Goodreads Blog

Level Up Your Marketing on Goodreads

Posted by Cynthia on July 28, 2017
Thousands of romance authors are currently at the Most Magical Place on Earth to discover and discuss the latest trends in romance publishing at the annual conference of the Romance Writers of America. We learned about the trends of “Hot Hackers” and “Motorcycle Romance” and congratulated the RITA Award finalists and winners. We also shared some lessons about how authors can take their marketing on Goodreads to the next level.

Couldn’t make it to RWA? That’s OK. We’ve got the highlights of our presentation to share with you right here. Our panelists—Cynthia Shannon from Goodreads, Larissa Walker from Harlequin, and Danica Favorite, romance author—will be responding to any questions left in the comment section over the next few days.

1. Level up your marketing approach.


The biggest takeaway from the presentation was for authors to think strategically about how they approach Goodreads, and how they can make their efforts work better together. Every activity should enhance the next, and each action should be part of driving the marketing flywheel.



Raising awareness—whether it’s as straightforward as an advertising campaign or participating in Romance Week (or any other Genre Weeks we plan throughout the year)—helps drive shelvings on Goodreads. One way to super-charge your shelvings is by running giveaways. Shelvings should lead to sales (which you might accelerate by running a Goodreads Deal). Those sales lead to people reading your book, sharing a review or their favorite highlights (via Kindle Notes and Highlights), and discussing it with others on Goodreads. Those reviews and discussions lead to even more awareness, and the whole cycle starts all over again.

All of this activity is amplified on Goodreads via the Newsfeed, which shows every activity you do on the site for all your followers to see. There is so much value in getting followers on Goodreads, as Goodreads automatically notifies those readers when a new book by an author they follow is released. Knowing how to strategically drive the marketing flywheel will take your marketing efforts to new heights.

2. Level up your marketing tools.


We have several exciting products in the works for authors, including ebook Giveaways, Kindle Notes and Highlights, and Goodreads Deals. While we’re still working on opening up these features to all authors, some beta participants have already given us insight into how they can possibly be used for marketing purposes and drive that flywheel.



Danica Favorite shared some Kindle Notes & Highlights on her book, Rocky Mountain Dreams, in advance to our presentation. “I think this is an awesome tool for authors to be able to share their favorite parts of their books with readers and hopefully get some readers hooked!”

We’re excited to see how more authors and readers share their favorite passages and thoughts on their books. While Kindle Notes & Highlights is currently in beta, you can read about how to share your notes here.

3. Level up your marketing research.


Savvy authors know that different messages will reach different readers, so they’re constantly fine-tuning. By using the information that Goodreads readers share about your book, you’re able to massage your marketing materials to reflect what’s resonating with readers.



This is especially valuable when it comes to advance reviews. Consider how many sub-genres there are in romance, and how they can bleed over. You might think you’re writing a historical vampire romance but your readers are really seeing it more as a cowboy vampire romance (that could be a thing!). Start emphasizing the cowboy aspect instead of the historical part and you might just reach a better core audience of readers who will provide rave reviews.

There are many resources and case studies that authors can find on this blog and in the Goodreads Author Newsletter, so be sure to bookmark this page and review your email preferences under account settings.

Question or feedback about the presentation? Leave them in the comments below!

Next: Marketing Tips and Advice from Danica Favorite


You might also like: Romance Authors Make the Best Marketers

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

Comments Showing 1-32 of 32 (32 new)

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message 1: by Ruth (new)

Ruth Shidlo How does one get advance readers before the book is published and how do they get a copy of the novel?


message 2: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia Shannon Hi Ruth! Authors and publishers usually create "galleys" or "Advance Readers Copies" (aka: "ARC") to share with readers before the book is published. These are typically as close to the finished book as possible, minus some copyediting (so, no major revisions compared with the final version). You can share them with readers on Goodreads by creating a giveaway. You might also be interested in this Marketing Timeline Infographic. Hope this helps shed some light on things!


Red Adept Publishing When will Goodreads Deals be open to small presses?


message 4: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia Shannon Red Adept Publishing wrote: "When will Goodreads Deals be open to small presses?"

Deals are currently available only to a select set of publishers as we’re still learning a lot. We are excited to open it up for authors and small presses but I can’t share a timeline with you right now.


message 5: by L.A. (last edited Aug 05, 2017 09:53AM) (new)

L.A. Larson New author with limited funds, due to book not selling quite strongly as of yet. I am registered on Goodreads as an author and want to utilize what I can to promote my book. Suggestions on what key item to start with?
Rewards of a Selfless Heart


message 6: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia Shannon L.A. wrote: "New author with limited funds, due to book not selling quite strongly as of yet. I am registered on Goodreads as an author and want to utilize what I can to promote my book. Suggestions on what key item to start with?"

Hi LA! Congrats on your first book! There are many things authors can do on Goodreads that are free. Before you do anything else, I recommend you set up your author profile. Here are tips to make your Goodreads Author Profile look great. Include an author profile picture (not a selfie!), a short bio, and identify which genres you write in is a good start.

You might also check out the advice we have on building your followers on Goodreads. Sharing great content, be it a review of the books that inspired you to write, an excerpt of your own writing, or simply telling people to follow you on Goodreads by including the link on your website all helps drive awareness and engagement on Goodreads.

I'm a strong proponent of building a strong platform and consistent engagement in order to set yourself up for success. I look forward to seeing what you do!


message 7: by Martin (new)

Martin Shone Giveaways are fickle things. I shalln't do another one until there is a way to vet who can enter.

My last one for my new book, After the Rain, which ended in May, I gave 3 copies away and the winners each had no profile photos.
One had over 60 'read' and over 4,000 'to read' and giveaway won 30+ ... no review given.
One had 2 'read' and 0 'to read' ... no review given
One had 0 'read', 0 'reading' and 3,500+ 'to read' ... no review given

So based on this it seems some people only enter to win books like it's a lottery.
Admittedly they might not have liked my book, even so they could have given a low star rating, but it seems likely they are only here to win.
So I shalln't do any more giveaways, except on my website, unless there can be some kind of vetting process. Perhaps a simple click to have only profiles with a photo allowed in and maybe a certain amount of reviews given and books read etc.

Or maybe I'm being too fickle :)


message 8: by Paul (new)

Paul Francois You know, those Marketing Tools should be available to all authors. It does not take a year or longer to beta test something like that. Also, eBook Giveaways should not cost "an arm & a leg". There is no physical product, no shipping, and only a little bit of human interaction needed. You profit from out eBook sales, isn't that enough?


message 9: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia Shannon Martin wrote: "Giveaways are fickle things. I shalln't do another one until there is a way to vet who can enter. ..it seems some people only enter to win books like it's a lottery."

Hi Martin - you are correct! To comply with sweepstakes laws, giveaway winners must be selected at random. Looks like you had about 200 people enter your giveaway and about 100 people marked it as WTR - that's quite impressive! Keep in mind those 100 people will be notified the next time you run a giveaway for After the Rain via an email Goodreads sends to them. You've raised awareness for your book to 100 people who wouldn't have otherwise heard about it (are you giving it away in other capacity? If so, do share!).

By the way, I really like that you added a poem to your giveaway description. My only suggestion for the next one is to move that closer to the top! You're reiterating the information that is already available on the page ("three copies of After the Rain, which is unnecessary. Go straight to the point: "Signed copies! More than 100 poems of Love, Nature, Humanity, Romance & Passion" and then add the poem. Love it!


message 10: by Melinda (new)

Melinda Kucsera How do you list a GoodReads deal? When will these beta options be available? How do you choose authors to beta test your new offerings?


message 11: by Cynthia (last edited Aug 14, 2017 12:17PM) (new)

Cynthia Shannon Paul wrote: "You know, those Marketing Tools should be available to all authors. It does not take a year or longer to beta test something like that. Also, eBook Giveaways should not cost "an arm & a leg". There is no physical product, no shipping, and only a little bit of human interaction needed. You profit from out eBook sales, isn't that enough?"

Hi Paul! We're working on making those marketing tools available to all authors, and you can use Kindle Notes and Highlights right now (link here in case you missed it above).

Kindle Ebook Giveaways cost $119 to list for up to 100 copies, and we believe the value of running the giveaway and the impressions you receive is worth the cost! Running a Kindle giveaway is a fraction of the cost and time of mailing physical copies. Also note that the books that get delivered do not count towards sales.


message 12: by Martin (new)

Martin Shone Cynthia wrote: "Martin wrote: "Giveaways are fickle things. I shalln't do another one until there is a way to vet who can enter. ..it seems some people only enter to win books like it's a lottery."

Hi Martin - yo..."


Thank you, Cynthia. I hadn't thought of it like that. I'll have a think, but will certainly take your advice.


message 13: by Paul (new)

Paul Francois Cynthia wrote: We're working on making those marketing tools available to all authors.
Kindle Ebook Giveaways cost $119 to list for up to 100 copies, and we believe the value of running the giveaway and the impressions you receive is worth the cost!

Thank you for your reply Cynthia. Us indie authors have been waiting over a year for the eBook Giveaways, but we perform the same type of giveaway outside of Goodreads for nothing. The $119 is just to fatten Amazon's bottom line. The notification to readers who signup for the service is next to nothing for a company that already has that infrastructure in place. I know it costs money for your employees and to keep the lights on, but you can get more authors to participate if you lower the cost to $50. It will also give your readers more to choose from. They can then see more emerging indie authors, not just the ones the "Big 5" want the world to see.

Try to remember Goodreads roots. ;)


message 14: by Melinda (new)

Melinda Kucsera Paul wrote: "Cynthia wrote: We're working on making those marketing tools available to all authors.
Kindle Ebook Giveaways cost $119 to list for up to 100 copies, and we believe the value of running the giveawa..."

I agree! It should be free like the paperback giveaway.


message 15: by Paul (new)

Paul Francois Melinda wrote: I agree! It should be free like the paperback giveaway.

Well I thought $50 was fair, but I like free too! 🤑


message 16: by Anthony (new)

Anthony Tornambe I also recommend that it should be free.


message 17: by Martin (new)

Martin Shone Cynthia wrote: "Martin wrote: "Giveaways are fickle things. I shalln't do another one until there is a way to vet who can enter. ..it seems some people only enter to win books like it's a lottery."

Hi Martin - yo..."


Martin wrote: "Cynthia wrote: "Martin wrote: "Giveaways are fickle things. I shalln't do another one until there is a way to vet who can enter. ..it seems some people only enter to win books like it's a lottery."..."

I was wrong. I've just seen I've had one review from one of the winners and a 5 star review too! :)


message 18: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia Shannon Martin wrote: "I was wrong. I've just seen I've had one review from one of the winners and a 5 star review too! :) "

Sweet! Sometimes it takes a bit of time.


message 19: by J.A. (new)

J.A. McLachlan Cynthia wrote: "Martin wrote: "Giveaways are fickle things. I shalln't do another one until there is a way to vet who can enter. ..it seems some people only enter to win books like it's a lottery."

Hi Martin - yo..."


Still, Martin's point is valid. Only people who actually write reviews should be allowed to participate in winning free giveaways. The choice can still be random among those who enter, but really, what is the point in letting people who have NEVER posted a single review participate in the giveaways? It's obvious they are not going to suddenly change and write a review if they are not active GoodReads members. You could easily set up a criterion that only active reviewing members get to enjoy the privilege of participating to win free books. And please, no condescending response about how many people list your book as to read - whoopee. That really means nothing - it's automatic, and they never look at those books again.


message 20: by J.A. (new)

J.A. McLachlan Cynthia wrote: "Paul wrote: "You know, those Marketing Tools should be available to all authors. It does not take a year or longer to beta test something like that. Also, eBook Giveaways should not cost "an arm & ..."

Why should you charge anything for an ebook giveaway? You don't charge anything for the print book giveaways. This is a service that benefits your readers -- they get free books, so more and more join Goodreads -- at NO COST to you. This "charging authors for the opportunity to lose money giving away free books" just began when Amazon took over. I can give away free eBooks at any number of other sites, without any charge. If you lose authors, you will decrease your memberships.


message 21: by Paul (new)

Paul Francois I agree with J.A., but that is a double-edged sword. If you force them to leave a review they could leave an awful one star review, and that is more detrimental than no review.

There is no easy conditions to place on giveaways unfortunately.


message 22: by Paul (new)

Paul Francois J.A. wrote: Why should you charge anything for an ebook giveaway? You don't charge anything for the print book giveaways. This is a service that benefits your readers -- they get free books, so more and more join Goodreads -- at NO COST to you. This "charging authors for the opportunity to lose money giving away free books" just began when Amazon took over. I can give away free eBooks at any number of other sites, without any charge. If you lose authors, you will decrease your memberships.

Totally agree with this, however on the flip side...

If Goodreads makes the service free EVERY author would want to participate and they would get overwhelmed. The paperback option scares most because of the print cost investment.


message 23: by J.A. (new)

J.A. McLachlan Paul wrote: "I agree with J.A., but that is a double-edged sword. If you force them to leave a review they could leave an awful one star review, and that is more detrimental than no review.

There is no easy co..."


Hi Paul, I didn't say force them to leave a review, I agree with your concern re doing that. I only suggested that those who don't ever review should be excluded - leaving those who do tend to write reviews to participate in the giveaways. Increases the likelihood they will review a book they receive, without any undue pressure on them to do so if for any reason they don't want to review the book.


message 24: by J.A. (new)

J.A. McLachlan Paul wrote: "J.A. wrote: Why should you charge anything for an ebook giveaway? You don't charge anything for the print book giveaways. This is a service that benefits your readers -- they get free books, so mor..."

Other sites don't seem to have a problem with being overwhelmed, although they don't charge. I think "author inertia" is more responsible for keeping the numbers manageable than the negligible cost of mailing a book out. And maybe the fact that a GoodReads giveaway, even with a follow-up review, doesn't seem to impact sales by much, if anything. Which of course is not GoodRead's fault, but is a deterrent.


message 25: by Melinda (new)

Melinda Kucsera J.A. wrote: "Paul wrote: "I agree with J.A., but that is a double-edged sword. If you force them to leave a review they could leave an awful one star review, and that is more detrimental than no review.

There ..."

I always receive at least one review for every Goodreads paperback giveaway I do. Is that not everyone's experience?


message 26: by Paul (new)

Paul Francois J.A. wrote: Hi Paul, I didn't say force them to leave a review, I agree with your concern re doing that. I only suggested that those who don't ever review should be excluded - leaving those who do tend to write reviews to participate in the giveaways. Increases the likelihood they will review a book they receive, without any undue pressure on them to do so if for any reason they don't want to review the book.

My bad. That's what I get for reading too fast. :(

Honestly I think the service should be free. I feel Amazon is fat enough off authors.


message 27: by J.A. (new)

J.A. McLachlan To be fair, I think Amazon has been good to Indies, and has put in place SEO methods that allow readers to find new books by unknown authors. They are MUCH better at that than other ebook sites, like Kobe, B&N, etc.
There are some issues, like some of their review policies, but on the whole, they have made it possible for Indies to thrive.
I'm currently just commenting on this one practice of GoodReads (now owned by Amazon).


message 28: by John (new)

John Bentley J.A. wrote: "Cynthia wrote: "Martin wrote: "Giveaways are fickle things. I shalln't do another one until there is a way to vet who can enter. ..it seems some people only enter to win books like it's a lottery."..."

Martin wrote: "Giveaways are fickle things. I shalln't do another one until there is a way to vet who can enter.

My last one for my new book, After the Rain, which ended in May, I gave 3 copies away and the winn..."

My experience in 3 giveaways was good and bad. Good so many people read my book The Royal Secret and gave it 46 reviews averaging 3.7 while bad in that some people had obviously applied for a free book regardless of the historical content and so wrote bad reviews thinking it was going to be a romantic novel.
Some people even ordered a free copy only to then sell it immediately on Amazon! Overall I rate it a great opportunity to get your book seen by a cross section of people and to get the reviews which are essential for any sort of success or reaction which helps the author to assess public opinion.


message 29: by John (last edited Aug 17, 2017 06:11AM) (new)

John Bentley The Royal Secret

A Goodreads giveaway is the best bet to get your book noticed at the least cost. Next is Onlinebookclub, but you need beware reviews may not suit your purpose and cannot be removed or even refuted by the author. That is the risk an author takes. I got good professional reviews for my book and a 3.7 rating from 46 reviews. Since it was a historical romantic novel and not a steamy bit of erotica which it seems most people want nowadays, particularly women readers, I was pleased to get the result I did.


message 30: by Paul (new)

Paul Francois John wrote: Since it was a historical romantic novel and not a steamy bit of erotica which it seems most people want nowadays, particularly women readers

John, I can see how people made the mistake of thinking this was a romance. You put "secret" in the title and a red rose on the cover, two items that will peak any romantic genre reader.

Not trying to criticize your work, just trying to shed some light on why some gave it lower ratings. You also have phrases like "loves of the man", "bisexual spy rings", and "man she loves" in your descriptions.

Just my .02 cents worth. 😉


message 31: by Kat (new)

Kat Wow, I was wondering why more authors aren't using the e-book Kindle giveaway option, as I see so few books listed in the genres I read, but now I see that at $119 per 100 books, it is prohibitively expensive. And unlike sites like NetGalley where recipients are semi-screened to be reliable reviewers, you're not even sort of assured you'll get a decent ratio of reviews/traffic back in response, at least from what I'm hearing from people who've tried it.

I have entered quite a few giveaways in the genres I read, and never won one. And I review every book I read. I agree it's a shame that recipients can't be filtered somehow by people who at least have a decent chance of reviewing the book. Seems only fair if you receive a free copy of something to give something back in return.


message 32: by Kathryn (new)

Kathryn Johnson HI there! Totally agree that we need to level up our marketing tools & skills. Do you have something more in beta? I mean it's never enough :) What about my personal experience - my life became much easier when I started using email marketing provider - it saves time ( I can spend more and more by writing and that's huge advantage), it doesn't need big budget ( I spent 10$/month), it's absolutely easy-to-guide even if you're far away from IT. I am using Mailerlite provider for a year now ( https://www.mailerlite.com/authors). What do you, guys, usually use in a marketing routine? What are your additional tips on how-to-level-up your marketing?


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