Sunday, October 16, 2011

Goodreads 201: Part 3 - Introducing yourself

Welcome back to this third installment on Goodreads. You'll notice that it is now 201 instead of 101 because we're graduating to more advanced techniques. If you've not read the other two posts in this series you need to as it will get you setup before you take this next step.

So you have your profile setup, you've found some groups that are specific to your genre now it's time to start interacting. Almost every group has an "introduce yourself post". Read the guidelines of the post carefully then...well...introduce yourself. Some frown upon writers putting links to their books in their introductions so make sure you know the rules. Personally, I think your introduction should only "graze" the fact that you write - as you'll see as we go on there will be plenty of other opportunities to discuss that. So I usually recommend a recommendation such as this:

Hello my name is Michael, and I've been a fan of fantasy since I first read The Hobbit at age 12. Prior to that I had little interest in reading and it opened up a whole new world for me that I'm forever grateful for. I'm also a writer, I was originally self-published but recently was picked up by a big-six publisher (Orbit, the fantasy imprint of Hachette Book Group). I'm really glad I found this group and I'm looking forward to finding a ton of new books to add to my tbr pile.
If the group allows for links I'll make a signature like this (the text has links to the books):
Michael: Theft of Swords | Rise of Empire | Heir of Novron | The Viscount and the Witch

If they don't mind graphics (some will some wont then I make the signature two lines with my name on the first and the small thumbnails on the next line separated with a single space.

Now that you have officially announced yourself to the group its time for....well participation. And if you start by saying "buy my book, buy my book" in every interaction you have, I'm gonna have to slap you up the side of your head!! This is the biggest way to ruin what can be a valuable resource for you. If you haven't read my past threads on participation in social networks please do so now!

Okay, so how should you interact. Go out to the threads - make some comments. (We'll cover starting threads another day, you'll have enough to do just by responding to others) Again - don't mention your books strongly. You can hint about your writing for instance a post about the "size of fantasy novels" I might have Michael respond like this:

I know many fantasy reader love big, thick books. For whatever reason it seems like every time I sit down to write, they always come out to be about 100,000 words, which is 300 pages and relatively short by fantasy standards. My new publisher has released my six-book Riyria Revelations series as a trilogy so now each "book" has two of my stories and that puts them in the 600 - 900 page range!! I guess I get the best of both worlds.
Notice the subtly. The post is:
  • On point - and contributes to the topic at hand
  • Mentions the title of Michael's series but no "buy me buy me"
  • Let's those that read short works know he might be interesting to them, and those that read long works that they'll "get their moneys worth.
If you just joined the group. I suggest you only respond to 3 - 4 posts on the first day. Then visit back on a regular basis and participate more. This will "spread out" your posts - many people subscribe to groups as a digest feed and if you have 20 posts all to the same group in the same period of time you'll look like a spammer. The secret is a continual flow of interactions sprinkled here and there.

Now...for the big step....Sending direct messages to people in the group. This is where you can either totally blow it or be very successful. It's all in the approach. Here is my recommendations.

Start by sending introductions to people who just joined the group. I check the "introduction" post on a regular basis and send a direct (and private message) to people as they join. The process I go through is this:

  • Click on their picture to get to their profile
  • Do a "compare books" to see if they have any of your books on their shelves
  • If they told you a bit about themselves in their intro post - be prepared to use it. If not check out their profile to see some tidbit.
Okay so here goes I have 4 "welcome to the group" messages in a file that I've given Michael. They are:
  • No books on the shelf
  • Books on the shelf but not read
  • Books on the shelf and read and reviewed
  • Books on the shelf read and rated
I'll share the "content" of each of these in the next installment but you'll find they have the same things in common.
  • Starts with using their name: Hey Susan, blah blah blah
  • Welcome them to the group
  • Mention something personal about them. (Can comment on their avatar, a shared favorite author, a comment on where they live -- Oh I've always wanted to visit Australia, etc)
  • Tell them you're a writer but not going to "pressure them to buy"
  • Thank them if they already know about the books, introduce them if they have not
  • Provide a link where they can read samples
  • Tell them you're looking forward to seeing them "around the group
I suggest you write your four separate intros before the next post (probably will be a few days as I'm swamped with some stuff). Then we can compare/contrast between yours and mine.


Anne R. Allen said...

This is such a helpful series you're running. I think Goodreads is becoming more important all the time. This is a reminder for me that I should go back and update my profile and start using it again. I dropped it favor of Facebook and Twitter and my blog, but it's very useful. Goodreads reviews carry a lot of weight. Thanks!

Abigail Hilton said...

Robin, thank you for this series on Goodreads; it is extremely useful!

Anonymous said...


whatever happened to the Kindle versions of Michael's earlier books?

they are not there...

Dale Day said...

I think Goodreads has to be, by far, one of the most complicated websites for writers I've yet encountered!!!

Thanks to these posts, I've at least had my blog listed there and figured out how to add a gadget.

Keep up the good work.

Kirsten Corby said...

This is great advice, Robin, thank you!

Robin Sullivan said...

@Anne - twitter and facebook are all fine and good but goodreads is all READERS so no better social network that I can think of.

@Abigail - you are most welcome. Thanks for letting me know that you find my stuff worth while.

@Anonymous - they are out-of-print. The series was sold to Orbit so you'll have to buy "Theft of Swords", "Rise of Empire" and "Heir of Novron" to get them. They are actually the same price as they were because each book contains two of Michael's so at $9.99 you are just paying for two at the old price of $4.95 (or $6.95 as was the case with Wintertide).

@LV - Realy? I find it VERY easy...but there certainly is A LOT THERE.

@Kristen you are welcome.

J. R. Tomlin said...

Wow! Thanks. I always knew there had to be better ways to interact with GR than I had figured out on my own.

David Alastair Hayden said...

@ LV

Goodreads isn't difficult but there's a lot going on there, and some people, like me, do not find it all that intuitive at first. You have to invest some time getting to know how it all fits together. Once you do that, everything will start to click and it becomes easy. Really, it's just as complicated as the current version of Facebook, a little more than the previous version of FB.

You will occasionally run into some things that seem to be in strange places. But you'll learn it, and I really think that it's worth learning. I can't say that it's had a huge impact on my sales. Not yet anyway, but I'm getting to know the site and a lot of people. I've done two giveaways, and I think it will start paying off once I get better at taking my Goodreads tactics to the next stage. (Thanks to Robin's posts.)

Lindsay Buroker said...

Thanks for the series of posts on Goodreads. I've done a giveaway there, and I've got a bunch of "friends" (though these are just people who have found me), but haven't done much else. I definitely want to get more involved there and see how it can help with sales.

Just listened to your podcast with Joanna Penn too. Very inspiring stuff! :)

Elizabeth Seckman said...

I've suspected Good reads was being under utilized and wanted to use it better, but feared aggravating readers. Thanks for the tips!

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