If you’re an author, Goodreads is one of the best promotional tools out there, regardless of whether you’re published traditionally or by Kindle. And since now more than ever it’s up to the author to promote his or her own work, sites like Goodreads are a blessing. Gone are the days when the publishing houses spent tons of money promoting new authors. Unknowns are just too risky.

So what’s the poor author to do? Hire a publicist? Spend thousands of dollars on magazine and newspaper ads?

There is a better way.


I first found out about Goodreads a year ago while I was perusing the web. When I did a search on the keywords “social network books,” I came across a site I’d never heard of before.


The first impression I had was that it’s a great site, full of recommendations for readers, but it wasn’t really a site where I, an author, would necessarily want to hang out at–unless of course I was looking to participate from the reader side of things, and discover new books to read.

But as I began browsing the profiles of other authors, and seeing how vocal the fans were, I realized that Goodreads was more than just a place where readers gathered. It was a place where authors could build a loyal base of fans who would eagerly trumpet their works via word-of-mouth.

And what a fan base it is. Goodreads bills itself as the social network for readers, with a user base of over five million members who actively read and buy books. Not bad for a site that only launched five years ago.

How To Promote Your Book On Goodreads

Use the “Giveaway” feature

Here’s a fantastic post about how an unknown author used Goodreads to sell her self-published novel. Guest bloggers picked her up, and eventually landed a publishing contract. Basically she gave away copies to excited readers, who then gave the book rave reviews. It helped of course that she wrote a great book, but the point is, without the giveaways, no one would have noticed her. Companies like Harper-Collins and Penguin routinely run giveaways on Goodreads, because they recognize a golden promotion opportunity when they see one.

One thing to keep in mind with the giveaways is that you’ll need a paper copy of the book. That’s not a problem if you only have a kindle edition, because with Amazon’s Createspace you can upload your kindle book and order copies shipped to addresses worldwide. On-demand.

Ideally you’ll want to run multiple giveaways, and only offer one free copy at a time. If you look at the Giveaway section again, you’ll notice that there are only a few books that have less than 500 readers interested in a copy, regardless of whether those authors are giving away one copy or 10. Keep your giveaway periods relatively short, around 3-5 days, because you’ll get the most interest at the start when Goodreads shows your book under “recently listed,” and at the end when your book appears under “ending soon.”

Contact Readers Interested In Your “Giveaway”

Here’s a little secret that not many authors are aware of. If you click the “View Details” link next to your giveaway, you’ll see the “Current Entries” — all the people interested in a copy of your book.

These people are your potential fans! Contact them individually when they enter your contest. Thank them for their interest, and point them to your blog, to your Kindle book on Amazon, etc. Also, add them as a friend. You can also offer to give a few of them a free copy in exchange for a review, and most will be extremely excited to do so.

Extend The Giveaway Strategy Outside Goodreads

You’ll want to extend this strategy outside of Goodreads by giving away books as part of guest posts on other blogs, or in any interviews you give, or other promotions that you run on your own website. The important thing is to get copies to that core reading audience who will spread the word for you.

Seek Out And Accept Interviews

You need your readers to view you as accessible. When you get interview requests, and you will get them, make sure you not only give interviews to blogs with 1000 readers, but to blogs that have only 10 followers. Your fans will love you for it. Plus the blog owner with only 10 readers will remember you when she has a 1000, and will continue to drive fans your way as you release each new book.

Don’t be afraid to approach readers first, and offer an interview or free review copy for their sites. When you’re viewing the profiles of friends–or potential friends–on Goodreads, you’ll see that many of them have personal blogs and websites. Visit their site, and if it looks like they update it regularly, contact them either through their site, or through Goodreads itself.

A Note On Reviewers

If you’re offering a free review copy, make sure they’re interested in your genre first, and ideally try to find someone who has written good reviews for books similar to yours. If you’re just starting out and trying to promote your book and yourself as a novelist, you definitely don’t need any subpar reviews. Also, look for readers who have a lot of books on their virtual shelves, and 30+ friends. Basically you want someone who’s active on the site, and whose reviews won’t fall on deaf ears.

Discussion question

Do you use Goodreads? If not, what’s stopping you?

And of course if you have any questions or other comments feel free to leave a note below!


  1. This is a great opportunity for some writers who want to promote their books. Readers are not having a hard time to choose what’s the best book they have to read.

  2. I am a writer and I’m always looking for new ways to promote my books and this is the sort of thing I’m looking for.

    Soraya Bowie
  3. “Goodreads”, is an Awesome way to promote books…. I myself, have been a huge fan of “Goodreads” for quite awhile now!!!!!

  4. Goodreads. New to me but for me this will be a great help for authors, especially neophytes to endorse their books.

  5. I’ve been browsing goodreads to give me a few ideas before going forth with the release of my kindle books. I think it’s an excellent way to get exposure, and learn a few things as a noobie publisher as well. Thanks for the tips.

Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge