Encourage Questions from Readers—You Choose Which Ones to Answer
Another way to connect with readers on Goodreads is to let them ask you a question. Ask the Author is a Q&A platform on Goodreads that allows readers to submit questions to authors via their author profiles. Ask the Author is unique in that it doesn’t make questions visible to the public until the author chooses to answer them, giving authors control over when and how to respond. Once you have made your answer public, Goodreads’ social amplification then kicks in. Each answer is shared in the newsfeed of the person who asked the question, as well as anyone who follows you. In addition, the collection of your answers is available on your profile (creating a richer source of information about you) and on a dedicated Ask the Author landing page unique to you. They are also included in a weekly email round up of your content to your followers.
On top of that, readers automatically receive an email when their questions are answered. Readers can express their delight by liking or commenting on the answer to keep the conversation going. Since this interaction shows up in the newsfeed of all their friends, it raises even more awareness about the author’s activity.
Answering questions on Ask the Author is as simple as responding to email, and there’s no limit to how long your response can be—in fact, thoughtful and well-crafted answers work best. You can even include images! Any author who has claimed their author profile on Goodreads can participate, and 40% of all Goodreads Authors have already answered questions including Richard Russo, Sylvia Day, Alan Moore, Kristin Hannah, Michael Connelly, and Lois Lowry.
You can enable Ask the Author directly from your author dashboard (if you’re unfamiliar with the Author Program, click here to learn more). To ensure you have a great experience, follow these tips:
Customize your Ask the Author message to state how often you’ll be responding to answers. It’s ok to let people know you’ll only pop in once in a while! You can also solicit specific questions, or indicate a specific time and date for when you’ll answer.
Answer at Least 4 Pre-Seeded Questions.
Give readers more content to engage with: Answer a few of the questions that Goodreads asks every author who turns on the feature, such as “Where did you get the idea for your most recent book?” or “How do you deal with writer’s block?” This indicates to readers that you’re there to engage. You can always edit the answers with updated information down the road.
Leave Ask the Author On.
Don’t miss an opportunity to delight a potential fan. Keeping Ask the Author on allows readers to reach out to you when they first discover your Goodreads Author profile page. If you do have it switched off, make sure to turn on Ask the Author no later than six weeks prior to publication date of your next book so you can use Ask the Author to re-engage with readers.
Make sure you see new questions when they come in. Adjust your email notifications from your author dashboard. You can elect to receive a daily or weekly email of new questions.
Respond to (Some) Repetitive Questions.
Instead of simply telling the reader you’ve already answered a question, copy and paste your response or link to the answer. That particular reader will appreciate your response in the email she receives.
Encourage Readers to Follow You.
Build your followers so that more people see your answers. Add the Goodreads button to your website, include it in your newsletter, or insert a link in your email signature to help people find you on Goodreads.