“I thought I would get this out of the way early,” Patrick Brown says to laughter as a slide appears stating “Goodreads & Amazon.” He is beginning a session on how authors can use Goodreads. He reaffirms CEO Otis Chandler’s promise that Goodreads is for all readers, no matter how you read. “That is going to continue. That is definitely not changing.” Here’s the liveblog:
Q. I have an old book and want it taken off your site. I get negative reviews for book written 16 years ago. My average as author goes down.
A. We’re not going to remove a book that people who have reviewed it. We would lose credibility with readers. There’s just no way we could do that.
Q. I own rights for several deceased authors. I can’t update them. How fix that.
A. We don’t allow deceased authors in the program. It’s a social site. You can control the author profile by becoming a GR librarian, to edit the profile and make changes etc.
Q. Can you tell the Amazon people to do that?
A. I will let them know, and I have absolutely no control over them.
Q. I did a GR giveaway and checked on everyone who clicked, read their profiles. How does algorithm choose?
A. Basic site activity. No matching by genre or demographics. High degree of randomness. This is on how they choose who wins. A proprietary algorithm.
Q. You don’t want people to win who are going to hate your book.
Q. Nonfiction book for Canadian audience. Good fit for Goodreads?
A. Site is 55 percent US in membership. Canada and UK strong. Lots of Canadian publishers and authors participating. Nonfiction works, too.
Q. How much do giveaways cost?
A. Giveaways are free. The only cost is to ship the books. Author program is free to join.
Q. Why can’t you give away eBooks?
A. Our giveaway feature for physical books is really easy. Click enter to win. That’s it. Delivery mechanism for eBooks has to take into account multiple formats, DRM, getting it from computer to device. Want to make sure an eBook giveaway is high quality. Just not there yet. Patrick Brown worries that eBook giveaways might not be as effective. Physical book accosts you. I’ve got to do something with that book. eBooks less so.
Q. Is it beneficial for lesser-known authors to review books on GR?
A. Helps build a following. It’s mainly a site for readers. That’s the native activity on the site, so we encourage authors to do it. Authors not sure what to do on GR after signing up. Will work on that. Participating in groups is good for an author. You will meet people and build a following. Make sure you join group as a reader first and don’t just talk about your book.
Q. How much does it cost?
A. Home page roadblock ad costs about $7,500 on top of $5,000 a month to work directly with GR team. Email campaigns cost thousands.
Q. Merge reviews with Amazon.
A. Not plans to do that now. We’re happy with our reviews. Will look at each other and try to work together. For now, the reviews will be separate. May let user post reviews to both sites, if they choose to.
Recap for publishers using Goodreads to help discovery of a book:
1. Start early.
2. Involve your author.
3. Pay attention to your stats. You can see stats for any book on GR, not just ones you published.
4. Use content to build anticipation. Maybe use video. A piece of the book.
5. Keep the momentum up.
The rise of mobile. We’re seeing enormous mobile growth, Patrick Brown says. Many people access GR exclusively through mobile apps. One fifth of those who added Life AFter Life to To Read shelf did so via mobile. It’s growing.
Editorial team chose to do an exclusive interview of Kate Atkinson for 13.5 million people who get newsletter in April. Try to get people on GR interested; that’s a good way to convince them to do an exclusive interview. They measure buzz within community by books added to To Read shelves.
Home page premium ad ran on home page day of publication. Makes big impact. Huge spike on GR. You can do it before publication or after. They wanted to make sure everyone at GR knew it was coming out. John Green took a screen shot of ad for his book and blogged about it.
Life After Life poll question engaged people. Didn’t have to read the book. Good for books about ideas.
Second giveaway for Life After Life ended day of publication. Big spike on “To Read” shelves. They offered 25 books but got two times the number of entries. A lot of people had heard about the book elsewhere. When they searched for it, they found giveaway on GR. Direct email was sent to anyone who rated her previous books three stars or higher. Contained link for pre-order at various retailers. Sponsored poll drove a lot of interest. A paid opportunity that runs on home page of GR. Click to vote in poll. People love to vote. Even if they don’t care about the choices.
Goodreads also has paid advertising options, which he hasn’t mentioned. Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life had an active GR campaign done by Little Brown. Lots of activity pre-publication in early April. Started with giveaway of 100 copies five months in advance. Wanted strong word of mouth. “You don’t get word of mouth without mouths,” Patrick Brown says.
Patrick Brown is director of author marketing at Goodreads. His low-key, practical tips for authors make this an effective, information-packed session. Lots of people are taking notes and making plans. He wears a button-down Oxford shirt, dark tie and sportscoat, with a several-day beard growth. Kind of a preppy/surfer vibe.
Author giveaways on Goodreads build pre-publication interest. Run it at least for a month, Patrick Brown recommends. More books given away = more reviews. Start 3 to 5 months before publication.
Goodreads reviews work harder for you, Patrick Brown says. What happens on Goodreads DOESN’T stay on Goodreads. It gets propagated to Facebook and Twitter, because lots of GR members link their accounts.
On publication day, you want reviews on your page already at Goodreads. The social context for reviews is unique to Goodreads. You see reviews from your friends. The best thing is to have someone’s friends posting reviews – that means you’ll have a lot to talk about. Example is Gone Girl. Lots of reviews.
Good crowd here to learn how authors can take advantage of Goodreads. Maybe 500 people, most seats taken.