Goodreads Blog

Best Practices for Building Followers on Goodreads

Posted by Cynthia on August 2, 2016
Wondering about the difference between friends and followers on Goodreads? We’re here to set the record straight: to effectively build your presence on Goodreads, encourage readers to follow you on Goodreads.

The value of Goodreads followers


The most obvious benefit of this is that you can have an unlimited number of followers on Goodreads, while there’s a limit to 5,000 friends. Anyone can follow you on Goodreads while you must approve each friend request that you receive (and with so much on your marketing plate already, who has time for that?).

Like most social media, your activity on Goodreads is shown to the people who follow you. Your updates show up in their newsfeed, which for many defaults on their homepage when they login to Goodreads. When followers engage with your activity, it in turn shows up to their followers in their newsfeed, further amplifying the activity by reaching more readers.

However, Goodreads does something extra to specifically help promote your books: Readers receive an automatic email digest of any activity from authors they follow. They also receive an email on the publication date of a book by an author they follow, even though they might not yet have added it to their shelf. This email is tremendously valuable in raising awareness and alerting readers to your new books.

How can you increase the number of people who follow you on Goodreads? Follow these best practices:

Tell people to follow you


Let people know they can find you on Goodreads by adding the Goodreads button to your website, link to your profile from your other social media accounts, and mention it in your newsletter. Link your Goodreads account to your Facebook account so that your activity on Goodreads gets further amplified.

The follow button shows up on your Goodreads Author page, but also on your giveaway landing page—the latter only occurs though when your bio is complete, so be sure to add a few lines!

Post great content


Readers want to follow active, engaging, and interesting authors. When they like what they see when they first view your profile, they’ll likely opt-in to stay updated. There are several different ways you can contribute meaningful, engaging content on Goodreads. Here are the best places to start:

Book reviews, ratings, and shelvings

Our data shows that the type of content readers want most from authors on Goodreads is book recommendations. The easiest way to recommend a book to readers on Goodreads is by reviewing it.

No time for a thoughtful review? Add a star rating to give your readers some sense of what you thought of a book. You can never run out of books that you want to read, so shelve those books to give readers a sense of your tastes. Reviews, ratings, and shelvings establish you as a tastemaker and influencer in the genre, and will make readers more likely to consider your own work for their shelves.

General updates and blog posts

Posting general updates is another way to stay in front of readers without being in sales mode. Longer than a tweet but shorter than a blog post, general updates provide a simple way to share your latest news with your followers. Tell them about the progress you’re making on your new book, where you’ll be signing next, or provide some interesting research that didn’t make it into the book.

Blog posts allow you to share a more substantial update with your Goodreads audience and allow them to comment and like your content. Make sure to import your blog if you have one, or start one fresh on Goodreads. Set yourself a regular schedule (it doesn’t need to be daily!) so that readers know what to expect.

Ask the Author questions and answers

Answering questions via Ask the Author on Goodreads—the Q&A tool on your author profile page—gives followers more insight into who you are as a writer. Answer the pre-seeded questions that Goodreads has waiting for you the first time you turn on Ask the Author. Repurpose media interviews by posting the question and linking out to the full answer. Good answers are ones that are timely and thoughtful. You can even insert pictures or animated gifs!

These are just some of the top activities you can do on Goodreads. Explore to site to find areas that excite you and meet readers with similar interests.

Post frequently


Update your followers as frequently as possible, and at minimum 3-5 times a week. Mix it up: add a general update about your recent trip to a book store, add a few books to your shelf, and add a review to your favorite book from high school. Or create a custom shelf with books that you referenced during your research, suggest additional resources, and announce a giveaway or deal that you’re running.

Engage with followers


Respond to their responses to your great content in the comment section. Keep the conversation going by asking them about themselves and try to find common ground. Cultivate those relationships and watch them grow!

Give it time


You might not see an immediate increase in followers if you’re a debut author. Developing an online presence anywhere takes time. Be patient and consistent with your activity, strive for authenticity, and develop your own voice.

Next: Benefits and Best Practices for Ask the Author on Goodreads

You might also like: How to Run a Goodreads Giveaway

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

Comments Showing 1-50 of 61 (61 new)


message 1: by Robin (new)

Robin Thank you, Goodreads. This is so enlightening!

The Improbable Wonders of Moojie Littleman by Robin Gregory


message 2: by David (new)


message 3: by Frank (new)

Frank W Butterfield Really, really helpful suggestions! This article was showing up on the right of my author dashboard and I kept looking for it. Then, lo and behold, there it was in the newsletter. Thanks again!

The Unexpected Heiress (A Nick Williams Mystery, # 1) by Frank W. Butterfield


message 4: by Anna (new)

Anna Payne The following is good advice - but how can I tell if my follow button is available and how can I turn it on if it isn't?


Tell people to follow you

Let people know they can find you on Goodreads by adding the Goodreads button to your website, link to your profile from your other social media accounts, and mention it in your newsletter. Link your Goodreads account to your Facebook account so that your activity on Goodreads gets further amplified.

The follow button shows up on your Goodreads Author page, but also on your giveaway landing page—the latter only occurs though when your bio is complete, so be sure to add a few lines!


message 5: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia Shannon Thanks all for the kind words, glad this is useful! Anna - the follow button is part of your profile by default - it's right under your profile picture!


message 6: by Anna (new)

Anna Payne thank you!


message 7: by Robert (new)

Robert Hobkirk A waste of time.


message 8: by Robin (new)

Robin Hi Cynthia,

Uh-oh. My "follow" button doesn't show up. I have a link on my website. My bio is complete. What do I need to do?

Many thanks,
Robin

The Improbable Wonders of Moojie Littleman by Robin Gregory


message 9: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia Shannon Hi Robin! Your follow button is right where it should be - underneath your author profile picture on your author page. Just followed you ;)


message 10: by Frank (new)

Frank W Butterfield Cynthia -- I had to log out to see my Follow button (which makes sense). Thanks again for your practical suggestions, particularly about adding content frequently. Frank

The Unexpected Heiress (A Nick Williams Mystery, # 1) by Frank W. Butterfield


message 11: by Barbara (new)

Barbara Strickland I didn't realise we needed to follow ourselves, is that right. The rest is really interesting and I will try some of it, thank you


message 12: by Robin (new)

Robin Cynthia wrote: "Hi Robin! Your follow button is right where it should be - underneath your author profile picture on your author page. Just followed you ;)"

I guess it doesn't show up on the author's page. Thank you so much for checking, Cynthia!


message 13: by Joanna (new)

Joanna Elm Hi Cynthia, I did not sign into GR , just did a general search of me, and I do not have a follow button on my author page. What do I need to do to have it appear?


message 14: by Theresa (new)

Theresa Sederholt Hi, Cynthia,
I have no follow button. My profile is complete and there is nothing under my author picture.


message 15: by Shana (new)

Shana Gorian Great article. Thanks for all the new info and reminders!


message 16: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia Shannon Joanna and Theresa - you both have follow buttons - it's part of the Goodreads Author page! Per Frank's message, you might need to log out to see your own. Every Goodreads Author profile has a follow button.


message 17: by Theresa (new)

Theresa Sederholt Cynthia,
I really believe you, unfortunately, I can't find it. I have logged out. I have looked at it on someone else's computer without logging in. I have tried everything under the sun and there is no follow button. I have it on my Facebook page and on my website.


message 18: by Joanna (new)

Joanna Elm I am with Theresa. I am not going to jump through all the hoops Theresa did cos I know it's futile. There are really weird features of Goodreads that none of you guys explain very well.
I just wrote an email back to someone at GR who was dealing with another couple of issues that I had. Unfortunately by the time you get an answer something else has come up. In the words of my lovely favorite Gilda Radner on SNL " it's always something"
By the time you get one issue resolved, another has cropped up.


message 19: by Frank (new)

Frank W Butterfield Theresa wrote: "Cynthia,
I really believe you, unfortunately, I can't find it.


Just wanted to let you know that I can see it:




message 20: by Joanna (new)

Joanna Elm Robert wrote: "A waste of time."

Why do you say that? Are you talking about Goodreads for authors in general? Or are you just talking about the Follow Author feature?


message 21: by Frank (new)

Frank W Butterfield Joanna wrote: "I am with Theresa. I am not going to jump through all the hoops..."

Just wanted to let you know that I can see yours. I just followed you.


message 22: by Theresa (new)

Theresa Sederholt Thank you, Robert. What I meant was I wasted a good deal of time looking for it. Didn't mean to come off rude only frustrated with technology. I know I have a button since I have people following me, I just wish it was easier. I'm trying to find other ways to promote other than Facebook. Thank you for all your help.


message 23: by Theresa (new)

Theresa Sederholt Is there a class that teaches the ins and outs of Goodreads? If not I think it would be a good thing to start. I know I would pay for a class that would make life easier.


message 24: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Aldridge I'm new to the Goodreads Authors community, but am anxious to try all the different features. Thank you for providing this forum so we can learn more about it.


message 25: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Aldridge By the way, I was able to follow each of you without any trouble.


message 26: by Luigi (new)

Luigi I too do not seem to have that button although on top right corner it says "Goodreads Author".


message 27: by Joanna (new)

Joanna Elm Frank wrote: "Joanna wrote: "I am with Theresa. I am not going to jump through all the hoops..."

Just wanted to let you know that I can see yours. I just followed you."


Thank you so much for checking it out Frank and for clicking on the follow button. I plan to make my updates and page more interesting soon, when I figure out what all the Goodreads features are about.


message 28: by Joanna (new)

Joanna Elm Lisa wrote: "By the way, I was able to follow each of you without any trouble."

And thank you, too Lisa.


message 29: by Cynthia (last edited Aug 10, 2016 10:25AM) (new)

Cynthia Shannon Theresa wrote: "Is there a class that teaches the ins and outs of Goodreads? If not I think it would be a good thing to start. I know I would pay for a class that would make life easier."

Hi Theresa! While there's no official Goodreads class, there are many resources available right here:

Marketing Your Book on Goodreads For Goodreads Authors - Video

Make sure you're subscribed to the Monthly Author Newsletter and join our Monthly Office Hours when you have specific questions.

You can also join several of the Groups for authors as many authors are generous with sharing their knowledge and helping out (like Frank!).

Also be sure to browse through this blog - there are many educational articles that we post right here, like Preparing Your Goodreads Marketing Timeline.


message 30: by Theresa (new)

Theresa Sederholt Thank you so much for all your help.


message 31: by Brian (new)

Brian Miller It's confusing to talk about the subject of "Increasing Followers" when there is a policy of authors not being allowed to ask people to be there "friend" because someone might consider the "friend request" spam. What is the purpose of having a great website for writers and readers if we cannot connect with one another? I would consider it to be spam if an author is asking a potential reader to "buy" their book, but not a friend request.


message 32: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Aldridge Joanna wrote: "Lisa wrote: "By the way, I was able to follow each of you without any trouble."

And thank you, too Lisa."


You're certainly welcome, Joanna!


message 33: by Theresa (new)

Theresa Sederholt Lisa wrote: "By the way, I was able to follow each of you without any trouble."

Thank you.


message 34: by Robin (new)

Robin Brian wrote: "It's confusing to talk about the subject of "Increasing Followers" when there is a policy of authors not being allowed to ask people to be there "friend" because someone might consider the "friend ..."

I totally know what you mean, Brian. I was thanking reviewers and was issued a "spam" warning. Sheesh.


message 35: by Michael (new)

Michael Useful information. Thanks for posting.


message 36: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia Shannon Brian wrote: "It's confusing to talk about the subject of "Increasing Followers" when there is a policy of authors not being allowed to ask people to be there "friend" because someone might consider the "friend request" spam."

Hi Brian! As an author, rule of thumb should be to encourage followers - readers who are opting into seeing your activity, and you don't need to manually approve each one. Anyone can follow you, and there's no cap on the number of followers you can have, which is important as you build your audience. Hope that helps clarify!


message 37: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Aldridge Theresa wrote: "Lisa wrote: "By the way, I was able to follow each of you without any trouble."

Thank you."


You're welcome!


message 38: by Marilyn (new)

Marilyn Turk How do you get your book on the 99 cent Best Sellers deal?


message 39: by Stuart (new)

Stuart Aken Useful information, thank you!


message 40: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen Baldwin This is helpful. I have one (may be silly) question, where do you go to post "general updates" as mentioned. I can't seem to find where to do that. Thank you.


message 41: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia Shannon Hi Kathleen - not a silly question at all! With the new homepage design, it's actually a great question: look on the left hand side of your homepage on Goodreads under the "Currently Reading" section. There should be a text link next to "View all books" and "Add a book" that says "General update." Click that, and voila!


message 42: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen Baldwin Thanks Cynthia! I found it, right where you said it was. Excellent! I'll definitely start taking advantage of this tool now too! :)


message 43: by Marilyn (new)

Marilyn Turk No one has answered my question yet. How do you get your book featured on 99cent bestsellers? Thanks.


message 44: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia Shannon Marilyn wrote: "No one has answered my question yet. How do you get your book featured on 99cent bestsellers? Thanks."

Hi Marilyn, and sorry about that! I'm not really sure I understand your question. Feel free to email us at support at goodreads dot com and we'll be happy to look into it in more detail.


message 45: by Robin (last edited Aug 16, 2016 10:51AM) (new)

Robin Cynthia wrote: "Marilyn wrote: "No one has answered my question yet. How do you get your book featured on 99cent bestsellers? Thanks."

Hi Marilyn, and sorry about that! I'm not really sure I understand your quest..."


Cynthia, Thank you for helping out here, and for being you!


message 46: by Joanna (new)

Joanna Elm Cynthia wrote: "Brian wrote: "It's confusing to talk about the subject of "Increasing Followers" when there is a policy of authors not being allowed to ask people to be there "friend" because someone might conside..."

I am so sorry to have to say this Cynthia because I know you are genuinely trying to be helpful. HOWEVER please look back at what you wrote in response to Brian: essentially your answer is: " rule of thumb should be to encourage followers."
Okay, but I think Brian's question is: How does an author encourage followers?
All you have ever done on GR to answer that question is advise authors to answer the Q&A.
Also, you really did not correct Brian's mistaken impression that authors cannot ask others on GR to be their friends. I read nothing in the guidelines prohibiting an author asking to "add as friend" whether among users or other authors.
Am I wrong, Cynthia?
I have done it based on looking at certain users' profiles and what sort of books they like, if I like their reviews, and where our tastes and book interests overlap.
Again, I am with Theresa: is there a class that teaches the ins and outs of Goodreads?
I have also asked if there is a comprehensive manual about it? I have also actually purchased two books on amazon that purport to teach you how to use Goodreads, and they weren't particularly useful because GR keeps changing .
Bottom line, I am happy that I am obviously not the only author totally flummoxed by this site.


message 47: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia Shannon Hi Joanna! I'm happy to answer any questions where I can (that's why we make this forum available to authors!). The original article gives some tactics about how to encourage followers. My point to Brian was to encourage followers over friends because there's no cap that you might hit as you build your platform over time. You can send friend requests if you like, but you might have to make some hard choices down the road when you hit that upper limit! :)

As for classes, I explained that while Goodreads doesn't offer any official classes, you can find many resources right on this very blog and across the site; I linked to several in my comment above. You can also email us anytime at support at goodreads dot com and our team of Experts will be happy to assist you with any questions you might have. We do host the occasional webinar and attend writers conferences and festivals, so be sure to subscribe to the Author Newsletter to get updates on when those might be.


message 48: by Joanna (new)

Joanna Elm Thank you Cynthia, but I have a couple more questions which I still haven't been able to get an answer to from anyone at GR. So, I would really appreciate your input, Cynthia. (The following references to "friends" is obviously friends as defined on GR. ) They are mostly yes/no questions

1. Do an author's blog posts go to friends as well as followers
2. Do you have to be on someone's Top Friends list for them to get your blog posts and updates?
3. Can friends block your posts and updates even though they accepted you as friend?
4. I re-read the above article and now see something new - you refer to posting a "general update which is longer than a tweet but shorter than a blog post."
You also suggest that in a general update you could tell readers about the progress of "your new book"
So, where does an author post this "update" if it is not the same thing as a blog post???
5. Why do some of my comments make it onto my "recent updates" section and others do not?
Thank you in advance.


message 49: by Marilyn (new)

Marilyn Turk Robin wrote: "Cynthia wrote: "Marilyn wrote: "No one has answered my question yet. How do you get your book featured on 99cent bestsellers? Thanks."

Hi Marilyn, and sorry about that! I'm not really sure I under..."

I don't know why the question is difficult to understand. Several times a week I get email messages about a 99cent Best Sellers book on Goodreads. Of course, it's always someone else's book. I'd like to know how to promote my book on the 99cent Best Seller list.


message 50: by Jaclyn, Goodreads employee (new)

Jaclyn Woods Joanna wrote: "Thank you Cynthia, but I have a couple more questions which I still haven't been able to get an answer to from anyone at GR. So, I would really appreciate your input, Cynthia."

Hi Joanna! Who your blog displays to depends on what types of updates each individual user has set their feed to show. If you visit your Home Page (or Updates Feed), you can see the Customize cog at the top of the feed. If you click on this you'll see a number of options:

Updates Feed Customization

Using this, people can select whether or not to view content from Top Friends only, or any of the other options available to them.

When it comes to emails, users will only receive updates for those authors that they're following, and not for those that they are only friends with (even if this is a Top Friend).

Regarding the general update, you can find this by visiting the Home Page/Updates Feed. Once there, look underneath your Currently Reading section on the left-hand side for the "General Update" link. Click on it to construct this short post! This will show up in the Updates Feed of users who have elected to see your updates as described above.

The content that is shown in your Recent Updates is customizable by you - I'd suggest playing around with this in your Updates Settings.

I hope that helps, but feel welcome to reach out with any further questions!


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