An Unofficial Guide to Goodreads for Readers and Writers

MakeUseOf 22-04-2014

Table Of Contents


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§2–Goodreads as a Social Network



§5–Goodreads for Writers

§6–[The Future] Goodreads Integration with Amazon Kindle



1. Introduction

In 2013 I read 51 books. That added up to 11,668 pages. Dedicated readers may scoff at that number, but that’s the most I have ever read in a year. The number wasn’t hit because of any New-Year-Eve self-improvement guilt, or anything like that. I just sort of fell into it.

On one hand, I moved far away from my job and spent a lot of time commuting on the subway. On the other hand, my smart phone could have easily taken over my entire life. Yes, I love reading, but I also love Arrested Development marathons, so it could have really gone either way. However, my numbers show that I am reading more 10 Surprisingly Simple Time Hacks For Reading More Every Day There is just too much to read, and so little time. Their is just one obvious antidote against all excuses – you have to make time to read. The gold-plated question is how. Read More , and I think that’s because of Goodreads and social networking about books.

Introverts, I can hear you growling, swearing to never use Goodreads. But hey, hear me out:

  1. Goodreads has both social and asocial tools! You can use Goodreads every day and never have to talk to anyone
  2. The social-interaction is akin to ‘Bring a Book to School’ day. It is two readers next to each other, purring in rhythm.

My addiction to Goodreads is also professional. I am digital marketer who works in traditional publishing, and I am also a writer. And though I am not >self-published (yet?), I have two words for those who are: Goodreads Goodreads Reviewed: A Must-Use Site For Any Book Lover If you enjoy reading, and like to use the Internet for finding great new reads, you may well have heard of Goodreads before: This is a superb website hosting a vibrant community of book lovers,... Read More STAT.

So basically, I really like Goodreads. I use it for business and pleasure and this guide will talk about both of these perspectives.
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1.1 Creating Your Goodreads Account

Creating your Goodreads account is a very simple two-step process.

  1. Go to
  2. Register using one of two methods:

Bam! Welcome to earth’s coolest book club. You can use the same account for the desktop website, Android app, iOS app, Kindle, and even your Windows Mobile Take Your Goodreads Booklist With You on Windows Mobile Read More .

Are you already a member of book catalog Shelfari?

To migrate your Shelfari content to Goodreads you need a Shelfari account, a Goodreads account, and a spreadsheet editor (such as MS Excel, Google Drive, etc). To get the full step-by-step process read this quick guide How To Migrate From Shelfari To Goodreads Shelfari and Goodreads are both online tools to manage your book collection. Both websites help you create lists of books read and books yet to read, with reviews to help you decide and tips from... Read More .

2. Goodreads as a Social Network

Can reading be a social experience Can Reading Be A Social Experience? Reading has a reputation for being an isolated activity. We often think of people in their pajamas or bathrobe, sunk into a massive armchair in front of a roaring fire, with a mug of hot... Read More ? Goodreads says yes!

I know we are going through social-network fatigue 20 Tips to Define and Manage Your Social Networks [Part 1] Read More at this point, but Goodreads differs from other social networks because books are at the center of the social interactions. Conversation on Goodreads is composed of book reviews, book progress updates, book lists and book groups, reading challenges, book shelf comparisons, and other more obscure social tools 10 Essential Goodreads Tips For Book Nerds Goodreads has made the hunt for the next book to read a lot easier. If you like books, and are on Goodreads (or planning to be), then these tips should help enrich your reading experience. Read More .

2.1 Friends

2.1.1 To add Friends to your Goodreads account:

  • Step One: To access your Profile page click your user icon.

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  • Step Two: Scroll to your Friends list widget. Even if you have no friends the widget will still be on your profile. It’ll just be vacant. Click the green text on the bottom of the widget that reads More friends…
  • Step Three: Welcome to your Friend Portal. To find friends use the buttons on the right side of the screen:

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2.1.2 Top Friends

Let’s be real. You do want to add your friends. But you don’t want a work colleague’s enthusiasm for bareback werewolf erotica to clutter your news feed. What should you do!? Answer: Create a Top Friends filter for your news feed! This should include only the people you’re really interested in discussing books with.

To create Top Friends:

  • Step One: Open your Friend Portal.
  • Step Two: Click edit friends.

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  • Step Three: Select any users you want to include in your Top Friend filter. Deselect any users you want excluded. [Note: To remove a user completely, click the X icon]

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  • Step Four: Return to the Goodreads Home Page.

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  • Step Five: At the top of the Recent Updates widget there is a dialogue that by default reads showing friends and people I’m following. Click the down pointed triangle.

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  • Step Six: This will prompt a dialogue of different news feed filters. Select the filter that interests you, e.g. Top Friends, and then click apply filters.

2.2 Status Updates

Goodreads, like every other social network, has status updates. Similar to Facebook, G+, and LinkedIn, these are short messages you write to your friends. But unlike these competitors, Goodreads has unique book-progress status updates!

2.2.1 Updating Your Book Progress

  • Step One: Return to the Goodreads home page.
  • Step Two: Find the Currently Reading widget on the top of the right column.
  • Step Three: Either click the ‘update status’ link next to a listed book or add a currently-reading book by clicking add new book. Type in the title of the book you are currently reading and select it from the refreshing text-input box. Then click the ‘update status’ link next to the newly added book.
  • Step Four: To toggle between percentage and page updated click the % or pg icon. Click save progress. To mark a book as read, click I’m Finished.

Note: To post a status update that isn’t dependent on your book progress click add a general update.

2.2.2 Responding to A Book Progress

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Comment and subscribe to your friend’s statuses.

Each status comes with a generic comment box. To subscribe to the conversation check the email me when people reply option. To de-subscribe, uncheck it.

2.3 Social Toy: Compare Your Profile

In a vein similar to OkCupid, Goodreads creates a book-compatibility score with friends and strangers. To open up this social toy, go to any user’s profile other than your own. Click the compare books link below their bio.
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This will bring up an analysis similar to below:
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The match-score is based on books in common, similar ratings, and similar to-read shelves. You can customize this comparison report a bit further by playing with the options in the upper right-hand section of the screen:
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Restrict the score’s calculations to specific shelves with the preferences in the upper-right. By adjusting common shelves/your shelves/their shelves you can create data reports of to-read shelves, read shelves, or niche shelves.

2.4 Reading Challenge

Goodreads reading challenges are a competition between your friends and yourself. It is a way to stretch beyond what you think is possible and read more every year!

To set up your reading challenge return to the Goodreads homepage. Beneath your ‘my profile’ widget will be a widget titled 2014 Reading Challenge.
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Type in your goal and then click start challenge.
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To check how other Goodreads users are doing on their challenges, click the widget-header 2014 Reading Challenge. This directs you to the reading challenge landing page. On top of the collage are two tabs ‘Friends Challenges’ and ‘Community Challenges’. Click back and forth to browse.
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2.5 Listopia

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Access Listopia from the Explore tab.

Lists are where users suggest a scalable book question, like Best Books to Read in Summer, Best Books of 2014, Best Books to Cry To, etc, and other users respond with their own answers. This is used for many creative purposes including competition, recommendations, and research. To access Listopia, open up the Explore tab in the header and click Listopia.

2.5.1 Search by topic:

In the upper right hand corner there is a search text input-box. Type keywords and click search to peruse Listopia.
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Alternatively, you can scroll down Listopia until you reach the Browse by Tag widget.
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2.5.2 Voting on Books
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Click the ‘vote for this book’ button. You can vote for a hundred books per list. The amount of votes a book receives determines where it is on the list.

2.5.3 Adding Books

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To add books to a list, scroll below the book’s description (but above the list), where there is a tab called add books to this list. This landing page will bring up your book shelves. From here click the ‘vote for this book’ button next to every applicable candidate.To add books that are not in your bookshelves click ‘add books from search’, type in a title/ISBN/author, and then click ‘vote for this book’.
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Click search to add books that aren’t in your book shelves.

2.5.4 Creating Your Own List on Goodreads

From the Listopia home page click ‘Create a List’:
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A form will pop up. Fill it out and click save.

  • Title: The title of the new list.
  • Description: This is where you tell users what kinds of books to nominate and vote for.
  • Tags: A list of keywords that describe the list. Search queries use this information.

Note: Goodreads lists are public forums. This is a public social tool. You can not create private lists.

2.5.5 Using Lists to Support Your Favorite Books

  • Step One: Go to the Goodreads page of a favorite book.
  • Step Two: In the middle of the page there is a widget titled ‘Lists with This Book’. Click the bolded title of the list and vote.

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Each book page will have a list widget that includes all lists with the book.

2.6 Groups

Goodreads Groups are public and private forums. The topics range from literary to creative writing to online roleplay to fandom to general discussion. To access Groups go up to the Goodreads Header and click Groups. To find a group that matches your interests, use the highlighted search bar.

2.6.1 Joining a Goodreads Group

To join a group click the Join Group button:
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Joining any group will bring up a dialogue asking about what kind of notifications you would like to receive. I highly suggest selecting the None option. This is because group messages can clog your Goodreads inbox and email inbox. This setting is adjustable.

2.6.2 Create a Group

  • Step One: Access the Goodreads Group Portal.
  • Step Two: Click the ‘Create a Group’ link that’s located to the right of the group search bar.

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  • Step Three: Fill out the form to create your group.
    • Group Name: The name of your group.
    • Group Description: The blurb that tells users what your group is about.
    • Rules: Specific rules to your Goodreads Group. Note: It doesn’t matter what is in your rules section. Your group is never above the Goodreads ToS.
    • Topic: A topic describing your group. The Goodreads group search interface uses this.
    • Tags: Keywords used to allow other users to search for your group.
    • Privacy:
      • Public: Anyone can view and register.
      • Restricted: Anyone can view the title or description of the group but only members with particular domain names (i.e.:,, etc) at the end of their emails can look at and take part in the discussion board.
      • Private: Users must join to view the group’s metadata as well as the discussion forum. Moderators and admins must approve these requests for users to become members.
      • Secret: This group isn’t in any search results or in any members’ profiles. If the URL is shared then users must ask to join before they can view the contents of your group. A moderator or admin must approve this request.
      • Adult Only: For an 18+ group, check the box next to ‘This group is for adults only.’

2.7 Book Reviews

And then there are the book reviews. Book reviews are where most of the conversation takes place. Not only can I see how my friends felt about the books I love or hate, I can also add my own opinions. Plus, when I am at a book store, I always check Goodreads to see whether the book in question is worth my time. Because nothing lets a bookworm down more than wasting time with a poorly written book.

2.7.1 Leaving a Book a Review on Goodreads

Here are three different ways to enter the Book Review landing page:

  1. Update your book progress with ‘I’m Finished’.
  2. Shelve a book as read.
  3. From the My Books page click the edit text, always in the far right column.

These three routes bring you to the same dialogue:
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This dialogue enables editing and creating your review, rating, as well as more data about the selected book. Note: You don’t have to answer all the questions.

  • My Rating: Rate your book with a one to five star scale. One being poor, five being great.
  • Bookshelves/Tags: Add this book to an existing bookshelf or create a new one.
  • What did you think?: Note how the question isn’t ‘Book Review’ but ‘What did you think?’. This leaves an open-ended box for you to discuss the book. [*] This box accepts basic HTML code. A book does not have to be marked finished or read for you to write a review and you can edit a review at any time.


If your book reviews has spoilers you have two options:

  1. Hide the entire review by checking ‘hide entire review because of spoilers’.
  2. Hide parts of the review by putting it between spoiler tags: <spoiler> content </spoiler>

Date finished: The date you finished the book. If you all you can recall is the year than you can just select the correct year information and it’ll still save. Note: This date must be entered for the book to show up in your yearly challenge.

2.7.2 More options: Clicking this opens up more questions.

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  • Date Started: The date that you started the book.
  • Number of times read: The number of times you have read the book.
  • I would recommend to: The type of readers you would recommend it to. This is an open text box with no restrictions. This is not where you recommend books to specific friends.
  • Who recommended it to me: Type in a Goodreads user, if applicable, to link their page to your review. Non Goodreads users and abstract answers can also be inserted in this slot.
  • Private notes: Your own commentary. No other user can read this.
  • Own a copy: Check this box to signify that you down the book.
  • Update feed: If checked your book review or book review edits will show in friend’s and fan’s newsfeeds.
  • Edit Book Meta Data: This links to analytical information about the book’s content. Discussed in-depth in the book-recommendation section.

By the way, when you finish this manual, remember to leave a review on Goodreads!

3. Organization

I would argue that even Goodreads’ organization platform is intrinsically social in nature because of its public nature. Your bookshelf on Goodreads is not like the bookshelf in your bedroom. The curation of your digital bookshelf is for show. Friends, peers, and strangers can analyze. This creates a social element in your curation. This is similar to Facebook’s Pages and Facebook’s ‘About Me’. These two features are not interactive but they are social when I go on your Facebook page and study them.

Thus, Goodreads’ bookshelf curation has a level of narcissistic exhibitionism. A social book catalog.

3.1 Book Shelves

One of Goodreads biggest features is to get the mangled book shelf we have in our study and turn it into an organized piece of digital art. To this end, Goodreads offers a range of organizational abilities including shelving, sorting, and meta-tagging.

3.1.1 Adding Books to Your Goodreads Bookshelves

  • Step One: Use the white search box in the upper right to search for a book to add.

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  • Step Two: A search listing of books similar to your search query pops up. To add a book into your account you must interact with it by clicking one of the two green buttons.

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To the right of each book in the search results are shelving options.

  • Want to Read Button: Automatically adds book to your ‘to-read’ shelf.
  • Pile of Books Button: Adds book to a bookshelf of your choosing.The default three book shelves are ‘read’, ‘currently reading’ and ‘want to read’. To add a book to a unique shelf click ‘add shelf’. A text-input box will display. Enter the name for your unique shelf and then click add.
  • Gray Stars: Underneath every book that has not been rated there will be five gray stars. To automatically add books to your ‘read’ shelf with a rating, vote with the star scale.

3.1.2 Reviewing Your Books

Click the ‘My Books’ link, in the Header. This will bring you to a long list of all the books you have added to your Goodreads account. They can be perused at your leisure, as well as sorted and mass-organized.

3.1.3 Creating Book Shelves from the My Books Page

  • Step One: Click the bolded ‘add shelf’ link that’s in the left hand column.

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  • Step Two: Type the name of your new shelf in the text-input box. Click add.

3.1.4 Adding Books Into Your Book Shelves From the My Books Page on Goodreads

To add books into the bookshelf that you just created:

  • Step One: Open up ‘My Books’.
  • Step Two: Locate the ‘shelves’ column and click the ‘edit’ button for the books you would like to sort.

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  • Step Three: Either select a book shelf already created or click add new shelf.

Note: You can place the same book in as many custom shelves as you want. The to-read/currently-reading/read shelves that come with your account, however, can only be selected once per a book.

3.1.5 Batch Editing Your Goodreads Book Shelves

  • Step one: Click the ‘Batch Edit’ button that’s to the left of Settings|Stats|Print.

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  • Step Two: To the left of every book cover will be a small clickable gray square. Select all the books you are going to shelve.
  • Step Three: There is a drop-down menu above the book-covers but below the batch edit link. Click it and select the book shelf you want to sort all the selected books into.
  • Step Four: Click ‘add selected’. This link is to the immediate right of the drop-down menu.

Note: To find duplicate books click ‘find duplicates’. All the duplicate additions of the same books will appear. To remove these duplicates, select all, and then click remove.

3.1.6 Editing Your Bookshelves Settings on Goodreads

  • Step One: Click the ‘(edit)’ button that’s on the top of the left-hand column.

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  • Step Two: By selecting or deselecting variables like ‘feature’, ‘sortable’, ‘sticky’, ‘exclusive’, or ‘reccs’ you can customize the properties of each bookshelves.

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  • Feature: Only one book shelf can have the ‘feature’ property and be displayed on your profile. The below example is a featured ‘currently-reading’ shelf:

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  • Sortable: This customizes an order in your bookshelf. This can be useful for your favorites shelf (organized it from most-beloved to least), a ‘tearjerker’ shelf (from ‘drowning’ to ‘drizzle’) or whatever you come up with. First select the sortable option and then return to that book shelves page. You will notice new white boxes to the left of your book covers. These adjustable numbers are your new display order.

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    • Sticky: Bookshelves are ordinarily displayed in alphabetical order however stickied shelves will always top the list.
    • Exclusive: Books can only be in one exclusive shelf at the time. One example is to create an exclusive ‘abandoned’ shelf. This shelf would contain books that you have not finished reading but do not plan to finish thus neither ‘read’ or ‘currently reading’.
    • Recs: This is short for recommendations. A bookshelf with recommendations toggled can receive book recommendations based on the shelf’s unique content.
  • Step Three: To rename any bookshelf, [besides to-read,currently-reading, and read, which can’t be renamed], click the ‘rename’ link to the right of the bookshelf name.
  • Step Four: Click ‘I’m done’ to save your progress.

3.1.7 Organizing Your Books’ Columns

Your ‘My Book’ page, by default, displays your books’ cover, title, author, avg. rating, rating, shelves, date read, and date added however the displayed information is customizable.
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To adjust these columns click the ‘Settings’ link located to the right of ‘Batch Edit’.
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Select or deselect the information that is interesting to you. Then click save. To fill in the blank holes in your columns, fill out your book review in-depth.

4. Toys

4.1 Book Recommendations

Goodreads’ automated recommendations are based on your personal book preferences as well as the preferences of its general community. Users can also personally recommend books to each other. Both recommendations are linked to Goodreads book pages, allowing you to get a peek into a book’s reviews 7 Ways To Learn More About The Books We Read & Get The Most Out Of Them I hope, the reader will look upon these ideas as another reminder that books or their authors are just the beginning. You can take both as keywords and launch a search to deepen your learning... Read More , descriptions, book cover, publisher, page length, and date published.

4.1.1 Goodreads Computerized Book Recommendations

Goodreads recommendations are not like Amazon 7 Really Free Things You Can Do On Amazon Without Spending A Single Dime Everything here might be tagged with a dollar sign, but there are many alternative ways to use the resources on Amazon. Yes, they are free. Dive into Amazon's depths. Read More recommendations. The data does not stop at ‘users who buy this book, also buy this book’. Instead, Goodreads is based on three factors:

  1. How your personal book shelves are organized.
  2. Thematic, stylistic, and literary similarities between books.
  3. Individual user’s book preferences.

To access Goodreads’ recommendations click the ‘Recommendations’ link up in the header.
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Book recommendations are organized via shelves and preferred genres. Browse the list, shelve books to-read, mark books not-interested, or rate them.

4.1.2 Tell Goodreads your preferred genres

  1. Go to your Goodreads Profile Page by clicking the icon in the top right-hand corner.
  2. Once you are on your Goodreads Profile page, scroll down the right hand column. Below the Listopia widget is a widget titled ‘favorite genres’. Click edit.
  3. A checklist of favorite genres will present itself. You can select as many as you would like. To insert a genre that isn’t listed, click the green ‘Don’t see your favorite genres here?’ link on the bottom of the dialogue.
  4. To save your selection, click continue.

After adjusting any of your bookshelves or your preferred genres Goodreads will start refreshing it’s recommendations. The really great thing about the Goodreads formula is that it is really quick. Your recommendations page will offer you a new plate of books almost instantly!

But where do these recommendations come from?

Yes, Goodreads recommendations are influenced by other users who enjoy your top-rated books, but it also takes in the actual content of books into account. That content information is generated through the book metadata page.

4.1.3 Book Metadata

The book metadata is the genre, thematics, subjects, writing style, pace, literary devices, etc that makes up a book. To add book meta data, go to your book review. Under ‘more options (below ‘private notes’) is a link: ‘edit book metadata’. Click that.
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Note: Not every line in this form has to be filled out for you to hit submit.

4.1.4 Human Book Recommendations

Goodreads has a sophisticated recommendation algorithm, but it is a social network. As such, it provides a place for users to share books with each other. To access these human-recommendations, return to the Recommendation Page. On the right column there are various Recommendation actions. Underneath More Actions is the human stuff.
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4.1.5 Recommendations from Users

To recommend books, click ‘give recommendations’. This brings you to a list of books you recently interacted with as well as a text-input box for you to type any book. Select the book you want to share and then choose a social platform. You can recommend books to your Goodreads friends, Facebook friends, or via email. Type in the names of the people you want to share with.

Give Recommendations -> View Recommendation Requests.This page brings you to a open forum of book requests. Goodreads friends and strangers are listed. When you click recommend a book you will be directed to the give recommendation page. Any book you select now will not go to a friend of your choosing but will respond to the forum request.
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To get your request onto the Community Request page click ‘Ask for Recommendations’. The request is made with an open-ended text forum so it can be whatever you need. When a user responds to your request you will receive a notification!

4.2 eBooks

Download and sample Goodreads’ choice of paid and free eBooks by clicking on the ‘Explore’ link in the header and selecting ‘eBooks’.
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3.2.1 Searching for eBooks

In the right column there is a text-input box with a find eBooks link. Type in the author or book title of the desired book to see if their eBook is on Goodreads.
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In the right column there is a text-input box where you can search for eBooks via book title or author name. Search my name and see what happens!

3.2.2 Download Formats

Clicking the download button directs you to a landing page that provides different eBook format options Quick Guide: How To Enjoy eBooks Without A Tablet Or An eReader eBooks are a phenomenon that can no longer be ignored. Whether you’re one of the early adopters, or still sticking religiously to paper books, you must have noticed how easy it’s become to get your... Read More .

  • mobi: Kindle/Kindle App
  • ePub: All other eReaders or eReader Apps
  • PDF: Desktop/Tablet’s PDF App

When programmed, Goodreads will suggest a format based on what devices you have. To input your eBook reading devices The Best Ebook Reader for PC: 6 Apps Compared A desktop e-reader is an essential app for bookworms. Here are our top picks of the best ebook readers for your PC. Read More , click the ‘manage your eReaders’ link that’s in the right-hand column.
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This brings you to a list of eReaders and eReaders apps. Below each app name is a button ‘own it’. Click the button for all the devices and apps that you are using. After you tell Goodreads which eReading apps you own, go back to the download page. You’ll notice that a check mark now appears next to all compatible formats:
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Check marks will appear next to formats that are compatible with your devices.

4.2.3 Buying eBooks!

To sample a paid eBook click ‘read eBook’ as well. You cannot pay for any content without clicking into a free sample first. Only from the free sample page will you find a ‘buy eBook’ link.

4.3 Charts

Goodreads stores all this data about your reading habits, so why not explore that using a bunch of beautiful charts? Personally, this is my favorite toy because graphical representations of myself are my favorite thing to stare at. (Spoiler: Writers are narcissists.)

4.3.1 Accessing Your Charts

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To access your Charts click the ‘stats’ button, below the bookshelves widget, on your profile page. Here there are three charts:
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  • Books: The number of books read every documented year. Goodreads pulls this information from the ‘date read’ slot in your book reviews. If you click ‘details’ a pie chart of your bookshelves will pop up as well as information about the longest book of the year.
  • Pages: Literally identical to ‘books’ but instead of quantifying books by number of books read, it quantified books by pages read.
  • Publication year: A dot chart that compares the book’s publication date to the year read.

4.3.2 Bonus Chart!

To get a bar chart of your favorite authors:

  1. Go to your My Books page.
  2. Click ‘most read authors’ in the left sidebar.
  3. ?????
  4. Profit!

4.4 Widgets

Goodreads offers customizable widgets to embed into a website or blog Set Up Your Blog With WordPress: The Ultimate Guide Want to start your own blog but don't know how? Look to WordPress, the most powerful blogging platform available today. Read More . To access these widgets, click the triangle to the right of your profile picture. This opens a small drop-down menu. Click edit profile. This landing page has a subheader of destination-tabs like profile, settings, emails, widgets, etc. Click widgets.

There are four different kinds of embeddable widgets:

  • Custom Widget: The contents of one bookshelf. As the name implies, this is the most customizable widget that Goodreads offers. The technical data of the displayed book shelf, sorting criteria, the number of books and the widget’s aesthetic can all be adjusted.
  • Goodreads Update Widget: A feed of your profile’s recent activity. The size of the widget and the number of updates shown are customizable.
  • Grid Widget: The book covers of one chosen book shelf. The shelf that’s displayed, the sorting of the books, and the size of the images can all be customized.
  • Reading Challenge Widget: In an earlier section I explained how to set up your reading challenge. Once set up, this widget displays your progress.

To insert any of these widgets on your blog/website select all the code that’s in the text-box to the right of each widget and paste it into your website.

5. Goodreads for Writers

Here is a radical thought: Your writing platform can live only on one social network. I know that’s a controversial statement but where is your demographic when they are actively looking for books to read? For a writer or publisher, the other social networks are intrinsically inferior to Goodreads because Goodreads has the consumers while they are looking for books to buy.

But here is the other side of the coin: Goodreads only outshines other social platforms when used correctly. That’s why this chapter reviews custom author and book pages, advertisements, giveaways, and blogs.

5.1 Creating Your Goodreads Author Page

Yeah, having a reader’s profile is fun, but to fully optimize your book’s marketing efforts the best bet is to set up your Author page!

Setting Up Your Author Page:

  • Step One: For a seamless transition, create a Goodreads account under your Author name (or) change your account name to your author name. [To change your Author Name open up the edit profile page and adjust the name variables.]
  • Step Two: Using the search bar embedded in Goodreads’ header, search for your author name. Click the author name, not the book title. You are probably perplexed, scratching your head, and wondering how you got on Goodreads. You see, Goodreads is a Wiki. Users input most of the data (some is imported automatically), including author names and book titles, into its database. So congratulations, someone has read your book and told Goodreads about it! If you are not listed, add your book to your current Goodreads page via ISBN, thus triggering the automatic import to work, and then search for your name again after a few minutes.
  • Step Three: To claim this Author Page as your own, click the link that reads: ‘Is this you? Let us know.’

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  • Step Four: This redirects you to an email form. Type up your author-page request and click submit. In a few days you will receive an email that confirms your upgrade.

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Congratulations, you are a Goodreads Author! You have a new profile with new widgets for your books! You also have access to the Author Dashboard with unique analytical information as well as marketing tools! Congrats! To access your Author Dashboard, return to the Goodreads home page and click the new ‘Visit Your Dashboard’ button on the top of the right column.

5.2 Adding Your Book to Goodreads

Goodreads only optimizes books that are on Goodreads. To see if your book data is already there, use the search bar embedded in the header. If it is, claim ownership. If it is not then you must manually upload your book’s metadata into the Goodreads Wiki.

5.2.1 Uploading Your Books Metadata into The Goodreads Wiki

To add your book into the Goodreads interface:

  • One: Go to your Goodreads Profile by clicking your Avatar in the uppermost right-hand corner.
  • Two: Below your [Author Name]’s Books widget there is a dialogue that reads ‘To add more click here.’ Click that link.

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  • Three: Fill out the form. You can enter your book without filling out the answers to all the questions. Title: The Title of your book. [Required]
    • Sort by Title: The ‘nickname’ of your book that will appear in sorting, i.e.: ‘Da Vinci Code, The’ would be the sorting title for ‘The Da Vinci Code’.
    • Author: Anyone involved in the book’s creation, which is not necessarily only the author. To add yourself, the author, type your name and then click add role and type ‘Author’. [Required] To add other people click add new author and insert their names and roles. Example of non-author roles are: illustrator, editor, designer, etc.
    • ISBN: Aka the International Standard Book Number. All books published with a credible publishing house, digital or print, have an ISBN as well as many independent or self-published authors. This number is unique to your book, unlike a title or author name. This makes the number the most legible signifier for your product. Most eBooks have an ISBN, except books published with Kindle Direct Publishing. They call their book number an ASIN. If your book’s number is an ASIN click ASIN Number. An ASIN is not an ISBN and a ISBN is not an ASIN.
    • Publisher: The publishing company that published the book.
    • Published: The year the book was published.
    • Number of Pages: The number of pages in your book. Note: If you are unsure check your book’s Amazon page and copy their suggestion.
    • Format: The format of your book. If you do not fit any of the categories click ‘other’ and then type in your own label.
    • Edition: The edition number of your book.
    • Description: Your book’s synopsis.
    • Edition Language: The language this edition of your book is in.
    • Book Cover: To upload your book’s cover go to the right-hand corner and click Choose File.Then click create book to upload this data into the Goodreads Wiki. This will also link the new book page to your Author profile.

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5.2.2 Oh no, I Meant to Type in Goodreads Manual not Badreads manual! What do I do??

If you make a mistake it is okay! You can edit the detail of your own book page at any time by clicking the ‘edit details’ button that appears on your book’s book page below the other edition widget:
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5.2.3 Uploading Your eBook to Goodreads

You must add your book’s metadata to the Goodreads Wiki before you can upload your eBook.

To upload your eBook:

  • One: Go to the book page of the eBook you want to upload.
  • Two: On the right of the page, above the ad, there is a widget titled ‘Author Tools’. There are four tools here: book stats, widget, giveaway, and upload eBook. Click that!

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  • Three: The upload eBook landing page is a form. Fill it out and click submit.
  • Upload The Book: Click choose file to upload your book. As of Winter 2014 Goodreads only accepts PDF and ePub files. Kindle files (mobi) aren’t accepted.
  • Permission: Choose whether you want your eBook available for download (for free) or only available in-app (also for free).“But I Don’t Want My Books to be Free”: Goodreads is no longer accepting new books for sale. You can, however, upload an excerpt to entice readers to buy your book on another platform.
  • Excerpt: Readers can browse this sample while they choose whether to download the eBook or not. This is a percentage. Note: If you are uploading an excerpt, not a full book, select ‘I am uploading an excerpt’. If you want the book to be available in its entirety click ‘No Excerpt’.

5.2.4 Analyzing the Statistical Information of Your Book Page and eBook

Data about your book and eBook is available on the Author Dashboard.

  • Author Dashboard Stats: Total reviews, books, ratings, friends, and interactions.
  • Recent Work Stats: The statistical data of your last five books.

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  • Individual Book Stats: The Author Dashboard has a My Books widget. Beneath each book there is a link that says stats. Clicking on it brings up statistical charts based off that individual book.
  • Pro tip: Set up your Goodreads Authors page and add your book to the Goodreads database before publication to maximize Goodreads interactions. Even the day before publication will greatly improve your reach.

5.3 Creating Advertisements on Goodreads

Goodreads is the perfect place to advertise your book because users are on the website for book discovery. Advertisements are one way to meet this book-discovery, therefore you can infer that more users will click ads. To set up advertisements, return to your author dashboard and click learn more about advertising.
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This will redirect you to the Goodreads Advertisement Request page. One way to go about Goodreads advertisements is by filling out the form on this page that describes your product. Goodreads will then contact you about setting up advertisements. They will do all the work for you. This option is great for publishing houses with many products.

However, authors/publishers can be more involved in Goodreads self-serve advertisements. The interface is like a simple version of Google Adwords or Facebook Ads Facebook Ads vs Google Adwords: Which One Got Me The Most Clicks? I honestly never thought that I'd be paying for any sort of advertising for my blog, at least not until it entered into the "big time", with many hundreds of thousands of pageviews per day.... Read More . To get to these customizable Goodreads Ads, click on ‘self-serve advertising’ that’s in the right hand-corner of the advertisement landing page.
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This will bring you to a page of all your already-made advertisements. To create a new ad click the ‘create a new ad’ link that’s on the top of the right column.
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There are two different ads that you can create: book ads and other ads.

Book Ads

Ads for a singular book product. This is different to an author platform or a book series advert. To activate book ads, click the drop-down menu next to ‘type of ad’ and select the ‘book’ variable. Then paste in your book’s ISBN or ASIN. Goodreads will automatically load information about your book, however all this data is adjustable.

  • Ad Title: The big bold text that heads your ad. Ad Description: This is your ad’s copy.
  • Destination URL: The URL the advertisement links to.
  • Display URL: The green display URL that captions your advertisement. Tells users what the domain is.
  • Image: The advertisement’s displayed image.

Other Ads

Ads for any product other than a singular book. To activate other ads, click the drop-down menu next to ‘type of ad’ and select the ‘other’ variable.Click Save to move to Targeting.Target which users receive the advertisement based on variables like demographics or reader preferences. For example: users who read a certain genre or author.Click Save to move to Budget.

Goodreads’ monetary system is much like Google Adwords Breaking Down Google's Average Position Rankings Why do identical searches result in varied search results? Read More , in that advertisers have a monthly debit system. From that monthly debit, Goodreads deducts charges based on Cost-Per-Click. You control what each click costs. The higher the charge, the greater the visibility that is given to your advertisement. Goodreads suggests $.50. The clicks also have a daily budget.

For instance, say you have a monthly budget of $300 a month. You have one advertisement running with a $10 daily budget. You offer to pay $0.50 a click. This equals to at most twenty-clicks a day. The advertisement will not exceed the daily or monthly budget.Click Save to enter your Payment information.

Goodreads will process your information and then start rotating your advertisements. To edit your ad, edit your budget, or look at your advertisement stats, return to the advertising landing page.

5.4 Goodreads Giveaways

Giveaways are where authors and publishers entice users to review hot books by giving them out for free. Only print books are given as prizes in giveaways, not eBooks.

5.4.1 Creating a Giveaway (Writers & Publishers)

  • First: Return to your Author Dashboard.
  • Second: Scroll to the ‘Your Giveaways’ Widget and click the ‘list one now’ link.

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  • Third: Fill out the form and click Save.

5.4.2 Entering a Giveaway (Readers)

Open up the Explore drop-down menu and click Giveaways.
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To enter any of the listed giveaways click the enter to win button to the right of each competition.

5.5 Having a Blog on Goodreads

5.5.1 Creating Your Goodreads Blog

  • Step One: Go to the Author Dashboard.
  • Step Two: Below the ‘your blog’ widget there is a button titled ‘start a blog’. Click that!
  • Step Three: Clicking ‘edit your blog’s title and description’ redirects you to a short two question forum. Click save.
  • Step Four: You will automatically be redirected to the Blog Control Center. From here click ‘write a new post’ and start bloggin’ 5 Tips to Write Successful Blog Posts and Draw in More Readers Read More ! Note: Goodreads accepts basic HTML.
  • Step Five: Remember to tag your blog posts so users can find it!

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  • Step Six: When ready click publish. To save an unfinished post click save draft. To preview a post before publishing click preview (to the right of ‘save draft’.) Preview is especially useful for blog posts with formatting.

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  • Step Seven: You are directed to your new blog post! Below your content you will find social media icons that you can use to easily spread the word.

5.5.2 Importing an RSS Feed:

To instead import a blog, return to the Blog Dashboard. From here click the gray ‘edit blog settings’ link located to the right.
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On the right hand of the screen there is a text input box below the header text External blog feed URL. Paste your RSS feed How to Create an RSS Feed for Your Site From Scratch Creating an RSS feed for your website for your readers isn't that difficult. Here's what you need to know. Read More and click add feed.

5.5.3 Exporting Your RSS Feed to Another Platform

On the flip side, you can export your Goodreads blog content on another platform by returning to your Blog Dashboard and clicking the RSS icon that’s below your blog description. Copy the URL in the address bar and paste it into your platform.

Pro Tip: Don’t export your blog into a platform that’s being imported into your Goodreads blog unless you want an infinite loop of your Fifty Shades of Gray review to take over the Internet — actually, I change my mind. Go do that! ;P

6. [The Future] Goodreads Integration with Amazon Kindle

In 2013, Goodreads was bought by Amazon. The first seven months were pretty much silent, until Amazon released their new Kindle Paperwhite Looking For A New Kindle? Here's How To Decide Which Is Right For You Amazon currently offers 8 different models of Kindles, and with so many options, choosing one can be a tad confusing for the average consumer. What exactly differentiates these devices from each other? Read More . The new eReader integrates Goodreads, creating a simple link between reading a book and interacting with it on the social platform.

To access the Goodreads tab of your Kindle click the ‘G’ icon in the header. Here you can scan your Goodreads newsfeed. You can also update your Goodreads bookshelves with all the print and eBooks you have bought with Amazon’s store.

While reading your eBook you can easily share quotes and passages to your friends or add favorite quotes to your Goodreads profile.

When finished with a book, a new rating box pops up. The rating no longer used only for Amazon’s metrics, it is now cross-posted on both Amazon and Goodreads.

This app isn’t the first non-PC Goodreads app. There are also flourishing iOS and Android apps that aren’t reviewed in this manual but are strongly encouraged for any Goodreads addict. However, Kindle Papwerwhite is the first full-eReader with Goodreads integration.

Pro Tip: The Goodreads/Paperwhite software is number 5.4.2. and is accessible even to those with older eReaders. To download this update go to Amazon Software Update and download the new software. Then hook up your Kindle to your computer’s USB port and drag the software update to the top level. Disconnect your Kindle and turn it on. Go to Settings and select ‘Update Your Kindle’!

7. Conclusion

I use Goodreads because I love technology, I love reading books, I love creating books, and I love online stalking. My reading process hasn’t changed much since I joined the website. I still curl up in a nice introverted corner in zen silence. But when finished with my book, I am full with so many emotions and thoughts that I start to buzz. Goodreads has given me a place to direct my energy and get really solid responses. I can make book-friends without having to sacrifice my introvert time.

But Goodreads is very flexible. It has more features than this manual could cover. I’m very excited for you to try it all out and form your own relationship with this app!

To review Goodreads’ key features:


  1. Creating book progress status updates.
  2. Creating annual reading challenges.
  3. Creating an OkCupid-esque match score among users.
  4. Writing book reviews.
  5. Interacting with strangers in list and group interfaces.


  1. Organizing your book shelves based on personal preferences and criteria.


  1. Personal and computerized book recommendations.
  2. Free eBooks to download on your reading device.
  3. Creating charts and widgets out of your Goodreads data.


  1. Creating an Author account with access to the Author Dashboard.
  2. Reviewing statistical information on your Book Pages.
  3. Advertising your books with a pay-per-click model.
  4. Hosting a giveaway for books you want to market.
  5. Hosting an Author Blog.

Related topics: Amazon Kindle, Longform Guide, Writing Tips.

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  1. TheBreezus
    May 1, 2016 at 9:19 pm

    This was a well thought out and informative guide to Goodreads. Which is a site that I just started to recently use and really like it. The guide was in-depth and did not seem to leave anything out.

  2. Anonymous
    August 6, 2015 at 6:15 pm

    Thanks for the amazing article
    I was just asking, can I edit the order of shelves on goodreads?
    for example I want favorites shelf to be above art shelf in my profile.. is there a function on goodreads that can do that?

  3. Claudette
    May 5, 2015 at 5:06 pm

    This is an amazing article, many features I didn't existed and I've been using Goodreads for a few years now.

  4. Paula Wynne
    April 21, 2015 at 4:33 pm

    Wow! Nicole this article is fantastic, I haven't done much with my Goodreads account even as an author myself. Gotta get back on there ... so much homework you've given me. Very exciting too as my novel comes out later this year.
    Thank you,
    Paula :)