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READ LIKE A WRITER, a teaching blog


By C. Lee McKenzie

It may seem obvious, but if you’re an author you should be on Goodreads. That’s where your serious readers and reviewers hang out. Christine asked if I’d write something to show what I do to make Goodreads work for me, so here are a few tips that I think are the most useful.

Basics: Your Profile Page

• Claim your author profile as soon as you sign up. Everyone can see this, so it’s an important page.

• Don’t use just any author photo on your profile page. Have a professional headshot taken with you looking your best and making eye contact with the viewer.

• Create a short, compelling bio. I start my bio with an image of an award I’ve earned. You can do that by uploading your image to your website and then, with simple html , put that image at the head of your bio. One thing to avoid is placing any image in your book descriptions or in place of your author headshot. Goodreads gets its shorts in a twist about that, and it doesn't look good.

• Next in that bio, I invite readers to my website and add a link to my landing page. Again that's a simple html code: I want people to stop by, sign up on my mailing list and get a free gift. The rest of the bio is about me and what I write.

• Be sure to add all of your books and provide a preview.

• In your profile select all the genres you write in.

• In Influences, choose authors that influenced you. To do that, enter [author:author name] between brackets in the Influencers field. You can do more than one. I have four. People like to visit pages of authors with similar tastes in authors.

• Don’t forget to add your videos with their links to YouTube.

• Post all of your events, even online events.

• “Friend” people who read and review books you enjoy or are similar to yours. The more friends you have the more people will receive notices of your events, stop by to read your bio, and ask you questions.

More Advanced:

• If someone has reviewed a book similar to yours and you like how they write their reviews, “friend” them. That’s a legitimate and often valuable connection to have.

• Once you’ve established a “friendship” consider asking them to review one of your books. If they don’t reply via Goodreads, don’t contact them again. That could be considered spam.

• If they have a website, check to see if they have a review policy and contact them that way.

For my new book, Sign of the Green Dragon, I found four recently published books similar to mine. They were all listed under “juvenile” and had a quest and some magic, so I started following people who had reviewed these books. I even requested a review from several.

These are some of the ways I've maximized my Goodreads experience as a writer. I hope they're helpful to you.


You can find C. Lee McKenzie at:

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