With more than 3 million members, Goodreads is the largest social network for readers. The site is a terrific way for authors (especially fiction authors) to interact with their target audiences through the Goodreads Author Program.
Like other social networks, members join and set up a profile. But the emphasis of this site is on discussing books and sharing book recommendations with others. Members can create a catalog of the books they have read, are currently reading, and plan to read in the future; post reviews; create lists of books; start a book club; join a discussion group; or even contact an author.
To sign up for this free reader network, just enter your name, email, and a password on this page. I recommend setting up your own profile and book catalog and becoming familiar with the site before you get started with the author program.
See this page for details on how to upgrade your account to "author" status. Here are some of the things you can do to promote yourself and your books on Goodreads:
• Post a picture and bio.
• Share your list of favorite books and recent reads with your fans.
• Start a blog or import a feed of your existing blog.
• Publicize upcoming events, such as book signings and speaking engagements.
• Share book excerpts and other writing.
• Write a quiz about your book or a related topic.
• Post videos.
The Goodreads Author Program offers these promotional tools to authors:
• List a book giveaway to generate pre-launch buzz.
• Lead a Q&A discussion group for readers.
• Participate in discussions on your profile, in groups and in the discussion forums for your books.
• Add the Goodreads Author widget to your personal website or blog to show off reviews of your books.
• Advertise your book to the Goodreads Community.
The key to getting good results on Goodreads is to join in the conversation on the site and share with others. One of the best ways to make friends on Goodreads is to be active in groups related to your genre or topic and to send friend requests to selected folks in those groups. But don’t overdo it – as with all social networks it’s important to observe proper etiquette. Read the guidelines for authors and be careful not to engage in activities that are considered spamming, such as contacting or friending everyone who has read your book or similar books.
Many authors find reader communities such as Goodreads to be more beneficial than general networking sites like Facebook. I recommend starting with Goodreads because it’s the largest, but there are a number of similar sites and some are geared to specific types of books, such as children’s books. See this list of virtual reader communities for additional networks to consider.