoTM then it will usually be added to the group shelf.
John, you’re brilliant. But I how can I use Goodreads groups?!
I’m glad you asked!
You may already realize just how valuable these groups can be to authors. Or maybe you haven’t had coffee yet and/or you got chocolate wasted last night and are suffering sugar withdrawal. Don’t worry. I’m here for you. Just stop drooling.
Fact 1: Readers in groups have already sorted themselves by genre!
Fact 2: Groups have open discussion forums!
Fact 3: You can view all group members and see how active they are!
Fact 4: Active group members are usually avid reviewers and bloggers!
I’m gonna break this down for you. *Hammer time*
1. Browse the members. Find the ones with blogs and the ones who do in-depth reviews. Their blog addresses are usually listed in the profiles just as yours is listed in your author profile.
a. Follow their reviews
b. Follow their blogs
c. Follow them on Twitter
d. Like them on Facebook
e. Offer them a free copy of your book and politely ask if they’d like to review it.
2. Participate in the discussion forums.
a. Do NOT NOT NOT spam the forums with threads pimping your book.
b. Use the promotion forum (most groups have one) to list giveaways, etc. but try not to be spamalicious about it.
c. If you’ve just written a blog post aimed at your target market (which you should be doing) then find a pertinent discussion thread and post a link. For example, I wrote a post on book covers since that’s always a hot topic and I posted a link in the appropriate discussion thread. People went to my blog and joined it and added my book.
3. Make friends in the group
4. Remember: It’s not all about you. *that’s what she said*
The Conclusionary Summification of Goodreads Groups
By connecting with people in Goodreads groups, you will not only make friends but gain followers both on Goodreads and hopefully on your blog. Remember that everything you write is a part of your brand image. Target your blog posts to your audience. If they like your blog voice, it’s possible they’ll buy your books.
Because so many of these members blog regularly, you’ll soon have a network of friendly bloggers that may be the key to getting the word out about your books. Think in the long term on this. Many of them have huge TBR (to be read) piles and it takes time for them to review novels. Make sure to participate and tweet about their blogs and their reviews. Their reviews and blogs are their babies just like our books are our babies. Help promote them and the good ones will return the favor.
Become friends with them and your works can have a very bright future.
If the group has a BoTM vote, ask your group friends to nominate your book. You might just get your book voted in and its visibility will skyrocket.
The Part Where This Segment Ends
Wow, I had intended to cover much more of Goodreads than just the groups but it appears as though I’ll have to cut things short here and cover other facets of Goodreads in another post. In my opinion, however, the groups on Goodreads are some of the best ways to utilize Goodreads as a way to market your novels without being an annoying spammer.
Now get out there and participate, writers!
*P.S. If you really think I didn’t know what the Photos link is for, you might need to slap yourself.
About this post’s author:
John Corwin has been making stuff up all his life. As a child he would tell his sisters he was an alien clone of himself and would eat tree bark to prove it. For John, making stuff up was about one thing: teasing his sisters. In middle school, everything changed. A class assignment to string random words together into a coherent story led to the birth of Fargo McGronsky, a young boy with anger management issues whose dog, Noodles, had been hit by a car. The short story was met with loud acclaim from classmates and a great gnashing of teeth by his English teacher. At this point, our esteemed author realized that making stuff up had broader uses. Years later, after college and successful stints as a plastic food wrap repairman and a toe model for several well-known men’s magazines, John once again decided to put his overactive imagination to paper for the world to share and became an author.