If you have ever paid for advertising – online or offline – you will know how much it costs to reach a large number of people. Imagine what you would have to pay to target 20+ million people who love reading? Probably thousands of dollars. Yet you can do that completely free of charge on the most popular book readers’ site, Goodreads.

Goodreads is actually a giant database of books – a bit like Amazon but without the sales pressure, and with more very active customer forums and groups. It is loved by readers, who enjoy adding books to their virtual shelves, chatting with other readers and authors, joining groups with like-minded people, and entering competitions to win free books signed by the author.

These competitions are one of the key things about Goodreads that authors should be aware of. They present a golden opportunity to get your book in front of thousands of people who may not otherwise have found you or heard of your book.


Here’s how to get set up on Goodreads quickly and use it to market your books.

1. Create your GoodReads account

Go to www.Goodreads.com and sign up.

Once you’re in, spend a bit of time adding some books that you have read or would like to read to your virtual shelves. The key thing about Goodreads is to be seen as a reader, first and foremost. Readers trust other readers. Get adding those books. Search for one of your own books and ‘claim’ it. You can then request that your profile is converted into an author profile, which brings a whole load of free marketing opportunities with it.

Goodreads support staff members usually reply within a day or so and you’ll have a new author page to set up. You can add the RSS feed from your blog (so your posts will appear on your Goodreads profile automatically), upload YouTube or other videos and book trailers, post photos, add favorite quotations (including your own – but be subtle about it, just one will do for most authors.)

2. Schedule a Goodreads giveaway

These are the competitions that readers enter for a chance to win free books. Authors and publishers can offer books as a free prize in these individual giveaways. You can offer one or several books. I’ve found that offering more than one does not increase the number of entrants. Goodreads suggest that giveaways run for around a month.

The average giveaway attracts 725 entries – that’s 725 people who have seen your book cover and read your sales pitch who may not have ever found it on Amazon. Many of them will add your book to their ‘To Read’ shelf (knowing that the Goodreads algorithm that chooses the giveaway winners favors those who have added books in your book’s genre to their shelves).

When users add books to their shelves, that activity appears on their wall – being available for all their Goodreads friends to see (and possibly their Facebook friends as well, if they have linked their accounts). More eyes on your book cover means more potential buyers!

3. Add your book to lists in Goodreads’ Listopia section

The idea behind this is to make your book look popular and to link it to other popular books. You can add it to lists that other people have created or create your own list of books that you recommend to other readers. Just be sure to only add your book to relevant lists.

Also, take some time with this approach – don’t add your book to 20 lists in one day. Instead, spread your activity out, one list today, two this weekend, one next week, etc.

Here are some other timesaving Goodreads solutions to double-up on your social media activity:

Add a Goodreads widget to your website/blog. People can click through from there to your Goodreads profile.

Use the Goodreads Giveaway widget when you schedule a giveaway. Post it on your website/blog and people can enter to win your book.

Link your Facebook and/or Twitter accounts to your Goodreads account so your Goodreads activity will show on those platforms. This will save you time and it’s a way of getting yourself more exposure without having to do more work.

Add the Goodreads app to your Facebook page. This will, again, update automatically and allow your Facebook followers to see your books.


About the Author

Michelle Campbell-Scott writes because she loves it. She considers herself very fortunate that she makes her living from writing but says she would still do it if she won the lottery.

She is a former teacher and IT business trainer who spent years writing training books, manuals, and courses for others before moving into online training and publishing her own books. She creates courses on the Udemy and Skillfeed platforms and writes books under her own and pen names, specializing in non-fiction (health and publishing genres) and children’s fiction.

Learn more from Michelle in her bestselling book Goodreads for Authors.