In my last post, I went over the basics of setting up an author's account on Goodreads and mentioned a few ways in which writers can create a larger presence on that site and thereby attract more attention to their work. The site offers several other features that can be extremely useful to those seeking to promote themselves.
The first of these is the ability to create a blog on the site itself. I already have a blog, of course, the one you're reading now. It would be optimal if Goodreads offered the ability to enter the RSS code for my current blog just as Amazon does for its author pages. In that scenario, when I published a post here on Google Blogger it would automatically appear on the Goodreads site without the need for any further action on my part. Even though that's not the case, I can still post manually without much effort. All that need be done is to simply cut and paste the content of each post from one site to the other. I'm not particularly concerned about duplicating my posts. Rather, I think it best to have them available on as many venues as possible.
Another feature on Goodreads is its Creative Writing section. This is really just the means to publish work, such as a short story or an excerpt from a novel, to a section of the site where it will then become available to Goodreads members for free. In other words, an author can provide "samples" of his writing to anyone interested enough to read them. Admittedly, there's little chance that someone will stumble across this piece among the thousands already online and be so impressed that he or she will purchase that author's current book. But even if such a submission does not lead directly to sales, it is still a convenient means for a writer to publish works that might otherwise languish unread on his hard drive.
On their Author Pages, writers are also given the chance to publicize upcoming events, such as book signings and speaking engagements. This is for writers who actually have their work in print and are able to place a physical product on bookstore shelves. It's not practical for ebook authors since it's only common sense that most stores are not going to schedule time for an author to do a reading if they have no chance of selling his books at their location. Even if a writer has a work on paper, larger venues such as Barnes & Noble will probably not be willing to go to all the trouble of setting up a speaking engagement or reading without the expectation of selling a substantial number of volumes. If one has had a book published by a third party that has not received much notice, it would probably be best to stick with smaller local stores.
Another Goodreads feature currently limited to physical books is the "Giveaways." This is exactly what it sounds like - there are no sales involved here. How valuable this is as a promotional tool is for the individual author to determine. Since my work is currently available only in ebook format, it's a moot point as far as I'm concerned. When Goodreads begins to offer electronic giveaways, I'll take it into consideration. That does not seem likely to happen, though, any time in the near future. At present, the Goodreads Help page contains only the following statement:
"At the moment, ebooks aren't eligible for giveaways simply because we haven't yet found a system that works as well and as seamlessly for them as it does for our print books. We are committed to providing a superior experience for the people who enter and win our giveaways, and until we can absolutely do that for ebook giveaways, we won't allow them. We are currently in the process of experimenting with a few different titles and a few different formats, so hopefully we will be able to allow ebook giveaways soon!"
A final form of self-promotion is to buy paid advertising on the site. Before going this route, an author should be honest with himself. In my own case, the novel I'm seeking to promote, New York Sonata, is a literary work whose characters are almost all classical musicians. I knew when I began writing it that sales for this type of novel would be minimal at best. If I had been writing for income, I would have published a genre novel instead. But making money wasn't my primary motivation. Just as any other author, I'd like to see my book become a bestseller. I have to recognize, however, that the chances of that actually happening fall somewhere between slim and none. It would only be a waste of money for me to advertise such a work. For a writer who has produced a book that's more likely to sell, paid advertising might actually pay off in the long run as there are a huge number of readers on the Goodreads site who'll see it. In the end, it's a judgment call.