Friday, October 14, 2011

Good Reads 101 - Part 2 Tell me about your book...

There are many opportunities on goodreads to tell people about your book. The most common is an "authors promotion folder" they exists in just about every group and this is an open invitation to tell others about what you've written. Other possibilities are threads to announce book signing, new releases, etc.

I cringe when I see how poorly these are executed by most writers. They usually look something like this:

Hey guys I have a just finished a book called Me and Rover and I'd love for you to check it out. It's about a boy and his dog and the adventures they go on. Thanks!
What a wasted opportunity!! Here are some pointers for your post:
  • Subject of post : Title of book/series and your short (4 word tagline

  • Make it easy on them. For god's sake your post MUST have goodreads links to your book/books and to your author page. More about this in a minute.

  • Have covers of your book

  • Tell them about your book - make it "just right" not too long or too short

  • Samples - every post should have a place where they can read samples of your work

  • Establish credibility


Some groups have a folder where an author has a post per book/series etc. As mentioned above this has to have your title (book or series) and your VERY SHORT tagline. This way even if people don't click into the link, you at least had an impression. I see so many people's posts that say something like: New fantasy adventure or my latest book. Here are some examples I've used:
  • Basic - The Riyria Revelations: Unlikely Heroes...Classic Adventure
  • Freebie - The Viscount and the Witch: FREE Riyria Short Story
  • Announcement: The Heir of Novron: Named #2 Most Anticipated Release of Q1 2012 by Fantasy Book Critic
NOTE: Sometimes you don't get a "post just for you" in which case this becomes the "headline" before you describe your book/series. But if you are allowed a post all to yourself you need to get the name out there and an enticement.

Every book and every author has a goodreads link that looks something like this:
  • [author:Michael J. Sullivan|2063919]
  • [book:Heir of Novron|11100431] or [bookcover:Heir of Novron|11100431]
I keep a separate file with these links in them for quick reference when I'm creating a post. How do you find the link specific to you? It's easy...Just start a message, and just above the body of the message you'll see a link to "add book author" Use that to do a search to find your books then copy/paste the results into a file for future use. NOTE: if you use [book: it will put just the title of your book with a link (good for in-line discussion) If you use [bookcover: it will put a small thumbnail of your book.

Just having a picture of your books really elevates your product listing. I suggest if you have a series you put all of them in single image (Maximum width = 430). Don't forget to link these to a meaninful page (either your author page on goodreads or your "book" page on your website.) Also don't forget to use bitly so you know how many times the image is seen.

As in the above example, the person didn't say enough. But more often than not people ramble on longer than they should. You need ONE paragaraph of hopefully no more than 200 words. If you have multiple books in a series, then have one "overview" paragraph for the series and one paragraph for each book.

This section should be updated frequently as you gain more and more credentials. In the beginning it may just be some quotes of others (bloggers or readers). If you get awards or high acclaim then add them in as well. If you start to get some serious numbers on Amazon or goodreads - use those. Basically what you use this section for is to give people a reason to "trust" that your books are worth looking at. Make sure that if you are using a quote provide a links so they can "see for themselves.

Okay, now each situation is going to be different but let's look at the post I use for Michael's books:


Hello all, I'm Michel J. Sullivan and I want to thank you for the opportunity to tell you a bit about my books. For those that don't know the original books in the Riyria Revelations are now out of print as the series is being re-released by Orbit (Fantasy Imprint of #2 Publisher Hachette Book Group).

RIYRIA REVELATIONS: Unlikely Heroes...Classic Adventure
There's no orphan destined for greatness or ancient evil to destroy…just two rogues in the wrong place at the wrong time. Royce Melborn, a cynical thief, and his ex-mercenary partner, Hadrian Blackwater, make a profitable living performing dangerous assignments for petty nobles…until a simple job to steal a sword finds them framed for the murder of the king. And so begins this simple tale that uncovers a conspiracy far greater than the mere overthrow of a tiny kingdom.

I wrote all six books before releasing the first, and five of them were published by a small imprint run by my wife. They did well...I sold 70,000+ copies, and have 2300+ ratings and 500+ reviews here on goodreads. Now, they are being re-released as a trilogy in 3 consecutive months: Nov, Dec, and Jan. The "older" books that you might be more familiar with are here:

"Filled with adventure and clever dialog and featuring a pair of not-quite-heroes whose loyalties to each other provide them with their greatest strength, this epic fantasy showcases the arrival of a master storyteller." -- Library Journal

Hair-raising escapes, flashy sword fights, and faithful friendship complete the formula for good old-fashioned escapist fun." -- Publisher's Weekly

"Wintertide (A++) is the second top-rated combo (with The Emerald Storm) of 2010 for me and establish the series as one of the best traditional epic fantasies currently being published and a top 10 novel of mine."Fantasy Book Critic

Please consider adding one (or all) of the following to your shelves and let me know what you think of them, good, bad, or indifferent all I ask is for honest opinions....thanks!

Michael J. Sullivan: Theft of Swords | Heir of Novron | Rise of Empire

Let's look at this post and why I did what I did:
  • You need at least a two-line introduction to your post (as you're picture will be to the left of it and it is good to use your name AND a link to your goodreads author profile.

  • Series name and headline followed by a SHORT description (168 words)

  • Covers of the book that goes to Michael's book blog page

  • The next paragraph/set of pictures is specfic for Mihael's situation. You of course wouldn't have this. The reason I have it in here is most people on Goodreads are already familiar with these books. Also Michael has a LOT of reviews and book sold. I say once you get above 5,000 books you can start bragging with that and 500+ ratings and 100+ reviews are worth mentioning

  • A button that takes them to a page to read samples. I'll talk more about how to "construct" this page in the future but this is essential.

  • Reviews to establish - third party validation notice I'm using the "big names" in the industry and the genre.

  • Closing: Quick access to GOODREADS links to his author page and the books. This makes it easy for them to add them to their shelves.
This was not developed "overnight" It took me years of experimentation to get it "just right" and as your writing career expands you'll have to update these postings. Again I suggest having a separate file with all your "author links" so that each time one needs updating you can copy/paste to all the others.


Terra Harmony said...

Great post; quick question - how do you insert the images of book covers either as a single or a series into a Goodreads post? Also, how do you insert the 'read sample' button? Thanks as always for your help!

Robin Sullivan said...

goodreads allows for "limited" html including graphics and hyperlinks. You first have to get your covers somewhere on the internet (for instance your blog or website). I'm going to show the example with [ to represent < and ] to represent > so just replace [] with <> below:

[a href=""][img src="http//"][/a]

I personally would "bitly" both of the URLS above so you can track them.

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Thanks for this fantastic series!

Quick question: Did you submit to Library Journal for a review 3-4 mos ahead of release, or did they accept Michael's book for review post-release. I'm thinking I may be too late to try. Thanks!

Robin Sullivan said...

I actually did another post on this...big publications like LJ and PW need to be submitted 3 - 4 months before release date. The book they have "blurbed" is Theft of Swords which won't be out until Nov 23 - so yes they submitted many months ago.

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Thanks for the answer! :)

Mike Dennis said...

Robin--Great series on deciphering the Goodreads jumble. I finally figured out that I didn't have an author page and then I managed to set one up.

But your Part 2 post seems exclusively taken up with the "author's promotional folder". You briefly say that they can be found "in just about every group". I couldn't find any such mention of them. How do I set one up?

Splitter's Blog said...

GREAT idea on the "SAMPLE" button. I will have to figure out that one. I love GoodReads, but they could make it easier all the way around.


DDW said...

As far as bitly and other URL shorteners go, I would like to say, don't go crazy with these.

I may be a bit of an oddball, but I like to know where a link is taking me and I generally look to see what an unfamiliar link points to before I click it. When that link goes to a redirect/URL shortener service like bitly, I'm slightly less likely to click it. It could take me to some hacked site that's going to try and infect me with a virus for all I know.

These services were originally created to help deal with the problem of three paragraph long URLs that one occasionally has to deal with, but some people have a tendency to use them for everything, and it makes at least a few of us somewhat less likely to follow their links. Now usually those links are perfectly safe, and one just has to go on instinct, but why make your link even slightly more suspicious looking if it's not necessary.

Robin Sullivan said...

@Mike...I think the first thing you need to do is find groups that would be relevant to your work (I don't know your genre) but Michael is fantasy so he and I are in groups such as SciFi and Fantasy Book Club
Fatnasy Book Club

Once you join these you'll find instructions to authors on self-promotion rules and usually directed to a place to "self promote".

Robin Sullivan said...

@Splitter you can "steal" my sample button graffic if you want the URL to it is:

Robin Sullivan said...

@DDW - Good point people need to weigh the ability to track results over the "possible scare factor".

Dale Day said...

Thanks for this post. It's amazing what's there. I've been on Goodreads for some time and never imagined all the little goodies it has.
Now, if I can only decipher all this and put it to use!!!

Splitter's Blog said...

@Robin: Thank you!

DL Morrese said...

What a helpful post! Thanks. I really just started using Goodreads. These hints will make it much easier for me to use it well.

Barbara Sissel said...

This is such a great series. I didn't realize I had to join a group to take advantage of the author promotion opportunity. Thanks so much for the light you share, Robin! Sometimes I wish, though, that I could just press this stuff to my head and it would soak in!

Robin Sullivan said...

@LV - lol - well we've only scratched the surface of goodreads so far - much more to come.

Robin Sullivan said...

@DL - glad you've found it helpful

@Barbara - well I've been "at this a long time". It will come - like any muscle the more you use it the stronger it becomes.

W. Bradford Swift said...

Excellent series, Robin. Can't wait to see the next one(s). Since you started the Goodread series I have created my GR author's page, added my books and started to join groups pertinent to my genres -- YA fantasy and SF. Will be looking into the nonfiction areas as well.

Also added info about my recently published Dominion Over All YA fantasy. (in the proper places of course.)

I also tracked down one of your GR posts and found the follow up thread quite interesting as well. Here's the one I found:

You're doing an excellent job of finding the 'sweet spot' between promoting while also serving. Thanks for the mentoring.

wannabuy said...


Off topic:

You used to track the fraction of indie authors in the Amazon top 100. Do you have a history of those compilations? I'd like to test my assumptions of indie market share that I put in my graphs.

I just put out my latest charts:

Data is getting later and later...


Robin Sullivan said...

@wannabuy - not long after sunshine deals I stopped tracking this (as sunshine completely screwed up everything). Now the "kindle deal of the day" is having a similar effect. It used to be about 30-50% but I've not followed recently.

Robin Sullivan said...

@W - thanks I have tons of those types of posts around...but you should have posted to it!! Even if it was just to say .... "Really great thread I love seeing ...." It would "bump it to the top of the list" - we'll discuss this more in the future - but giving to others and having them give back to you is a great thing to do.

Ruth Madison said...

Thanks for these posts! I'm working up my presence on Goodreads. I just tested out this advice:

I couldn't figure out how to do that gorgeous "sample" button, so I'm looking forward to hearing more about that.

Robin Sullivan said...

Ruth...I sent you a direct message on Goodreads with some suggestions.

Renee Pawlish said...

This is absolutely fantastic advice. I keep hearing Goodreads is great for getting the word out about my books, but haven't seen how...until your series. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Figured out everything except how to link a sample, would love it if you could let me know how.
Again, many thanks.
Renee Pawlish

David A. Todd said...

I'm with DDW on the shortened URLs. I never, ever, ever click on a shortened URL. If I don't see the full link, and know where it's taking me, I don't click on it.

Thanks for these posts on Goodreads, Robin. I've just joined there in the last two weeks, and find it confusing as h——. Still doing reviews prior to jumping into the whole author thing.

Raquel Byrnes said...

I think my author and normal account are not merged. How can I do that?

Raquel Byrnes

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