Goodreads is social networking site for book lovers. It provides authors with a platform for marketing directly to readers. The site is designed to allow users to rate or review any title. Over time it has developed genre-specific groups. The interaction between other social media platforms as well as the ability to share blog content, allows authors to build a decent profile and audience on this site. Like so many social networking sites, regular interaction is needed to get the most out of it.
Since 2013 Goodreads has been owned by Amazon. Just like Amazon, Goodreads appeals to true book lovers and top reviewers. Goodreads has a dedicated author program; it is free to use, and allows authors to take control of their book(s) profile on the site. See here https://www.goodreads.com/author/program.
Goodreads, like Amazon, allows the author to feature a sample of the book. Through your Goodreads author profile, you can either choose to link to your Amazon listing, where the Look Inside feature will appear approximately eight months ahead of publication, or you can upload a PDF of sample chapters of your book manually.
If you choose to do this manually: On the Marketing page, scroll down to 'Publicity' at the bottom of that section is a file PDF Review Copy.
The file that is loaded there is used as an electronic review copy. Download that to your computer, select out the sections you want to feature at Goodreads and use that as your sample. Please ensure you limit the sample text, do not upload the entire PDF, we recommend 20% maximum.
Goodreads offers authors and publishers the opportunity to give away a free copy of their book (or multiple copies) to a genre specific audience. We recommend that you only give away a maximum of three books and be aware of the postage costs for the countries that you include in your promotion. There are reports from US authors who have had to pay huge costs to send books to winners outside the country along with the filling in of customs forms.
New rules state you need to arrange giveaways at least one week in advance for a minimum of one week. You can't overlap giveaways. If you wish to arrange more than one, then arrange the first one a week in advance then do the same again when that has ended. The general advice is to run giveaways at varied lengths (e.g. one week and one month).
In our experience, we have never seen a Goodreads giveaway have a noticeable impact on the sales of a title. There is also no guarantee that reviews will be forthcoming. As Goodreads have cracked down on private messages to people who are not your "friends" you can't get into correspondence with winners about them. To maximize your chances of gaining Amazon reviews (as some winners will post a review on both Goodreads and Amazon) arrange giveaways shortly before and after publication.
However, as stated before, the success of this site is in the interaction that you, as author, build up. If you have a specific genre, get involved in the discussion groups for that genre and share regular content, then you will increase your visibility to your specific audience.