skip to Main Content
6 Ways For Indie Authors To Use Goodreads To Network

6 Ways for Indie Authors to Use Goodreads to Network

Barb Drozdowich

Barb Drozdowich shares the Goodreads love

Social media expert Barb Drozdowich counts the ways for indie authors to network on Goodreads to help market their self-published books.


Goodreads is often the site that is dismissed as difficult to navigate or full of nasty people.  Let’s talk about these elephants shall we?

  • Can Goodreads be difficult to navigate? I think so.  But like learning to write excellent dialogue,  navigating Goodreads can be learned  with a little bit of patience.
  • Is Goodreads full of nasty people?  Not really.   There are 50 million account holders on Goodreads.  In a group that large there are bound to be nasty people.  Take your local mall as an example.  Not everybody there is pleasant,  yet you continue to shop there.  You develop a way to cope with the nasty people –  you can do the same on Goodreads.

goodreads logo

The Enormous Potential Reach of Goodreads

Goodreads had 50 million readers all in on place. What could be a better place for finding readers, especially for the beginning author – or the author trying to make contacts in new countries, ?

But just like you would never stand in the middle of your local public library holding your book and yelling at everybody to read it,  that behavior is not acceptable on Goodreads either.  So put on your reader's hat,  grab yourself a cup of coffee and think about six distinct networking possibilities.

#1 Shelves

Goodreads allows an account holder to list the books that they have read or want to read.  They are supplied with some default shelves as well as the ability to create as many custom shelves as they want.  Every time you as a reader or an account holder list a book on a shelf, that information is shared with all of your friends.  And like Amazon or Facebook, Goodreads is controlled by algorithms  so putting books on certain shelves is more important than other shelves.

The idea behind shelves is not just an organizational tool,  it is a sharing vehicle.  It helps  you share with other people.  I’m sure you’re not nosy,  but lots of people are interested in what other people are doing.  They are curious as to what books their friends are reading.  They may choose friends based on their taste in books.  Every time you log into your Goodreads account you are shown what your friends are doing, reading and reviewing.

If you want to put your author hat back on, consider how much free advertising you can give your author friends by listing their books on a shelf of yours,  perhaps by reviewing it.  Consider creating a shelf called “Great authors.”  List all your friends’ books on the shelf.  People will notice.

#2 Friends/Followers

I consider to be the connection between people on Goodreads to be the second most important functionality that Goodreads has.

On Goodreads people can be ‘friends’ of one another.  This is an action that one person requests and the receiver accepts.  In addition,  readers can be ‘followers’ of authors.  This is a one-sided interaction started by the reader; it does not need to be accepted by the author.

These two types of interactions have different powers.

Although on Goodreads authors are encouraged to increase the number of followers,  I believe both groups have importance.  An author profile on Goodreads comes with quite a bit of functionality that many authors don’t seem to know about.  One of my favorites is connecting an author’s blog to Goodreads via the RSS feed.  This not only allows people to read blog posts on Goodreads, but also to get email notification of whenever a new post is created by Goodreads.

And I have over 300 more readers of  my blog than are visible from my blog stats because those are followers on Goodreads.

On the main landing page of Goodreads is what’s called the newsfeed.  This allows readers to keep up-to-date with what their friends are doing.  You may not spend much time scanning this information,  but many people do.  I have well over 3000  friends who are aware of a wide variety of things that I do on Goodreads, such as put a book on a shelf,  add a book to a reading challenge,  or enter a giveaway.  It’s not uncommon for me to be notified of somebody else marking a book as ‘to read’ that I’ve just finished sharing.  Likely they caught sight of it on their newsfeed.

#3 Giveaways

 Paperback books can be given away on Goodreads.  There’s a beta test going on right now for e-books, but were going to focus on the paperback giveaways.  Do we as authors give away copies of our books in hopes of getting reviews?  Obviously the answer to that question is yes.  Do we always get reviews?  Sadly the answer to that question is no –  but we hope. There are two main positive things about the Goodreads giveaways:

1)  the potential for reviews

2)  the placement on shelves

We always hope that every book we give away for a review will get us a review.  When giving away a book on Goodreads, stack the deck in your favor.  You are given the name of the winner, so write them a nice letter asking for a review and explaining how to do it.  I typically write a short note in the book,  not on a separate piece of paper.  Can these books be found for sale on Amazon or eBay? Yes of course, but then perhaps the next person will review the book as well.

Don’t focus on the money spent, focus on the possibility of a review – of the networking potential.

The second point that is overlooked is the shelf aspect.  When a reader enters a Goodreads giveaway, the book is automatically placed on their ‘To-Read’ shelf  and this information is shared with all of their friends.  To avoid this second step people have to uncheck a box.  To remove the book from their shelves they have to go to the trouble of actually deleting.

Typically these books will stay on shelves as a constant reminder to the reader that they had expressed interest in a book.  It also serves the as a reminder to their friends that they have an interest in this book.

These giveaways attract a lot of attention – on average, 825 people enter a giveaway and over 40,000 people enter giveaways each day on Goodreads.

That’s a heck of a lot of attention for the cost of a book and postage.

#4 Groups

Groups are often considered to be the shining star of Goodreads.  Many of my fellow book bloggers  seem to live in their groups.  There are many groups whose only function seems to be authors announcing a book release or a book for sale, but the real networking power of groups is found in the other groups.

For example did you realize that there are upwards of 10,000 book clubs that have groups on Goodreads?

There are groups from every geographical area of the world, covering every genre of book and in fact all sorts of non-book subjects:

  • Are you interested in finding some friends and readers on the other side of the world from where you live?  I bet there’s a group from that country –  whichever country that might be.
  • How about a group that talks about other things you’re interested in other than books?  Great way to make online friends.

Most of the groups allow their members to create a profile or an introduction.  All of the books that you have written as an author are attached to your profile.

Let’s face it, us readers aren’t stupid,  if we want to buy a book, we know how.

#5 Reading Challenge

he reading challenge functionality I think is one of the most overlooked functions on Goodreads.  The reading challenge allows readers to decide arbitrarily how many books they are going to read in a calendar year.  It then allows the readers  to record the books that they read as well as ratings or reviews.

Just like with shelves,  every time a book is recorded as being read,  that information is shared with the reader’s friends.  It is also part of the reading challenge list.

Anybody can go into someone’s list and comment or just look at the books on the list.  In addition to that,  readers can advertise the fact that they are doing a reading challenge on the sidebar of their blog.

One thing I encourage authors to do is to create a shelf called ‘Reading Challenge,’ then use the widget functionality to display what they’ve been reading on the sidebar of their blog.  In fact authors can get together and be rather strategic about what books are displaying.

I’ve done a reading challenge several times.  I’ve found there has been a lot of interaction between people who are doing the challenge.  Quite a few of the books that I have read in the last calendar year have been added to other people’s shelves.  Again not flashy, but networking.

#6 Events

The event notification on Goodreads can be overused,  but on the other hand, is an easy way to communicate with all of your friends.  It comes with a small amount of ability to divide the audience. For example if I was going to have an in-person event,  I can invite people based on their geography.  But think about the power: every time I have a book release, I have over 3,000 people to share this information with.  That is in addition to the number on my mailing list.  Quiet yet powerful.

In my mind, the power of networking on Goodreads is only limited by my creativity.

Unlike Facebook or Twitter, you don’t have to ask account holders if they read – just what they read. And while I don’t believe that Goodreads is the only place that you should network, it should be part of your efforts.

The lure of 50 million readers in one place!

OVER TO YOU Goodreads – love it or hate it? Do you have any tips to add to Barb's – or any cautionary tales? Join our conversation via the comment box!

6 easy ways for #selfpub #authors to network on @Goodreads - by @sugarbeatbc Click To Tweet



Author: Barb Drozdowich

Social Media and Wordpress Consultant Barb Drozdowich has taught in colleges, universities and in the banking industry. More recently, she brings her 15+ years of teaching experience and a deep love of books to help authors develop the social media platform needed to succeed in today’s fast evolving publishing world. She owns Bakerview Consulting and manages the popular blog, Sugarbeat’s Books, where she talks
about Romance – mostly Regency. She is the author of 6 books and over 20 YouTube videos all focused on helping authors and bloggers. Barb lives in the mountains of British Columbia with her family. www.bard


This Post Has 22 Comments
  1. Barb, thank you for this information. We have self-published a few books. Mike is the author and I am taking care of everything else around it. I signed up with Goodreads but never really understood how to navigate it. I have never taken the time to investigate and learn about it, I will take that time now. I noticed that you live in the mountains of British Columbia. Would you, by any chance, live close to Golden, BC where we live? Thank you again for the encouragement to learn more about Goodreads. Elfriede

  2. THANK YOU! I needed this. I’ve tried to use Goodreads off and on but found it difficult many times. This will help a lot, as an author and a reader.

  3. The information about Goodreads was clear and very helpful, as I, believe it or not, knew nothing about the topic. I have to say that the time was very well spent and the teacher did not waste words or my time. Thank you. Louis Vanrenen

  4. Thank you for this post. I do have an author page on Goodreads and also post reviews there but I do neglect it because I enjoy my blog a lot more. I am going to give Goodreads more attention from now on.

  5. Very interesting thank you Barb.. I have my own books on Goodreads and always post any reviews for other authors on their, especially as Amazon has got more unforgiving for the slightest connection between author and reader. This has shown me several ways that I am underusing the platform.

  6. Thanks Barb. I’ve been with Goodreads for a few years, but it has been quietly sitting in the background. Reading for pleasure is very haphazard, in addition to reading multiple books concurrently. Therefore I’m conscious of the number of books on my ‘reading’ shelves with the last page read remaining static for months (or years) – do people take note of this reading/non-reading when checking authors to connect with or am I worrying unnecessarily?

  7. THANK YOU! I needed this. I’ve tried to use Goodreads off and on but found it difficult many times. This will help a lot, as an author and a reader.

  8. Thanks very much, Barb. I haven’t used Goodreads much at all. I notice that most of your suggestions rely on having friends & followers who can then see what you are doing. What’s the best way of finding friends/followers? I don’t just what to make contact with people I already know through Facebook etc.

  9. You’ve given authors some good reasons to be active on Goodreads. Let me offer one more: The ability to network with other authors, your peers. I’ve gotten invaluable advice and support, especially where it concerns marketing books to readers, from ‘authors only’ groups on Goodreads.

    I suggest authors looking for groups there join the authors only group and also pick out one or two that are active in your genre. Don’t pick genre ones so much for the marketing opportunities and mainly only authors participate in those ‘discussion’ threads. Instead, join to find out what readers are reading and talking about, what they’re reviewing, how they liked it and why. These discussions can be quite enlightening.

  10. Very helpful! I’ve been looking for a guided layout for ways to integrate with the GR community. My Author/Book pages are squeaky clean, but I haven’t cracked the nut of building community there. Time to try again.

  11. Great post, Barb! Goodreads is super helpful for authors and often overlooked. It’s not the most user-friendly format, and that seems to intimidate many writers, however, this breakdown of the top ways to utilize it is extremely helpful.

    I’ve found it to be a great way to connect with readers, book bloggers, and book reviewers and let’s face it, that’s our target audience. Thanks again for another stellar article.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Latest advice, news, ratings, tools and trends.

Back To Top
×Close search