Advertising on Goodreads

goodreads logoGoodreads has been in the news quite a bit the past year, first for joining up with Amazon, and second for the well-publicized tension between authors and reviewers. All this discord has frightened some authors away from Goodreads. This is unfortunate, because Goodreads offers a variety of opportunities for authors.

One of those opportunities is their paid advertising option. You can access the paid advertising option midway down on your dashboard:

goodreads advertise your bookClicking will take you to their “Advertise With Us” page, where over on the right you’ll see a “Self-serve advertising” link:

goodreads advertise with usWhen you click on that link you’ll be taken to a “Create a New Campaign and Your Ad Within the Campaign” page. This sounds complicated, but it’s actually a very nice feature because it allows you to advertise any or all of your books at the same time. Each individual book is an ad, and the whole is the campaign.

goodreads create a campaignFirst, you’ll choose to start a new campaign (red arrow above).

Then you’ll name the campaign (blue arrow above). Choose any name you like. When I first republished my books I named the campaign, “My New Books.”

Next, you’ll name the ad (purple arrow above). For simplicity’s sake, my ad name is always the name of the specific book I’m advertising.

The yellow arrow above points to “Type of ad” and lists “book” or “other.” I’ve never been sure what the “other” might be. Check “book.”

Finally, enter the book’s ISBN or ASIN (green arrow above) and click to load. Note: The book has to be listed on Goodreads in order to run the campaign/ad.

This will pull up your book and you’ll be prompted to enter a book description. You’re only allowed 140 characters, so it’s an exercise in creativity. For help, visit IU’s Elevator Pitch post.

Once that’s done, save it (bottom of the page), and you’ll be taken to a page where you can choose your target audience:

goodreads choose targetingYou have the option to target all users or only specific users (red arrow above). Determine the age group you want to target (blue arrow). Next (green arrow), determine the gender you want to target (either or both). Choose the country/countries (yellow arrow).

If you’ve chosen to target specific users, you’ll notice all options (purple arrow) are initially selected. You can deselect (black arrow) to go through and manually select the users you want to target.

Once that’s saved (bottom of page), you’ll be taken to the “Set Your Budget” page:

goodreads budget

Enter the total amount you want to spend (red arrow above). Goodreads suggests between $50-$150, but you can set it for any amount you want. Being cheap frugal, I go lower.

You have the option of auto-renewing after 30 days (blue arrow).

Enter your daily budget (purple arrow). Goodreads’ default setting is $5.00, but you can change it.

Set your bid amount (green arrow). Goodreads’ default is $.50 per click, but again, you can change it.

Determine if you want the campaign to run now or later (brown arrow).

Decide if you want the campaign to end on a specific date, or when funds run out (black arrow).

Save and continue to payment information (pink arrow). This will take you to a page to enter your credit card information.

It takes 1-2 days for a campaign to be approved. If you want to add more books to your campaign, go to your campaign stats page. To find it, go back to your dashboard, scroll down, and click, “View your campaign stats.” This will take you to a page where you’ll find a link to add more books (ads). You can find your advertising dashboard here.

Your stats are also listed on the campaign page, including money spent, clicks, books added, etc. If you scroll to the bottom of the page, you can pull up graphs for each.

You’ll also get a daily email from Goodreads letting you know how many clicks you had as well as how many people added your book(s) to their reading lists.

I think of a Goodreads ad as putting my book on a table at the front of the store, as opposed to having it stuck somewhere on a back shelf. As Lynne Cantwell discussed here – it’s all about effective frequency.

Author: Melinda Clayton

Melinda Clayton is the author of the Cedar Hollow series, as well as a self-publishing guide. Clayton has published numerous articles and short stories in various print and online magazines. She has an Ed.D. in Special Education Administration and is a licensed psychotherapist in the states of Florida and Colorado. Lear more about Melinda at her Amazon author page

29 thoughts on “Advertising on Goodreads”

  1. Thank you Melinda. I have been ignoring Goodreads because I find it so difficult to navigate. And for a while there was a lot of in-fighting going on, although I think that has slowed down after all the complaints. Maybe it’s time to take another look.

    1. You’re welcome, Yvonne. It is a little confusing to navigate. I had to ask Kat if I could include all those screen shots because I didn’t think I could possibly explain it without them!

    1. Thanks, Lynne. It’s one of those things that works over time. People might not see an immediate jump in sales, but books slowly get added to “to read” lists, shared with friends, etc., and over time that all builds.

  2. Great info, Melinda, thank you. I’m trying this now with one book and waiting for that “effective frequency” to kick in. The elevator pitch is a good idea. It took many drafts to get my message into 140 characters.

  3. As if Goodreads wasn’t already a nightmare to navigate (unless you are a born again cyber child) now they need a book distilled to a twitter message! Grrr! What chance do we normal mortals stand?

    Actually your tutorial cleared a lot of the mystery and I see now it is just a matter of patiently (and it certainly needs a lot of patience) working through the Goodreads system and then hopefully some increased prominence for our books may emerge. I’ll believe it when I see it but am willing to give it a go.

    Thanks for the words of wisdom, Melinda.

    1. You’re very welcome, Ian. Luckily, once you have your campaign set up if you want to run it again in the future all you have to do is add more money. 🙂

  4. Thank you for the information. I have never done anything like this on Goodreads, but it certainly makes sense to utilize. It helps a lot to have this tutorial.

  5. Thanks, Melinda. Your points are valid, but I haven’t “warmed up” to GR yet. A lot of authors I know experienced victimization on the site or downright nasty reviews (foul language, etc.), which GR allows for some reason. Unless GR changes its policy, I won’t be ready to embrace the site with open arms.

    1. Thanks, Linda. I agree we definitely have to choose the marketing sites and options that feel most comfortable to us. I’ve always had great experiences at Goodreads (several book clubs even found my books through Goodreads), but I’ve also known authors who had different experiences.

      The paid ad works well for me because it’s a quietly unobtrusive way to get my books out there. As an introvert, I appreciate that! Group chats, blog hops, tweet teams, etc., aren’t as natural a fit with my personality, although I know many authors who love that type of marketing. Luckily, there are a lot of different options available. Best of luck with whichever marketing paths you take. 🙂

  6. Has anyone tried them– and has it worked? I know that we want to get the “brand” out, but — there needs to be a quantifiable way to see if that is working. I don’t have that much money to spend on advertising… thought I ‘d ask. 🙂

    1. Hi Cyn – I’ve used Goodreads ads for a couple of years or longer. My experience has been that it’s more of a long term benefit than a short term one. In other words, there may be a slight bump in sales initially but the bigger benefit comes from having your book discovered over time as more and more people add it to their “to read” list (or “read” list). My $25 ad used to last weeks (months!), but now only lasts a few days due to the number of clicks I receive.

      A couple of my books have also been discovered by book clubs on Goodreads, and one was even discovered by the University of North Carolina-Wilmington and considered for their Synergy Program (alas, it came in second 🙂 ). I found out about that by seeing it “shelved” on a “Synergy” shelf on Goodreads and investigating.

      In short, if it’s a quick, big bump in sales you’re wanting, you probably won’t get that from a Goodreads ad – or at least, I haven’t. What I have seen is a steady increase over time of people adding, recommending, and buying my books.

      Good luck!

      1. Thank you for the information– I have tried facebook ads, which had no sales bump and the clicks ended up being useless. After a month I gained one person who looked at my site and that was it. I get better responses here at IU. 😉

        After a couple of tries I felt I just wasted my money. Goodreads at least is targeting readers so sounds like a better investment.

        1. That’s my thought process, too. It’s a place for readers – what better place to advertise a book? I also like the fact that they email numbers to you at the end of the day so you can see exactly how many clicks and “books added” you got.

          I’ve definitely wasted money over the years trying to find the best advertising fit. With patience, this one seems to have worked for me – hopefully that’ll continue!

  7. I would absolutely love to advertise on Goodreads, but the snag is I cannot get a librarian to combine editions or upload new covers for my ebooks. Two librarians tried to no avail and another–really snarky undid what those two nice librarians attempted. I just find Goodreads difficult.

    Jackie Weger

    1. Jackie, when I republished I contacted Goodreads staff through the “Help” link to ask them to combine editions and update the covers. They were quick – within a day – and very friendly and helpful.

  8. Thanks Melissa, Goodreads did something that irreparably damaged three months of book marketing for me, but I’ll give this a try when I publish my WIP. Maybe they don’t mess up on ads.

  9. Thanks for this, Melinda. I’m one of the many writers who have abandoned Goodreads, in my case because I couldn’t get my head around it and how it was supposed to work. You’ve made the paid for ad option sound easy to do so I may give it a try.

  10. Thanks Melinda. I’ll give this a try when I’m back from my trip. Seems like a great way to get eyeballs on the book.

    Do you know, does Goodreads show your book to more people/or in better slots if you offer to pay more per click?

    1. They do, R.J. Although Goodreads says the frequency with which your book is shown is based primarily on how many clicks it gets the first few thousand times it’s shown (the higher the click rate those first few thousand appearances, the more frequently it’ll be shown in the future), they also do put some weight on the amount you’re paying per click. I’ll try to post a link here and see if it’ll work:

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