market and publish your bookDear Fellow Writer,

“What’s on your bookshelf says a lot about you.”

Ever heard that phrase? Many people — myself included — feel you can learn a lot about a person by observing their reading habits.

For example, if I let you into my inner book world, you’d see that I buy about two books on Kindle every week. Topics range from the craft of writing to young adult fiction to time management to better parenting to women’s fiction to smart business practices. Plus books on how to live better and be happier.

If I let you further into that world, you’d see that a lot of the books I’ve bought are yet-to-be-read. Most of them are partially read, with helter-skelter highlights over enlightening passages. And a few, mostly fiction books and one book on happiness, got plowed through in just a few days.

What do you think this says about me?

What do your own reading habits say about you?

If your goal is to be an author with a following, you’ve got to put thought into the image you present to the world. So here are a few things to consider as you put together your Goodreads profile:

1) It’s Worth Your Time and Effort

A lot of us are getting burnt out on social networks. But, Goodreads is different because books are at the heart of every connection you make.

If you’re an author looking for readers, it’s smart to let potential readers know you’re one of them. That you love books and reading just as much as they do. (At least, I hope this is the case!)

Think of it as meeting your fans where they are.

2) You Can Learn a Lot from Potential Readers and Fellow Authors

Some people hesitate to add “friends” on Goodreads because they don’t want certain comments cluttering up their newsfeed, say from an enthusiastic uncle obsessed with zombies taking over the Revolutionary War.

Fear not, because even after adding all “obligatory friends” (and relatives and coworkers), you can create a Top Friends filter for your newsfeed. This way, you only see the comments from people whose opinions you’re interested in. And to nurture your book-writing aspirations, that should include readers of books similar to what you write, and author comments who write books similar to yours.

You always want to keep an ear toward the opinions and trends of your market. Goodreads gives you an easy way to do this.

3) It’s a Good Way to Build Rapport

Goodreads has features that let you share comments on the books you’re reading as you work your way through them. There’s also a feature that shares how far you’ve read in any given book.

This gives you a terrific opportunity to be an observant, positive voice in the book world. If you read and like a certain passage in a book, share that sentiment! If you love or despise a character, or if a point made really resonates with you … comment on it!

Authors and readers alike will seek out other peoples’ opinions on the books they’re reading. Or, in the case of authors, the books they wrote. You’d be surprised how easy it is to make connections (who may later become allies) if you serve up your own unabashed opinions.

Just one word of advice here — be honest. And kind. If you didn’t love something, don’t write that you did. If you hated something, forget the negative tirade and offer constructive criticism. False comments won’t get you anywhere and nobody wants to connect with a hater.

4) Watch the Market by Creating Lists or Groups

Goodreads lets you create your own reading lists, which then become a public forum and public social tool. Consider making a list of books similar to what you’re writing, authors you admire, or authors you’d like to someday connect with and do joint promotions with. See what kind of attention, fanfare, comments, and rankings your list gets. It could be a good way to learn about your potential reader market.

The same is true when you create a group. Use it as a way to learn more about your preferred genre and ideal readers.

Assume You’re Being Watched … in a Good Way

I have more than a few friends who either refuse to sign up for Facebook or have “decoy profiles” with fake names. They’re worried about privacy and judgment and maybe don’t want to push their introverted boundaries too far.

I can relate to some of this … because nobody wants to feel exposed and judged. But if authorship is your goal, if writing is your life … then don’t worry about it. Put yourself out there openly and honestly and you will make important, supportive connections. You might also get the occasional negative comment or review, but you know what? Let it roll off your back. Learn from it. In the grand scheme of things, going after your dream to write a book counts for so much more than a few rotten words from any single person.

Hopefully, once you’ve spent some time on the site, what your Goodreads account says about you will be that you’re passionate about books, writing, and sharing your individual message. If you’d like to learn more, here’s how you can make Goodreads work for you.

To pursuing your dream,

mindy mchorse, author and copywriter