Marketing on Goodreads – An Indie’s Perspective

Marketing. Is that word enough to strike fear in your heart?

It’s certainly enough to terrify me. I’ve gotten better at telling other people about my work, but there’s still this fear in the pit of my stomach when I think about marketing my books.

Since I am relatively unknown right now, that means I need to work on becoming known by even a small group of people. Mostly this is my friends and family, but little by little I am getting new eyes on my work, and that feels good. As a little history of my writing, I did write boxes full of stories when I was in middle school and high school. I am no stranger to having people I’ve never met read my writing. I am a member of, and I wrote copious amounts of Harry Potter fanfiction, and read a lot more than I wrote. So, the concept of finding readers is not new to me.

But, it’s still tricky.

I decided a few months ago before the summer to try using Goodreads to market my books. The results are not staggering, but then again, there is no real way to figure out if a sale is due to one strategy or another when you are an indie author. For all I know, the sale could be because someone on Amazon itself stumbled across my book and thought it was enticing enough to purchase. So, there’s my disclaimer. But, for those interested, here is what I’ve found when it comes to Goodreads for marketing your books.

It’s a lot easier to market a physical book than an eBook.

Why do I say this? Well, in particular I used the giveaway promotional tool for my first “Can You Survive?” book, The Zombie Apocalypse. For those who don’t know what this is, essentially you agree to give away physical copies of your book and Goodreads lists your book on their site where people can enter to win. The site does all the hard work for you. All you need to do is open the email that Goodreads sends you with the contact info for each of the winners and mail out their prize books in a timely fashion.

Autographed Copy

For my own promotion, I gave away three autographed copies of my book. The Zombie Apocalypse isn’t a huge book, so the cost per copy for myself was around $3.50, so for three, I spent $10.50. I ended up opening the promotion to the US and the UK, so two of my winners were from the UK. The shipping prices on those two packages combined was about $13-16 dollars. For the US winner, the price was considerably cheaper since I sent it media mail for under $2.

So, was it worth it?

Well, I did go from having zero people with my book added to their “To-Read” lists to a total of around 500 people with my book added to their lists in a matter of a month. How many of those people actually have read my book because of the promotion is not really known. I know I haven’t sold that many copies since the promotion ended. But, at least my book cover and title have been placed in front of people, so in that respect, I’d say the promotion was a success. Would I do another giveaway for my next paperback? I say yes, just for the ability to get that many eyes on my cover.

For the second goal of this promotional giveaway, I was aiming to get three good reviews of my book (even if they were so-so or bad, it’s better than nothing) and Goodreads claims that they will give the book to people who are interested in your genre and type of book. I’m not sure how well that held up since I only received one review out of the three (a huge thank-you to that reviewer!). One out of three is a little disappointing especially considering I almost gave away just one copy because physical editions are not something I have lying around my apartment. I have a total of two on my desk – my proof copy and my first-ever copy in case someone comes over and asks about what I’ve worked on.

So, as far as getting attention with a paperback is concerned, I’d say it was a success. There are plenty of people who will enter a giveaway, and if the majority of them also add my book to their lists, then there’s a good chance that if they are searching for something to read down the line, then they may pick my title.

Ad space is a slow process.

When it comes to actually purchasing an ad on Goodreads, I haven’t found much luck as far as sales…yet. I’m giving it a shot and being smart about how much I spend. Mainly I am using my current ad as a test to see if I have any takers on some of my titles.

Basically, you set a pre-determined amount (in my case, $10) and then choose your book you want to advertise. You get a small block of text to fill out and your cover is shown next to it. After all that is completed you end up pledging how much a click will cost if someone is enticed to click on your ad. The higher the big, the more likely your ad is going to be displayed. You can also target your ad to specific audiences, which is what I’m doing.

So far I have had no clicks, but a lot of views. I’m assuming this is still fine because the ad is being placed in front of people. Whether or not they click on the ad is not really an issue at the moment for me. If they do click on the ad, they will be taken to my Amazon page for the book.

You can have as many ads as you want in a campaign and they will all take away from your fund until it is depleted. I will have to update my findings on this particular type of marketing when I get results. I assume that no clicks is still a good thing because that means my ad will run until I run out of funds, so eventually someone is going to click on it.

So, those are my findings and insights into marketing on Goodreads so far. Hopefully this is helpful information for anyone else trying to find a way to market their books. It’s definitely not an easy task to get the word out there, but every new set of eyes is worth the effort in my opinion.

Now, back to working on my next project!


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