The complete and unabridged guide to GoodReads for authors: Account set-up, customization, and widgets, lots of widgets

This is a guest post by John Corwin

You’ve finally done it!  Your book is done and ready for delivery to your millions of rabid fans.  Except those millions of rabid fans don’t know you exist.  Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to get the word out about your book.

  1. Streak naked across the field during the Super Bowl with your book’s name scrawled in red lipstick across your chest.
  2. Rob a bank and spend millions on a national advertising campaign.
  3. Ask Stephen King to adopt you.
  4. Undergo plastic surgery and learn to speak with a British accent so you can assume JK Rowling’s identity.

Unless you’re an exhibitionist or have powers over space and time, the above options aren’t going to cut it.  The following options are probably more realistic:

  1. Create a Facebook fan page
  2. Write a blog
  3. Get Followers on Twitter
  4. Spam everyone on Twitter and Facebook relentlessly with links to buy your book*

*If you think #4 is a good idea, slap yourself.  Please.

 

Facebook, blogs, and Twitter are great ways to push traffic and make yourself known, but how many of your connections on those websites are in your target market?

That’s where Goodreads comes in.  If you don’t know what Goodreads is, please slap yourself again.

Goodreads is the Facebook of readers and writers with 5.5 MILLION members.  There are hundreds of reader groups/clubs on Goodreads with thousands of avid readers all eagerly awaiting the arrival of good reads.  Get it?  Good reads.  OK, fine, it wasn’t that funny.  Shut up.

Now you’re thinking, Oh, I get it!  Join Goodreads, add friends, and spam everyone with links to buy my book!

Slap yourself again.

Goodreads has so many beneficial ways to help writers connect with readers that I can’t possibly cover them all in one blog post.  That’s why I’ll concentrate on the first things you should do after going to Goodreads.

 

Join Goodreads

This kind of goes without saying, but I’ll outline it anyway especially since there are some important parts to the initial joining.

Go to http://www.goodreads.com/user/new to join Goodreads.  I highly suggest you join under your published name so your author profile name will match up with your book(s).

  1. Enter your full published name, email address, and a password.
  2. Click ‘create an account’
  3. You’ll need to verify your email address with Goodreads by checking your email and clicking the link in the email they send you.

Now you’re good to go!

 

Join the Goodreads Author Program

To join the author program you must have a book already published or be in the process of publishing a book.  If your book is already on Amazon.com or BN.com, then a search will usually pull up all the information you need to create an author page.  Otherwise, you’ll need to manually add your book here: http://www.goodreads.com/book/new

  1. Assuming your book is already published or you’ve manually added it, do the following:
  2. In the search box, type in your published name, i.e. ‘John Corwin’
  3. Look for your book in the list of results.  When you find it, click on the author name instead of the book.
  4. Scroll to the bottom of the page to find a question: ‘Is this you? Let us know.’
  5. Click on ‘Let us know’
  6. The next page will ask you to confirm that you’re the author of the book.
  7. Enter a message: ‘Please add me to your authors program’ (or something of that nature) in the provided message field.
  8. Wait.
  9. Wait some more.

It will take Goodreads a day or so to process the application.  In the meantime, go to your profile by clicking on your name in the upper right corner of Goodreads.

Click ‘edit profile’ to the right of your name.  This is your personal profile.  The picture and other information you enter here will only show up on posts, reviews and personal things you do on Goodreads.  The author profile will show up to people who click on your name or look at your books.

While you’re here, you might as well fill out some information and upload a photo.   I suggest you upload a good authorial photo—preferably something not involving jean shorts or a mesh T-shirt.

Create a username so you’ll have an easy Goodreads URL link to point people to:  http://www.goodreads.com/johncorwin is mine.

Make sure to enter your blog or website address in the ‘My Web Site’ field.  It will show up with your profile and will generate traffic.

Go crazy customizing these fields and make sure to save them.

 

Edit your Author Profile

Goodreads has finally approved your application for the prestigious rank of Goodreads author, shared by only 26 thousand or so other people on Goodreads.  You’re in the top 5%!  Can you say gold star?!

After affixing that gold star to your forehead, refrigerator, or surface of choice it’s time to get down to brass tacks and tackle your Author profile.

You didn’t think all that work to get an author page was the end of it, did you?  No, no, no, my dear authorial writer of words person, now we have to augment this august authorial status of yours so that readers will see and take notice of your newfound awesomeness.

  1. Click on your name in the upper right corner.  This will take you to your author profile.
  2. Click ‘edit profile’ next to your name.
  3. Make sure all the fields are filled out to your satisfaction, especially the biography.
  4. On the right, you’ll put your tastefully appropriate picture that was not taken by Glamor Shots or during prom (otherwise slap yourself).

Save!

Rub your hands together greedily.  Insert evil grin.  Bust out your most super-maniacal laugh EVER.  Now do it all at the same time!  You may need to practice this in the mirror until you get it right.  You’re famous!!

Well, not quite.

This is like coming up with a good analogy that will illustrate to people why doing all of the above was a good idea even though it doesn’t make them instantly famous.

Oh wait, sorry.  I was telling, not showing.

Um, this is like building bank to hold millions upon trillion of dollars, but first you need to get people to give you those dollars so you can squander them in bad investments and destroy the national economy.

Clear?  I thought so.

 

Goodreads Widgets!

If you have a blog, you’ll want to add the RSS feed so it’ll show up on your Goodreads page.  This way you’ll generate some extra traffic to your blog.  Writing blog posts is another topic altogether, but in my opinion, you’ll want to write in a similar voice to what you use in your novels.  This will give your blog an identity and brand that readers can count on finding in your books.  In other words, if they like your blog, they’ll probably like your books.

You can also host your blog entirely on Goodreads, but I recommend you use a dedicated blogging website like Blogger or WordPress.  There are many more blog-sites out there, but these are the largest and easiest to configure when it comes to third-party apps.

To syndicate your blog on Goodreads, we’ll first need to find the RSS or Atom URL for your blog.

  1. Go to your blog, i.e. http://johncorwin.blogspot.com
  2. On Blogger, scroll all the way down to the bottom and look for ‘Subscribe to: Posts (Atom)’
  3. On WordPress, look to the right of the posts for ‘RSS – Posts’
  4. Right-click on that link
  5. Left-Click on ‘Copy Link Address’
  6. Go to Goodreads
  7. Click your name in the upper right corner to go to your author profile
  8. Click ‘edit profile’
  9. Under your picture, click ‘add/edit blog’
  10. On the right side look for ‘External blog feed URL’
  11. Click ‘change’ if the URL field isn’t showing
  12. Right-Click in the space
  13. Left-Click ‘paste’
  14. Your URL should now show up and look something like this:  http://johncorwin.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default
  15. I recommend check-marking the ‘Show full post’ box
  16. Click the ‘add feed’ button
  17. Practice your evil laugh.

 

Other Goodreads Widgets

After much testing of the Goodreads Facebook app which is intended to link your Facebook fan page to Goodreads, I have determined that it is broken.  So ignore it for now.

*Note from Emlyn:  The Facebook widget isn’t broken, just very, very fickle. I’ll write a post someday explaining how to work around the bugs and get the GoodReads tab on Facebook. Now, back to John…

Goodreads Reviews Widget: This is a widget you can use to add Goodreads reviews to your blog/website.  It uses iframe code that you’ll need to embed into your website/blog.  Remember, however, that the more external widgets you add to your site, the slower it may load as it will have to pull information from several websites.  It may also lag on slower computers.  I prefer to keep my links local to the blog as much as possible and decided not to add this widget to my blog.

 

The End?!

Now that we have the basics set up on Goodreads, it’s time to figure out how we can use all this Goodreads goodness to further our goals of securing our millions of rabid fans.  Unfortunately, I’m out of space for this post, so all of those goodies will come in Part II.

Go get yourself set up on Goodreads, practice your maniacal laugh, and keep reaching for the stars!

 


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.

Connect with John Corwin online: Facebook, Blog, Twitter.