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Goodreads and Camp NaNoWriMo: Resources for Authors

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There are many social-media resources for authors today, and many authors eventually waste untold hours trying to promote their books through these channels. Although Facebook and Twitter can be helpful in some ways (I have made connections with several other authors there), I have found that they are not all that useful in building a readership--at least, I haven't found the secret handshake that gets that going.

So I decided to turn to another site that is much more geared toward readers--the obvious one, Goodreads. The past month I've coordinated my first giveaway on Goodreads. Since this was my first time to take advantage of this program, I watched it very closely and could not resist the temptation to revise the blurb advertising my book. Since it takes several hours (and a couple days if you meddle with it over the weekend) before your book gets back onto the site, you probably should not do this unless there is no momentum on your book at all. I think I may have upset some of the forward movement of that first week by revising.

The book hovered in relative obscurity, inching up by only a couple clicks a day, so it looked like it was not going to break 250 by the end. However, in the last five days, the book took off again and ended with 786. That number is just a little under the average (of 825) that Goodreads lists, yet there were some limiting factors: I only opened the giveaway to readers in the U. S., and this is my first and only book. So considering I probably sabotaged it in the beginning, the giveaway still ended well.

It cost me the print and shipping on three books, but it did build some interest among readers on Goodreads, and a few reviewers have also contacted me asking about the book. Of course, several of those who entered the giveaway did not add the book to their to-read shelves--I imagine this is a common practice on Goodreads. People are interested in getting something "free," no strings attached, so they aren't even interested in the little string of adding the book to their virtual shelf.

Yet this one month felt like there was more progress than any of the posts I put out on Twitter or Facebook. I've also been looking into the various reading groups available through Goodreads as well. These are not places where authors can go and announce their books, but if you become a part of the discussions of books being read, then others can click through (your profile) and discover that you and your book exist.

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This month I've also reconnected with the April version of NaNoWriMo. Since November has always proven a challenge, I signed onto Camp to get a kickstart on my writing of Transylvania Nights, a shorter adventure starring Brie Washington, picking up her story where it stopped in Chapter 3 of Wolf Code. As soon as I wrap that story up, I'll be resuming work on the second book in the Wolf Code trilogy.

NaNoWriMo is another welcomed resource for authors, not so much because it helps connect you with readers as Goodreads does, but because it provides a forum with other writers to compare notes on what methods have proven useful for building characters, plots, quests, etc. Granted it can become a distraction as well, and you have to limit how much time you interact with other "campers." However, overall, it helps to hold you accountable (if you are honest with your word count reports) and gives you a fixed goal to work on for the month.

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