Let me count the ways…
As a reader:
1)Great resource to find books.
Goodreads is teaming with honest, detailed, and thoughtful reviews. Just clicking on all these avid reader’s profiles and seeing all the highest-rated books makes my buy-it-now-clicking-finger trigger-happy. When you see a member loves the same books you do, you’re apt to love some of their recommended books as well. This is much better than just scanning the best seller shelves and paid-for-displays in the book stores.
2) Great lists.
There’s a whole part of the site dedicated to lists upon lists of books called listopia. Lists such as Best Books Ever, Best Books of the 21st Century, Best Books of the Decade, Best books of 2012, Best Books of January, 2012. Those are just the most popular lists, but there are so many interesting and surprising categories—and if you can’t find a category than you can make a new list! What a great way to hone in on your favorite genres.
3) Great Giveaways.
Not only can you find fantastic books at your fingertips, but you can get some of them for free! Print copies! Yes, there is usually a long list of entrants for each title, but it’s so easy to enter each drawing that odds are you’ll win a few time and again.
4) Great interaction with fellow readers.
If you want to become part of an expansive book club, Goodreads is for you. You can enjoy discussing books with others without even stepping out of your house: join book clubs, reach out to interesting members, follow hundreds of reviewers. It’s wonderful to find a site so devoted to expanding the reading experience.
5) Great connection to authors.
Many traditionally published and self-published authors have their own pages on the site. This is a great place to follow your favorite author, discuss with other fans, and even communicate with the author!
As a writer:
1) Great free exposure.
Yes, FREE! Even though there is an option to pay for advertisements on Goodreads, there are so many ways to take advantage of free promotion. No, I don’t mean spamming anyone and everyone with a pulse. I mean, get your book out there via some of the ways below and let your fans broadcast you to all of their friends. Word can get around very fast on this site through adding you to their to-read lists, and posting reviews and ratings. Anytime a member posts about your book it appears on all of their friends pages. Word can spread like wild-fire.
2) Great giveaways.
Unlike LibraryThing, that allows you to offer ebook copies for giveaway, Goodreads only allows print copies. I almost didn’t list with this giveaway since having to pay cost for each copy and shipping might eat away at my profits. But I realized that I could offer only one copy for as long as I wanted and narrow the offer to within the US to save on shipping. I gave it a try and had close to 500 entrants with my first giveaway, and gained 180 interested readers that added my book to their to-read lists. I can’t tell how many of these people actually purchased my book after the giveaway, but it at least got my book out there. Plus, the winner of my giveaway read my book immediately and posted a review. Yes, it was worth it, and I’m hosting another one right now on Goodreads here.
3) Great lists.
I would love to get my series on one of these lists! It would be a great way to advertise my book. I hope if I host enough giveaways than maybe, just maybe, a reader will nominate me for one (one of the positive lists that is, there are some pretty mean categories out there—i.e. “Books I Wish I Never Read” and “Disappointing Books”).
4) Great reader base.
There aren’t many sites devoted to just readers. Many forums I frequent are geared to writers, and even though those are invaluable for advice, they’re usually too busy peddling their own books to search for pleasure reading for themselves.
5) Great demographics.
So, after you host a giveaway, you get to see this wonderful list of entrants. You can click on these to see detailed profiles listing all sorts of personal information. This is a wonderful way to see who your book appeals to so that you can focus your promoting to the highest effectiveness.
6) Great reviews.
I’ve heard that reviews from Goodreads members are more discerning and critical that Amazon’s reviews, but that is all the more reason to try to get them! People know to trust other Goodreads members and that will go far for you if you can obtain some positive reviews. (I just got my first one: “~very interesting looking forward to the next book” *Yay!*)
7) Great book club features.
I would love to think of some thought-provoking questions that will get my readers to analyze my book further and ignite some intense discussions. I wrote this series with many layers in the hopes that readers of different analytic levels would enjoy rereading to find the details, repetitive threads, character growth, and foreshadowing I’ve hidden through-out the books. Once I can catch a breath, I’ll sit down and create a book club full of such questions that will serve as a literary treasure map for interested readers.
7) Great connection with readers.
Most importantly, this is an invaluable website to actually connect with your readers. This is the whole reason why I decided to write. I love, love, LOVE to hear about what my readers think about my book. If I could sit over each person’s shoulder as they’re reading it I would (it’s probably a good thing that I can’t). I want to hear every giggle, see every smile, and feel every teardrop fall. I’m probably even more curious to hear how I might have let down or confused my reader. It’s those comments that can improve my writing skills the most. All in all, I just love any feedback. I want to witness my reader’s experience and would love to talk with them about it.
So, if you haven’t joined up with Goodreads, you are missing out. Whether you use it as a reader, writer, or both, it’s a wonderful place to enjoy all things literary. I wish I had found this site before I started filling all my free time with writing. I wish I could read all day and jump into all the intriguing discussions. Once I get all my non-fiction reading done for the series I just might take a few months off to fill my desk with top-rated novels and dive in.
PS- And if you’re already enjoying Goodreads, please friend me!