Many authors hear they should go where readers are. They think this means go promote their books. This is because no one properly explains what you should be doing when you go to places like Goodreads and kindle boards to interact with readers. Here I’m going to talk exclusively about Goodreads and what your interaction should be there. This topic came up on my Facebook wall and a few authors gave me permission to share their comments on my blog.
Before we get to their comments let me give you my 2 cents.
Target Market Research
How many of my regular readers saw that one coming?
Why are you talking to readers? To learn more about what they like and what is important to them. On a Goodreads discussion group specific to a book or genre you can learn invaluable information about the kinds of characters and behaviors the readers you want to attract to your book are looking for as well as the things to avoid. You also learn more about their personal lives which lets you blog better. Worth more than just dropping promotions in. Worth way more.
- Any questions about how to collect and use the target market data?
I know my regular readers saw this one coming. If someone likes what they are seeing of your comments on Goodreads they may friend you. Know what their next step frequently is? Checking out your profile. If you have properly linked your regular profile to your author profile they see your author profile.
What is on your author profile? Your website link, a short bio, your blog feed (if not, why not? get it there), and most importantly your books, the ones you wrote. If they have enjoyed your input in discussions they may add a book to their TBR or even buy it. They may read a post or two from your blog and click the link to go to your blog and subscribe to/follow your blog. Again this is worth more than dropping promotions in. These are the people that if they do read your book and like it are going to review it and tell their friends about it. Why? Because they are book lovers. Chances are their friends look to them for “what to read” advice. So you don’t want to tick them off by trying to promote your book.
- Has anyone done this successfully?
- Do people agree or disagree?
Keep Your Profile Up-to-Date
Make sure you are keeping your profile up-to-date. If you don’t know how to add your books, make sure the proper covers are added, all editions are links, etc. find someone who can help you or read through the help files. I was able to add the basic information of someone’s kindle edition, message them, they just had to go to the right librarians thread, drop a link to the 2 editions and ask that they be linked and mention the covers and blurbs were identical and it was done for them. Took less than 15 minutes of both our time.
- Any questions about author profiles?
- Do you understand the difference between a personal profile and an author profile?
- Did you know you have both an author and personal profile?
Writing Book Reviews
If you decide to do book reviews on Goodreads keep in mind that your readers and your critics are reading your reviews. Do NOT use inflammatory language. Give honest reviews worded respectfully and make sure to include positive points as well as negative. Only review books in a genre you like. Do not appear to bash “competitor” books.
- Any questions on writing book reviews?
- Do you worry about reviewing other people’s books?
Reviews of Your Books
Don’t respond to reviews of your book. If it is a close friend or someone who told you they would review the book go ahead and thank them for the review although even then I’d recommend doing it privately so the review’s validity is not viewed as “well friend did it so ignore this review”. Never, ever, ever, did I mention NEVER respond to bad reviews of your book publicly. Only respond to negative reviews privately if by a friend if you are hoping to get clarification that will help you with future writing and are NOT responding in a defensive manner. Responding to a negative review does a few things:
- Calls attention to the review
- Creates a scene
- Makes you look worse
- Frequently turns your supporters against you as things rarely end at a single response
- May permanently end your writing career and make you the talk of the internet with parodies and even news stories written about your behavior
- Stops sales of your book in its tracks
Just in case I was not clear enough above. It may be career suicide to respond to negative reviews of your book. I will be doing a full post later on how to deal with negative reviews.
- Any questions on responding to reviews?
Here’s the misconception with Goodreads. Not everyone uses star ratings the same way. It took me a while to find that out. Some people’s rating have NOTHING to do with what they think of the book. For some people it’s where that book stands in their TBR list. For some each star represents a section of the month they want to start a book in. For some, it’s how much they are looking forward to a book. There are so many different reasons, that many star ratings should be ignored.
The Key to Goodreads is not to go on there with the intention of promoting your work. Go on there with the mindset of a reader. Generally readers don’t want to be spammed or sold to.
That is true about readers not wanting to be spammed. I learnt that lately from some reader groups, they designate specific threads for authors and they don’t want authors spamming anywhere else. The good thing is you can go into threads and read what they are discussing to get an idea of how they think and what they are looking for. What they want and what they detest, it is all there in the threads of discussion. By entering the discussions sincerely, you can get their attention, become interested in their topics etc and maybe they will follow you up. #mytwocents.