Goodreads: 8 Things Writers Should Know

Goodreads logoYesterday I wrote about Pinterest, because a writer can never have enough social networks, right? Continuing along those lines, today let’s talk a little about Goodreads.

Many of you have probably already been on Goodreads forever, so I’m counting on you to chime in with your experience in the comments. For those of you who are new to Goodreads or haven’t ventured over there yet… I promise I’m not trying to send you screaming into the street with social media overload. But I really do think Pinterest and Goodreads may be cost-effective ways to use of your time if you want to connect with READERS, not just other writers, as I mentioned yesterday.

So once again, I’ve compiled a list of important things writers should know.

1. Goodreads is a social network for book lovers.

It’s where you’ll find readers and people who like to discuss books. Even if you’re not very interested in the “social” aspect, Goodreads is a fabulous way to keep track of your reading—what you’ve read, whether you liked it, and what you want to read in the future. I’ve been keeping a book journal for over 10 years (in an old fashioned paper journal), writing down every single book I read, which is a practice I recommend to everyone. Goodreads makes this so much more fun because I can easily give each book a star-rating, write a review of it if I want, and automatically have a record of when I read it. (Find me here.)

2. There are a lot of people there.

Goodreads has over seven million subscribers—that’s a lot of people, especially when you take into account the fact that they wouldn’t be on the site if they didn’t love to read. This is your audience!

3. Set reading goals and track them.

Goodreads 2012 Reading ChallengeGoodreads encourages you to set a reading goal for the year, and when you enter the 2012 Reading Challenge, it will keep track of your progress. (Today it informs me that I’m 10% toward my goal, and I’m 3 books behind for the year.) Click the button to the right to enter your goal for 2012!

4. There are numerous ways for authors to connect with readers.

The folks at Goodreads have done a terrific job of providing ways for you to reach readers. They encourage a friendly conversational approach that doesn’t ever feel like “marketing” but is truly based on relationships between people with shared interests. If you have published books, then one of the first things you’ll want to do when you get on the site is create an Author Profile, where you’ll list your books and begin to learn all the different ways to get the most from Goodreads. Please see my companion post, How Authors Can Effectively Use Goodreads, for idea on tapping their author resources.

5. It features reader reviews.

Goodreads is one more place to read (or ignore) reader reviews. When people log the books they’ve read, they have the opportunity to assign 1-to-5 stars and write their thoughts. Of course, this has its pros and cons. As an author, it can be equal parts exhilarating and devastating. However as a reader, you may find the reviews helpful in choosing books to read.

6. It includes self-published books.

Goodreads is open to self-published books, and is one of the best ways self-pub authors can promote their books. The site’s reviews and discussions can be tremendously helpful when deciding which self-published books you might be interested in reading.

7. As with Pinterest, I’m not saying you HAVE to join.

You should choose the social networks that work for you. I encourage you to at least get to know Goodreads and make your decision based on knowledge rather than “If-I-have-to-join-one-more-social-network-I-will-implode.”

8. You can share your favorite quotes from books.

I love this feature! On the Goodreads site, click Explore, then Quotes. You can see other people’s favorite book quotes or enter your own. You can search for quotes through a list of tags. Below is an infographic from GalleyCat on Goodreads’ most quoted books of 2011. Enjoy!

Your turn: Tell us your experience with Goodreads so far.

See also How Authors Can Effectively Use Goodreads.


Goodreads Quotes 2011




  1. I am… Pinterest obsessed.
    So, I am really looking forward to seeing Goodreads.


  2. I joined Goodreads a few months ago when I discovered my book was on a list of 2012 coming releases that people were excited about, and also a most beautiful cover list. If people were talking about my book over there, shouldn’t I pay attention? Since I’ve joined, I’ve made a few connections that will lead to great networking and it’s been fun to see the number of people putting my books on their “to be read” shelf creep up daily.

  3. I joined Goodreads a few months ago and I love it!

    One of my favorite things about it – as a reader – is that I get a newsletter each month telling me which of the authors I’ve read in the past have new books coming out. I don’t miss anything that way. And I can’t help thinking that’s a nice feature for the authors too.

    I’ve also had an author comment on my review of his book, and even though it was just a short little nicety, I admit that it made me more inclined to buy his next one.

  4. Angus says:

    Love the quotes. Quotes inspire. Quotes make you think. Quotes can be twigged into dialogue….
    Really need a way to follow market trends in historical fiction.
    I’m heading over to Goodreads.

  5. Amazingly, I have never heard of Goodreads! How is that possible? Thanks for the info, Rachelle! I am looking forward to checking it out.

  6. I’ve been a Goodreads member for some time now and have connected with a lot of people over it, and now as a self-published author, I’m connecting with people even better. Also the new Facebook timeline works great at integrating your Goodreads account into it.

  7. Ooh Goodreads! Another one of my faves. Thanks for this one too.

    I have been keeping a log on the books I read as well. I started way before I discovered Goodreads. So I had to backtrack and add the books later. I love being able to keep track both ways.

    I wasn’t aware about the reading challenge. Will need to check it out. Thank you!

  8. Kimberly says:

    I’ve been on goodreads for years. I love it, and have mainly used it as a source for keeping track of what I’m reading as well as keeping up on my friends’ recommendations.

    I hit a little snag when I realized that authors are indeed on goodreads, and they read my reviews! I had one author get in touch regarding a review I wrote (thankfully it was a good one!), and now I feel a little nervous about putting anything on there that might potentially offend an author.

    Maybe I’m over thinking it, but I look forward to the day when I might have a book of my own out there, and you know what they say about paybacks, or karma, or being a meany pants;)

  9. I love Goodreads! It was the first social networking site I joined – it was so nice to have a place to meet fellow book-lovers. :-)

    I like that I can read so many reviews there – although I dislike that so many of them contain spoilers.

  10. Scott says:

    Sounds like something I need to check into. Thanks again for great information. Thanks Rachelle!

  11. Cathy West says:

    I love Goodreads. As a reader, it’s a great way to discover new books my friends are interested in – much easier than scrolling through pages of Amazon books, none of which I find appealing – as an author, it is a great way to connect with readers. Goodreads makes it easy to set up your book/s and keep track of reviews etc… I think I’ve probably read more books (good ones) since being on Goodreads, and for me, where time is a precious balance between writing and read and life in general, that is a great thing.

  12. I finally broke down and joined Goodreads last month. I absolutely love it. It is so easy to connect with other readers and writers, and I have discovered dozens of books I never would have otherwise come across.

    Next I need to explore some of the groups — IF I can find some time.

    Great post!

  13. Positive.

    I love the quotes feature there. I’ve discovered some great books to read because of that site.

    ~ Wendy

  14. Elle Blair says:

    I am fairly new to Goodreads and still very much in the puppy-love stage so I’ll try not to gush.

    This is by far, my favorite networking site. It’s not work for me. Not something I have to force myself to do. I love books, I love to read reviews and I have expanded my reading horizons considerably, thanks to Goodreads.

    And oh the widgets! My 2012 Book Montage is my favorite part of my blog.

  15. carol brill says:

    I log the books I read and belong to a women’s writing group on Goodreads. I do not feel I have adequately mined or mastered the ability to really connect with readers.
    Would love to hear more from others about where/how/what you do on the site to feel so connected

  16. Lynn Rush says:

    I absolutely adore Goodreads. I’ve met some great people there. And, as an author, it’s a great place to chat it up with readers. Some who’ve read my book email me asking questions about characters or what’s to come, etc. It’s super fun. Then again, I love chatting books so it’s all good!!


  17. Love Goodreads! My TBR shelf looks like an episode of Hoarders. (in a good way!)

  18. Irene says:

    Dear Rachelle, your post is a Godsend! :-)

    I KNEW there was this site for book lovers that you could use to promote your books at, but I completely forgot their name! It’s Goodreads, of course!! Now I remember! Thank you!

    And yes, I got hooked on Pinterest too, and can’t wait for them to accept me because I can look at all those lovely pages but I can’t participate! :-) But not for writing purposes though… it’s just so lovely and girlie… :-)

    Thanks a lot for your wonderful site!

  19. tedra says:

    I love Goodreads. Ive been a member for a while now and I have no complaints about it. When I want to read a book im interested in, its good to have the opinions of people with intrest the same as mine.

  20. Joe Pote says:

    Thanks, Rachelle, for the info!

    I have looked at GoodReads, but never spent a lot of time there. I was surprised in the last few weeks to hear people refer to it as a social network. For some reason, I had seen it simply as a place to post reviews.

    I clearly need to spend more time there.


  21. I am not yet an author but I am watching and learning. I initially used it to track the books I’d read as well as wanted to read. However, there is so much more there. Book swaps, book giveaways, book clubs, genre fan clubs…it’s all there.

    I love finding out what my friends are reading (and what they thought of the books they just read) with the status updates. It is a fantastic and user-friendly site for book lovers and authors alike!

    I highly recommend it as well!!

  22. Okay, I joined. Been on the fence wondering if I needed another network. But this one has the benefit of helping me as a reader as well as a writer … so I’m finally there. Thanks for the advice!

  23. Patti Mallett says:

    In the last few months, every time I go over to Goodreads, I am immediately kicked off. It’s a very cool place, and that makes it all the more frustrating.

    I’m wondering if anyone else has experienced the same thing?

  24. CG Blake says:

    Thanks, Rachelle. Goodreads is as important, if not more important, than any other social media site. Unlike other sites Goodreads gives us writers the chance to connect with readers. Every time I post a boom review on my blog I post it on Amazon and Goodreads. I’ve started joining Groups – I think they are called Communities-on Goodreads, but many of the threads are a waste of time. Like anything else out there you have to poke around and see where the best connections are for readers who like your genre. Thanks again,

  25. CG Blake says:

    Should have said book review. Sorry. Oh how I hate typing on my iPhone keypad.

  26. Jenny says:

    Goodreads is the best website I’ve seen that recreates the ‘browsing’ experience of a bookstore. There are lists, reviews, and recommendations that help you narrow your searches.

    I love their recommendations feature. So far, they haven’t missed. They base the recommendations on your past reading and your star rankings/reviews.

    It’s a fantastic site. Five outta five stars.=)

  27. So far I’ve really enjoyed Goodreads. I opened a topic for The Hunger Games, because I just wasn’t getting into it. After much encouragement, I continued on. Although as a writer, I can see where the author could have done “better”, she wrote great characters and after a few chapters I was hooked.
    I also can see how this is a great resource for writers. It’s a way to connect with fellow writers on the readers level. One thing I really believe writers need to be, and I shared this at my first appearance as an author (school career day), are readers. Many of the kids seemed shocked at my words. If we’re not reading the genre we write in, how do we ever connect with those readers?

    By the way, Rachelle, I saw you’re a speaker at the Pike Peak Writers Conference. I hope I get to finally meet you. I’m hoping to scrap enough together to go. I should join the group (I belong to the Colorado Springs Fiction Writers Group).

  28. Amy Leigh Simpson says:

    Wow, how do I not know about this? Thanks for the great info, Rachelle.

  29. Rebecca Burke says:

    Patti, I’ve never been kicked off or had any problems of that nature. Perhaps you should contact one of their site administrators and get to the bottom of it.

    I love Goodreads, too, but I don’t think it’s a very intuitive website to navigate. If you’re new to it, read the guidelines, or you’ll be a little bewildered by all the various groups, lists, polls, etc. You can get very bogged down if you don’t come up w/ a strategy for your visits.

    There is something honest about Goodreads that is lacking elsewhere. Honest, forthright reviews. Authors are treated with respect–but told where to go if they spam. Loads of information-sharing among authors. Huge enthusiasm for BOOKS, which is as it should be.

  30. Amy Keeley says:

    I love Goodreads! It’s my favorite place to be, so far. Here’s a small list of the things I love about it, as a reader and writer (though I don’t have an author page yet).

    * I love the reviews. Spoiler tags keep crucial information hidden if you don’t want to know, but let those who don’t mind them see what’s going to happen next. Reviews also have “like” buttons and the capability for comments on the review itself. One author “liked” a (mostly positive but not entirely so) review I wrote of her book, which raised my opinion of her because it showed me she appreciated the honesty.

    * I had been looking to find an active group devoted to clean romances (no sex but lots of passion) and Goodreads had one! Groups have sections specifically devoted to author promotions, making it easy for me to see if a favorite author is having a promo or giveaway.

    * One group I’m in has a “book of the month” focus. They pick four books in that genre for readers to devour and discuss. This helps me as a writer to keep up with my chosen genre, as well as see what fans of the genre tend to like.

    That’s just a small portion of the things I love about Goodreads. So yes, I agree. Goodreads should have top priority for writers who want to find readers.

  31. Reba says:

    Thanks for the ‘Major’ helpful hints.
    I now know what I will be doing after I get off the treadmill today….(the treadmill is next) :0/
    I had heard the name Goodreads, but never heard what it was about. Now I must check it out. I have seriously needed help in social networking/marketing and now Praise the Lord help has arrived.

  32. Okay I plan to check out Pinterest, but I never feel like I have a minute to do that yet, one day! As for Goodreads, it is brilliant, though I must remember to pop along to the groups I joined from time to time. I loved doing the reading challenge last year but I had lots of picture books in there so I’ve lowered my count this year and just put novels on.

  33. This is why I read your blogs: you give information writers really need in order to succeed. I had never heard of Goodreads, I’m sorry to admit. It’s definitely something I want to check out. It sounds like it not only will offer a way to market, but more importantly, a way to find out what people like to read and what they’re hungering for. Thanks, Rachelle, for another great post.

    • Rachelle Gardner says:

      I am so glad I’ve introduced some people to Goodreads… I was afraid everyone would already be on it and not need any of this info!

      • I went onto Goodreads yesterday and explored. It is fantastic! I got excited both as a writer and as a reader. Great recommendation, Rachelle. Thanks again.

  34. Dennis says:

    Thanks Rachelle for your commitment to new authors and writers…

  35. The aspiring author in me dreams of the day I’ll have a Good Read author page. But the reader in me absolutely LOVES the website! It’s a good way to find out about new books and if one looks interesting to me, I head on over to the author page and from there visit the authors website to learn a little more about them. Also, one of my daughters teachers in the past has started a Good Reads account for the purpose of seeing what her students are reading so she can better gauge their reading and interest level.

  36. TC Avey says:

    Wow! I had not heard about this, I’m very excited to join. Thanks so much for the info!

  37. Thank you! I had never heard of Goodreads!


  38. Jennifer Major says:

    Wow,I’ve never heard of Goodreads but it sounds like what I need! I rarely have time to take on something new and addicting, but this sounds like an excellant place to go in order to avoid laundry.

  39. I’ve been on Goodreads for several years now. I started off on Shelfari, but GR far exceeds them and I long ago abandoned Shelfari. I haven’t been able to put up all of my books, but I’ve got some up. And it’s so nice when I don’t have to upload the book myself–I can just find it there.

    One feature I really like is when I do a book review on GR, there is a way to not only use the html on your blog, but it also loads the book cover and your stars, as well as the review so all you have to do is copy and paste. Anything to kill two birds with one stone.

    I belong to several discussion groups there and check in now and then. Very active groups!Fun and great discussions. Love that.

    Sometimes they offer free books on those groups. And you get to talk to the authors. It’s almost like a bookclub.

    There are ALWAYS contest/drawings going on in one place (you can check the current ones being offered.) Authors (all kinds/genres) have a place they can upload their freebie and do a mailing. Goodreads takes care of obtaining the mailing address for you and I’ve actuall won books (as if I need another book…)

    I love the quote feature, too! If you have a great quote from your book, I’m likely to grab it. :)

    There are voting lists all over the place! If you are an author, you definitely want your books on some of those lists. I have often gone to those lists looking for recommendations.

    Speaking of recs–you can recommend a book to all of your friends. It will send out an email for you to check out a book.

    I’ve met true readers who share my interests and fav books from all over the world. Gotta love readers!

    It’s just a totally author/book/reader-friendly site and I never have enough time to really spend on it. Yes, I do think if you are a published author that you should be exploring it and at the least should have a bio/your books and a way for people to connect with you/fan you. I love it when an author is active on GR. And I especially love to see more than just their books on their lists. I like to see what my favorite author reads, too. Some of my best recommendations have come that way. For example, I always check out the ticker-tape feed on the Books & Such site for what the agents are reading, so why not have your books loaded on your Goodreads site? And what do you think of the book? Love that. I want to know!

    One of my favorite sites! :)

  40. Peter DeHaan says:

    I’ve added Goodreads to my “to do” list. Thanks!

  41. Jan Newman says:

    I’ve joined Goodreads and find it does help me keep track of what I’ve read and my reactions. But I more often than not ignore my own to-be-read list. I don’t know why I bother with it.

  42. I haven’t tried Pinterest yet. I heard you need an invite and I never received one! :-(

    I’ve been on Goodreads for years, but, I’ve let it fall by the wayside. I forget about it half the time. In between writing, blogging, Facebook and Twitter, and working FT job and child activities, it’s hard to make room to make GR a priority. Your post reminded me about the great aspects that GR offers, so, I may need to pay more attention to it in the future! :-)

  43. Oh dear. I am OBSESSED with GoodReads. I absolutely love it. When I get my first book up and running I will create an author page. I’m pretty excited.

    It is also so fun to interact with other readers and authors. I find way too many books though. I have 300 on my To-Read list.

  44. Heather says:

    I always think its fascinating to see what authors are reading. You can add a goodreads widget to your blog with it.

    Also, my friend has a self-published book on there, and she had a give-away through Goodreads.

    Love the site, need to use it more.

  45. Karen says:

    I am fairly new to Goodreads and love most of it. I adore hearing from authors and connecting with people who enjoy the same kind of books I do.

    What I do not enjoy are authors who are clearly only using it as a promo vehicle – the ones who review only their books and give them 5 stars. I have had a large number of folks like that try and friend me, and it really turns me off. In fact, it turns me off so much, I won’t read their books at all.

    It’s like the writers on Twitter who are all promo all the time. I unfollow them.

    Authors, Goodreads is great fun and can be good for business but if you are a blatant self-promoter, it can have the opposite effect of what you are hoping for. Communicate with readers, not at them.

  46. There are a lot of great authors on Goodreads! I love getting to hang out with them. Josh Lanyon is one of my friends on Goodreads! As well as many of my other favorites. It’s purely amazing.

  47. I love goodreads. I have recently started a book review blog to review books and offer my own illustration and book cover design abilities.

    Through Goodreads first book giveaways have provided me with free paper and hard back books to review for the blog and has allowed me to connect with other writers who have also provided free ebooks for review.

    I am in the building, content adding stages of the blog and being able to find writers willing to provide free books has helped add content and several of the writers have given advice towards promoting my own illustration and cover design services as well as offered advice about contacts I may need when putting together my own children’s book and finding other writers to illustrate or design covers for.

    In addition to easily add my books, I can easily transfer them to Bookcrawler on my iPad to keep my own personal reAder’s journey. They also offer widgets you can put on your own blog to add interest to the blog!

    Even if you dont want to be social, it’s a great useful site. If you want to make contacts with writers, bloggers etc., it is also great for that too.


  48. Carol Riggs says:

    Hey! I didn’t know about the quotes thing. That’s cool. On a couple of my reviews I mentioned some quotes, of lines I loved, so now I know there’s a place for those. :) Now, off to check out your Authors on Goodreads article… Thanks!

  49. I had a Shelfari account for a while, but found it overwhelming. Not sure how different GoodReads is. . . but as a reader, I sometimes read a book a day, and it was too much for me to keep it up to date. Right now, I usually just manage to scratch down the title on a Notepad document, then collect them with a super-brief review at the end of each motnh (in a Word document), all for my own use.

    I think if (when?) I get published, I will consider GoodReads again. But as a reader, I think it might be overwhelming for me as well.

  50. Diane Chase says:

    I’m getting into this disscusion a little late, but I wanted to add another angle here. Goodreads does have authors but it is largely a reading community, thus the name Good–reads. I’ve seen a number of comments from readers/reviewers who sniffed out authors prowling around to sell books. I wear my writer hat in some forums and strictly visit the others as a reader, and then only if I’m genuinely interested in the books.

  51. I’ve been on Goodreads for a few years and do like it. However, as a writer, there are a few “bugs” that are hard to navigate. For instance, I’m having a hard time swapping out an old cover of a first edition with the newer cover of my book’s second edition. A bit frustrating. Goodreads has been understanding and has offered a satisfactory “fix” to the problem. Second, still can’t make the Facebook widget work properly! All in all, it’s a great resource for writers as well as readers.

  52. I’m a self-published children’s book author and illustrator and I’ve found Goodreads to be a great way to get my books to readers. I’ve met so many wonderful friends there, both readers and authors. One wonderful lady is a librarian and now a friend and a fan. Most of the sales I recieved at Christmas came from Goodreads members, but it’s wise not to spam them. Just make friends and they’ll check your profile. If they’re interested in your books they’ll purchase them, though not always. Everyone has different taste. I often do Giveaways for my paperbacks on Goodreads. This is a great way to let readers know about them. I have four published books, so after a Giveaway if the reader liked the story, sometimes they buy my other books.

    I never go a day without spending time on Goodreads, plus you can add photos, movies, quotes, stories and blog posts, and the staff are so helpful.

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  55. Goodreads is a must. The reviews are more detailed on Goodreads, and thorough, and I’ve been able to connect with other authors who otherwise would have been off limits.

  56. punrun says:

    I’ve joined goodreads a month ago and won a book giveaway, the very first contest I joined online.

    Goodreads inspired me to read more and keep track of what I’m reading. I’m making polls, answering trivia, and I want to write similar to a blog posts.

    Can I post it also in my blog, is that legal? I don’t intend it to a long one, but am pleased on how it turned out.

  57. PINTEREST has violated Trademark Laws. They have infringed on my TRADEMARK. They have been notified 3 times the last 60 days and refuse to answer.

    I would like to find out who their Registered Agent in California.

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