The Future of Goodreads

As we look toward the end of the year and the beginning of a new year, I think it’s natural to also think about the future of publishing platforms and groups.

Thanks to a recommendation from a friend in a writing group, I stumbled across what I found to be a revealing post at Digital Book World. The post interviewed Goodreads founder and CEO, Otis Chandler. And part of what he discussed in the interview is where he saw Goodreads going in the future.

Below is some of the info I gleaned from the article (which you can read in full at

In 2013 at Goodreads

-Look for international expansion, and continued domestic expansion. Chandler said 55 percent of Goodreads users are in the US with another 15-20 percent in other English-speaking countries. Chandler said the site is building its database of book titles and metadata in foreign languages now.

-The site’s tools that readers use to discover books may improve. Chandler said Goodreads is working on improving book discovery experience and “tools to help readers find new books.”

-Don’t look for Goodreads to become a bookseller. Chandler said Goodreads has no plans on becoming a bookseller at the time of the interview; the site is focused on discovery. “We’re entirely focused on … getting a person excited enough about a book so that they go home and read it.”

-Continue to look for pre-book promotions, which the site has begun. If you promote the book before publication, and if a reader adds the book onto their “to read” shelves, once the book is released, the readers will get an email letting them know it’s out (if they’re signed up to receive those notifications).

Your turn! Do any of those predictions make you excited? Are you planning on using Goodreads in 2013 and, if so, how?

~~~ Tamara Ward

Tamara Ward is an Amazon Bestselling Romantic Suspense and Mystery Author. Storm Surge, the first novel in the Jonie Waters mystery series, released in 2011. Tamara is also a proud member of our WG2E Family.

EasyFreeAds Blog News Facebook Twitter Myspace Friendfeed Technorati Digg Google Yahoo Buzz StumbleUpon


  1. Interesting information, Tamara, but I probably won’t be using Goodreads unless they become more eBook friendly. From what I’ve seen, their giveaways and other promotions are only for print books. Since my income from eBooks outpaces my print book income by about 450-to-1, putting more books in print is a losing proposition for me.

    • Tamara Ward says:

      As the world moves more and more to ebook, I imagine Goodreads must as well, but you’re right. You’ve got to focus your marketing effort on where you can have the most impact or where you think your readers are.

  2. Sibel Hodge says:

    Great info, Tamara. I think Goodreads is a fantastic site with lots of great tools, but, like Bettye, I’d like to see the more ebook friendly. Being able to give away ebook versions would be a great help, and was something I mentioned in their author survey recently. :)

  3. Lois Lavrisa says:

    Tamara- great information:) Although I poorly lack at my Goodreads skills- you always help with your posts:)

  4. Mel Parish says:

    I recently did a giveaway and was excited to see how many people put my book on their ‘to-read’ list until I discovered from the stats available that most of these people had hundreds if not thousands of books on their list! Certainly made me wonder about the chances of them ever getting round to reading my book:)
    I like the idea of Goodreads, but I’m not sure how great a promotional tool it is for new authors.

    • Tamara Ward says:

      There have been some success stories of new authors putting their books up for giveaways, readers placing their books on those to-read lists, the good reviews coming in and the books going viral. But, yes, it’s hard to get your book in front of readers.

  5. JamieSalisbury (@JamieRSalisbury) says:

    Great information Tamara! However, I find Goodreads quite user unfriendly and unfriendly toward ebooks. I have all my books there (minus my boxed set) and have no idea what to do with them, how to promote. I guess I’m lacking in Goodreads skills. If you ask anyone about how to use, it’s almost like you’re asking about a secret society. Even Goodreads does not help authors.
    So, I’ll continue to skirk in the background while everyone else has huge success there. Perhaps in 2013 someone will share.

    • Tamara Ward says:

      Right, Jamie! It’s a site not geared toward authors promoting but more toward readers sharing. I’ve got a post in the works that details how one author used the promotion/paperback giveaway and how her debut novel went viral. But I think what works for one author might not work for another, especially if you’re not doing paperbacks at all. Your comment is dead on. Goodreads is set up more for readers’ use.

      • JamieSalisbury (@JamieRSalisbury) says:

        Well I look forward to your post on attracting readers, because that’s the main thing we all need to do – just harder when you don’t have paperbacks.

  6. Monica Davis says:

    Thanks, Tamara! I use Goodreads every day…to find interesting new reads, participate in discussions with other authors and readers, and participate in the Goodreads Feedback group. Lots of honest opinions.

    There has been talk about including a formal ebook giveaways system (down the road), but for now an ebook author can at least give a shout out about their work and mention where it’s available, etc. in a thread or two within some of the groups. Read the “posting rules” for each group before listing your book info.

    Goodreads is a work in process and change comes from action. Goodreads has taken lots of suggestions from its group members to improve the site. It’s an active, sharing community.

    • Tamara Ward says:

      Thanks, Monica! Very good points. I’ll have to check out the Goodreads Feedback group; thanks for the tip! That’s one of the things I love about Goodreads – there’s always something more out there I haven’t discovered yet. And, yes, certain groups are open for us authors posting about our works.

  7. Dale Amidei says:

    The pre-book promotion is an exciting concept. I have suggested to the ‘Zon that they allow readers to subscribe to an author much like one does to a favored ‘blog. That way potential patrons would automatically be notified of a new title when it appears.

  8. I’ve given away hundreds of ebooks using the Amazon KDP Select program and never gotten a single review for my efforts. The paperback giveaway I did on Goodreads, however, gave me around a 40% return-on-review rate (thank goodness … I was beginning to fear my writing was terrible!). Out of those readers, one contacted me and told me she loved it so much she had shared the paperback book with two of her friends.

    I still have -n0- reviews on Amazon. I now have 19 on Goodreads. 16 came from the giveaway of the paperback edition. 2 came from the free-ebook follow-up email I sent a month after the giveaway ended. The last one was a fan of some other writing I did who had posted before I did the giveaway. My lone one 1-star rating came from someone who sent me a nasty email about my subject matter (fallen angels) and it dragged my ratings down to a 4.05 rating from a 4.38.

    Kobo migrates over your Goodreads rating and links to the actual reviews to your book page (you have to set it up, but they have helpful videos to do it). So your Goodreads rating DOES matter. Barnes & Noble permits you to quote up to 5 reviews with links to the review on the review site of your choice (i.e., Goodreads) if you upload to them directly (i.e., not through Smashwords) so if you get some good ones, it’s a nice boon to your page (I gave up on working with B&N and just distribute through Smashwrods now because their platform and customer service have become so terrible!)

    My opinion of Goodreads? The ‘want to read’ button is not helpful except to contact readers individually to offer the giveaway losers a coupon to download the ebook for free (but you have to be very careful about this or you will get banned as a spammer!) It is extremely time consuming to do this manually and Goodreads official policy is to discourage this sort of self-promotion. I suspect I have gotten away with it because I carefully word my follow-up message as a ‘second chance FREE prize’ with a link to Smashwords and there truly are NO strings attached. No ads, no ‘buy my book’, no strings, and never ever a second follow-up!

    I have not yet seen my giveaways (or the follow-up) translate into a recognizable uptick in sales, but at least due to the erudite nature of many of the readers and totally unbiased reviews I’ve been getting, I at least know the reason my work is selling so poorly is NOT because it stinks!

    • Laura Taylor says:

      Many thanks to Tamara Ward for addressing the Goodreads topic, and special thanks to Anna Erishkigal for her insightful & informative overview of her overall Goodreads experience. Both extremely helpful.

      • Tamara Ward says:

        Thanks, Anna! It’s good to see that Goodreads is paying off for you. I’ve heard several people say that when they want the best idea of how good a book is, they base the idea on Goodreads reviews (and not Amazon reviews).

  9. Julie Day says:

    I don’t use Goodreads that much, but have put up there all my ebooks. And I have to say, that I have had a few reviews on there but not on ‘Zon. After reading this earlier today, reminded me to put on the cover for my latest romance ebook. Next year I am thinking of creating print versions of collections of my ebooks and maybe doing a giveaway then. Then I shall see what happens and how much readers like my writing.

    • Tamara Ward says:

      Thanks, Julie! It’s fairly cheap to publishing paperback books and might be worth the return, especially if your promotion on Goodreads pays off!

  10. SK Holmesley says:

    Thank you for the very informative article and responses. I’m on Goodreads, but have had very little time this year to follow through. With all this very pertinent information, though, I think next year when I have more time I’ll be able to make better marketing decisions. Thank you so much.

  11. Angela Brown says:

    This is some pretty interesting information.

    Goodreads is a great platform for readers across the world to discover books they otherwise would know nothing about. So I’m glad they’re continuing to focus on discovery and methodologies to improve the discovery process.

    I enjoyed Goodreads as a reader and writer and will definitely use it for my TBR list and to add future publications, utilizing the author dashboard options available.

  12. Alison Pensy says:

    Interesting post, Thanks Tamara. When I first started out as an author I used Goodreads a lot, not so much for promotion but to learn from others experiences in the ‘author section’. I also joined a YA fantasy group and got involved with them as a reader and not to promote my books. I wanted to find out what people liked and disliked. The best thing I have gotten out of Goodreads is an amazing beta-reader from that group. She is so good and has beta-read the last 3 books I have written, giving me awesome feedback and helping me improve my writing.

  13. D.D. Scott says:

    I just luuuvvv Digital Book World, Tamara! Don’t they have great scoop?! :-)

    I’ll definitely continue using Goodreads in 2013, but I do hope they work on making it more use friendly!

    And I do think “going international” on all platforms is going to be one of the main focuses for the upcoming year!!!

    Thanks for the terrific info!!! U rock!!!

    • Speaking of Digital Book World, D.D., here’s a red flag for people. When you first publish any new book, there’s an author services company with a similar name called ‘Digital Book Whirl’ contacting newly self-published authors and offering marketing promotion packages. I very nearly ‘bit’ because it sounds like and their website is set up to mimic Digital Book World. Don’t know if their services are any good … I broke apart the component parts and figured out how to do it all myself much more cheaply but can’t say their prices were unreasonable … it was just the fact they picked a name to sound like Digital Book World that stuck in my craw.