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Semifinal Round Now Open—2nd Chance to Vote in the 2012 Goodreads Choice Awards!
Posted by Jessica on November 15, 2012 603238

Semifinal Round Now Open for Voting! »

A round of applause for our semifinalists! Readers flocked to the polls to nominate the best books of the year in the 2012 Goodreads Choice Awards, casting 623,800 votes for more than 11,000 books. We have now added the top five write-ins in each category as official nominees, bringing the total to 20 nominated books in each of 20 categories.

The Best Fiction category has gained some heavy hitters with the addition of J.K. Rowling and Michael Chabon. Best Science Fiction nominee Hugh Howey also racked up a second nomination in a different category, Best Horror. Ken Follett and Philippa Gregory join the highly competitive category of Best Historical Fiction. And, of course, the Goodreads Choice Awards aren't the only number-crunching event making headlines this fall, as shown by U.S. presidential forecaster Nate Silver scoring a nomination in Best Nonfiction. Neil Young and Stephen Colbert also add some star power to Best Memoir and Best Humor. View all the semifinalists »

You have two more chances to vote. Remember, the Semifinal Round closes November 17, and next week we will cut the field in half. Only 10 books in each category will make it into the Final Round, beginning November 19. Vote now to make sure your favorite books are safe from elimination!

Vote for the best books of 2012! »

How Readers Discovered a Debut Novel: A Case Study
Posted by Otis on November 14, 2012 1

How do I get my book in front of the right readers? How do I help readers discover my books? How do I stand out from the hundreds of thousands of other book titles competing for attention?

These were the questions I was asked to address at the annual PubWest Conference last month. This conference is distinct as it features mostly smaller and mid-size publishers, most of whom are located west of the Mississippi River. The dilemmas these publishers face, however, are anything but unique. Discovery—how to get readers to find and choose your books—remains one of the biggest challenges facing all authors and publishers, regardless of size.

Why is discovery increasingly a problem? There are two major reasons:

1. There are more books being published now than ever before. According to Bowker, there were more than 350,000 titles published in 2011. This is up significantly from previous years, and the growth is largely because of the exploding popularity of self-publishing; self-published books account for 150,000-200,000 of those books. To give you some sense of the number of books available to readers today, there are about 5,000,000 titles that at least one person on Goodreads has shelved. If you're a publisher or an author, that represents a lot of competition for your books.

2. The other big trend that's making discovery a challenge is the shift from buying books in physical stores to buying books online. Online sales currently represent about 39% of all sales (Bowker), and the adoption of ebooks is fueling this shift. Online discovery, however, at least in an ecommerce setting, has yet to equal the serendipitous experience of wandering the aisles of a bookstore and happening upon a new book.

With 12 million members, Goodreads has unparalleled insight into how readers discover books. One of the best ways to see how our members find books is to track the interest in a specific title. For this presentation, we chose Slammed, by Colleen Hoover. Slammed is a great success story, and it represents an author (and eventually, a publisher) making great use of the Goodreads platform. What's especially useful about this case study is that this was Colleen's first book so she was starting from complete anonymity.

The graph above shows the various methods Goodreads members used to discover Slammed. As you can see, Slammed was published in early January of 2012. The book didn't get a lot of attention those first few months, which illustrates how tough it can be for a first-time author. But Hoover smartly took matters into her own hands, running a pair of Goodreads giveaways in late February and early March. These are free for authors/publishers to set up—the only cost is in mailing the book to the winners. It immediately got the book onto people's shelves and generated a few reader reviews, which is vital for any new book.

Then, in late March, a few prominent bloggers in her genre wrote about the book, spreading the word to their many followers on Goodreads through their reviews. A few of them even liked it so much they ended up virtually handselling the book to specific readers: an author's dream! If you've read Malcolm Gladwell's book The Tipping Point, you'll have heard of Mavens. These are the people who, once they discover something they love, just can't resist evangelizing about it. And they are influential because people trust them. Thanks to our fun, passionate community, these book-loving mavens are hanging out on Goodreads. Colleen Hoover herself said:

"I believe one of the best things about Goodreads is the interaction fans can have with their favorite authors. I've met so many great people through Goodreads who have helped me more than I could have ever imagined. Bloggers I met through Goodreads are always willing to promote any new announcements I have and to share teasers or character interviews. Without Goodreads, I wouldn't have been able to connect with them on the level that I have, and I'm grateful for that."

For Slammed, that initial buzz paid off in a big way. In late April, the Goodreads Recommendation Engine picked up the book. On average, a book needs to have several hundred ratings before it starts to be included by our algorithm. From that point forward, it became the dominant way that Goodreads members discovered the book. That's the blue section you see in the graph.

By the summer, the book hit the New York Times bestseller list for e-books and it was then picked up by Simon & Schuster's Atria Books imprint. They came out with new e-books in August and with print books in September. And look what happened toward the end of August: it was added to a few Listopia lists, including Best Books of 2012, which is another way Goodreads members love to discover books.

It's important to note that this has been a very well-received book. After more than 20,000 ratings, the average rating is 4.4 stars out of 5. In fact, this has contributed to the book being included as a nominee in this year's Goodreads Choice Awards in the Young Adult Fiction category. We launched the Opening Round of voting for the awards two weeks ago. This has stimulated further interest in the book as people browse the categories looking for books to vote for and discover new books to read. You can see the bump in people adding the book to their "to read" shelves in this graphic.

Books added stats for Slammed.

With so many different ways to discover books, it's important for an author or publisher to think like a conductor. You have a whole orchestra of tools at your disposal—from giveaways, to targeted advertising, to author chats, to blog outreach—it's up to you to make the symphony crescendo. It's also important to understand how each instrument works, when to best employ them and how to use different ones to amplify others, as there is no one easy way to facilitate discovery.

For even more info, check out my full presentation below.

Live Video Chat with Barbara Kingsolver
Posted by Patrick on November 09, 2012 175283

Join us today at 2pm ET/11am PT for a live video chat with award-winning author Barbara Kingsolver. We will be discussing her latest novel, Flight Behavior, nominated for the Goodreads Choice Award for Best Fiction. We'll also discuss her previous work and her life as an author. If you can't watch the chat live, don't worry, we will record it.

Click here to watch the archived recording of the chat.
The 2012 Goodreads Choice Awards—Open for Voting!
Posted by Jessica on November 05, 2012 603238

Vote Now in the Opening Round! »

Feeling choosy? What's the best book you read this year? Pick your favorites in 20 categories by voting in the 2012 Goodreads Choice Awards, the only major book awards decided by readers—that's you! Junot Díaz is duking it out with Barbara Kingsolver in Best Fiction. Arab Spring activist Wael Ghonim is up against best-seller Cheryl Strayed in Best Memoir. Will Tudor expert Hilary Mantel slay international man of mystery Carlos Ruiz Zafón in Best Historical Fiction? It will be a fight to the finish until the polls close November 27!

To begin the Opening Round, we've nominated 15 books in each category. Instead of consulting publishing experts or a judging panel, we look to readers to find the best books of the year. We analyzed statistics from the 170 million books added, rated, and reviewed on the site in 2012 and nominated books based on the number of ratings and average rating. A nomination is truly an honor because it comes straight from the readers! And to make sure every reader has the "choice" he or she wants, the Opening Round also accepts write-in votes.

Who will be the major break-out nominee of 2012? Last year's juggernaut Fifty Shades of Grey picked up speed when it reached the 2011 finals for Best Romance before becoming a viral hit. And our new crop of nominees boasts a larger percentage of indie authors than ever before. Some household names did not even make the cut. J.K. Rowling's The Casual Vacancy and Zadie Smith's novel NW both were just shy of the 3.50 average rating required for an Opening Round nomination (but if you loved those books, don't worry. You can still place a write-in vote!)

You have three chances to vote. The Opening Round lasts until November 10. Vote now to make sure your favorite books make it into the Semifinals.

Don't wait! Vote for the best books of 2012! »

Live Video Chat with P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast, Today at 7pm ET/4pm PT
Posted by Patrick on October 18, 2012 175283

Join us today at 7pm ET/4pm PT for a live video chat with bestselling authors P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast! We'll be discussing their new book Hidden (House of Night #10), as well as their previous work, and their lives as bestselling writers. The chat will last about a half an hour, and if you miss it, don't worry, we will record it.

Click here to watch the recording of the chat!
Read Till You Scream
Posted by Jessica on October 16, 2012 603238

A good book keeps you reading through the night, but you'll be cowering under the covers with our spooky reading list. We combed through the top-rated horror books of 2012 to gather a grisly collection of ghost- and monster-themed books. Test your nerves against these paranormal fiction finds guaranteed to deliver the creepy crawly, goose-bump Halloween terror we love. Maybe you'll be leaving the light on after one of these.

By Scott Sigler (Goodreads Author)
San Francisco homicide detective Bryan Clauser is having prescient dreams about a series of murders as his investigation leads him closer to the subterranean killers that lurk beneath the city streets and only come out at night. Goodreads member Mitch calls it "a terrifying descent into a nightmarish world along with some of the most incredible action scenes put to paper."

The Haunting of Maddy Clare
By Simone St. James (Goodreads Author)
Penniless temp worker Sarah Piper gets an unexpected assignment: assisting the dashing Alistair Gellis, a professional ghost hunter and shell-shocked World War I veteran. He requires a female assistant to rid a haunted barn in North England of an enraged, man-hating spirit. Goodreads member Jess says, "I have not been so scared by a ghost story in a very long time...truly chilling."

By Peter Clines
Nate's run-down Hollywood apartment building may have mutant cockroaches, but the dirt cheap price is right. When he keeps noticing more eccentricities—hidden rooms, weird noises, and blocked staircases—the creeped-out tenants soon band together to discover the building's secret. Goodreads member Nick calls it "a near-flawless mystery-thriller-horror...a treasury of mind-bogglery."

I, Zombie
By Hugh Howey (Goodreads Author)
The breakout author of the dystopian hit Wool reanimates the trope of the zombie apocalypse in this gory horror novel, told from the point of view of the decaying, ravenous corpses themselves. Goodreads member Melissa says, "...there is something trapped within the monstrously disgusting outer shell of this narrative. Something alive, something true, something real."

Story by Scott Snyder (Goodreads Author) & Scott Tuft (Goodreads Author), art by Attila Futaki
If Freddy Krueger haunted your childhood, this graphic novel's for you. When 12-year-old Jack runs away from home in search of his dad, his cross-country journey through rural 1916 America is tracked by the sinister "Salesman" with a disarming smile. Goodreads member Tristan says, "A classic style of horror, one written like an old child's warning tale. The story is gripping, with gorgeous artwork that leaves you cringing."

What's the scariest book you've ever read?

You Are What You Read: Reading Habits of Voters
Posted by Patrick on October 08, 2012 175283

During an election season, we hear nonstop analysis of how different the two political parties are. Conservatives and liberals are at odds when it comes to taxes, healthcare, defense...and the list goes on. But what about their reading habits? We polled* Goodreads members to find out which 2012 presidential candidate will get their vote, and then we looked at the books these voters had shelved. Opinions of certain books were split along party lines, but there was also a lot of agreement. Perhaps a love of reading should be a plank in both Obama and Romney's platforms.

Take a look at the results in this infographic, and we leave it to you to draw your own conclusions. Are Obama voters more drawn to Jonathan Franzen as a champion of the middle class? Are David McCullough's books on the Founding Fathers favorites of Tea Party supporters? What books are you reading this election season?

* One important caveat: Not everyone in our poll is eligible to vote in the 2012 presidential election, either due to age or geography.

Live Video Chat with Ned Vizzini, Today 2pm ET/11 am PT
Posted by Patrick on October 05, 2012 175283

Join us tomorrow at 2pm ET/11am PT for a live video chat with bestselling author Ned Vizzini! We'll be discussing his new novel The Other Normals, about a teenage misfit who suddenly finds himself in the universe of a role-playing game. We'll also discuss Ned's previous work, including his book It's Kind of a Funny Story, which was made into a movie starring Keir Gilchrist and Zach Galifianakis. The chat will last about a half an hour, and if you miss it, don't worry, we will record it.

Click here to watch a recording of the chat.
Live Video Chat with Elle & Blair Fowler, Today at 7pm ET/4pm PT
Posted by Patrick on September 20, 2012 175283

Join us today at 7pm ET/4pm PT for a live video chat with YouTube sensations Elle & Blair Fowler! We'll be discussing their new novel Beneath the Glitter. It's the tale of two sisters and their dream of making it big in Hollywood. This is your chance to ask these rapidly rising stars a question. The chat will last about a half an hour, and if you miss it, don't worry, we will record it.

To watch the chat and join the discussion, click here!

Live Video Chat with Salman Rushdie, Today at 12pm ET/9 am PT
Posted by Patrick on September 18, 2012 175283

Join us tomorrow at 12pm ET/9am PT for a live video chat with Salman Rushdie, Booker Prize-winning and best-selling author of Midnight's Children, Fury, and The Satanic Verses. We'll be discussing his incredibly topical new memoir Joseph Anton, about the years of his life spent under the shadow of a fatwa resulting from the publication of The Satanic Verses. This chat will last approximately half an hour, and if you miss it, don't worry, we'll record it for you.

To watch the recorded chat, click here!