Wednesday, August 1, 2012

How to Get the Most Out of GoodReads

I love GoodReads. Not because I'm a writer - but because I'm a reader. Reading was and is my first love. Being caught up in a great story inspired me to dream of writing great stories myself.

Of all the sites out there for readers, nothing rivals GoodReads. However, many people join GoodReads, rate a few books, and forget about it, not understanding that the site is a tool for readers, not just a place to review books. Using GoodReads properly will help you find better books and find more enjoyment in them. It's easier to share what you're reading with friends and get fantastic spot-on book recommendations. It's a playground and a virtual book-loving heaven for bibliophiles!

So how do you use it "properly"?

Top Five Ways to Get the Most Out of GoodReads

1) Rate and Review
Everyone rates and reviews a few books, but what you really want to do is rate (review if you have time) every book you've read. This is important as GoodReads then recommends books based on those ratings. Automatically - just click on "recommendations" and there will be tons of them, all targeted to you. But the only way that GoodReads will yield the kind of results that will help you find the next book you want to read is if you rated enough books in the first place!

2) Giveaways
Under the "Explore" pull down menu is a wealth of GoodReads goodness, but one of the best things, especially for those of us looking for a risk-free way to try out new authors, is GoodReads giveaways! With a simple click,
you sign up to win a free book that will be mailed to you by the publisher or author. Zero risk. Zero cost. One hundred percent awesomeness!  (FYI - for writers, the giveaways on GoodReads are an outstanding way to build buzz about your book. You have a targeted audience - people on GoodReads like to read, after all - and you can get them thinking about your book, even buying it if they don't win a copy. My recent giveaway of Barefoot Girls had 2042 people signed up in only 12 days and 492 people added it to their "to read" shelves!)

3) Book Clubs
If you're as busy as the rest of us, you probably want to join a book club but just don't have the time. Enter GoodReads. They have book clubs and discussion groups of all kinds and you can participate from the comfort of your own home, maybe between doing chores around the house or while the baby is napping. Talk about convenient! Yet, you get all of the benefits of an in-person book club: the fascinating and even heated discussions, the book recommendations from other readers that you grow to know and like, and a motivation to pick up a new book and give it a try. There are also fan clubs for particular authors if you have a favorite writer you'd like to discuss or Q&A with on a regular basis. GoodReads is a veritable hive of book-loving activity and the best place online for readers out there.

4) Quotes
Under "Explore" there is also a section called "fun" and I have to say my favorite is the quotes area. Feeling down in the dumps? Go to GoodReads quotes and find inspiration as well as laughter. You can mark quotes as favorites and see what your friends love and even find quotes from your favorite writers. I love how going to that section is always so uplifting and I visit it frequently. Under "fun" there are also trivia games and quizzes to take, so the entertainment doesn't end with great quotes.

5) Friends and Family
One of those questions we all mean to ask people we know and often forget to is, "Read any good books lately?" Well, if you make a point of reaching out to your friends and family members on GoodReads, you'll not only know what books they like or dislike, you can see what they thought of any recent books they've finished right on your home page in the feed! That way, you don't have to search to see, it's delivered to you, giving you ideas of what book you'd like to read next, or skip after all when you hear your friend's scathing review of a book you were considering. This is also very handy if you like to buy books for friends as gifts: you'll know exactly what they're reading, have read, and are planning to read. Handy, huh?

So, if you're on GoodReads and you haven't taken advantage of all of its great tools and free fun stuff, it's time to start. And if you're not on GoodReads....why NOT? Unlike other social media sites, you don't have to post your personal pictures or say what you're doing - or hear about all that either. It's just about books and serving readers, so don't hesitate to join in the fun!

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