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May 10, 2012

Tips on Thursday: Goodreads

Image representing Goodreads as depicted in Cr...
Image via CrunchBase
If you are blogging about books, you probably already know about Goodreads. In case you don't, Goodreads is a social networking site for readers. If you are a reader, you should have a Goodreads account. It is a great way to organize your books, keep up with your reading, friend other readers, and keep up-to-date with your favorite authors. You can also find book events in your area.

As a book blogger, you can use Goodreads to promote your blog. Though you cannot connect your blog feed like authors, you can use the review section, groups, events, and recommendation features. When used properly these features can generate traffic to your site.

I notice a number of bloggers who fail to promote their blogs through the individual reviews. When I finish a book, I use the review section on Goodreads to record my initial thoughts or reaction and state a full review is coming soon. I write up my full review on my blog. Instead of pasting the full review into Goodreads, I hyperlink to the post. I generate a fair amount of traffic, particularly for older reviews with this method. You can post your full review to Goodreads, but don't forget to hyperlink to your blog. I recommend a statement such as "Review was originally posted at Girl Who Reads . I've gone back and forth with just copying the full url or hyperlinking the text Girl Who Reads.

Groups can be great for building a following and encouraging discussion. For a great example, check out The Next Best Book Club group. If you do read-a-longs or monthly book club type discussions on your blog, you may wish to create a group on Goodreads. I don't have a group there (yet). If you have questions about creating, moderating, running a Goodreads' group, Lori of The next Best Book Club would be a great resource and I'm sure would be happy to help. Follow her on Twitter at @TNBBC. If you are more interested in groups, I can ask Lori to do a guest post giving some how-tos and best practices.

I've noticed more and more bloggers using Events on Goodreads to announce giveaways and such. I recommend using this sparingly or else your friends may begin to think you are a spammer. Either target the event invites to particular friends (as opposed to inviting your entire friends list) or limit your event announcements to 1 or 2 a month. If you are hosting a live event, invite those who actually live within traveling distance of the location - most users have a location listed on their profile;. If you are wanting your friends to invite their friends, then make sure you include a message with your invite. It might go something like this - I know you are not in the area, but I would appreciate you sharing my event with friends who do live close by. If you organize blog tours, I highly recommend you list it as an event.

A feature I've recently been testing is the recommendations. When I read a book that I have a feeling my friends would also like, I send a recommendation. Again, I do not blast my entire friends list (that's a little spammy), because not all my friends like the same books. Yes, this will take some work on your part - you will need to look over their shelves. But as you provide credible recommendations to your friends, they will be more likely to check out your blog for more recommendations. Also, remember the post about attracting publishers? If you can show people add the book to their Goodreads shelf based on your recommendation, then you will be more attractive to publishers.

Books
Books (Photo credit: henry…)
Goodreads is also good for organizing your TBR pile and keeping track of what you are reading. I like to provide status updates as I read. It helps to get the book a bit more notice (the status updates post to my twitter feed) and sometimes it generates discussion - especially when it's a teaser. I also use this as my notes when I go to write my review.

You might find it helpful to create a "for review" shelf, especially if you have books want to read that haven't been requested for reviews. I know it might sound foreign to some to read a book just for the heck of it and not because someone is expecting you to read it. I also recommend bloggers have a "did not finish" shelf. Did you know you can make an exclusive shelf? Here are directions for doing that.

There are widgets you can add to your blog. I like showing what I'm currently reading, up next to read (the marked to read shelf), and finished. I show the short review on my reads shelf in the widget. Because I'm ahead on reading and had a very busy April on my blog, I have outstanding reviews from books I read in March and April. By displaying the review, I don't feel as bad about the lag. By showing your shelves, you can help authors know what you like to read and also it might cut down on authors constantly contacting you about when you will get to their book.

Another cool feature I started using recently is the Goodreads App for my smartphone. I love the barcode scanner. It is much easier to add the books I receive to my shelves which then allows me to organize them for review and not forget what I have waiting. If only there was a simple way of adding ebooks that are emailed to me.

As you can see there are a number of ways using Goodreads can help you be a better book blogger and promote your blog. While it would be nice if we could link our blog, right now you would need to write a book to do that (blog to book is becoming popular). However, you can take advantage of the multitude of other functions.

Your turn: How do you use Goodreads? Is purely a place to display the books you are reading or do you use it to promote your blog?
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May 8, 2012

200th Post: You Are What You Wear

You Are What You Wear by Jennifer Baumgartner
paperback, 272 pages
Published March 2012 by Da Capo Press
ISBN13: 9780738215204
Read April 2012
Goodreads, IndieBound, Amazon

Fashion is not my thing. Clothes are functional. I don't know if that is a result of growing up on a farm and sometimes being the fifth child to wear the article of clothing (and possibly 10 years after the first person wore it) or if it is just genetics. However, I do know clothes can effect your mood. I don't know when this thought was planted in my head, but I know that I often dressed a little nicer on test days because I thought it would help me do better. It was the psychological aspect that drew me to You Are What You Wear.

I liked how the book was divided into sections and there was a questionnaire in the beginning to help you decide what issues you may be facing in the closet. From the list of chapters, I already had an idea of the chapters that would most apply to me. As I read through all of them, I did find times in my life when the description matched me and helped me to understand better what mentally and emotionally I was going through.

Much of the advice given is not really new advice, particularly for steps to clean out your closet (pull everything out; sort out items that are worn, torn, stained; then go through those you haven't worn in a while and those that no longer fit). Jennifer, though, provides the why for the advice. I think often when we dress, we do not give a conscious thought to underlying message. 

For me, bringing attention to the underlying message of what our clothes say is what I really liked about the book. Beyond the message, Jennifer also helps to uncover the reasons we may be engaging in that behavior. The book goes past just diagnosing the problem, but provides tips and steps of action you can take to remedy the issue. She also takes the issues from our clothes and helps you identify other aspects of your life that are being affected. As any responsible medical professional should, she also delineates when a behavior may require professional help. 

If your closet is disorganized, you feel you have nothing to wear, or others have made negative comments about your wardrobe, but you don't know where to start in fixing it, then you should pick up a copy of You Are What You Wear.

This is my 200th post! Thank you for reading. I would love to hear about your fashion woes or your favorite outfit. Do you have something you always wear when you are feeling sad or when you want to celebrate?
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May 7, 2012

Vlog #14: Great Books


In case you missed it over the weekend, I blogged over at the Book Bloggers' Collaborative and I also was interviewed by Terri Giuliano Long for Indie Week on her blog.

Mailbox Finds:

Ten Tea Parties by Joseph Cummins


Everyone knows the story of the Boston Tea Party—in which colonists stormed three British ships and dumped 92,000 pounds of tea into Boston Harbor. But do you know the history of the Philadelphia Tea Party (December 1773)? How about the York, Maine, Tea Party (September 1774) or the Wilmington, North Carolina, Tea Party (March 1775)?

Ten Tea Parties is the first book to chronicle all these uniquely American protests. Author and historian Joseph Cummins begins with the history of the East India Company (the biggest global corporation in the eighteenth century) and their staggering financial losses during the Boston Tea Party (more than a million dollars in today’s money).

From there we travel to Philadelphia, where Captain Samuel Ayres was nearly tarred and feathered by a mob of 8,000 angry patriots. Then we set sail for New York City, where the Sons of Liberty raided the London and heaved 18 chests of tea into the Hudson River. Still later, in Annapolis, Maryland, a brigantine carrying 2,320 pounds of the “wretched weed” was burned to ashes.

Together, the stories in Ten Tea Parties illuminate the power of Americans banding together as Americans—for the very first time in the fledgling nation’s history. It’s no wonder these patriots remain an inspiration to so many people today. From Goodreads.com

The Mine by John Heldt
In 2000, Joel Smith is a cocky, adventurous young man who sees the world as his playground. But when the college senior, days from graduation, enters an abandoned Montana mine, he discovers the price of reckless curiosity. He emerges in May 1941 with a cell phone he can't use, money he can't spend, and little but his wits to guide his way. Stuck in the age of Whirlaway, swing dancing, and a peacetime draft, Joel begins a new life as the nation drifts toward war. With the help of his 21-year-old trailblazing grandmother and her friends, he finds his place in a world he knew only from movies and books. But when an opportunity comes to return to the present, Joel must decide whether to leave his new love in the past or choose a course that will alter their lives forever. THE MINE follows a humbled man through a critical time in history as he adjusts to new surroundings and wrestles with the knowledge of things to come. From Goodreads.com

Reading:

Hellenic Immortal by Gene Doucette
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“Very occasionally, I will pop up in the historical record. Most of the time I’m not at all easy to spot, because most of the time I’m just a guy who does a thing and then disappears again into the background behind someone-or-other who’s busy doing something much more important. But there are a couple of rare occasions when I get a starring role.”

--Adam the Immortal

An oracle has predicted the sojourner’s end, which is a problem for Adam insofar as he has never encountered an oracular prediction that didn’t come true . . . and he is the sojourner. To survive, he’s going to have to figure out what a beautiful ex-government analyst, an eco-terrorist, a rogue FBI agent, and the world’s oldest religious cult all want with him, and fast.

And all he wanted when he came to Vegas was to forget about a girl. And maybe have a drink or two.

“I am probably not the best source when it comes to who invented what. For a long time I thought I invented the wheel.”

--Adam the Immortal

The second book in the Immortal series, Hellenic Immortal follows the continuing adventures of Adam, a sixty-thousand-year-old man with a wry sense of humor, a flair for storytelling, and a knack for staying alive. Hellenic Immortal is a clever blend of history, mythology, sci-fi, fantasy, adventure, mystery and romance. A little something, in other words, for every reader. From Goodreads.com

Before I Go to Sleep by S. J. Watson
S. J. Watson makes his powerful debut with this compelling, fast-paced psychological thriller, reminiscent of Shutter Island and Memento, in which an amnesiac who, following a mysterious accident, cannot remember her past or form new memories, desperately tries to uncover the truth about who she is and who she can trust. From Goodreads.com

 13 Gifts by Wendy Mass
When Tara, a self-proclaimed shrinking violet, steals the school mascot, a goat, in order to make some friends with the popular crowd and gets caught, she gets herself in a heap of trouble. In addition, her parents decide that instead of taking her on their summer trip to Madagascar to study the courtship rituals of the Bamboo Lemur, she must go stay with her aunt, uncle, and bratty cousin Emily St. Claire in Willow Falls. Tara thinks it's a good time to start over; she'll be turning 13 after all, so she might as well make the best of it and perhaps even attempt to break out of her shell (in a non-criminal manner). What Tara doesn't know is that this charmed town has something big in store for her on her 13th birthday. From Goodreads
It's Monday! What are you reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Book Journey. Mailbox Monday is a weekly meme hosted by various bloggers. May's host is Martha's Bookshelf
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