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Authors & Advertisers Blog posts (showing 1-10 of 91)
How to Write a Post-Giveaway Message That Really Works
Posted by Cynthia on July 11, 2018

The new custom message feature for Premium Giveaways allows authors to reach readers on Goodreads like never before. When setting up a Premium giveaway, authors can now write a message that Goodreads will automatically deliver to anyone who entered the giveaway but did not win the book. Here are a few pointers on how to make the most out of this powerful new marketing tool:

  • Focus on communicating one thing. You might be eager to share a ton of information about yourself or your book with all those potential new fans but try to hone in on the most important message you want to get across. This very well might be to let readers know they can follow you on Goodreads, or how much you think they’ll enjoy the book, or to provide some background about the characters or the settings.
  • Be gracious. Thank readers for their interest in your book. Share the silver-lining of not winning the book – perhaps more of your books are currently being discounted, or you have another giveaway coming up in a few weeks. Use the opportunity to help readers learn more about you and your book; after all, they’ve already expressed interest so it’s up to you to keep them hooked!
  • Make it special. Readers are excited to get a personal message directly from the author (it’s what makes our Personal Selection emails so great!) so let your voice shine through. Talk about how much you enjoyed writing the book or how excited you are to share the story with readers to really give readers a glimpse behind the curtain. Follow the guidelines. Read the guidelines and FAQs [here] to understand what you can and cannot write in your post-giveaways message.
  • Proof-read your message. Once you submit your giveaway information and message, Goodreads will send you a preview of how your email will look to readers. Avoid unfortunate typos or other inaccuracies by re-reading your message several times; any edits will need to be re-approved, which could delay the start time of your giveaway.
  • Time your giveaway. The message automatically sends on the day after your giveaway ends, so keep that in mind when you set up the giveaway campaign. Does that date align with anything else you have going on? Figure out when that message might make the most impact on your promotions.

Note that Goodreads automatically incorporates some of the most important calls to action for you: there is a “Follow the Author” button at the top of the email and links to purchase the book from various retailers at the bottom. Adding the personal touch through the message enhances the email and makes the Premium Giveaway so much more valuable.

Take a closer look at how Bella Andre created her post-giveaway message for You Do Something to Me:


Questions about giveaways? Email our customer support team at [email protected]

Next: Advice from Writers about Writing and Publishing

You might also like: Marketing Advice from Young Adult Author Jenni James

Goodreads Authors can subscribe to the Monthly Author Newsletter by editing their account settings. Not a Goodreads Author yet? Learn about the Goodreads Author Program here.




Advice from Writers about Writing and Publishing
Posted by Cynthia on July 09, 2018

Writer’s block is no joke, and the path to publishing is a long and sometimes bumpy road. Take comfort in knowing that many bestselling writers were once in your shoes and can share their wisdom based on their experience for your benefit.

Jane Yolen, author of The Devil's Arithmetic

“I always listen to critiques, but never take them in whole. Early on I learned to read the readers. Everyone reads a different story than you put down. They read it with their own baggage in tow. Even good readers, even the greatest, even editors, especially critics. So take what you need from their advice, twist it to your own needs, move on. In the end, it's the story that will tell you what to do but you have to listen.”

Susan Ee, author of Angelfall

“Try to get into the habit of writing every day. Freewrite to exercise your story muscles (write whatever comes to mind without filtering and without judging). Take creative writing workshops and get feedback from other writers in your classes.

Read a lot of books that interest you. Write the stories that interest you regardless of what kind of stories your teacher or classmates prefer. If they love literary slice-of-life vignettes but you love epic adventures, write epic adventures. You’ll find your true audience later.”

Joseph Delaney, author of Revenge of the Witch

“Keep a notebook and write down all your ideas (don't edit your ideas but record everything), read widely, observe the world around you, persevere, develop a thick skin and make sure you write as much as you can.”

Tami Hoag, author of Ashes to Ashes

“Write something you love, and learn as much about the business side of being a writer as you can before you try to publish. It's not enough to write a good book. You need to know where it will fit in the marketplace, what publishers you should target, and so on. If you want to be a professional you have to learn about the profession. And lastly: be resilient, adaptable, and determined. This is a tough business.”

Taylor Jenkins Reid, author of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

“My advice would be to be smart about how you're targeting the people you are querying and to do your research ahead of time. There are strict rules about a query letter. Read up on them, seek out agents who represent the work you write (looking up the agents of writers you are similar to is a good start), and be confident about your work.”

Shayla Black, author of Wicked Ties

“This may sound simple, but you should approach writing a love story (or any story, really) from the heart. Get to know your characters and their conflicts well, figure out what’s keeping them apart, how they need to grow as individuals and as a couple to live happily ever after, then discern what events must transpire for them to start the process of changing and melding together. If you know them well enough to answer those questions and you’re listening to them as you write, making those transitions that slowly reveal the emotional growth in the story will be as natural as breathing.”

Paul Tremblay, author of Head Full of Ghosts

“I think write-you-know is a bad, awful advice. It should be write-to-know or write-to-want-to-know. Anything you write is going to have pieces of you in there, regardless. You don't have to work at that. You (the general you) will never grow as a writer if you're not willing to take on story ideas or characters who different from you and your experience. The best fiction comes from that challenge. Most of the stuff I write is me trying to learn about the people in the situations I put them in. I want to know what they will do, what decisions they will make and why. Starting from a place of empathy (not sympathy); I want to understand.”

What's the best advice you received about writing and publishing? Share it with your fellow authors in the comments below!

Next: The Business of Being a Writer: Turning Attention Into Sales

You might also like: Marketing Advice from Young Adult Author Jenni James

Goodreads Authors can subscribe to the Monthly Author Newsletter by editing their account settings. Not a Goodreads Author yet? Learn about the Goodreads Author Program here.




Managing Your Goodreads Author Settings
Posted by Cynthia on June 08, 2018

You’ve claimed your author profile on Goodreads, updated your bio and uploaded a flattering picture, enabled Ask the Author and fielded some questions. You’re eager to engage with readers on Goodreads, but before embarking on a massive book reviewing spree or setting up your first book giveaway, it’s important to review some of your fundamental account settings as a Goodreads Author.

Adjust your settings so your first and last name shows up in readers' feeds.


Your personal profile preferences stay as they were before you claimed your author profile, which means that your newsfeed updates might only show your first name. Considering how much your full name becomes a brand when you publish, you want to make sure your settings show both you first and last name – after all, “Jonathan” or “Jennifer” could be anyone of your friends; “Jonathan Franzen” or “Jennifer Weiner” on the other hand are very particular people!

To check these settings, click on your picture in the top right corner to show the dropdown menu, then click on “account settings.” From there, make sure your Display Name shows your full name; if it doesn’t, add your last name in the corresponding field.



Customize your URL.


While you’re on your profile tab, you might want to think about customizing your Goodreads URL. This allows you to share a readable link, which looks better on your business card or your book jacket than the standard URL and can feed into your author branding. A great custom link is one that is consistent with your other social media accounts and instantly recognizable, for example: songspkpop.com/rgay is consistent with Roxane Gay’s Twitter handle (@rgay)

Under the ‘profile’ tab under settings, type in your preferred User Name. Assuming it isn’t already taken, start sharing that URL and invite readers to follow you on Goodreads.

Use a Goodreads widget on your website.


Letting people know they can find you on Goodreads is one of the fundamental ways to get more followers. Goodreads makes it easy to show off what you’re reading—whether it’s in your email signature or on your website. Widgets will automatically update the information when you make edits to the shelf, which allows you to amplify your activity.



Find customizable widgets under the ‘Widgets’ tab under account settings, then copy and paste the one you want to use to your website or email signature (you’ll find more directions on the Widget page).

Make every activity count.


While readers are most interested in seeing what books an author has read and recommends, there’s a ton of activity that you can do on Goodreads that will populate your profile and your friends’ update feeds. Go to the “Feeds” tab to review what activity you're sharing – at minimum, make sure you’ve checked “Add a book to your shelves.”

Sign up for the Author Newsletter.


The Goodreads Author Newsletter is a monthly newsletter that includes links to news, interviews, and marketing advice exclusively for Goodreads Authors. You can make sure you’re subscribed by checking the “Emails” tab and scrolling to “Newsletters and Other Mail.” While you’re there, subscribe or unsubscribe from any other updates you wish to receive from events, discussions, or groups that you’re in.

While you’re in your Settings, explore the other tabs to review your other preferences: you’ll find everything from your preferred book vendors and Deals notifications to other apps you might have linked to your account.

Questions about your settings? Leave it in the comments below or contact our customer support team at [email protected]

Next: Your Goodreads Marketing Checklist

You might also like: Optimizing Your Goodreads Author Profile Picture

Goodreads Authors can subscribe to the Monthly Author Newsletter by editing their account settings.

The Goodreads Author’s Marketing Checklist
Posted by Cynthia on June 06, 2018

These days, writers no longer need to sign with a traditional publishing house to get their stories into the world. Self-publishing platforms have made it easier than ever for a writer to publish their own work and get distributed. But writers soon realize: writing and publishing are the easy parts—it’s the marketing and promotion where things get tricky!

However you choose to publish, Goodreads will certainly play an integral part in your marketing campaign. To make sure you have all the tools you need, here’s a high-level checklist for things to do as an author on Goodreads:

Join the Author Program

  • Search for your book to make sure it is in our database – if not, you can add it here.
  • Claim your profile by joining the Goodreads Author Program. Click on your author name on the book page, scroll to the bottom of the page, and click on “Is this you? Let us know!” then complete the application. Learn more here.
  • Confirm all the books written by you—if they aren’t, sending us an email or making a note of it in your Goodreads Author application.

Immediately after you join the Author Program

  • Upload an updated author profile photo. Here are some tips for the best ones.
  • Complete your author profile bio. Keep it under 500 words so it doesn’t get cut off below the fold.
  • Turn on Ask the Author from your Author Dashboard. Here are our Best Practices.
  • Answer 3-5 of the pre-seeded questions from Goodreads via Ask the Author. This helps you get familiar with the platform and generates content for readers to interact with in case they don’t have any questions.
  • Review or add at least 25 books to your “want-to-read” shelf. One of the top things readers want to learn about their favorite authors on Goodreads is what books they’ve enjoyed. Share your thoughts via a rating or a review.
  • Review your author account settings. Find more here.
  • Import your blog, if you have one (or start a new one!). Christine Feehan is a great example of an author making the most of the platform.

Weekly Activity in the Author Program

  • Review a book or two. This keeps your name in front of the people who follow you and enhances your profile.
  • Answer questions from readers. Especially in the early days, answer questions as they come in so that you start building a good rapport with fans.
  • Join or participate in a group. Meet people who share similar interests as you. Here are a few groups to get your started.

Recommended Optional Activity in the Author Program

  • Run a giveaway to build buzz around your book and get reviews. You can run a giveaway for a print book or a Kindle book. Here’s how to make the most of a giveaway.
  • Upload a book trailer, if you have one, to your book page.
  • Post your upcoming events. You can announce a time you’ll be answering questions from readers via Ask the Author, or let people know if you’re signing books IRL. People who RSVP get a reminder the day before the event.
  • Add your Goodreads author widget to your website or email signature. This lets readers know they can find you on Goodreads.

While there are certainly many areas of the site you can explore to discover books, connect with readers, and promote your book, this list provides you with the fundamentals.

What activities do you find yourself spending the most time on when preparing your marketing campaign? Share in the comments below!

Next: Case Study from Book Expo

You might also like: Goodreads Marketing Resources to Help with Book Promotion

You might also like: Even More of the Best Goodreads Author Marketing Blog Posts

Goodreads Authors can subscribe to the Monthly Author Newsletter by editing their account settings.

Goodreads Marketing Blog Posts to Help You Plan Your Book Promotions
Posted by Cynthia on June 04, 2018

Looking for help navigating the busy world of book marketing? You've come to the right place! There's a ton of helpful information about effective book promotion for authors right here on the Goodreads Authors & Advertisers Blog. We pulled together an overview of some of our most popular articles to get you started.

How Authors Can Engage with Readers and Book Reviewers on Goodreads
Here's what you can do if you have some time and are willing to invest it.

Your Goodreads Author Marketing Timeline
An overview of activities on what to do on Goodreads leading up to publication.

Advice from Catherine McKenzie
Bestselling author shares her favorite marketing approaches.
Advice from Intisar Khanani
Marketing advice from a self-published Young Adult author.


Advice from Jenni James
Advice for writing a book and getting it turned into a TV series.
Advice from Josiah Bancroft
Marketing advice from a self-pusblished Science Fiction author.


The Benefits of Running a Kindle Ebook Giveaway
Give away more books, and get them in the hands of readers faster.

How to Optimize Your Goodreads Profile Picture
Strike a pose! And make sure it's a good one with these tips.

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Fauzia Burke is the founder and president of FSB Associates, one of the first firms to specialize in online publicity and marketing for publishers and authors. The following isn an excerpt from her book, Online Marketing for Busy Authors: A Step-by-Step Guide: There has never been a better time to be an author, because for the first time authors have direct access to their readers. While there is more competition in the marketplace, there is also more opportunity... Continue reading


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Jane Friedman has spent more than 20 years in the publishing industry as a writer, editor, publisher, and professor. The following is an excerpt from her newest book, The Business of Being a Writer: To establish a full-time living from your writing, it’s essential to learn basic marketing principles. There is something of a formula, and it looks like this... Continue reading


Three Things Readers Want to See from Authors on Goodreads
These are the most essential things to do to maintain a presence on Goodreads.

Goodreads Case Study
Get inspired by this end-to-end campaign of a popular bestseller.


Five Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Goodreads Giveaways
We've updated the program with some top-requested benefits.


Next: Case Study from Book Expo

You might also like: More Top Marketing Resources for the Savvy Goodreads Author

You might also like: Even More of the Best Goodreads Author Marketing Blog Posts

Goodreads Authors can subscribe to the Monthly Author Newsletter by editing their account settings.

Case Study: How Penguin Press Made 'Little Fires Everywhere' a Roaring Success
Posted by Suzanne on May 31, 2018

"The firemen said there were little fires everywhere," Lexie said. "Multiple points of origin. Possible use of accelerant. Not an accident."
[Little Fires Everywhere]

It’s no accident Celeste Ng’s second book, Little Fires Everywhere, has spent 35 weeks on The New York Times’ Hardcover Fiction list. The Penguin Press team strategically sparked and built interest with four critical audiences—readers, booksellers, librarians, and media—using multiple channels to drive awareness, anticipation, and early reviews. Along the way, they also benefited from some unexpected accelerants that further fueled the fire. Today, Little Fires Everywhere has an astounding 161,812 ratings, making it the number one most-rated book on Goodreads that was published in 2017. Even more impressive is that the book has an average rating of 4.16—it is significantly harder for a book to maintain such a high average rating across so many readers.

How this book became such a success story offers insights for publishers and authors preparing their own book marketing strategies, so we talked with Matt Boyd, associate publisher and marketing director at Penguin Press, to learn more.

“We were all huge fans of Celeste’s debut novel, Everything I Never Told You,” he said. “So we were excited—and a bit nervous, honestly—to read the new manuscript. Could it possibly be as good, or even better, than the first? But we all loved it from the first page, breathed a big sigh of relief, and then felt a different kind of stress: We realized we had a big opportunity—and responsibility—to help Ng reach even more readers with this new book.”

For the Penguin Press team, a key part of their plan was Goodreads, where Ng had already won over so many fans. “We’ve found Goodreads is one of the best ways of building real, tangible buzz among readers, and reaching their community was a key part of our marketing campaign” said Boyd. “It’s safe to say that the Goodreads community helped make Little Fires Everywhere such a big success.”

Ng was one of the earliest members of the Goodreads community, joining in May 2007, just a few months after Goodreads launched. She started participating on Goodreads because of her own passion for reading. With the publication of her first novel in 2014, Everything I’ve Never Told You, she transitioned from a member profile to an author profile on Goodreads. Ng is an excellent example of an author who really understands what works well on Goodreads, continuing to share reviews of what’s she reading (check out her 2017 Year in Books), as well as answering questions from readers about her own books.

In an interview with Poets & Writers, Ng said, “I think the site has helped people discover the book. My sense is that it’s an an amplified version of friends recommending books to other friends.”

Key Insights

With this case study, you’ll learn about several strategies that worked well, including:

  • Getting copies of the book into the hands of as many readers as possible months before publication to generate reviews
  • Leveraging the power of social amplification on Goodreads
  • Building a fan base on Goodreads and targeting those fans with book marketing tools
  • Using the early Goodreads reviews to help fine-tune marketing copy
  • Adopting a snowball effect, where multiple activities in different channels combined to create a bigger impact

Social Amplification on Goodreads

You’ll see the Goodreads social amplification effect throughout the case study. This is because social sharing is built into every activity on Goodreads. When people enter a giveaway, a story appears in the newsfeed of their friends, essentially creating a mini advertisement for the book. When someone posts a review, a story shows up in the newsfeed, helping more people discover books to read. And if someone hears about a great book in the media and adds it to their Want to Read shelf, their friends see this in their newsfeed, providing another wave of reminders about the book.

The Journey to the Bestseller Lists

In this case study, we’ll be following a journey that runs from January 2017 to April 2018. As you can see from the visual below, it doesn’t look like a lot was happening in the first six to seven months, but as we’ll show you, some early activity was taking place that would combine over time into a bigger impact.




Building Pre-release Buzz (January - May 2017)



The Penguin Press marketing and publicity team plotted out a year-long campaign, with major milestones in nearly every month leading up to publication. They targeted four distinct audience groups: booksellers, readers, librarians, and media.

In January 2017, nine months before the book was due to come out in September 2017, the Penguin Press marketing team focused on booksellers—a crucial audience who had been very supportive of Ng's first book. They also brought Ng to Winter Institute, a conference of independent booksellers that takes place in January each year, and handed out galleys there. In addition, they sent galleys to influential booksellers across the country.

The next step was to focus on readers. Thanks to the success of Everything I Never Told You, Ng had built up a solid fan base on Goodreads. Getting this key audience excited and aware of the new book was the focus in February 2017. Ng's announcement on Goodreads and Twitter that Little Fires Everywhere was now available for pre-order helped kick-start some early Want to Read shelvings of the book on Goodreads and started the social amplification effect.

To reach more early readers, Penguin Press also made ARCs (Advance Reader Copies) available on NetGalley and Edelweiss. Meanwhile, the Penguin Press publicity team swung into action, sending early copies to media contacts. Soon they had secured an exclusive cover reveal and excerpt with EW.com.

March 2017 was when the Penguin Press sales team really kicked into gear, with sales reps sharing ARCs with booksellers and librarians. In addition to securing strong orders, they were hoping to land Little Fires Everywhere on the IndieNext list (based on nominations by independent booksellers), the LibraryReads list (based on nominations by librarians), and all the retailer “Best of the Month” lists.

On Goodreads, the first big spike in interest came from a pre-review by Goodreads member Maxwell, one of the top 100 reviewers on Goodreads. Maxwell had been a huge fan of Ng's first book, and, as a result of Maxwell sharing his excitement about the news that the second book would be coming out, Maxwell’s friends and followers added the book to their Want to Read shelves and started another wave of social amplification.

In April 2017, Penguin Press ramped up their pre-marketing with Goodreads. The team ran the first of what would be six Goodreads Giveaways and mailed ARCs to some key Goodreads reviewers who were fans of Ng's first book.

As a result, the essential early buzz started to build with readers, and by the end of May 2017 (three months before publication), Little Fires Everywhere already had 4,888 Want to Read shelvings and 23 reviews.

Stoking the Fires in the Lead-up to Publication (June - August 2017)



To keep the momentum going, the Penguin Press team ran more giveaways on Goodreads in May, June, and July, which continued to build an audience of readers who had added Little Fires Everywhere to their Want to Read shelves.

At BookExpo at the end of May/early June, Penguin Press ran a major ad campaign to reinforce to booksellers that this was going to be one of Penguin Press’ big books for the fall, and to further generate interest and awareness. Starred early reviews from Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, LibraryJournal, and Booklist came out, further building support and anticipation for the book.

In late June, Angela M, one of the top 25 reviewers on Goodreads, gave a 5-star review of the book. This drove another spike in people adding the book to their Want to Read shelves and continued to drive more discovery of the book on Goodreads over several days.



As a result of the large number of fans the book had won in the librarian community, Little Fires Everywhere was also selected as the Favorite book in the September LibraryReads list. Billed as “the top 10 books published this month that librarians across the country love,” the September LibraryReads list was announced in early August and drove another wave of Want to Read shelvings. The list is shared widely, and Goodreads has many librarians in its community who are friends with other librarians and readers.

Rave reviews continued to come out on Goodreads, and the Penguin Press team analyzed these to help shape their messaging with ad campaigns on Facebook, Instagram, and Amazon Marketing Services. “We look at the words people use to describe a book to understand how readers talk about it with their friends,” said Boyd. “We’re constantly tweaking ads and seeing what works."

Thanks to the number of Goodreads members adding Little Fires Everywhere to their Want to Read shelves, the book started trending on Goodreads and was selected for the Editorial team’s data-driven blog post “21 Big Books of Fall” (which was also published in Buzzfeed).

By the end of August (12 days before publication), Little Fires Everywhere had 169 reviews, and 15,335 people had added it to their Want to Read shelves, a clear signal of the huge anticipation building for the book.

The Key 8 Weeks Around Publication (September - October 2017)
Publication Date: September 12, 2017



It was at this point—perfectly timed for the lead-up to publication on September 12, 2017—when things really caught fire.

September kicked off with the news that Little Fires Everywhere had been selected as an IndieNext Pick and a selection of the Book of the Month Club. There was also high-profile print media coverage, in publications including Real Simple, Elle, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, and Marie Claire.

On September 1, Little Fires Everywhere was featured in the Goodreads New Releases email, which goes out to 36 million members. This influential email highlights some of the most popular trending new books published that month and is a significant driver of book discovery on Goodreads. The New Releases email drove thousands of Want to Read shelvings over Labor Day weekend and early September.



Thanks to the success of Ng's first novel and all of the giveaways they ran for Little Fires Everywhere, Penguin Press had now built up a sizeable audience to target with one of Goodreads’ most popular book marketing products: a Personal Selection Mailer. This gives publishers the opportunity to send a warm, friendly, and personal message from an author to their fans, and includes links to retailers to convert these interested readers into buyers just as the book comes out. This email went out on September 6, helping drive another significant spike in people adding the book to their Want to Read shelves as well as pre-orders.

“Publishing around a holiday like Labor Day is a bit nerve-racking,” said Boyd. “Things seemed relatively quiet in late August, but then everyone must have come back from vacation on the same day, and they all seemed to be looking for their next must-read book. In the first 11 days, the number of Want to Read shelvings on Goodreads doubled.”

By the day before publication, 30,089 people had put the book on their Want to Read shelves, and there were 226 reviews, the majority of them sharing how much they loved the book.

Notable Readers

Remember the unexpected accelerants we mentioned at the beginning? September 12 was not only publication day, but also when actor, producer, and famous book lover Reese Witherspoon announced that she had chosen Little Fires Everywhere for her popular #RWBookClub. Later, in early October, Witherspoon held a Facebook Live discussion with Ng. As Witherspoon's team promoted the discussion on Instagram, more people discovered the book and added it to their Want to Read shelves.

“There’s a new generation of book clubs springing up—from Reese Witherspoon to Emma Roberts, from The New York Times and PBS to Barnes & Noble—and it’s fascinating to see how they’re engaging readers in new ways,” said Boyd.

Goodreads Influencers

Another accelerant on Goodreads came from some of the most influential reviewers on Goodreads. First, Emily May, the most popular reviewer on Goodreads—with more than 100,000 friends and followers—posted a positive review on September 14.

Meanwhile, The Traveling Sisters group on Goodreads, started by Canadian sisters Brenda and Norma, had picked Little Fires Everywhere as their “sister read.” The invite-only group includes several of the most popular reviewers on Goodreads, and as their reviews came out, they fueled a series of spikes in Want to Read shelvings at a time when the book was already earning hundreds of Want to Read shelvings per day. Combined, these popular reviewers have thousands of followers, who saw their book reviews in their Goodreads newsfeeds. As they liked and commented on the reviews, they created more stories about the book in the newsfeeds of their friends, creating more awareness and buzz about the book.

As a signal of just how powerful this group of reviewers is, today 11 of the 30 most popular reviews for Little Fires Everywhere are by members of The Traveling Sisters group.

Brenda and Norma create discussion boards on The Traveling Sisters for each book, and Susanne, one of the group members and a top 50 most popular Goodreads reviewer, said that it led to “a very lively, extremely emotional discussion about the dynamics between mothers and daughters. It tore at all of us. Celeste Ng is masterful at this.”

On September 21, an interview with Ng was featured in the Goodreads Newsletter (which goes out to 41 million members twice a month), which drove another major spike in interest. Ng was selected by the Goodreads Editorial team for an interview due to her popularity on Goodreads and the growing interest in Little Fires Everywhere among Goodreads members in the lead-up to publication.

Thanks to this reader buzz, fabulous media coverage, the book club picks, and a months-long tour, it was no surprise that Little Fires Everywhere debuted at No. 7 on The New York Times' Hardcover Fiction list.

The Goodreads Choice Effect (November - December 2017)



The book continued on the bestseller lists through the fall. Then at the end of October, due to rave reviews and the overall popularity of the book on Goodreads, Little Fires Everywhere was a nominee for the 2017 Goodreads Choice Awards in the Fiction category. The Goodreads Choice Awards are the only major book awards decided by readers, and in 2017, there were 3.8 million votes to decide the winners across 20 categories.



On December 5, the winners were announced, and Little Fires Everywhere won Best Fiction of 2017. As you can see from the graph above, the impact on the book on Goodreads was dramatic! This was a book that had been on the bestseller lists for weeks and had already been discovered by 122,537 people. Such is the power of the Goodreads Choice Awards that another 17,709 members added it to their Want to Read shelves in a single day. The Goodreads Choice Awards also drive sales, and the Penguin Press team saw a spike in purchases as a result. Thanks to winning the award, the book saw a steep change in the number of people adding the book to their Want to Read shelves, which has continued to this day.

Now in Orbit (2018)



One of our favorite quotes about book marketing is from publishing industry consultant Michael Shatzkin: "Books have always been launched like rockets. The publisher commits maximum firepower to getting them off the ground. Most crash to earth. Some go into orbit." By the end of December 2017, Little Fires Everywhere was clearly one of those rare books that has made it into orbit. It was on the “best books of 2017” lists by Amazon, NPR, People, The Washington Post, Audible, and more. And as noted in the introduction of this case study, it’s continued to stay on the bestseller lists.

And the power of the Goodreads Choice Awards effect continues! As you can see from the visual above, the Goodreads Choice Awards drive significant discovery and interest months beyond the announcement of winners.

Yet the story doesn’t end here. In early March 2018, Witherspoon and Kerry Washington announced they are producing and starring in a TV series based on Little Fires Everywhere. This led to yet another spike in people adding the book to their Want to Read shelves, and we expect to see more people discovering and reading the book as we get closer to the TV series launch.



Around 800 Readers Are Marking Little Fires Everywhere As “Read” Every Day



Of course, while driving discovery is critical, publishers and authors want to see people buying and reading the book. Looking at the visual above, it’s clear that people were eager to start reading the book as soon as it was published. The number of people marking the book as “read” on Goodreads quickly climbed within days of publication and continued through the end of the year. Thanks to the Goodreads Choice Awards and all of the “best of 2017” lists, it looks like the book made it to the top of many people’s Want to Read lists at the beginning of the year as there’s a steep climb in early January that continues through May. An average of 800 people are marking the book as “read” every day on Goodreads. As noted at the beginning of this case study, the book now has 161,812 ratings, making it the number one most-rated book on Goodreads that was published in 2017.

Ultimately, though, all the great book marketing tools in the world would not have worked without an amazing story. Goodreads can only help amplify the success of a good book. In the end, the story stands on its own. And in the case of Little Fires Everywhere, there’s a reason why the book continues to be on the bestseller lists. It’s a story that has clearly caught fire with readers.


NEW! Now You Can Send a Customizable Message to Readers Who Enter Your Premium Giveaway
Posted by Greg Seguin on May 30, 2018

Goodreads Giveaways

Ever wish you could reach through your screen and connect directly with everyone who entered your giveaway – sharing a bit more about the book, encouraging them to buy a copy, or helping them stay up-to-date by following you? Starting today, now you can provide more reasons to buy your book with the audience you've developed through your giveaway.


Send a customizable message to readers who enter your giveaway
Authors and publishers who run Premium giveaways can now send a personal message to readers who entered but didn’t win – included at no additional cost. Here’s how it works:

  1. When you set up your Premium giveaway, you’ll see an extra field to enter a message to share with entrants after the giveaway ends (up to 1,000 characters). Don’t forget to include a greeting and a closing.
  2. Once you’ve set up your giveaway, Goodreads will send you a preview of how your email will look to readers.
  3. A few hours after your giveaway ends, Goodreads will send the message out to readers who entered but didn’t win.

An example email with a customized message

Some tips on how to create copy for this message that really resonates with readers:

  • Make it personal. We recommend the email comes from the author of the book. This makes the email a friendly, more direct communication between a reader and the author of a book they’re interested in reading.
  • Share an anecdote or interesting insight. Where did the idea for the book come from? Have readers been asking a particular question about this book that you can reveal the answer to? Is this book related to an event or person in your life?
  • Invite an ongoing connection. Use the email to encourage people to follow you on Goodreads so you can continue the connection.
  • Say thank you. Thank people for entering the giveaway and how much you appreciate their interest in the book.
  • Don’t make it too long. People are busy and attention spans are short. You want them to keep reading and see the “where to buy” section at the end.

As a quick refresher, here are all the ways your book will be promoted with a Premium Giveaway:

Premium Giveaway (print book or Kindle ebook format) – $599

  • (NEW) A customizable message sent by Goodreads to entrants who don’t win, providing a unique chance to connect with potentially thousands of readers interested in your book.
  • Featured placement in the Giveaways section of Goodreads, with tens of millions of visitors each month, giving your giveaway significantly more visibility and more entrants. All giveaways are also featured on the title’s book page on Goodreads.
  • Everyone who enters your giveaway automatically adds the book to their Want-to-Read list, promoting your book via updates in their friends’ updates feeds, and building an audience for your title.
  • The author’s followers and anyone who has already added the book to their Want-to-Read list get a notification, letting them know there’s a giveaway starting. This helps generate even more entries, creating more stories in the Goodreads updates feed.
  • About eight weeks after your Giveaway ends, winners receive an email from Goodreads to remind them to rate and review your book. This will help other readers discover and decide to read the book too.

Marketing Advice from Bestselling Author Catherine McKenzie
Posted by Cynthia on May 07, 2018

Catherine McKenzie knows that being a writer isn’t just about writing. “I run a business called "Catherine McKenzie”, and I’m the CEO and Chief Content Producer,” she says. “I’m also the accountant, the head of marketing. I involve myself in all parts of the publishing process.” The Canadian author has written several works of bestselling contemporary fiction, including Hidden, Fractured, and Arranged. Her latest novel, The Good Liar, is a mystery/thriller set in Chicago.

We asked Catherine to share some of her insights into the process of getting an agent, holding on to her stories, and staying active in her group on Goodreads.


Tell us a little about your writing career. When did you start writing, and how did you first get published?

I always wrote; poetry mostly, but I never considered a career in writing. Instead, I became a lawyer, which I still am today. I recall a few aborted efforts at writing novels in my twenties—after I read Foucault’s Pendulum, for instance, I sat down to write the next Foucault’s Pendulum, then discovered five pages later that I knew nothing and would have to do years of research.

Then, in 2006, I had an idea that would not leave me alone. I didn’t know what it was, but I had to write down. I did and it eventually transformed into my first (practice, lives-in-a-drawer) novel. I queried briefly with that work, but then decided it was too autobiographical to have out in the world. In the meantime, I’d had the idea for what became Arranged and decided to write that. I queried for months on that novel and eventually got an agent. She then queried for eighteen months without success.

In the meantime, I wrote the novels that became Spin and The Murder Game (which I published under a pseudonym in 2016). We decided to submit in Canada and got a “if you make some changes I might be willing to publish Arranged” from HarperCollins Canada. My agent submitted Spin to her instead, and it was accepted in a two-book deal for publication in January 2010. It took an agent change and until late 2011 to get a US book deal.

How did you find an agent?

I found my first agent in the traditional way—researching agents who were representing people in my genre and querying them. I must have queried hundreds of agents. It was certainly part of the toughening up process that all writers need to go through. I also had an experience where a “big” agent was interested in taking the book on if I made a significant change that I ultimately did not think worked for the book. I declined, deciding to believe in the story as I had conceived it.


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How have your marketing and promotional efforts changed over the years? What things worked then vs. now?

One thing I have noticed is a shift from Twitter to Facebook and, more recently, Instagram. Netgalley and BookBub are also more recent players in the publicity market. With Goodreads, I’ve placed a lot of emphasis in the last couple of years with running giveaways to increase my to-reads both pre-pub and afterwards. It’s helped in various ways, including when there has been a deal email that’s gone out and getting placement in the monthly newsletter.

What marketing activities do you believe have been the most worthwhile in helping you reach a large audience?

Placement is so important. I really don’t think there is any substitute for it—in stores, being on the front tables or walls; online, being advertised on Kindle screens or the various other ways that Amazon has to promote a title. The biggest placement for me was getting into the Kindle First (now FirstReads) program on Amazon; Hidden was free for a month to Prime members and this generated thousands of reviews and other metrics that have kept that book selling now, four years later.

What’s been your approach to using Goodreads? How much time do you spend on Goodreads, and what activities do you mostly do?

I use it in two main ways: I run a group called 52 Weeks, 52 Books where I pick a book each week for the group to read and people post their comments on a discussion thread once they’ve read it. I also have used it to run continuing giveaways of my books to increase my visibility on the site. And of course, I read my reviews, particularly pre-publication. It’s a good way to take the pulse of a book. I do learn from both positive and negative reviews.

What advice would you give to other authors aspiring to a successful writing career?

Read, read, read. Once you write a book, keep going. Too many authors get “stuck” on their first novel instead of moving on once it’s done. Figure out one or two online venues that you are comfortable working with and learn how to best maximize that venue.

Got a question for Catherine McKenzie about her publishing career or marketing? Leave a question in the comments and the author will respond to them the week of May 14. Be sure to follow her on Goodreads to see all her updates.


Next: The Business of Being a Writer: Turning Attention Into Sales

You might also like: Marketing Advice from Young Adult Author Jenni James

Goodreads Authors can subscribe to the Monthly Author Newsletter by editing their account settings. Not a Goodreads Author yet? Learn about the Goodreads Author Program here.




The Business of Being a Writer: Turning Attention Into Sales
Posted by Cynthia on April 12, 2018

Jane Friedman has spent more than 20 years in the publishing industry as a writer, editor, publisher, and professor. The following is an excerpt from her newest book, The Business of Being a Writer.


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To establish a full-time living from your writing, it’s essential to learn basic marketing principles. There is something of a formula, and it looks like this:

The right message + the right words + the right audience = success!

Typically, the biggest missing piece for writers (and publishers too) is the right audience. While you may tune out market concerns during the creative process, once that process is over and it comes to the business of writing and publishing, there’s no way around the discussion of audience. If you can’t reach an audience, your career will stall.

While “word of mouth” plays a powerful role in making anyone’s work more visible, a strong marketing plan can be integral to sparking that word of mouth in the first place. Nearly all great work has to be thoughtfully marketed to gain visibility, and thoughtful marketing starts with understanding of audience.

The wealth of online information and social media means it’s easier than ever to develop a portrait of your audience: where they hang out, what types of media they consume, where they shop. To better understand your readers and how to reach them, here are some starting points:

  • Come up with at least two or three established writers who produce work similar to your own. Study reader reviews of their work on Amazon or Goodreads. When you find a stellar review by a person who is active online, dig deeper—take a look at their profile and their website if they have one, and develop a portrait of someone who could be your ideal reader.
  • Think of a writer similar to you or one you wish to emulate. Which publications have interviewed or reviewed that writer? Do those publications serve your target audience? What can you learn about the audience from those publications?
  • Where do writers similar to you appear – both in real life and online? What events do they attend? Look at their social media activity: What does it say about who their readership is?

Once you know who you are approaching and where you can reach them, that’s half the battle. The other half is communicating well: the right message and the right words. Your marketing communications will usually have one of two objectives:

  • 1. To drive a sale
  • 2. To build a relationship

Platform building is directed toward the second goal and is what most of your marketing communication consists of. It’s an ongoing effort to develop your audience and reach new readers. Big corporations participate in this type of communication as well, and it’s typically called brand building. When Coke runs an advertisement that says “Open happiness,” that’s not a sales-driven message; that’s a brand-building message. Conversely, when McDonald’s advertises a $1.99 McRib sandwich available only for the next two weeks, that’s a sales-driven message meant to directly affect the bottom line.

Sales-driven communications are typically tied to specific marketing campaigns, product launches, or short-term initiatives. This is where you would be most likely to measure your effectiveness, and look at cause-and-effect outcomes. For example: Did my promotional posts affect my email newsletter sign-ups? Did my discount affect book sales? But when you’re building relationships, you typically do not measure cause and effect, because making a sale isn’t the point. Building a conductive environment or making a connection that will lead to a sale later is the point. Be aware that if you emphasize sales-driven messages across all your marketing communications for extended periods, your community will tire of you.

Established, full-time writers know that a large online following doesn’t equate to a sustainable business model. Instead, and engaged audience that helps spread word of mouth leads to success. Use analytics to identify how and where you get the best engagement, and what tools help you find the right audience, rather than the biggest audience. Ultimately, this is the most powerful feature of digital media: its ability to find and reach just the right person, who enjoys your work or who can benefit from your service.

Excerpted with permission from The Business of Being a Writer by Jane Friedman © 2018 by Jane Friedman

Tips for Applying This to Goodreads


  • Find authors in the same genre or with a similar writing style and follow them on Goodreads to see what kind of activity they do.
  • Use Ask the Author to ask successful authors for concrete advice. Read Michael J. Sullivan great answer to one readers' question here.
  • Decide how your Goodreads activity will fit into your marketing plan. For example, figure out when you will run a Giveaway or take questions from readers using Ask the Author.

How do you approach book marketing? Share your tips in the comments below! Jane Friedman will be responding to any questions left for her the week of April 16, 2018.

Next: How to Engage with Reviewers on Goodreads

You might also like: Excerpt from Online Marketing for Busy Authors - Know Thy Reader

Goodreads Authors can subscribe to the Monthly Author Newsletter by editing their account settings. Not a Goodreads Author yet? Learn about the Goodreads Author Program here.

How Authors Can Engage with Readers and Reviewers on Goodreads
Posted by Cynthia on April 09, 2018

Goodreads is the world’s largest site for readers and book recommendations, and an attractive spot for authors to promote their books to readers to get reviews. Authors sometimes wonder how to effectively reach and engage with reviewers on Goodreads, especially when they can see how much Goodreads reviews can impact the success of a book.

There are two different approaches for authors when it comes to promoting books on Goodreads that authors should leverage together. There’s the “pure marketing” approach, for which Goodreads provides suite of advertising products for authors to use to build awareness around their books. The other approach involves investing in building long term relationships with readers that can pay off over time.

If you have the time and are willing to invest it, here are some ways to engage with reviewers on Goodreads:

Share your passion for books. The number one activity readers want to see from authors on Goodreads is the books they read and recommend. People go to Goodreads to talk about books, and authors who embrace this unlock the power to effectively integrate Goodreads into their overall online presence.

Successful authors like Celeste Ng and Roxane Gay spent years curating their shelves on Goodreads while concurrently writing their books. The authors have more than 500 books marked as ‘read’ and Ng even created custom shelves to give a better sense of what she’s reading.

Adding a few books to your WTR shelf once a week or updating the status of the book you just finished is all it takes to stay engaged with the Goodreads community. You might choose to take a more strategic approach: review books that are in the same genre as the book you have written, create shelves of books you used for inspiration, or mark books that you loved in high school.

Build genuine relationships. When browsing the reviews of the books you love, you’ll find readers who share your preferences. It might be tempting to shoot them a quick message to introduce yourself and your book, but there’s the risk that the message might be perceived as spam. Instead, follow the reviewer and see what books you both enjoyed, see their reviews and updates in your newsfeed, and then engage with them in the comment section of those reviews and updates. Engage with the reviewer over a shared passion for reading. Remember: relationships take time to cultivate so don’t give up if you don’t see immediate results.

Know when to mention your book. There are many areas where authors can talk about their own book, and guess what? Your book page is one of them. Reviewing your own book is allowed as long as it’s clear that the work you’re reviewing is your own. Approach the review space of your own book like you would writing a foreword, adding additional insights that didn’t make it into the blurb (see an example here) and sharing occasional updates.

While you’re on the book page, avoid responding to reviews about your own book. Even if you like a particularly positive review of your own book, resist the urge to hit ‘like’ on Goodreads. Instead, follow the reviewer to see what else the person might be reading (hey - if they liked your book, you already know they have great taste!) and start engaging with them about books you both enjoyed.

Let reviewers contact you. Ask the Author allows authors to take questions from readers anywhere in the world, at any time. The questions aren’t public until the author chooses to answer them, and it’s perfectly fine to skip questions. Check your Author Dashboard for new questions regularly and tell readers to ask you questions using Ask the Author by sharing the link to your Goodreads profile on your website, newsletter, blog, or social media account.

You can talk about your book through Ask the Author – in fact, we encourage it by asking “Where did you get your idea for your most recent book?” – but you can use it in many other creative ways as well: share some original writing or personal insights on yourself. Have a friend ask you a question that you can respond to, or even ask yourself a question!

Readers might occasionally send you a message telling you how much they loved your book, and if you feel comfortable engaging with readers that way, go for it. If they request for a free copy of your book, feel free to send them a copy, but don’t feel obligated to accommodate that if your budget doesn’t allow for it. A friendly decline “I’m out of review copies at the moment, but you can follow me for updates on when I get more” can work.

When authors take this long-term approach and invest in building a community on Goodreads, they find their time spent on Goodreads becomes much richer.

How do you engage with readers? Tell us in the comments below!

Next: The Business of Being a Writer: Turning Attention Into Sales

You might also like: Five Things Writers Need to Know Before Publishing Their First Book

Goodreads Authors can subscribe to the Monthly Author Newsletter by editing their account settings. Not a Goodreads Author yet? Learn about the Goodreads Author Program here.




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