Readers love to be on social media. But there’s one place many go for book-specific networking: Goodreads. The site allows you to add books to virtual shelves, find new books to read and connect with other readers through groups or reviews. You should be there, too!

Although Goodreads can be a tough place for authors to break into, especially given the number of negative author-reader interactions in the last few years, you can do it. Remember you’re not there to sell books directly, and focus on building relationships. The following tips will help.

1. Be a Reader

Most readers are on Goodreads to connect with their fellow readers and talk books. Goodreads is a social network, so as with other social media platforms, like Twitter and Facebook, the best way to sell books is to build relationships.

Once you’ve claimed your books and set up an author account, Goodreads will prompt you to add books you’ve already read and enjoyed. Have fun with this! You can create additional shelves to manage your own TBR (to be read) list. Read other reviews of your favorite books and hit “Like” on the ones that make you nod your head in agreement.

Please note: this is not the time to recommend your book to other readers. For many, this crosses the line into blatant self promotion, and at best they’ll ignore it. At worst, they’ll report you as spam. Build stronger connections with people by recommending books you’ve read and loved.

2. Rate Books and Leave Reviews

Rating and reviewing books as an author can be tricky, but as an author, reading and thinking critically about books you’ve read can help you become a better author. Dive into aspects of the story you thought the author executed well. Does the book have realistic dialogue? Vivid descriptions? Reviewing books helps you process how to write.

Rating and reviewing also makes it easier for other readers to find and connect with you. You might even find others with similar tastes and follow their reviews to get new book recommendations. Because you can never have too many books to read, right?

Just remember: rating and reviewing your own book(s) reflects poorly on you.

3. Participate in Ask the Author and Reader Q&A

Goodreads has two ways to participate in Q&A style programs. The first is Ask the Author, which you can set up through your author profile. These questions are housed on your author profile and give you a chance to encourage readers to interact with you. Answering your readers’ questions might just make their day!

The other option is Reader Q&A. Unlike Ask the Author, Reader Q&A is focused on the book and lives on the book page, underneath your friends’ reviews. Don’t just focus on your book, ask and answer questions about your favorite books, too.

4. Fill Out Your Profile

How can readers get to know you if your profile isn’t filled out? Here are a few ways to flesh out your profile:

  • Add your bio
  • Share links to your official website and Twitter account
  • Fill out which genres you write in
  • Upload a picture of yourself — make sure it’s a professional-looking headshot!

5. Sync Your Blog

You do have a blog, right? While this option could have easily been filed under ways to fill out your profile, it deserves a little extra attention. Goodreads offers authors the opportunity to use their platform to blog, but if you already have a blog on your author website (and you totally should), it’s smarter to sync your blog to Goodreads.

Why? For one, it’s less work for you. Instead of maintaining two blogs, you only need to worry about one. Secondly, you can drive traffic to your website. You don’t have to do this; when you sync your blog, Goodreads shows a summary of your blog posts and links back to your website. If you get readers to your website, you have a better chance of deepening your relationship with them.

6. Set Up a Giveaway

Giveaways create buzz around your book and puts it into the hands of a reader (or more, if you choose). There are a few limitations, however. You can’t give away an ebook, and you have to list your paperback giveaway either before it’s released or within six months of its publication date.

But with a little planning, you can set your giveaway up for success. The best tips we have? Spring for shipping worldwide, create an enticing giveaway description and offer a signed copy (or two or ten).

For further reading, Goodreads provides author guidelines to use the site effectively.