I have been digging deeper into Goodreads over the last few weeks and find a lot to like. (For those of you who aren’t familiar with the site, it’s kind of like Facebook for book lovers. Would that be “Bookbook?”)
First, it seems to be a site populated by people who are genuinely interested in reading, along with authors who are genuinely interested in connecting with their readers. If you’re wondering why I have used “genuinely” twice in the same sentence, it’s for emphasis and to contrast Goodreads with some of the other blogs and discussion groups (including many on Amazon) whose sole purpose seems to be for authors to find a way to mention their most recent works.
Second, the creators of the site seem interested in helping authors who may not have huge marketing budgets behind them promote themselves. Authors may set up an author page and are then able to access a variety of free and paid promotional tools. One of the cleverest (and free, except for the cost of books and mailing) is the book giveaway. Pre-launch, or within the first six months of the book’s publication, you can offer a number of copies that you’re willing to give away. Goodreads handles the whole process, making it easy for people to enter and easy for you as an author—all you do is send copies to the selected winners when the giveaway is over. Giveaway recipients are asked, but not required, to review the book.
To me, the great thing about the giveaway was that in the slightly more than two weeks that it ran, 474 people requested to be entered. That is 474 people who were exposed to the book. Although this hasn’t yet translated into sales, it’s far more people than I would otherwise have reached. (I also ran a Facebook ad targeting people who like Goodreads on Facebook, to encourage more entries and got a good number of click-throughs.)
Goodreads has been a breath of fresh air for a weary self-promoter. I’ll probably do another giveaway in January before the six months post-publication is up and may even explore some of the site’s paid promo opportunities.
Most telling of all, I have actually begun to use Goodreads myself to track books I have read and would like to read. You can see more of my literary tastes by visiting my bookshelf and checking out my ratings and reviews. (Don’t worry, I have read more than the 19 books on my shelf as of December 29, 2011.) Oh, and feel free to ask to befriend me. I’m a little lonely at the moment with a grand total of 0 friends.