Amanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. She posts about growing your author platform every Thursday. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent.
Last week, guest blogger and author Jennifer Murgia did a fab job of introducing us to Goodreads.com and many of you asked for more!
While we're not going to do a step-by-step with screenshots (most of your how-to questions can be answered by spending time on the site...see #1 below), we've come up with 5 steps to building hype for your book on Goodreads:
1. Participate. Just like any social media site, Goodreads requires participation in order for the magic to happen. So the first step is to to be a regular, old Goodreads participant. This means reviewing books, tracking your bookreading progress, adding books to your shelves, commenting on friends' shelves and statuses, and getting comfortable with how the site works and how people use it. For any Goodreads virgin looking to use it for personal promotion, I think it would be helpful to spend a month or two learning the ropes. Don't just dive into it with the intention of selling books. Figure out what works and doesn't work from a user's perspective. Follow a few of your favorite authors and see what THEY do. Learning and participating are the first steps.
2. Maintain your author page. Treat your page as you would your author website (check out Jennifer Murgia's Goodreads page for reference). Dump book trailers, blog posts, and information on yourself as often as you can. You can even use both of those mediums (video and blog) to interact with fans, make announcements, and more. Before you start promoting yourself, you want this page to be full of information so that you don't appear to be a ghost author.
And while we're talking about ghost authors, let me take a moment to dicuss the importance of a great author photo. Unless you're Danielle Steele or Stephen King, 99% of readers won't know who you are. It's important to establish that you're a real person and not some wack-o by including a nice-looking author photo on your page. We're not talking about poorly-done self-portraits or photos from 20 years ago when you were thinner and younger or even overly artistic photos in which your face is covered by a paper bag. We're talking about a nice head shot.
A nice author photo will do more for you than any other tip or trick to getting potential readers past any hesitancy they may have regarding your book. So do what you need to do...get a makeover, hire a photographer and put on your best smile (or for those of you writing horror or guy fiction, your best contemplative face). You don't have to look like Heidi Klum or Ryan Gosling. You just have to look like a nice person.
Remember, first impressions count.
3. Host a giveaway. The steps to hosting a giveaway are pretty self-explanatory on the site. You simply go to "Giveaways," click "list a book" and fill out the fields. This is an important component of the Goodreads experience, because it gets your book in front of lots and lots of potential buyers. Sure, most of them are there to try and snag a free read, but BELIEVE ME: free books mean more sales.
Next week, we'll talk about what it takes to have a successful giveaway, but in the meantime, spend some time famiarizing yourself with the information needed to host a giveaway.
4. Join groups. There are a number of author and reader groups on Goodreads. These are like the forums and messageboards of old in which people with similar interests congregate and chat. Use this to your advantage. Remember the post on article-writing when we talked about identifying your readership? The same rules apply here. Figure out who your reader is and befriend them. Eventually, they'll figure out you're an author and buy your book.
Whatever you do, don't spam them with "I'M AN AUTHOR; BUY MY BOOK." Just be nice and engaging and when the time is right, you can mention you have a book. But relationships come first.
5. Make friends and interact with readers. That is really the secret. Yes, it's a time sink and yes, it will require long-term committment. But so does your author career. So suck it up, cupcake, and get out there!
Any other ideas?