Intent to Sell: Marketing the Genre Novel


Murder Must Advertise
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Using Goodreads Effectively

to Promote Your Books

I’ve been a member of Goodreads since October, 2007. I initially joined to track my reading, find book recommendations for my book club, and to research books we’re considering reading, but I soon discovered the promotion benefits of being an author member. Goodreads offers advice to authors on “Using Goodreads to Promote Yourself and Your Books” on this page: . Read it and get to work!


First you need to join Goodreads and create a fully-fleshed out profile that includes your headshot, bio, books, excerpts, reviews, blog (I cut & paste entries occasionally from my “real” blog), and so on. For an example, see my profile at: . Then, create your reading list. I suggest you add at least twenty books to your list so members know you are interested in reading and trading information about books and are not just an author out to blatantly promote on the site. Put the book you’re currently reading on that list and add a couple of to-read books, then keep your book list updated.


Join some groups that are related to your genre. For mystery, you’ll see that I’m a member of “mystery lovers” and “Cozy Mysteries.” Start participating in the groups by commenting on the discussions and send friend requests to some other group members. A lot of the groups will allow anyone to put a book on the group bookshelf, so add yours. I often "troll" my groups for friends. If anyone joins “mystery lovers” or “Cozy Mysteries” and has books like mine in their books list, they get a friend request. Same goes for anyone who makes a comment about cozy mysteries in any of the groups. I now have over 1200 friends. Many of those friends have put my book on their to-read list or have actually read it and reviewed it.


Create events for all the activities you want readers to know about. The best way to do this for in-person appearances is to create the events on Book Tours ( ) and from there, the events are automatically loaded into Goodreads as well as to many other websites. Once the Book Tour events appear under your profile, respond that you’ll be attending (of course you are, but now they show up on your personal event list), and invite your nearby Goodreads friends to attend. For on-line events, such as a blog book tour or Internet radio appearance, create the event at Goodreads and invite all your friends. There’s a limit to how many people you can invite to an event in one day, and I’ve found that if you stay under 200, you don’t hit the limit. Set automatic reminders on your events to remind guests a few days in advance. You can also create duplicates of your events in the groups you belong to, to invite group members.


Under the “Promote your books” heading, on the Goodreads author program page, I have tried the three out of the four suggestions that don’t involve paying money (the fourth is advertising). For my mid-May release of To Hell in a Handbasket, I ran a Goodreads giveaway for 6 weeks from mid-April to the end of May for two free copies of the book. 677 people entered the giveaway, so I was more than happy to mail off the two free copies to the winners. I sent friend requests to the entrants who had over 20 friends (showing they're willing to make friends) and read mysteries, so I accumulated quite a
few new friends as a result.


I also ran an author Q&A discussion group during the month of May and invited all my Goodreads friends to join. I created a post to each of my groups inviting group members to join also. 66 people joined the group and kept a lively discussion going.


The third free suggestion to authors is to participate in discussions on your profile, in groups, and on the “discuss this book” forum for your books. I created discussion topics on both of my book pages stating that I am willing to visit book clubs, and asking readers to send me a friend request and to put my books on Goodreads “Best of” lists. I also just found out how to put a reference to a book into a group discussion comment. I did that for my Q&A group, which means that a link to that group shows up on my book pages and vice versa. How cool is that?


Lastly, I used the book recommendation function to recommend To Hell in a Handbasket to all of my 1200 Goodreads friends right before its release date, listing blurbs from a few positive reviews in the recommendation. I will only do this once per friend, because sending multiple recommendations of your own book is viewed as BSP on Goodreads.


As a result of my Goodreads activity, my first book, A Real Basket Case, is now on the books lists of over 220 members, has 25 reviews and 49 ratings, and has an average rating of 4.33. The book had nowhere near as much activity on its profile before I joined Goodreads and started making friendships and commenting in group discussions. Over 60
Goodreads members have already put To Hell in a Handbasket on their to-read
list and it has three ratings and one reviews.

I enjoy the Goodreads community more than general ones like Facebook, because it is focused on books and reading. I recommend you include this social network as part of your promotion plan! If you join, please befriend me there, using the link at the top of this article.


Beth Groundwater's first mystery novel, A REAL BASKET CASE, was published in March, 2007 and was nominated for a Best First Novel Agatha Award. The second in the Claire Hanover gift basket designer series, TO HELL IN A HANDBASKET, will be released this month. It is set in Breckenridge, CO and opens with a death on the ski slope. As Kirkus Review said, "Groundwater's second leaves the bunny slope behind, offering some genuine black-diamond thrills." Between writing spurts, Beth defends her garden from marauding mule deer and wild rabbits and tries to avoid getting black-and-blue on the black and blue ski slopes of Colorado. Please visit her website at





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