Goodreads is a smart (and free) way for authors to reach avid readers. With 20 million members, 570 million books, and 24 million reviews, it is now the world's largest site for readers and book recommendations. Here are a few tips for how to use it:
Create an author profile and include your book title(s), bio, headshot, website, Twitter handle, blog, etc.
Run a giveaway. Giveaways are free to list and drive awareness of your book. You can run as many giveaways as you like for however many copies you want to provide. Even if winners don't post a review, they will likely add your book to their "To-Read" shelf, which will provide exposure for your book.
Add the Goodreads widget to your website to let people know they can post reviews of your work there. Just like with Twitter and Facebook, you want to let readers know where to find you. Goodreads provides a variety of widgets to help you promote your books.
Join groups and talk about books (not just your own). Goodreads members like to talk about what they're reading, and you can tap into that discussion by joining groups that interest you. Avoid excessive self-promotion, but feel free to express your opinion!
Create an event and invite your friends and followers. You can create all kinds of events, including book signings, online chats, cover reveals, and book launches.
Use your blog and the "status update" feature to keep fans informed about your books. You can import your blog from Blogger, Wordpress, Tumblr, or other blogging platforms.
Bonus advice: As I've discussed before in my blog, I don't recommend commenting on reviews, especially negative ones. Bad reviews can actually improve the perception of your work, as it shows that real, unbiased people are reading it. Resist the temptation to dispute a poor review, but do flag it if it violates the Goodreads terms of service.
Maria Murnane is the best-selling author of the romantic comedies Perfect on Paper, It's a Waverly Life, Honey on Your Mind, and Chocolate for Two. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.
This blog post originally appeared on CreateSpace.com. Reprinted with permission. © 2014 CreateSpace, a DBA of On-Demand Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved.