Tag Archives: Tips & Tricks

Social Media Support Sunday | Pinterest

Social Media Support Sunday

Social Media Support Sunday is an idea I’ve been fiddling with for a long time now in various forms. There are SO many times where I realize I’m not following some of my friends on social media somehow or I’m looking for new accounts to follow and I just have no idea where to begin. Sometimes we get stuck in our own social groups on social media or just the opposite — get lost in the sea of social media users and followers — that it’s hard to find new accounts. I’ve also been toying with the idea of posting “social media hacks” (which are really just any tips or tricks I’ve learned over the years). I don’t claim to be an expert on any social media site but I find that it’s always helpful to share information because you never know who has been looking for just that thing for a long time! I decided to combine these two things into Social Media Support Sunday with the hopes that I can help some book bloggers who are aiming to grow their social media presence in the easiest way possible!
Note: These posts are not designed to tell people “how to” or “how not to” use social media. They are simply packed full of helpful information to get knowledge out to people about various functions on social media sites that they may not be aware of or would like to learn more about. I am in no way saying there is a right or wrong way to run your social media accounts! The “best” way can only be determined by each individual user!

Over the next few Sundays, I’ll be doing features for multiple social media accounts that a prevalent in the book blogging community/book industry. Hang tight for:

TWITTER (11/8/15) | GOODREADS (11/15/15) | INSTAGRAM (11/22/15) | PINTEREST (12/13/15)


So many people use Pinterest but I feel like not a ton of people use it to promote their book blogs. This week is a special Social Media Support Sunday because I’m teaming up with Stephanie from These Paper Hearts to share our experiences with Pinterest and how it’s helped us reach a large and different audience! Stephanie’s post is a “why” you should use Pinterest and like my previous Social Media Support Sunday posts, mine is more of a “how” with all of the details I’ve discovered since I’ve been using it as a marketing support tool!
(I apologize for not detailing all of the walk-throughs on how to set things up but when they’re already wonderfully worded, I don’t need to do it twice!)

SET YOURSELF UP LIKE A BUSINESS

  • Switch your personal account to a business account. Pinterest functions exactly the same as far as your boards, general appearance, and functionality go but switching your personal account allows you to take advantage of things like Pinterest Analytics and using a business name instead of your own name. Massive Online Action has a nice walk-through with photos on how to make the transfer.
  • Verify your website. I don’t this is a huge deal — I probably wouldn’t even notice if someone’s account wasn’t verified because it’s not something I look for but it is something nice to give you that extra dash of professionalism. Pinterest has a great walk-through on how to do that!
  • Apply for rich pins. Ever wonder how people get those beautiful bolded titles on their pins that make things look so professional? Those are rich pins! There are actually several different types that can include info about your post/product. As bloggers, most of us would use article pins. They automatically include title and a description and it takes a little work out of the pinning process! You have to apply for your account to be approved for rich pins but the process is simple and painless!
  • Add a “Pin It” button to your website. Ever notice the websites that have a “Pin it” button or Pinterest logo when you hover on a picture? It’s easier to entice viewers to pin that image when you make it easy for them to do! Personally, I use a plug-in that spans multiple social media accounts but there are a few different plug-ins or another walk-through from Pinterest on how to set it up.

rich pins example

PINNING TO BOARDS

Once again, I’m no pro on this but I’m happy to share my personal experiences so far! I’ve messed around with my “strategy” for a while and this seems to work well for me!

Pinterest boards

  • Set up a variety of boards based on what you post. It’s easier for users/readers to find what they want to read if you set up different boards based on different interests. It’s easier to see at a glance what your blog is all about and it’s visually appealing to see similar things grouped together. It also makes it easy for someone to say, scroll through every single YA review you’ve posted or check out bookish infographics all in one place. It can be overwhelming to try to weed through every single post one board!
  • On the flip side, try not to have TOO many boards. How many is too many? That’s really up to you, but try to create boards based on what people might be searching — reviews, specific fandoms, infographics, or bookish merch — to help guide people to a certain topic where they might stay and browse a while. For example, I use to have genre-specific boards but found that it was a bit too cumbersome to divide my YA reviews by genre so instead, I grouped them all under “Book Reviews – Young Adult”. And just because that was what felt comfortable for me doesn’t mean it will work exactly the same for you. Play around with the feel of your boards and see how you want them set up.
  • Don’t be afraid to pin to multiple boards. Pinterest is all about reaching the widest audience possible and a plus and a down side is that a follower doesn’t have to follow all of your boards — they can pick one or they can pick them all! For example, my post for Anna and the French Kiss recommendations was first pinned to graphics/infographics but I also pinned to “For Fans of Anna and the French Kiss” and “The Best of The Book Addict’s Guide”. Pinning to multiple boards is also advantageous when you spread out the timing of your pins. Just like any other social media platform, users can miss one of your posts and catch it later on if it’s re-posted. I usually try to space it out if I’m pinning to multiple boards so a follower who follows all of my boards doesn’t see the same pin three times in a row. I also like my “best of” board because I can pin my favorite posts there and it’s a quick way for readers to see what those favorite posts are.
    • GROUP BOARDS: Group boards are a resource that may be underwhelmingly utilized within the bookish community. Group boards allow anyone (who is invited) to pin to a board and provides a wider audience for pinners. Users can follow a group board and see relevant pints from multiple pinners without following each and every one of them. I started a set of group boards for the book community a while ago and any and all bookish people are welcome to join! Stephanie also created a group board for Young Adult Book Blogs to share their posts for readers and bloggers alike, focusing more on the reading aspect and less on blogging. The idea is that many, many, many people can follow the group board and it gets your post out there to a wider audience.
  • You don’t have to pin everything. I used to pin every single post — if it’s out there, then someone can see, it right? But things like Top Ten Tuesday and other memes just didn’t perform well. They weren’t getting any repins or likes and were just starting to clutter up my boards so in the end, I decided to boot them. I feel like Pinterest appeals to the audience outside of the blogging world and most memes and/or weekly posts attract other bloggers over general book-lovers. Instead of adding more posts that my followers weren’t interested in for the sake of pinning it all, I became more selective and tried to appeal to what others might find interesting.
  • Update your cover photos. If you have a super eye-catching pin, set that as the cover to your board. It’s a quick way to grab viewers and entice them to want to see more. Most of mine are catchy graphics, a super popular series, or a stunning photo.

PIN THE BEST PINS

  • Use a nice, specially designed graphic or photo for each post you are pinning. Pinterest is obviously a very visual site. Users are mostly scanning their feeds or searches looking for something that’s applicable to their interests so graphics with a catchy title, beautiful image, or crisp photos are more likely to draw attention. I try to make a graphic for each post if it’s not one that contains many images or I’ll use a photo straight from the blog post. Sometimes I’ll overlay text over a photo… Well, you get the picture!
  • Freshen up the description! Whether you’re pinning from your own website or repinning someone else’s post, always make sure the description is something appealing and easy to read. A picture with no caption can easily be passed up for something that explains what it is.
  • Pin directly from the source. If you’re pinning something from your blog/website, pin directly from that page! You can copy and paste the link into Pinterest or add the “Pin It” button to your browser for easy pinning. It’s always better to link your pin back to your website so clicks will take people to your blog instead of just an uploaded photo with the URL in the description.
  • BUT it doesn’t hurt to put the URL in the description as well. I may not do this as often as I should but I’ve seen this as a tip before — some people may not click on an image to bring them to a website but they may see a URL in the caption to take them to that article’s page. I personally don’t know how effective that is but if you’re interested in experimenting, it’s worth a shot!
  • Long images beat wide ones. One of the tips you always see around is that a longer image is more attractive than a wider image on Pinterest. My guess is because of the way the website is set up and how articles flow when you’re browsing but it’s one of the most popular bits of advice there is about Pinterest!

PINTEREST LINK-UP

Here’s the part where we share and explore! Feel free to add your Pinterest account to help others find you! Part of this process is also to find other people to follow and for us to support each other on social media so please do click on at least a few accounts that you don’t currently follow to check them out. It’s just a common courtesy since people will be doing the same for you!! Try to find at least a couple accounts to follow, or follow back some people who will be new followers to you. This is all about community!

Some of us have Pinterest user names that are different than our blogs/other social media accounts so please add your first name and your Pinterest user name to the “name” section. (So for me it would be “Brittany/bookaddictguide” — I’ll get it kicked off here!) Your link should be the link to your Pinterest account, NOT your blog! 

** This feature is mostly directed to book bloggers since I feel like that is who will use it most but authors and other active book community members are also welcome to link up and share as well! Again… community! ** 

Don’t forget to stop by Stephanie’s post all about WHY you should use Pinterest for your blog! You’ll see just a bit from me there as well and how Pinterest has helped me too!

Social Media Support Sunday | Instagram

Social Media Support Sunday

Social Media Support Sunday is an idea I’ve been fiddling with for a long time now in various forms. There are SO many times where I realize I’m not following some of my friends on social media somehow or I’m looking for new accounts to follow and I just have no idea where to begin. Sometimes we get stuck in our own social groups on social media or just the opposite — get lost in the sea of social media users and followers — that it’s hard to find new accounts. I’ve also been toying with the idea of posting “social media hacks” (which are really just any tips or tricks I’ve learned over the years). I don’t claim to be an expert on any social media site but I find that it’s always helpful to share information because you never know who has been looking for just that thing for a long time! I decided to combine these two things into Social Media Support Sunday with the hopes that I can help some book bloggers who are aiming to grow their social media presence in the easiest way possible!
Note: These posts are not designed to tell people “how to” or “how not to” use social media. They are simply packed full of helpful information to get knowledge out to people about various functions on social media sites that they may not be aware of or would like to learn more about. I am in no way saying there is a right or wrong way to run your social media accounts! The “best” way can only be determined by each individual user!

Over the next few Sundays, I’ll be doing features for multiple social media accounts that a prevalent in the book blogging community/book industry. Hang tight for:

TWITTER (11/8/15) | GOODREADS (11/15/15) | INSTAGRAM | FACEBOOK | PINTEREST


I’m always in awe of people’s gorgeous Instagram photos and I’m not going to lie… I try my hand at coming up with some beautiful ones too but let’s be honest. I’m no photographer. Try as I might, my Instagram photos still suffer from so many photography faux pas but it doesn’t stop me from trying! Anyway, this post isn’t really about how to take better Instagram photos because A) that’s not the goal here and B) I’m not the best person to offer that advice but I WILL offer up some of the things that I’ve learned to help those photos look even a little bit better so you’ll see a couple very basic photography tips (since that is the only knowledge I possess haha)!

Instagram is a hard social media outlet to really give tips/details on since most of the results are dependent on how you photograph and how you edit… Because of that, this post will be a LITTLE bit heavier on the “how-to” tips instead of just detailing features you may not have known about Instagram but please —  I am not a photographer so note that these are “tips” from an amateur and maybe geared a bit more towards Instagram beginners vs. long-time pros and of course, you can take or leave any of them!

INSTAGRAM BASICS

Instagram is fairly user-friendly but just in case you’re looking to start a new Instagram account or are looking for more details on the main functions, here’s what I got for ya:

Instagram basics

  • Search. Most of the basics of Instagram are pretty self-explanatory (locations explained more below) and easy to catch on with some exploration but the search function is pretty nice! You can search for a user, for a hashtag (which is helpful if you’re a host of a feature/event that’s using a hashtag!), and even photos tagged in a specific location.

TAKING A PHOTO

  • Photo set-up. Photo set-up is something that I’m still learning. I’m trying to organize things in an appealing fashion but sometimes it feels like something you need to learn or something you have a natural eye for (neither of which I have). It also depends on how you really want your pictures to turn out and again, is personal preference (yadda, yadda, repetition) but I enjoy neat backgrounds that don’t distract from the main objects or on the flip side, enhance them. I usually try to fit everything in the frame nice and neat but often times my “accessories” that I include for decoration clutter it up or I’m trying to photograph too many books and they just don’t fit well together. I’m always checking out other accounts for inspiration (INSPIRATION. Please do not copy other people’s photos. Obviously, but you know. I have to say it.) to see how they’re arranging things and what I might be doing wrong. An angle here or clutter there can really make a difference.
  • Your camera. I actually have a nice DSLR camera that I ended up using when I broke my iPhone 5 screen and had to temporarily switch back down to a 4S (the phone was SO crappy that I couldn’t take any decent picture with it). I found that my pictures were so much better. They were higher quality, clearer, and the focus was better as well. I know we don’t all have DSLR cameras but if you do have one and are willing to do the work to photograph, upload to a computer, and then email to yourself to get it on your phone (seriously. That’s the work I do sometimes because the pictures are that much better and there’s no fancy email function on my camera (I WISH)), then that might be a nice idea!
  • Screen size. Any time I take a photo with my phone that I know is going to Instagram, I take it on the square setting instead of the regular rectangular option (on the iPhone). It will allow for less editing later and better composition because you can see how things will fit inside of that square frame.
  • Multiple photos & angles. I always, always take tons of pictures of the same thing from different angles, with flash on/off, positioned in lighting differently, etc. There have been too many times where I take one picture, disassemble my set-up, and then realize it was a terrible photo. I’m either stuck with a bad photo or nothing. Taking many different photos allows more options to choose from and I never, EVER take a picture through the Instagram app. I always take a picture with my camera so in case I do something and accidentally close out of the app, my photo isn’t gone forever.

PHOTO EDITING

  • Filters. Filters are one thing I instantly ran with when I first signed up for Instagram and the app has many, many filters to choose from. I loved the variety they added to my pictures and it was an easy way to edit and get creative. Personally, I don’t use a lot of the pre-set filters anymore because I’ve started to get pickier about the lighting, color, and sharpness of my photos so I’ve opted to manually edit things myself but the filters are always there for a quick and easy edit option. Once you choose a pre-set filter, you can also tap on the filter you selected again (or double-tap) to see a scale of how you want that filter to be used. The auto-setting is 100 and you can scale down from there.
  • Borders. Each pre-set filter comes with a pre-set border. You can find that border on the filter screen (when you double tap to adjust), one the right side of the screen. I also don’t really use borders so much anymore because I don’t like the way they look in my feed but as always, it’s a personal preference!
  • Tools. The tools menu is the thing I use the most. Instead of the pre-set filters, I generally adjust lighting, saturation, highlights, shadows, sharpness, angles/cropping, and more from this menu. I find it’s easier to get that final finish that I’m really looking for and I think the pictures come out nicer if I edit them on my own instead of trying to get a filter to do the job. It’s usually just a matter of playing around with things and seeing how they affect a photo for me.

instagram filters & tools

  • Photo editing apps. I don’t always use Instagram for my photo editing and other people swear by outside apps to do a better job for them. (They really do a great job — sometimes I’m just lazy and I go straight to Insta.) Ones that I’ve used are Aviary and VSCO. Both of these apps offer similar photo editing options to Instagram’s tools but each one is a little bit different and may offer you a better edit on your photo depending on how you use them.
  • Editing once you’ve posted. The nice thing about Instagram vs Twitter is that if you screw up a caption or hashtag, you CAN edit after you’ve posted. The not nice thing is that you can’t edit your photo at all. If you end up with a picture you don’t like, you have to delete and start all over if you decide not to keep it. If you do decide to immediately scrap it, copy your caption, start over, and then paste that same caption so you don’t have to do THAT all over again! You can also add/remove a location once you’ve posted a photo and add/remove a tag.

SHARING

  • Cross-posting. I link up other social media accounts (specifically Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook (to my blog’s page, not my personal page)) and cross-post my photo so people who aren’t following me on Instagram can still see, or someone who’s on another social media networking site will be brought to my Instagram page. You can set up which accounts you want to cross-post to by going to your options and selecting “Linked Accounts”. From there you can add more social media accounts that Instagram will also post to. These are NOT automatically selected when you post a photo to Instagram so you do have to manually select them each time you post — or leave them unselected if you don’t want to cross-post. NOTE! If you link up your Facebook account and you want it to post to a PAGE and not your personal account, you do need to go in and select that and maketagging instagram sure your personal Facebook feed is not selected.
  • Mentioning vs. Tagging. You can tag a specific account in a photo instead of just mentioning them. What’s the difference? A mention is just using that person’s handle in your photo’s caption. They will be notified by Instagram that they’ve been mentioned and that’s about it. Ever tap on a photo and see that little black box pop up with someone’s name in it? That’s someone who has been tagged! The main difference is that besides showing up as “in” the photo, you can go to your own profile (and other people’s profiles) and see “Photos of You”/”Photos of X user” so other people will be able to see the photos you’ve been tagged in whereas they cannot see which captions you’ve been mentioned in.
  • Location. You can add locations to your Instagram photos too. If you allow it, the app will pick up on where you are and it will make suggestions for you in the screen where you enter your caption, etc. If you don’t like those suggestions, you can always search for your own. A nice thing about Instagram’s location feature is that if you do a #latergram (or post any time you’ve moved out of the area where the picture was taken), you can actually search and tag any location at all, unlike some check-in apps that will only pick up what’s in your immediate area. Anything has a location attached to it will be included on your map of photos in your profile. NOTE! If your smartphone automatically geotags your photos, they WILL be added to this map aka, if you ever take pictures in your house and post them to Instagram, they’ll show up on your map. (I had 585 photos tagged at my home and then went to edit and remove them all so it wasn’t traceable to my actual address. Good thing I looked!!) Here are some instructions on how to turn that off on your iPhone/iPad if you want to do it that way. You can also keep the geotag on your phone, if you so desire, and then remove the tag in Instagram after you’ve posted.
  • Hashtags. I think we pretty much all know how to use hashtags by now but I’ve seen a lot of questions on how many is the “right” amount to use. Honestly, that’s a question that may not have an answer. I’ve seen some “advice articles” say to keep it minimal and I’ve seen others say to get a good mix in there but no more than 10-15 and if you need more, add them as a comment instead of in the caption. Honestly, I think it’s a personal preference thing. As a book blogger, I feel like it’s common to throw a whole crap ton of hashtags on a picture because we’re used to using our social media platforms as “advertising” for our blogs. Personally, they don’t bother me and I do feel like they’re helpful! I always hashtag my book pictures with #books, #bookstagram, and #instabooks because they’re some of the most popular hashtags for book-lovers!

Linking accounts to Instagram

locations instagram

ICONOSQUARE

  • Iconosquare. Iconosquare is a really helpful tool that I began using in order to facilitate the use of Instagram from a desktop/laptop and not on my phone. I can’t be on my phone all day at work and I hate typing a ton on my phone when typing on a computer keyboard is so much faster… So I use Iconosquare to check up on my #weeklybookstagram hashtags to make sure I catch them all and to reply to comments instead of doing that from my phone. It’s also a great place if you’re looking to check in on Instagram stats. It’ll tell you who’s followed you/unfollowed you, most-commented photo, most-liked photo, and really so much more. I use the free version but you can upgrade to a paid version if you really need more in-depth stats.

INSTAGRAM LINK-UP

Here’s the part where we share and explore! Feel free to add your Instagram account to help others find you on Insta! Part of this process is also to find other people to follow and for us to support each other on social media so please do click on at least a few accounts that you don’t currently follow to check them out. It’s just a common courtesy since people will be doing the same for you!! Try to find at least a couple accounts to follow, or follow back some people who will be new followers to you. This is all about community!

Some of us have Instagram user names that are different than our blogs/other social media accounts so please add your first name and your Goodreads user name to the “name” section. (So for me it would be “Brittany/bookaddictsguide” — I’ll get it kicked off here!) Your link should be the link to your Instagram account, NOT your blog! 

I know most of us use Instagram strictly from our phones but you DO have a URL for your Instagram account. You can find it by signing in with your credentials on Instagram.com OR just insert your username at the end of http://www.instagram.com/ (for example, mine is http://www.instagram.com/bookaddictsguide).

** This feature is mostly directed to book bloggers since I feel like that is who will use it most but authors and other active book community members are also welcome to link up and share as well! Again… community! ** 

Social Media Support Sunday | Goodreads

Social Media Support Sunday

Social Media Support Sunday is an idea I’ve been fiddling with for a long time now in various forms. There are SO many times where I realize I’m not following some of my friends on social media somehow or I’m looking for new accounts to follow and I just have no idea where to begin. Sometimes we get stuck in our own social groups on social media or just the opposite — get lost in the sea of social media users and followers — that it’s hard to find new accounts. I’ve also been toying with the idea of posting “social media hacks” (which are really just any tips or tricks I’ve learned over the years). I don’t claim to be an expert on any social media site but I find that it’s always helpful to share information because you never know who has been looking for just that thing for a long time! I decided to combine these two things into Social Media Support Sunday with the hopes that I can help some book bloggers who are aiming to grow their social media presence in the easiest way possible!
Note: These posts are not designed to tell people “how to” or “how not to” use social media. They are simply packed full of helpful information to get knowledge out to people about various functions on social media sites that they may not be aware of or would like to learn more about. I am in no way saying there is a right or wrong way to run your social media accounts! The “best” way can only be determined by each individual user!

Over the next few Sundays, I’ll be doing features for multiple social media accounts that a prevalent in the book blogging community/book industry. Hang tight for:

TWITTER (11/8/15) | GOODREADS | INSTAGRAM | FACEBOOK | PINTEREST | TUMBLR


I first joined Goodreads all the way back in 2010 (wow, that seems like forever ago) and to this day, I’m still learning little tips and tricks to help me use the site better. There are some things we just will never get (like half stars. Sorry, folks but I heard it directly from the mouth of a Goodreads rep. They think it gives people too many options and is confusing so no half stars in the near future, possibly ever) and other things that the site actually does have but I didn’t know they were there, and other things are work-arounds that fellow users have figured out and shown me.

I did a post back in 2013 for Bloggiesta called “How to Make Goodreads Work For YOU” essentially detailing EEEVERYTHING I had learned about Goodreads that I thought people should know. That post is a bit old by now (over two years!) so I’ll rehash some things from ther as well as including some things I’ve learned/discovered over the past couple of years!

SHELVES

Shelves seem like a given since so many people create their own (and I create a LOT). I basically use shelves my own little filing system so I make GR do the work for me instead of creating a spreadsheet or list. They’re easy to create, update, and the bonus is that Goodreads is always gather data for stats if you ever need them. Here are some of the main ways I use shelves to my advantage:

  • Readers can create ANY amount of shelves for ANY kind of categories they want. I have shelves from age range (YA/Adult/MG, etc), genre, pub date, if I received from a publisher, and even things like “read in one day” and “omg can’t wait”. I even have shelves like “male POV” or “bromances” for me to go back and reference if I’m ever in need of creating posts based on some of my favorite things in stories.
  • You can create MORE exclusive shelves than just what Goodreads offers. I personally don’t rate the books that I didn’t finish and don’t count those as read so I made a special DNF shelf as another exclusive! I also have books that I started to read and put back down so I added an “on hold” shelf since I’m not really currently reading and it’s not quite just a TBR book.
  • Shelves can be sorted in SO many ways. Where would I be without this feature!? I’ve found that it’s especially handy for things like Top Ten Tuesday (and other memes). Want to find out what the longest book is you’ve read? No problem. Go to your “read” shelf, make sure you have the “number of pages” column visible (if you don’t, click on “shelf settings” and you can add any columns available there to the shelf you’re currently viewing), sort by page number. VOILA. I use this constantly. Not only for page numbers but sorting by pub date, rating, date added, date read… I’m always always always sorting and re-sorting my shelves to find things. THANK THE HEAVENS that Goodreads has this feature because I don’t know what I would do without it. (Also SUPER helpful with end of the year surveys/fun questions!)
  • You can select multiple shelves to view at the same time! YES! I didn’t know this existed for a long time. Down at the bottom of all of your shelves, you’ll see an option for “select multiple” and then you can view several shelves all in one list.

gr sort shelves

WAYS TO DISCOVER NEW BOOKS

One of the things I use Goodreads for is discovering new books to add to my (ever-growing) TBR. There are TONS of ways to do this on Goodreads so let’s talk about a few that I use:

  • Friends. I’m always checking out what my friends are adding to their TBRs and many times I’ll check out anything new that pops up in my feed. (By the way, if you don’t want your feed to include EVERYONE you’re friends with on GR, you can adjust who is your “top friend” aka someone who shows up in your feed in the “Friends” section!) That’s probably the easiest way!
  • Recommendations. Sometimes my friends will recommend books to me using Goodreads recommendations feature. I have to implore you to PLEASE only send recommendations to a Goodreads friend if you are either A) already very good friends with them or B) you truly think that’s a book they NEED on their TBRs. I can’t tell you how big of a pet peeve random and illogical recommendations are for so many Goodreads friends! (Unfortunately there’s no way to turn off the ability to allow recommendations if you don’t want them, hence the caution!) Anywho… if you feel comfy sending recs to your friends, Goodreads has a link right on a book’s page to make it easy! (Also, can you tell this picture is old? LOL Ruin and Rising didn’t even have a cover yet!) recsandreadersGoodreads also is constantly analyzing your shelves to come up with recommendations for you at any given time. This isn’t something I use too much anymore since I rely on friend recs the most, but if you’re interested in seeing what Goodreads says you might enjoy, there’s an option in the main menu at the top of your screen that will take you to the recommendations page. Recs2
  • Listopia. I also hunt for books from time to time with Listopia. Listopia is a user-driven feature full of lists, lists, and more lists. You can browse user-created lists by tags (most often which are different genres), do a specific search, or browse recently updated lists. Some are not as well-put together as others, but most are pretty good! Readers are allowed to vote for books for each list as well, so the more people who vote, the better the lists get. I’ve used Listopia for finding books by a specific publication month (i.e. searching “October 2015”), a specific theme (“Egyptian mythology”), or just a general genre. I’m usually searching for books from next year or the year after to add to my TBR because I have a hard time searching for them otherwise!

REVIEW SECTION

Did you know that there’s a lot more you can add to your personal notes about a book? Besides just writing your review, you can keep tracking of where you purchased a book from, what date you purchased it, who recommended it to you, how many times you’ve read it, and so much more — all under your review of that book.

  • Review. It should go without saying but there’s a section where you can write your thoughts and — wait for it — REVIEW the book! 😉
  • Start and Finish dates. Goodreads will keep track of your start and end days so long as you update them on the site. Your start date will be whenever you moved the book to “currently reading” but you can always go back and adjust it later if need be. Ditto with the end date, and that date is taken from when you mark it as complete. The end date is important because Goodreads takes that date for your yearly challenges and statistics!
  • Number of Times I’ve Read This Book. This is really just for your own information and fun to note. This will not automatically update if you re-read — it is a manually updated field. I know there are issues with how to do re-reads on Goodreads… that info is coming!
  • I Would Recommend To. Another manually updated field. Just extra info and will be tied to your review from then on.
  • Who Recommended to Me. You can either type in a name OR if a user is on Goodreads, you can start typing in their name and Goodreads will auto-populate from your friends list. You can choose the proper person and save them, forever being noted as the person who recommended it to you!
  • Private Notes. Private notes can be kind of a neat feature! Personally I don’t use them a lot but some readers add a lot of info there because only YOU can see your own private notes. They’ll never show up for the public to see.
  • Currently Own. Checking this box adds the book to your currently owned collection in Goodreads. I always forgot to update my inventory so I opted to stop using this box and instead just made a shelf for what I currently own! Marking a book as “currently own” using this box does not add anything to a shelf.

RE-READS

In my experience, the best way to show re-reads is to add the book as a different edition to your shelves. You won’t be able to have all of your notes in one places but if you move a book that you’ve already marked as completed back to currently reading, you’re more or less writing over your own data. Your previous status updates will still be there, original start date will still be the day you FIRST started the book (unless you manually change it) but once you finish you re-read, your end date will overwrite your original end date, essentially like you only read the book once. Again, Goodreads doesn’t automatically update the number of times you’ve read a book so that job is still yours but if you don’t want that book to disappear from a previous year’s number and stats, you have to add the book as a different edition.

Andi from Andi’s ABCs has a post with a whole tutorial on how to do this so rather than redo her work, I’ll direct you to her blog where you can see exactly how she does this process! (And how many times she’s read ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS!) –> Goodreads Tip: Adding Re-reads

PERSONAL STATS

One of my favorite things — especially for my monthly and yearly recaps as well as end-of-the-year surveys — is personal stats. There are two ways to get to your stats:

  • Go to “My Books”, scroll all the way down and in the left hand column under a heading called “tools”, you’ll see a link to “stats”.
  • Go to “My Books” and you’ll see “stats” next to “batch edit” and “settings” above your list of books.

From this page, you can see ALL or your reading statistics since you’ve signed up for Goodreads, separated by year plus ratings, broken up by genre, and more. If you click on details, you can get a LOVELY picture that will look somewhat like this:

GR October 2015

SOCIAL MEDIA

And of course, there’s the actual SOCIAL side of Goodreads. I don’t really have discussions with people on Goodreads but I do love checking in to see what people are reading, commenting on status updates, and adding new friends.

  • Currently Reading. Using the “currently reading” feature (a little dash located on the right side of your screen) allows you to update your thoughts on the book as you’re reading. I use this feature ALL THE TIME and I love seeing what other people say about a book as they’re reading. Thankfully my Goodreads friends are courteous and they don’t post spoilers when they’re updating! Sometimes I’ll comment on what someone is said or they’ll comment on my update. I love these little interactions! You can also just “like” an update if you don’t want to leave a comment. I also take screen shots of my final collection of status updates and add them to my reviews as a special extra feature!
  • Friends. Of course a big part of the social aspect is actually having friends (duh). But you can determine if you want someone to be a “top friend” (aka show up in your main feed) or not. A friend will not be notified whether they are a top friend or not.
    • If you request to be someone’s friend, if they approve they will automatically be added as a top friend.
    • If you receive a friend request from someone else and approve, you can choose at the time of approval whether or not you want that person to be a top friend.
    • No matter which you choose, this can be changed at any time. You can also change someone’s “top friend” status by removing them from top friends via link at the bottom of their profile page.
    • You can delete a friend at any time and that person will not be notified. You can delete by A) going through your friends list and clicking the X to delete them or B) going to the very bottom of their profile page to find the “remove from friends” option.
  • Compare books. This is another fun feature to use via Friends or just through a person’s profile page. It’s purely for fun or if you’re not yet friends with a person, you can compare books to see if you have anything in common.
  • Groups. Groups are another way to dig deeper into the social aspect of Goodreads. Personally, I don’t use them much and avoid many but some people really love to get into discussions, host read alongs, or just talk with fellow readers.
  • Followers/Following. You can also have people who follow your reviews but haven’t added you as a friend. They can still see your updates but you won’t see anything from them. Many users follow authors instead of adding as a friend (some authors/users won’t add people they don’t know as a friend) and still see their updates. If someone follows you, you had the option to add them as a friend or remove from your followers. If you send a friend request to someone, you start following their updates before they approve.

goodreads friends

There’s SO much more you can do with Goodreads but these are probably the most popular uses and features. I have more in my previous Goodreads post if you want to check out even MORE that the site has to offer!

GOODREADS LINK-UP

Here’s the part where we share and explore! Feel free to add your Goodreads account to help others find you on GR! Part of this process is also to find other people to follow and for us to support each other on social media so please do click on at least a few accounts that you don’t currently follow to check them out. It’s just a common courtesy since people will be doing the same for you!! Try to find at least a couple accounts to follow, or follow back some people who will be new followers to you. This is all about community!

Some of us have Goodreads user names that are different than our blogs/other social media accounts so please add your first name and your Goodreads user name to the “name” section. (So for me it would be “Brittany/bookaddictsguide” — I’ll get it kicked off here!) Your link should be the link to your Goodreads account, NOT your blog! 

** This feature is mostly directed to book bloggers since I feel like that is who will use it most but authors and other active book community members are also welcome to link up and share as well! Again… community! ** 

Bloggiesta Mini-Challenge: How to Make Goodreads Work For YOU!

I first joined Goodreads in 2010 when one of my friends introduced me to this awesome website that let you make lists of books and keep track of what you read. Awesome! In the beginning, I didn’t do much except for add all of the books I read and keep track of what I was currently reading. Then I found out that there were a LOT more features on Goodreads that I didn’t even know about. Back then, they still had their book exchange feature which quickly became my main purpose for using the site. (I do miss it… Although I don’t do a lot of swapping anymore!) Then I found out they had giveaways. I could win free books! Even books that… *gasp* weren’t published yet! (Side note: Clearly this was before I knew about ARCs and a year and a half before I even THOUGHT about starting a blog.) This Goodreads site was AWESOME.

As the years went by, I found more and more features hiding in the depths of Goodreads and once I started blogging, it pretty much became an essential tool for helping me review books, create blog posts, and fill out the weekly memes.

The stars aligned when I saw the blog post about signing up for a Bloggiesta mini-challenge and I had thoughts of Goodreads dancing in my head. I knew a lot of people did instructional-type mini-challenges but just having been blogging for a year and a half, I surely didn’t feel like I knew anything more than those blogging pros (from whom I do pick up lots of tips)! Then it came to me… I could talk about Goodreads! Not so much as an instructional post (despite the fact that I titled it starting with “How-To”) but more of a mass-sharing of how people utilize Goodreads and what exactly we may be missing out there!

Before putting my post together, I went to the best possible source I had to help me gather information: YOU! A huge thanks to everyone who filled out the survey because it was so interesting and great to see so many responses and how different they all were! After crunching all the numbers and gathering all the data, here’s what I got from all of the responses:

GoodreadsInfographic

SHELVES

Shelves seem to be the number one thing you guys LOVE and could not live without. The shelves on Goodreads are fantastic because not only can you add books to the Goodreads-supplied “Read/Want to Read/Currently Reading” shelves. Readers can create ANY amount of shelves for ANY kind of categories they want. Personally, I have shelves for various genres, some to indicate where I got the book, some for the age range (YA vs adult), and any other variation you can possibly think of.
Another beauty of the shelves is that you can create MORE exclusive shelves than just what Goodreads offers. For example, I needed a place to put the books I chose not to finish. I still wanted to keep track of them but they didn’t belong under “read” to “to-read” so I created my own “did-not-finish” shelf and voila! Organization at its finest!

I have TONS of shelves (all of which are necessary).

I have TONS of shelves (all of which are necessary).

Another fantastic feature of the shelves is that you can SORT THEM. Where would I be without this feature!? I’ve found that it’s especially handy for things like Top Ten Tuesday (and other memes). Want to find out what the longest book is you’ve read? No problem. Go to your “read” shelf, make sure you have the “number of pages” column visible (if you don’t, click on “shelf settings” and you can add any columns available there to the shelf you’re currently viewing), sort by page number. VOILA. I use this constantly. Not only for page numbers but sorting by pub date, rating, date added, date read… I’m always always always sorting and re-sorting my shelves to find things. THANK THE HEAVENS that Goodreads has this feature because I don’t know what I would do without it.

shelfsettings

Another fan-favorite is the “Currently Reading” shelf. This was something a lot of people were very vocal about and how much they loved it. I know so many people like to update their page number (or percentage, if that’s the case) as they’re reading and one of the best things is that you can make comments as you read too! Sometimes I even go back to the comments I’ve made to help me remember quotes, specific instances, or OMG moments for when I write my review! Some people even use this instead of a bookmark!

RECOMMENDATIONS

One of the things that the survey participants felt that people underutilized was all of the different ways to send and receive recommendations. Understandably, one of the biggest pet peeves from Goodreads users was people spamming them with recommendations, event invites, and book pushing. I definitely fall into that category myself… I’ve actually unfriended a few people on Goodreads because of over-spammification (the technical term). I had approved a friendship and instantly I got event invites and books suggestions. Unfortunately there isn’t way to reel in the spamming with filters (that I know of… I’ve searched!) so the only option to filter out those spammers is clean up your Friends List.
Reasonably, the recommendation options can actually be touchy subjects… But from your trusted & close friends and by exploring your own personal recommendations, you can probably find some great new books!

One of the easiest places to start is to click on the recommendations widget on your Goodreads home page.

Recs

This takes you to a glorious page that lists TONS of recommendations based on any of your current shelves. (Another reason to make many, many shelves!!!) The more books you rate, the better your recommendations get. Don’t like a recommendation? No problem. Just hit “Not Interested” and you won’t see that one again. When this feature first came out, I spent hours looking through these and adding ALL THE BOOKS to my TBR list. Golden.

Recs2

And here’s a two-for-one picture… Love a book? Want to see books similar too it? There’s a little widget on the book’s info page called “Readers Also Enjoyed”. Scroll through the books listed there and you may find a book very similar to it and see what else people who liked that book also put on their lists!
Want to recommend that awesome book to a friend? Just click “Recommend It” and you can quickly send that recommendation off to your fellow Goodreads friends.

recsandreaders

EXPLORE GOODREADS

Goodreads has an “Explore” menu — some of which I’ve explored, some of which I haven’t — but that’s where we find some of the “hidden gems” of Goodreads, if you will.

Genres: Genres is one I don’t use a lot, but if you’re a subscriber to the Goodreads newsletter, it looks a lot like that format. It lists some books under… well, genres. From “Movers & Shakers” to “Young Adult” to “Paranormal” and of course many, many more. One of the good things about the Genres feature is that you can search for books and get a lot of suggestions for very specific subgenres/related genres. Like science-fiction but looking for something different? No problem. Click on “Science-Fiction”, check out “Related Genres” and hey… There’s a whole page of space operas. Yeah. Goodreads is where it’s at, friends. We get pretty specific here! This feature is probably really similar to the personalized recommendations if you utilize a variety of shelves, but this is a good way to hunt down recommendations if you’re not interested in creating genres for your shelves.
Listopia: Listopia is a user-driven feature full of lists, lists, and more lists. You can browse user-created lists by tags (most often which are different genres), do a specific search, or browse recently updated lists. Some are not as well-put together as others, but most are pretty good! Readers are allowed to vote for books for each list as well, so the more people who vote, the better the lists get. I’ve used Listopia for finding books by a specific publication month (i.e. searching “October 2013”), a specific theme (“Egyptian mythology”), or just a general genre.
Giveaways: Goodreads First Reads Giveaways are a wonderful feature on the site! Giveaways are usually hosted by a publishing house or author. They can be for physical copies, advanced reader copies, or even ebooks and audiobooks. They’re always changing and always being updated. Sometimes hard to win, but I’ve actually won a few here and there (two when I first joined Goodreads and I actually JUST won a copy of Antigoddess… three years later).
Popular: I actually don’t use popular much (or ever), but that’s a good place to see what books are gaining readers and reviewers if you’re looking for a book that everyone else is reading!
Goodreads Voice: I haven’t visited Goodreads Voice in a while but it’s a cool little place! It has everything from Author Interviews to Author Suggestions (Good Minds Suggest) to Debut Author Snapshots and even more literary articles. It’s a great place to read up on some authors and find out what else is going on in the book community!
“Fun”: There’s also a “Fun” section filled with Trivia, Quizzes, and Quotes for bookish fun! (Tailored to the books on your shelves!)
“Community”: Lastly is the community section — which I don’t personally use as often — where you can explore Creative Writing from other users, fellow Goodreads users, and search upcoming events.

PERSONAL NOTES ABOUT A BOOK/REVIEW SECTION

Did you know that there’s a lot more you can add to your personal notes about a book? Besides just writing your review, you can keep tracking of where you purchased a book from, what date you purchased it, who recommended it to you, how many times you’ve read it, and so much more — all under your review of that book.

review

I actually filled in a lot more than I usually do for the sake of example, but if you do a great job on keeping up with your personal notes in the review section, you’ll have TONS of info at your fingertips at all times.
This is a rough example because this is my review of WHERE SHE WENT, which I recently re-read. One thing a lot of people said is that Goodreads should make it easier to show and update re-reads. I originally read WSW in June of 2012 but when I marked it back to “Currently Reading” when I picked it up again, it reverted back to my last page number before I had marked it as complete. There’s also no good way to update the dates on a re-read without wiping out your previous data and starting all over. I chose to just leave my original start date and add my new “Finished reading” date. (The finished reading date is also important if you want that book to count for your yearly Goodreads challenge! All books towards that challenge need a finish date in that calendar year otherwise it won’t count.) I also used the “Number of Times I’ve Read This Book” to help me keep track of re-reads, but the actual progress could be set up better!
In this section, you can also update where you got that book, when and if it was a recommendation, who suggested it to you. If the person who recommended it to you is a Goodreads member, you can tag them in the recommendation. You can also mark specific notes about that book in “Private Notes” that only you can see. (One survey-taker’s absolute favorite underutilized feature!)
This is also the section that Goodreads has for you to mark that you own a copy of the book. I actually don’t use this section so much anymore because I found it hard to keep track of my books through their system. I just created a shelf for my “currently-owned” books because it’s MUCH easier to sort and search, in my humble opinion!

PERSONAL STATS

One of my favorite things — especially for my monthly recaps here on the blog — is personal stats. You can go to “My Books”, scroll all the way down and in the left hand column under a heading called “tools”, you’ll see a link to “stats”. You can see ALL or your reading statistics since you’ve signed up for Goodreads, separated by year. (You can also find this under the Goodreads Reading Challenge widget!) If you click on details, you can get a LOVELY picture that will look somewhat like this:

STATS

PHEW. It was a long adventure discovering all the ins and outs of Goodreads but now you have some good insights to the hidden gems and fun features!

I hope you’ll join in the Bloggiesta mini-challenge that I’m hosting to help Goodreads work for you and make your reading/blogging life easier!

The mini-challenge is simple: Pick anything (or everything) that you’d like to utilize more from Goodreads. It can be linking up your reviews to your blog, investigating Listopia for recommendations, cleaning up your shelves, or organizing… well, anything! The sky is the limit! During Bloggiesta (Sep 20 – 22), designate some time to make those changes, explore Goodreads a little bit more, and get a bit more organized. Then write up a mini-challenge post to let us know what you did to use Goodreads to your advantage and how those changes or discoveries make your life easier as a reader and/or blogger! It can be as simple as cleaning up/creating Goodreads shelves, updating your full reviews & blog links to Goodreads, or really digging in deeper and exploring new features. The choice is yours, but whatever you choose, we want to hear about it!!
Once you’ve got your post, link up to the Linky below so everyone else can see what you’ve accomplished with Goodreads during Bloggiesta time and what new things you discovered!

Before I close this post, I just want to say that I know there’s been a lot of drama surrounding Goodreads and some instances of negative author-blogger interaction… Another survey-taker said that as long as you don’t let the drama get to you or invade your experience, Goodreads can be a fantastic tool for anyone — And I totally agree. When it all comes down to it, Goodreads is what you make it! Don’t let the negatives intimidate you because you’d be missing out on some really great tools, features, and community!

I think Goodreads is a fantastic tool, especially as a blogger, and I completely agree with one person who said that Goodreads is for readers and makes it easier for avid readers and casual readers alike.

UPDATE 9/19: The Bloggiesta list of mini-challenges is now posted! Don’t forget to check out the other mini-challenges for this Bloggiesta and let me know in the comments if you’re going to be taking part in my Goodreads mini-challenge! I can’t wait to see people’s posts!!

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