Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Goodreads Secrets of the Fantasy King

This is the header that precedes a pretty sizable section of a Forbes article written by David Vinjamuri about Author Branding, and the "Fantasy King" he was referring to was...wait for!  While I appreciate David elevating me to king status, I'm still very much a struggling mid-list author. But I think I have learned a thing or two about Goodreads, and I try to do what I can to help other authors learn how to get the word out about their books.

What is even more amazing than being featured in a Forbes Article on authorship and branding, is how David found out about me. When doing research for the article he talked to Patrick Brown, Director of Author Marketing at Goodreads. Patrick gives his own excellent advice on author branding and then...well I'll quote from the article:
"When I asked Brown to cite one of the most effective authors on Goodreads, he named fantasy author Michael J. Sullivan without hesitation."
Wow. I'm amazed that anyone in the author marketing department even knows I exist, let alone having the director think I'm a good example of how to effectively use this most excellent site. I've written a fair amount of advice on working with Goodreads, and now that I know that the people who run the site think I know a thing or two, it's time for a re-cap. So here goes.  You have a lot of reading ahead of you, but I think it will be well worth you time. As I mentioned to David, I attribute Goodreads to a good 80% of my success.

  • First, start by reading David's Forbe's article, The Strongest Brand in Publishing Is...  David points out how important brand loyalty is for authors. He thinks it's even more important than platform and Bookscan data, and he shows how authors with good brand loyalty can command 66% higher book prices.  The article gives a lot of good branding advice from David, Lee Child, Patrick Brown, and myself.

  • Second, read an article I wrote for Amazing Stories Magazine: Marketing 101: Authors and Reading Communities. It explains how I interact at sites like Goodreads and /r/fantasy on reddit. Being an author on sites like these isn't easy. On one hand, you are a fan just like everyone else that is there, but those forums get so many writers whose only purpose is to push their books that they can be super-sensitive and downright suspicious about your intentions. Both this article, and David's emphasize my point about being a contributing member of the community first, and the fact that you are author as just something about you - not why you are there. As an aside, last year I won /r/fantasy's Stabby Community Achievement Award for Best Overall Redditor, so I must be doing something right on both sites. 

  • Third, I've written a series of posts on /r/reddit about being an author on Goodreads.  The first one is, An author's guide to Goodreads. But it also has links in it to seven other posts covering everything from setting up your profile, how to introduce yourself, measuring your results, and how to put your best foot forward.

I want to thank David, Patrick, and the members of /r/fantasy for their validation that what I do and how I do it is a good approach. As I stated at the beginning of this post, I'm just a struggling author, trying to find a way to keep doing what I love the most...writing books. I've tried a lot of things, some work, some don't, but if sharing my experiences can help authors live their own dreams and become full-time authors, well then I feel it was well worth the time to write up some of this stuff and share with others.  I hope you find it useful.


  1. While I am not a writer, I think anyone struggling to make it as an author should really pay attention to Michael's advice. He really does an excellent job riding that line of good self promotion without it being shameless self promotion. Part of that I think is just his natural personality coming through. He is a very personable and intelligent guy. The other part is as his blogs point out, well thought out and and calculated (in a good way). At any rate, it's awesome to see him getting the credit he deserves and it's really cool that he devotes so much time to helping others!

  2. Congratulations on the recognition, and thank you for putting this together; saving it to Evernote and diving in right after I finish typing this.

  3. Thanks Michael - I hope you find it useful.

  4. Too many "Mike"'s in this comment section. Commenting just to break up the monotony.

  5. Haha - I was thinking about that myself.


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