Goodreads and the New Challenge for Independent Writers

I’m going to keep this blog very short because, to be totally honest with you, I have wasted not just yesterday—which is my designated day to prepare the blog—but today (Monday) as well. I’m not proud of it, but there it is. 

Nevertheless, I did make an interesting discovery last week that I want to share with other aspiring writers. Probably most of you already know this, but I’m only just getting hip to it, so I’ll come clean and in the process, hopefully help some other writers. But before I get to the specific way that I started using Goodreads.com, let me establish a little overall, sort of historic context. 

Back when I was first coming of age and getting into college, the traditional publishing route was still, for the most part, the only path that seemed available to new writers. You know what I mean: produce a manuscript, use it to get an agent, and hope that agent can sell your work. The big challenge with that model is publishing your work. 

But today, anyone can publish a high quality piece of fiction (or nonfiction, or music or art, for that matter). The challenge isn’t publishing. The challenge is in getting eyeballs on your work. Part of the reason for this challenge has to do with the super low barrier to publishing. Since it’s so easy (and since the profit margins are so advantageous), there’s lots and lots of people entering the market. 

Again, this is probably a fairly obvious observation, but it’s only just now fully crystalizing for me. So the question becomes, how can I get people to read the book I just published? One thing I did was give away 100 copies of my latest novel on Goodreads.com. It cost me a little more than one hundred bucks, and I’m already sure it was well worth the money. 

The good thing about Goodreads is it allows authors to connect directly with readers and potential readers. In the week or two since the give-away ended, I can now see many of the other Goodreads customers who have marked my book as “want to read”. Also, some readers are now “following” my profile on the site. 

Now, I haven’t done anything with this information yet, but I’m thinking about reaching out to some or all of the people who have self-identified their interest in my book. Honestly, I’m a little hesitant to do it, because I don’t want to scare anyone off. But at the same time, this is exactly the kind of direct, person to person engagement I want to have with readers . . . so I’ll probably go for it, at some point soon. 

I’ll keep you posted. Meanwhile, if you have other insights on how to best leverage Goodreads to engage directly with potential readers, please share. 

Published by New Bayou Books

JR Reed started New Bayou Books to spark a revolution in Louisiana literature. The goal of the company is simple: to great writers out of the shadows to carry on the Louisiana literary tradition.

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