Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Writers and Goodreads

There are many social networking sites out there, and authors use Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Tumblr to tell the world about their books. But I'm always amazed that so few authors are active on Goodreads--a social networking site that is 100% dedicated to books!

Robin (my wife) and I have given plenty of lectures on Goodreads and writers and it would take more than I can easily write about here to go into all those details. But I do want to highlight just a few things.

  1. You can add your book to Goodreads even before it is published. This means you could have months (or years) of it "out there" for people to find it and get excited about it's release. When I started Rhune (the first book of The Legends of the First Empire which was renamed to Age of Myth before release), Robin added a page for the book. And by the time of it's release, more than 10,000 people has already shelved it. So tip #1 is start early, and get your book listed as soon as you start working on it. Don't know the title yet?  That's okay you can put in a placeholder and change it. As I mentioned above, Age of Myth was originally called Rhune, and all the people who shelved it as Rhune came over automatically when it got it's new title.
  2. Be a reader first, and author second. When interacting with others on Goodreads, don't go around yelling "Buy my book! Buy my book!" It doesn't work on Twitter and it doesn't work on Goodreads either. But what does work...being a member of the community, helping others to find books they like (even if it's not yours) and being nice and friendly to fellow book lovers. They'll eventually discover you are a writer, after all your profile says that you are (and lists your various books) but let them come to you rather than the other way around.
  3. Goodreads Choice Award Nominations can really help a book get noticed! As of today I can proudly say I'm a six-time nominee for the Goodreads Choice Awards. That's because Age of Swords was added to the semi-final road as a write-in. I'm honored by my reader's support and I wanted to share with fellow writers what kind of impact a nomination can have.
On Goodreads, people put books on their shelves for books they've either (a) read, (b) have sitting on their too be read pile or (c) have heard of and may be interested in them at some time. If you are trying to read the tea-leaves to see if your book is getting traction, you need look no further than the number of people who have shelved your books.  Goodreads even tracks this information for you (for a certain time period...to keep this data you have to save it off yourself which Robin does for me).  

Here is a graph that focuses in on the last part of 2016 and the first month of 2017 for Age of Myth (the first book in the Legends of the First Empire Series). 

Before its nomination the book was receiving about 42 shelvings per day. But look at the spikes during the various stages of the Goodreads Choice Awards. It went up to 1,230 on the day the nominations were made.  That's a huge increase. But what's even more interesting is that in January, after the awards were wrapped, the books average shelvings went up to 108, a 250% increase as before the award.

So, how do you get nominated?  The selections are made based on the following factors:
  • Books released during the eligibility period (which usually run from mid-November of the previous year until mid-November of the current year).
  • Number of people who have shelved the books
  • Number or ratings/and reviews the book has received
  • Overall rating of the book
The first fifteen books are selected based on this criteria (and some editorial analysis by the people at Goodreads), and then 5 more books are added based on write-ins during the first round of voting. Later, the field will be narrowed to 10 books for the final round of voting and the book with he most votes across all the voting periods win.

I doubt I'll ever see my book as a winner, competition against people such as J.K. Rowling, Neil Gaiman, and Brandon Sanderson, makes that all but impossible. But to be one of 20 books selected from the thousand of fantasy titles that come out?  Heck, yeah, I'll take that, and I'm honored for the nomination.  

If you want to cast your vote for your favorite fantasy of 2017, voting is open for the semi-final round. You don't have to vote for my book, just pick the one you liked the best.


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