Last time, I wrote about Pinterest and ways to use this trendy social media tool to complement your book publicity efforts. The cool thing about Pinterest and social media in general – and the most important thing – is that it’s publicity without being blatantly promotional. It’s publicity without even realizing it. Social media should be about conversations and connection and telling your story without selling your story. Not all publicity is about plugging your novel. It shouldn’t constantly be about “buy my book”. That’s such a turn off. Social media like Pinterest and Goodreads is really about connecting, building relationships and letting people in to your life, your interests, your stories and getting to know you on a real, personal level. You may not even realize it’s publicity – but it is. Publicity is awareness. It’s genuine storyteling. And everything you do online these days – from Pinterest to Facebook, from your blog to Goodreads, tells your story. Builds your awareness. And, whether you like it or not, whether you try or not, is publicity.
I can say for sure that I’ve gotten to know people via social media – authors who I’ve come across on social media and online who I admire their interests and style, their integrity and causes, how they treat and value their readers and colleagues, the things that inspire them and they share, the books they read and gravitate toward – and that can make me decide to buy a book, to follow them, to pay attention to what they are doing, to be invested for their next book, to add them to the list of authors whose books I will always buy. If I like them and what they represent. And vice versa, I’ve come across some authors and people online, authors who have found me through clients and Facebook or my website, who are abrassive and exude qualities that, after getting to “know” them, completely turn me off. That’s how powerful social media and online tools can be. I’ve never even met this person but I will never buy those books or waste time on that person again – that’s kind of crazy, but it’s the nature of social media and how emotionally invested we can get – even online.
Lately, I’ve fielded several author inquires about Goodreads – another trendy social media tool, this time specifically for authors. I get asked, is it useful? Is there a way to use it for book promotion? How? Here are my thoughts about Goodreads, how to use it effectively. How it can be part of the overall online story you’re telling, along with all the other social media platforms. Part of your overall genuine publicity that happens even when you’re not trying to make it about publicity.
- Goodreads should be about you as a reader and not as an author. As a book lover, and even as a publicist, I want to know what you’re reading, what other books you have marked to be read, what you thought of THE HUNGER GAMES or if we share any favorite authors or books together.
- Yes, you should have an author page and do the Author Program so readers can find and fan you, new readers can get to know you. But primarily, use the site as a reader and book lover. Let people know more about you this way, but of course, use the Author page for official book stuff like your book trailer, blurbs or other official book business.
- Author Q&As and Contests on Goodreads can be effective. I’ve worked with the Goodreads team many times – on ads, the Author Q&As, I’ve written for their blog and set up contests for authors. My favorite parts are the Author group chats (but you have to have a certain number – pretty big number – of ratings on Goodreads before you’re considered “big” enough to have a featured chat) and the contests. Once you get to that level, the chats are promoted by Goodreads, they alert fans of your books that you’ll be answering Qs and you can participate pretty easily. Until you reach that level, a good way to get more people to mark your book to be read is by doing a contest. You can give away 15 copies of your book and of all the people who see the giveaway, a pretty good percentage mark the book to their shelves. All that marking (ratings/reviews) is good awareness.
- Advertising on Goodreads – a lot of people ask me about advertising in general, and lately about Goodreads advertising specifically. I’ve had several clients who have done specific online book advertising in addition to PR and been disappointed. It can be expensive, you can be lumped in with several other books flashing by too quick for anyone to see, on sites that are bombarded with other book ads. If you’re going to do advertising, you need creative (the actual ad) and a custom strategy. Just like PR campaigns (by good publicists) are custom approaches rather than one size fits all, online ads should really be too. Eye catching, unique creative that stands out beyond all the other ads and are not combined where your book gets lost are important. You can get that with Goodreads – I’ve done and seen some very cool ads – but Goodreads doesn’t do all of that for you. You have to have and create the creative assets. You have to know what’s going to stand out and garner click throughs. You need to be smart about the ads and also get regular reports. The ads need to gel with your overall strategy and messages. And the space is limited! As with any ad copy, you have to pick and choose the most effective message in a very short box/ad. Lots to think about and do here, but if you do it right and can work with someone to create the ads, it can be worth it – at least on Goodreads where your ad is your book and your book alone and not you mixed in with others. I’ve seen some very cool ones on Goodreads that I loved – even animated ones.
- Last word of advice for Goodreads, do not respond or react to negative reviews. It can happen. It mostly likely will happen. Not everyone is going to like your book. The worst thing you can do is try and engage with another Goodreads member over their opinion of your book and try and defend yourself or your book or sway their opinion. Likewise, you don’t need to personally thank positive reviews. Simply be a reader and not an author.
Use the contests, author program and ads if you’re able to from a book promo perspective. But use the rest of the site to really let people get to know you and your story on a personal level. I want to know what you’re reading and how you’re rating books. I hope I see you there! http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/3229201-crystal
How do you feel about Goodreads? Have you made authentic connections there? Have you found a way to utilize Goodreads in ways beyond those mentioned in this article?
Feel free to leave your Goodreads URLs in comments.
Photo courtesy Flickr’s krossbow