Goodreads, in case you’ve never heard of it, it a site where people can do to find book recommendations. They have millions of members and even more reviews. The content is user-maintained, by and large, making it sort of a cross between Wikipedia and the reviews section of Amazon. It also lets you network with your friends, so throw in a bit of Facebook in there too (without the sponsored ads in your feed, ____Ville requests, and everyone’s vacation photos).
What can Goodreads do for you?
By rating books you’ve read and marking books that you want to read, not only can you keep track of your own reading habits (including a handy was to flag books you want to read but may not get around to for a while), you also get recommendations for other books you might like. It might run on magic, or there might be a kindly old librarian diligently typing up your recommendations in an office somewhere, but I suspect that algorithms are at work, looking at your likes and dislikes.
There are also community discussions and author pages, where you can learn more about your favorite books and discuss them with other fans.
Goodreads is a place where an author can go to connect with readers. You can participate as a reader yourself, but you also have access to an author page where you can post a bio, links to all your works (which you can also make sure are properly up-to-date and accessible to everyone). You have the option to have a blog through the author page as well.
Also, though the rating system works similarly to Amazon’s, the community is focused more on avid readers and is less prone to random people (or malicious ones) dropping in just to rate your book “1”, though you get trolls anywhere were the internet is connected.
The other thing that Goodreads allows is for authors to promote their works. In addition to Google-style pay-per-click advertising, you can create a book giveaway promotion. These are fairly common on the site, especially among newer authors. At the cost of a few paperback copies of your book (the exact number is up to you), you get the exposure of being shown in the list of giveaways. Not only that, but you guaranteed that X number more copies will be out in circulation, getting people to read and talk about your book.
Firehurler on Goodreads
That latter point was the one that really made me want to do a promotion through Goodreads for Firehurler. I have a giveaway running through the end of March for 10 signed copies of the paperback. It’s been great to see all the people who not only are signing up for the giveaway, but who are adding Firehurler to their To-Read shelves. Hopefully I’ve caught the interest of enough of these people that even those who aren’t lucky enough to be among the 10 to receive free copies will be intrigued enough to pick up a copy on their own.
Breaking through the noise is the first real major hurdle for a new, independent author. So far, the Goodreads giveaway promotion seems to be a great tool to get started on that.