I’ve learned a lot over the past three months since I threw caution to the wind and self published my first novel, Counting from Zero. One discovery that is likely to have a lasting impact is the social reading site Goodreads.
I discovered Goodreads, along with Scribd, and Shelfari in the weeks after I launched my book. At first, all these sites seemed similar, and just another site to promote and do publicity. But Goodreads has really grown on me.
For one thing, it is fun to have Goodreads ‘friends’ and to read their updates. Reading is solitary by nature, so to find out about others reading in real-time is really quite addictive. Some even give progress on a page-by-page basis. Others go into the future with their to-read lists. It can encourage and inspire you to read more, and provide a new way to discover great books.
I’ve previously written about electronic bookshelves in Books vs Bits, and how important this is. With Goodreads, when you lookup another reader, the site compares your bookshelf to theirs, showing what you have in common, just like I do when I visit someone’s house! It is amazing the breadth and range of some people’s reading. If you love to read, you should sign up and give it a try, then add me as a friend! One note: there is an option to sign in using Facebook, Twitter, or Google. I tried this once with Facebook, and when I added a book to my bookshelf Goodreads posted it on Facebook without warning me… so be careful of this option.
Reading about other’s reading, getting ideas for future reading is all great, but as an author, a few features of Goodreads really impressed me. For one thing, you can message and interact with your readers. By finding reviewer of similar books, I was able to get my book into the hands of some good reviewers. I’ll never forget that feeling when I first realized I could find and interact directly with like-minded readers…
Then, I discovered the Goodreads publisher giveaways. As a publisher, I just had to agree to give away a certain number of books (had to be paper books, not eBooks – this was actually a major motivator in getting my book out in paperback.) and Goodreads would find me interested readers. I also had to agree not to contact them in any way, just ship the books. The giveaway winners are encouraged, but not required to write reviews.
I happily signed up to give away ten copies. I chose a date for the end of the giveaway weeks out, when I would return from a trip to Australia for a conference and to visit friends and relatives. Then, an amazing thing happened. Goodreads started contacting like-minded readers, some of whom indicated they would be interested in receiving a copy of my book. I watched in amazement as two hundred signed up after a few days. By the end of the first week, nearly five hundred had requested it! Excited, I blogged about it. More requested it. At the end of two weeks, over a thousand people had requested a copy of my book! Prior to this Goodreads giveaway, I’m sure that fewer than a thousand people even knew my book existed!
So, when I returned from my trip, I got the list of ten names and addresses and mailed the books. Now, as a result of this, 90 people as of today have marked my book on a shelf, mostly their to-read shelf.
Now, I can follow as readers begin reading my book, marking it as ‘currently reading’ then watch as reviews and ratings show up! Just amazing!
Social reading sites are definitely a great tool for an author, and so far I’m really, really impressed with Goodreads!