Goodreads Blog

Preparing Your Goodreads Marketing Timeline

Posted by Cynthia on June 27, 2016
Whether you’re traditionally published or self-published, as an author today you’re expected to participate in your book marketing campaigns. You are the linchpin! Nobody knows your books as well as you do, which makes you the best person to identify, reach, and connect with your audience. Don’t worry: Finding readers is the fun part!

When planning a marketing campaign, take the time to devise a strategy. For example, you wouldn’t be able to offer a giveaway before you have printed galleys in hand, and you wouldn’t want to run advertisements before your book is available for pre-order. Planning your activities ahead of time will pay dividends in the long run.

Here is a suggested marketing timeline to help you schedule your promotions on Goodreads. This plan should supplement your other activities, such as building a website, printing galleys, doing media outreach, scheduling readings, and all the other exciting parts of a book launch.

6 months before publication


  • Update your author profile. Make sure you have a current author profile picture and that your bio is complete. Here are a few tips to make your Goodreads author profile great.
  • Review the titles attributed to you. If you see books on the list that you didn’t write, contact our support team and we’ll fix it.
  • Review the information on each of your book pages, and email us if anything needs to be corrected.
  • Start or import your blog. Keep the content fresh and relevant to cultivate your personal brand.

4 months before publication


  • Shelve some books. Log books you’ve read in the past—including the ones in your physical bookshelves!—so that readers can get a sense of who you are based on what you read. Some other ideas:

  • Create a bookshelf of the books that you used for researching your book.
  • Browse the list of best books of the 20th Century and add the ones you’ve read.
  • Suggest books for “Further Reading” about the topics in your book.

  • Join groups that interest you. Start reading the conversations, and feel free to chime in. Begin to build relationships with the people you meet.
  • Upload an excerpt from your new title to the book page. Give readers a taste of what’s to come! You can also use your blog or writing section for this.

3 months before publication


  • Schedule a giveaway for galleys. The more that books are circulating, the more likely you’ll get reviews, and the sooner you do this, the better. Galleys don’t need to be typeset or have the final cover, but the content should not change.
  • Actively participate in groups. Join the ones that genuinely interest you and participate in the conversations. Don’t just talk about your own book!
  • Create an editorial calendar for your blog, or post an “evergreen” message to make use of the space on your profile. (check out Khaled Hosseini's profile for an example of this kind of post!)

1 month before publication


  • Schedule another giveaway for advance reader copies. These should have the final cover. Read some tips for running a giveaway on Goodreads.
  • Turn on Ask the Author. Answer at least three of the pre-seeded questions from Goodreads to provide some content for this section. Don’t expect too many questions from readers yet, but decide when you’ll answer questions. Here are five tips for using Ask the Author.
  • Create events for both in-person and online events. Pssst: Answering questions on a particular date via Ask the Author—that’s event worthy!
  • Schedule an ad campaign to start on your publication date. Create several ads in the campaign, each uniquely creative.

Publication week


  • Schedule a giveaway for your signed, finished copies to start the day after your publication date.
  • Answer pending questions via Ask the Author.
  • Enjoy your publication day! Is it just us or is the sky is just a little bluer today...?

1 month after publication


  • Review ad campaign stats. Edit ads if needed.
  • Continue to participate in group activities, answer Ask the Author questions, and shelve books that you’re reading.
  • Share some special content, like an alternate point-of-view story or a recorded video message, to delight fans looking for more.


As you can see, a successful marketing campaign takes months of preparation and planning. Many of these steps are things you can do on a regular basis, like shelving a handful of books each week. Did we miss anything? Tell us in the comments below!

Next: How St. Martin's Press Doubled Down on the Success of The Nightingale to Take it to Greater Heights

You might also like: The Impact of Goodreads Choice Awards for Authors and Publishers

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

Comments Showing 1-46 of 46 (46 new)

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message 1: by Alexandria (new)

Alexandria Blaelock Thanks for the idea of creating a shelf for research materials and further reading. These will help explain some of my reading gaps and help my followers follow the progress of my writing.


message 2: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia Shannon Glad it's helpful! Remember, you don't need to review or rate the books; simply adding them to a shelf helps (although pointing out something that might have piqued your interest or inspired part of your book is always refreshing to know!).


message 3: by Shelley (new)

Shelley Schanfield So useful and timely. I will publish Book II in my trilogy in October; considering some giveaways for Book I in the next month or so. Any suggestions appreciated.


message 4: by Ram (new)

Ram About "Start or import your blog" -- How do I import the blog? Thanks.


message 5: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia Shannon Shelley - sounds great! Is this the sequel to "The Tigress and the Yogi?" If so, you should create a series for the work and add the new book so that readers can start adding it to the WTR shelves over the summer! Email the support team for more details on the technical aspects.


message 6: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia Shannon Ram - You can import your or start a blog from your author dashboard by scrolling below the "Ask the Author" section to see a button that says 'start a blog.' Email the support team for more details on the technical aspects.


message 7: by Patricia (new)

Patricia O'Reilly Thank you for marketing tips - such as showing/listing books used for research


message 8: by K. B. (new)

K. B. Brege Thanks so much for this useful information and fantastic article! We are looking forward to participating in some giveaways on Goodreads for our picture book that comes out next month. Any suggestions on where to start would be happily accepted:)


message 9: by Michele (last edited Jul 11, 2016 01:04PM) (new)

Michele Thanks so much for this post! My book came out last week, and I'll be playing catch-up with some of these tasks. My blog is linked to my Amazon author page, but I had no idea Goodreads also provided this option. Thanks again!


Tara Woods Turner Can i give away digital or audio versions of my book?


message 11: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok Very useful post! I'm cc'ing it to my writers group.


message 12: by Catherine (new)

Catherine Thank you, Cynthia. I'll pass this around!


message 13: by Suzanne (new)

Suzanne Bowditch Thanks for the tips. I have published my second book in the saga A Celtic Trilogy, but am a loss as to how best to market it! I have shared it on FB and on my blog (just 140 followers), how's the best way to get Goodreads readers interested in the book ?
Thanks Suzanne Bowditch


message 14: by Ram (new)

Ram Cynthia wrote: "Ram - You can import your or start a blog from your author dashboard by scrolling below the "Ask the Author" section to see a button that says 'start a blog.' Email the support team for more detail..."

Thanks Cynthia. I will email the support team.


message 15: by Ram (new)

Ram Suzanne wrote: "Thanks for the tips. I have published my second book in the saga A Celtic Trilogy, but am a loss as to how best to market it! I have shared it on FB and on my blog (just 140 followers), how's the b..."

Best way to do it is to run a giveaway in goodreads. It will increase the awareness of your book.


message 16: by Ram (new)

Ram Tara wrote: "Can i give away digital or audio versions of my book?"

You can giveaway only the print books in goodreads. For now. I believe that ebooks giveaway is coming soon.


message 17: by Rod (new)

Rod Raglin After six years, six books and one play I've pretty much tried everything Cynthia suggests here including sending out ARCs and launching giveaways (currently 901 goodreaders want to read my books, but nobody's reviewing them) and nothing works.

The only thing I haven't tried and don't intend to is joining groups because I find it too disingenuous since I have neither the time nor the inclination to swap comments in an effort to sell my books, which is the real reason why I would do it and not to make virtual friends.

I am now resolved to get good and take my satisfaction in improving my writing, and if I get lucky, well, it will be a bonus.

Much of what Cynthia writes is self evident (have an up-to-date author profile) and the rest is just plain nonsense (shelf-ing research books, answering all those non-existent Ask the Author questions) and the wasted time and frustration created from the lack of response to these suggestions (try them and see) drains you of energy to do what's important - write.

Nietzsche said, "Art is the proper task in life."

He didn't say anything about selling it.


message 18: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Bates Rod wrote: "After six years, six books and one play I've pretty much tried everything Cynthia suggests here including sending out ARCs and launching giveaways (currently 901 goodreaders want to read my books, ..."
Rod, I have published two novels and used Goodreads giveaways both times. On the second book, I got smart. Along with the free copy of the book I sent a nice letter telling the entrants how many people responded, and that I was pleased they were the first to reply. I too then looked for reviews. After two months, and only getting one review, I sent a second letter to the same people politely asking for a review–whether they liked or disliked the novel. I also included my e-mail address asking if they would like to follow my writing via a monthly e-zine that I created through Constant Contact. Out of the ten giveaway recipients, four sent reviews to Goodreads, two to Amazon and one to Barnes and Noble. Three of the recipients subscribed to my e-zine. Be patient and use whatever time you have to market your book. Marketing is a business. Find out which tactics work for your book, then use them. Good luck.


message 19: by Adom (new)

Adom Sample Thank you so much for this. I had no idea about the Goodreads giveaways. I'll be using this feature and more in the future.


message 20: by Rod (new)

Rod Raglin Dear Sarah,

Thanks for your interesting response.

The thing is, everything I've tried has failed. I get as many reviews from out of the blue as I get from focused marketing undertakings. In the end you have to ask yourself how much time and money you're prepared to spend to get a few reviews?

Success to me is not is not chasing reviews. I have to believe if you write something good, something that resonates with readers the reviews will come - spontaneoulsy.

It's apparent I have yet to achieve that.


message 21: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara My suggestion: if you want to get reviews, write reviews.
And don't write reviews for long-dead philosophers or literary heroes. Write reviews for people who need them here and now.
"Be the change you wish to see in the world."


message 22: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Bates Rod, if you are traditionally published, get your agent to pressure the publisher for a public relations firm to help you. If you are self-published, the only way to get readers to actually fork over some money for a book is to go where they are. Bookstores aren't the place, but locations where your readers, that is people interested in the themes of your genre, hang out. I notice you write romance–maybe with a non-traditional spin. I just read a story in our local news about a famous romance writer who said romance novels come out on Tuesdays and fans of the genre know that and are WAITING for new titles. Perhaps you contact book clubs in your area which are mostly women, find out which ones read romance, and offer to take your handsome self to one of their meetings to discuss your books (and of course buy them). I have two book clubs lined up whose members love historical fiction (my latest novel) and having an author speak is a big deal. Go figure. I am not an important author, but any way I can weasel my way into their handbags I'm for it. Self-published authors have two choices: market or wishful thinking. I market to recoup the expense of self-publishing. Reviews do serve a purpose for many prospective buyers-including authors. I read reviews to get an idea of an author's fan base and why that novel and not another.


message 23: by Shelley (new)

Shelley Schanfield Cynthia wrote: "Shelley - sounds great! Is this the sequel to "The Tigress and the Yogi?" If so, you should create a series for the work and add the new book so that readers can start adding it to the WTR shelves ..."

Thank you, Cynthia! I've sent them a message.


message 24: by Rod (new)

Rod Raglin Sarah wrote: "Rod, if you are traditionally published, get your agent to pressure the publisher for a public relations firm to help you. If you are self-published, the only way to get readers to actually fork ov..."


Thanks to Claire and Sarah for their insights and suggestions.

I do write a lot book reviews and not all about works of long dead authors. I try to find books by new, self-published authors with interesting titles either on Amazon or Smashwords and write an honest, and I hope constructive, review of their work. Who needs reviews more than the obscure and anonymous - I should know.

I post these on multiple sites and even do a video version on my YouTube channel called Not Your Family, Not Your Friend Book Reviews - reviews without a conflict of interest.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCH45...

On that channel I also review books on the subject of how to write fiction since I've read so many of them - to little avail.

Sarah's idea of being a guest at a local book club sounds intriguing. The challenge would be to find a local book club that's interested in listening to me. Do they buy your book first (hopefully), read it and then invite you, or the other way around?

When it comes to wishful thinking I'm likely as delusional as any other indie author, but having said that successful marketing shows a net gain within a reasonable time frame (like my lifetime).

I really find your comments helpful and generous. What I resent are so-called experts talking with authority, but without the experience to back it up, and making sweeping generalizations - like what works for a bestselling, traditionally published author with an unlimited budget will work for the an unknown, self-published author with very limited funds.

It seems the hucksters constantly have some new gimmick that will guarantee success (at a price). You just have to persevere - and keep paying.


Tara Woods Turner Rod,
I also suggest becoming a guest on relevant podcasts and radio programs. There are hundreds of programs constantly looking for guests to interview within your areas of expertise. I find them to be fun, engaging and they give me a chance to talk about my projects and writing in general. They also increase your level of professionalism. I'm not claiming it leads directly to sales but I can't say that they don't either. Impossible to say since we can't track sales.

Lastly there is a site that lets you sign up for reviews. I will do some digging and come back witht he name of it but I believe it is free, the reviews are honest and you should soon find that your reviews are trickling in at a decent rate.

Have you submitted your work to any bloggers to review? They are always looking for material to host on their sites, especially the newer ones.


message 27: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok Hi, Rod, have you interacted with the Web site Reedsy at all? It seems to be kind of a collective of publishing professionals (designers, editors, etc.). If you sign up for its blog, Reedsy will send you a compilation of past blogs titled “Self-Publishing 101.” A lot of it is obvious or irrelevant, but I found the pieces on pp. 106–114, 115–125, and 180–185 interesting on the subjects of publicity and marketing. Some of the recommendations would require quite a time commitment, though. (I’m pretty much in your camp—I write what I feel like writing for the sake of writing it, without a lot of care for who will read.)


message 28: by Rod (new)

Rod Raglin Thanks for your input Tara and Abigail and the site addresses.

I'll be considering what everyone has mentioned when I launch my next novel this fall.

Fortunately (?), I'm not that focused on success and feel pretty much as Abigail does (and don't forget Nietzsche). Still, the connection with readers is important , though I'm not sure why.


message 29: by Alice (new)

Alice Vega Rod ..I have to say I'm with you on this and understand . As someone who enjoys writing about her topic ( fashion). I keep asking myself ... Do I really need all this other stuff?

When my first book was published in 2011 I knew nothing about marketing and was not interested in it and I'm still not .. I really just like to research and write. Although I got good reviews on my book even on Goidreads ( which I found 3 years later!) my sales were not super great. So since you can't get an agent or a publisher without sales and because I really do want to share the information I find with other style and fashion enthusiasts I had to consider marketing as part of the plan

Have now started my 2nd book and am just spending so much time setting up a website ( for the last 2month) reading up on the most effective marketing tips, writing book proposal, learning about podcasts, trying to connect that I have literally written very little. I too have no desire to see my face or name anywhere but I keep hearing that if you don't no one will know about your books..! It can be a very frustrating process that I find both exhausting and confusing... But I will say satisfying when someone says how much they enjoyed your book .


message 30: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Bates Tara, thanks for suggesting contacting podcasters and bloggers. I have contacted the few historical fiction bloggers I found using Google, but didn't get any bites. I did not think about the podcasts. Now that you've mentioned it, I'm on it! Incidentally, I track book sales through my royalty payments, but they are abysmal and always about three months behind. No way I could live off book sales. Nope, not at all. However, people who bought my first book have bought the following two which is how a fan base is built. Persistent and cunning marketing does pay off...eventually.


message 31: by Tetsu'Go'Ru (new)

Tetsu'Go'Ru Tsu'Te Thanks everyone, this has really helped me understand and put into perspective Marketing my book. I was happy to tweet this ;)


message 32: by Rod (last edited Jul 14, 2016 10:18PM) (new)

Rod Raglin Alice wrote: "Rod ..I have to say I'm with you on this and understand . As someone who enjoys writing about her topic ( fashion). I keep asking myself ... Do I really need all this other stuff?


Dear Alice,

We seem to have gone a full circle here on the topic of marketing - Sarah's playing the long game using persistence and cunning while Abigail suggests it requires quite a time commitment (too much?) and you find it very frustrating, exhausting and confusing - to which I can relate.

So how do we become a bestselling authors?

According to Malcom Gladwell in his book Outliers, The Story of Success, success follows a predictable pattern. It’s not the brightest who succeed (thank goodness for that), nor is it the sum of the decisions and efforts we make on our own behalf.

Success is bestowed upon those who've been given opportunities – and have the strength and the presence of mind to seize them – plus accidents of time, birth and place which matter greatly.

Let me repeat that; success is less about talent and effort and more about opportunity plus accidents of time, birth and place.

In a word, luck.

There’s no master plan, no formula, it’s all a fluke, pure and simple serendipity.

So, is luck all it takes to be a success?

I don't think so. You also have to be prepared so if you do get lucky and are invited to the ball you actually know how to dance.

Gladwell also talks about having to do 10,000 hours (ten years) of practice to achieve the level of mastery associated with being a world-class expert – in anything. According to neurologist Daniel Levitin, “In study after study, of composers, basketball players, fiction writers, ice skaters, concert pianists, chess players, master criminals, etc., this number comes up again and again.”

Excellence at performing a complex task, like writing a good novel, requires a critical minimum level of practice and that’s all there is to it.

So you first must get good, then get lucky.

So if you’re an indie author and you haven't logged your 10,000 hours of practice your chance at success is negligible, nil, nada - at least according to Gladwell.

Worse yet, if by a fluke you do get lucky without being good you’ve likely blown your big chance.

Where's does marketing fit in here?

I have no idea.



message 33: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok I agree it’s luck; but marketing fits in because it lays the groundwork, positions you to take advantage of opportunity.

I’ve worked in publishing for forty years (on the author side only more recently), and one thing I know about publishers is that they work hard only for the willing. If they are excited about your work and you start saying, “I won’t do book tours,” “I won’t blog,” “I don’t want to do appearances,” they will very quickly move on to the next hot prospect.


message 34: by Rod (new)

Rod Raglin Dear Abigail,

Please let all you old colleagues know that this author "will do book tours, will do blogs ( https://rodraglin.wordpress.com ) and will do appearances as well as just about anything else they might ask short of telling me what to write.


message 35: by Kulwant (new)

Kulwant Sandhu Hi, Rod, have you interacted with the Web site Reedsy at all? It seems to be kind of Govt Jobs a collective of publishing professionals (designers, editors, etc.). If you sign up for its blog, Reedsy will send you a compilation of past blogs titled “Self-Publishing 101.” Aesting on the subjects of publicity and marketing. Some of the recommendations would require quite a time commitment, though. (I’m pretty much in your camp—I write what I feel like writing for the sake of writing it, without a lot of care for who will read.)
http://kulwantsandhu.tumblr.com/post/147545225800/latest-govt-jobs-open-in-india-for-freshers


message 36: by Robert (new)

Robert LeBlanc Thank you for the marketing tips, I am looking forward to using some of them.


message 37: by Robert (new)


message 38: by Brad (new)

Brad Wow. Loved the comments above. Frankly - that's the best part of the entire post. Rod - I agree 100% with you. A lot of this is luck. Plain and simple. But on the way to luck - you need to plan - at least so that you don't go crazy - or you're in the right place at the right time. Most of the ideas here - I've tried - except podcasts. Where is a listing of all those resources who are dying to speak to Indie authors? Regular bloggers have reviewed my work - but I don't think I've gotten much out of that. And PR. Very expensive - not a lot of punch for 1st time authors. So I'd say - hang in there - do what you love - and like you - I too get annoyed at the experts who are trying to explain "how cats herd". The only other suggestion - is to get yourself in front of large groups speaking - and charm them to death. A little charm - a few sales. Maybe. Good luck. And thanks for being real.


message 39: by Betty (new)

Betty Gutzmer Abigail wrote: "Hi, Rod, have you interacted with the Web site Reedsy at all? It seems to be kind of a collective of publishing professionals (designers, editors, etc.). If you sign up for its blog, Reedsy will se..."

I just published my first book of very sentimental poetry... Odes from the Heart.... any good suggestions for my getting it out there for people to relate to ??? this was self published.. I am 89 years old and pretty tired...


message 40: by Betty (new)

Betty Gutzmer Odes from the Heart


I would be grateful for any feedback on my poetry ... it is truly from my heart .. but expresses feelings that some people are unable to say...I AM REALLY A NOVICE AND APPRECIATE THE TALENT OF ALL WRITERS HERE...


message 41: by Karen (new)

Karen I logged into my Goodreads author account with the intent on starting some marketing, only to find that someone else with the same name as me has a book listed on MY page, while several books I had gotten set up on MY page are GONE!

How do I correct this? I need to market MY books, and ensure that they don't keep disappearing from my author page and getting replaced with impostors!


message 42: by Meredith (last edited Jul 04, 2017 08:45AM) (new)

Meredith Do all the tips in the post apply if it's your first book? In other words, if it's 6 months before you have a book published, can you have an author account?


message 43: by Emma (last edited Jul 01, 2017 02:50PM) (new)

Emma Palova Thank you for the great information. My book Shifting Sands Short Stories just came out.
I am open for questions. Shifting Sands Short Stories
Emma
http://emmapalova.com


message 44: by Michael (new)

Michael Hebler Great ideas! Thank you for sharing.


message 45: by Kari (new)

Kari Trenten Thanks for the advice! Alas, my literary tastes are eccentric and varied enough to make me an odd fit for a lot of groups, but I’m waiting for opportunities. :) Ask the Author...I’m still working up the courage to enable it as a writer, although I’ve taken shameless advantage of it as a reader to approach/talk to writers I admire (bashful grin)


message 46: by Betty (new)

Betty Pfeiffer You mentioned importing one's blog. How do I do that?


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