I’ve recently been digging a little deeper into Goodreads. I’ve been signed up for ages but, like when I first joined Twitter, I’m not making anywhere best use of it. Superficially, you add which books you’re reading or have read and do a little review of them. All well and good, and handy for dipping in and out of if you want an opinion on a specific book. This might be all you ever want, and that’s fair enough. Plenty of people use it, making it a pretty good resource for that kind of thing.
What I am discovering though is that, again like Twitter, the more you use it the more you get out of it. This works both as a reader and a writer. As a reader, if you start making connections and seeing what people are reading, you get introduced to some cracking reads. Authors and genres you might not have tried before but are much more likely to do so on a recommendation from a friend. Most books, especially the Big Deals, have reviews up and you can comment on these. The comment streams often turn into debates which are actually fascinating and make you really want to read the book. In my opinion, if a book gets so many people worked up in completely opposite ways, it’s worth a second look. I found that recently with Rob Bell’s new book, Love Wins. If a book you love doesn’t have a discussion going, start one.
Another feature for readers is the ‘explore’ menu which offers lists and suggestions for reading. There are thousands of books listed in the recommendations, sorted either into lists such as ‘Best Historical Fiction’ or even ‘The Worst Books of All Time’, so you can have a dig around and find what suits you. If you don’t like their suggestions, then take part and vote or put a book forward.
As a writer, it’s a whole other ball game. My little foray into self-e-publishing (I need to think of a better term for that. Independent feels far too grandiose) has gone right to my head and I’ve gone and updated my website, facebook page, and created a Goodreads author page. I think this could be a really useful feature, especially if I continue down the route of self-publishing more and more work. It keeps all my work together, it allows people to comment on my work and for me to see those comments as well as get notified when someone comments. I can get ‘fans’ who follow my activity on Goodreads (useful for when I’m a literary megastar). I can list giveaways of the book, have my blog posts fed through onto the page and link through onto the book page on Amazon. I can even make ebooks available to preview and purchase direct from Goodreads. People feed their reviews onto Twitter and Facebook, so it doesn’t take much imagination to see how a little bit of good feedback here could go a very long way.
I genuinely think that as Goodreads takes off, and more and more join and interact with it, it will become immensely useful and a valuable part of every writer’s marketing kit.