Feature Article: Harnessing the Power of Goodreads
During the past year, Goodreads has really become a front and center social network for authors. First, with their new Amazon relationship, and now it would seem that they’ve doubled their membership to 20 million. Though many authors and publishers vowed to close their accounts after the Amazon merger, it seems that Goodreads is still going strong and still maintains its independence of Amazon. If you’re not on Goodreads or if you haven’t touched your account in a while you should consider this site and the benefits it offers.
There have been many success stories from Goodreads, authors who “got noticed” by having lots of activity there, mingling with other members, getting tons of reviews, and while success isn’t guaranteed on this site (or anywhere) Goodreads can really help you get a leg up on your promotion. So, how did the massive growth of this site happen?
Their CEO, Otis Chandler, cited three primary factors behind the acceleration: “a critical mass of book reviews,” “explosive” mobile growth, and international expansion.
To understand Goodreads as an author, what works and what doesn’t, you have to understand the average demographic of the site, which is adult female, many with college age kids and surprisingly, a whopping 81% of them are Caucasian. They are avid readers, though many are less affluent than the average Internet user so low-priced books and free books do very well on this site.
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Historical epic of royalty and rural family, a coming-of-age tale, a can’t-put-it-down drama. Catherine II seizes the imperial crown of Russia and a thousand miles away a Rhineland boy’s life changes forever.
Uprooted from his home near the Rhine River and taken to a hostile land on the Russian steppes, Christian comes up against adversity and setbacks as he attempts to make a new life for himself. His efforts at enlisting a blacksmith and Gypsies to help a Russian girl sold into servitude put all their lives in deadly peril.
Meanwhile, Catherine, in her new role as empress, is surrounded by court intrigue and secret plots to overthrow her; rumors of her lover’s infidelity; an army of wild Cossacks and escaped serfs thundering down on Saratov intent on burning the city, sacking Moscow and locking the empress in a convent.
Can Catherine stay safe from those who would overthrow – or kill her? Can Christian protect the Russian girl? How can his family survive the winter after what has happened?
TR: Hey, good morning, Victoria…I’m so pleased to have you today!
VD: Good morning, Thomas…it’s my pleasure 🙂
TR: So, what do you say we get this party started? What was the first thing you wrote, and how old were you when you wrote it?
TR: That’s an early start. What have you written since then?
VC: Nothing. Just kidding. I’ve written speeches, essays, plays, translations, ghosted a memoir, plus finished two novels and am working on two more.
TR: Man, you’ve got your train rollin’. What made you choose your genre of writing, and what about your genre fascinates you?
VC: I grew up in what my husband describes as “the ultimate Cold War family” – with a little bit of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and WWII thrown in for good measure. So, writing noir-ish spy thrillers with a ghostly twist sort of came naturally to me.
As to what most inspired and fascinated me – it was my family. The dinner table I grew up around was full of stories and cigarettes and rich, world-weary laughter. My house was a place where there was always an old map of the world pinned to a wall somewhere – and two tickets to Buenos Aires in a locked drawer just in case (or so I suspected).
I also lived in Prague during the 1990s and was finally able to connect with my family culture in a way that had eluded me during the Cold War years. My family was full of political dissidents, so all my life I’ve been deeply interested in how people behave under intense pressure and how historical forces make sweeping changes in people’s lives.
I also love a good action sequence.
TR: Sounds like you love it right where you are. Would you ever consider writing in a different genre?
VC: Absolutely. In fact I’m working on 2 ½ YA books right now (the half is an idea that I haven’t started writing yet).
TR: Very nice! Now, much has been written about how a book will change from the original intent of the writer, as it’s being written. How did your book change as you created it, and did it surprise you how it came out?
VC: I would say evolve more than change. Does it ever surprise me how it turns out? Sometimes. But I love surprises. And I have to say, it’s not as if I didn’t know it was there in my heart and mind to begin with – it’s just curious how it ultimately came to be expressed.
TR: Curious, indeed. Tell us, in your opinion, what is the most difficult part of writing a book?
VC: I love writing. I’m not one of those people who sits in agony over a blank page. I love devising a plot, creating a character, I love editing – there isn’t a single thing I would trade about the process. I am giddy when I sit down at my computer.
TR: So much for difficulty. Would you consider changing over from indie publishing to traditional? (Or vice versa). Why or why not?
VC: I’m a hybrid of indie and traditional as it is and I no longer distinguish between the two. It’s a brave new world.
TR: It is that. Now, what do you consider to be the most important element in selling your book?
VC: My books are about story and atmosphere. A lot of atmosphere. I love black and white photography, for instance, and have made that a crucial element of my social media platform. I hope to incorporate imagery into my novels as well. I want my readers to enter a world that’s more than an impression, but with room enough for their own imagination, if that makes sense. I suppose that’s what is most important in selling my books – a sense of time and place. A distinct aesthetic. That, and the best writing I can deliver, of course.
TR: Of course. What mistakes have you made in regards to publishing and marketing your work, and what will you do differently in the future?
VC: Perhaps I’ve been too cautious. I have an agent – and one I care deeply about and with whom I have a long-standing relationship – so I guess you can say I come out of traditional publishing. But I’m also an entrepreneur, and I’ve always loved the idea of my books being my own. It’s just taken me longer to get there. Now that I am there – I’m on fire with the possibilities. As for marketing mistakes – I don’t know, as my first novel has yet to come out. Check with me in about a year.
TR: I’ll be happy to. So, now that you mentioned it, tell us a bit about your first book.
VC: My first novel, The Bone Church, is coming out this fall. It’s a Cold War spy thriller with a ghostly twist and I have never loved writing anything more. Hopefully, my readers will feel that intense emotion.
It involves a mysterious Roman Catholic Cardinal, a reckless sculptor intent on making a big political statement, a gypsy with a dangerous sex life, and an émigré priest who is forced to confront the fragility of his faith. There’s love and sex and danger all over the place.
TR: It sounds fascinating! And your second one?
VC: My second book is written. It’s called The Hungarian and I’m publishing it late next Spring. And I have endless ideas for books – it’s a blessing and a curse.
TR: A curse that ain’t bad to have. Okay, so how do people get in touch or follow you?
VC: The best place is my blog. It’s called Cold and you can click on www.victoriadougherty.wordpress.com to get there. Cold is the way revenge is best served; the way a war was fought; the way a story should be told. At least in my humble opinion
You can also follow me on twitter: @vicdougherty
And tumblr: http://vicdougherty.tumblr.com/
If you’re out for a walk, you can also catch me drinking a whiskey on my front porch most nights.
TR: Save a sip of that for me. Victoria, it was a blast. Come back any time, okay?
VD: Thanks so much, Thomas…I’ll take you up on that 🙂
That’s a wrap folks. Victoria has her first book “Bone Church” coming out in the fall, so why don’t you buddy up to her, so you can stay tuned for the launch, and get yourself a great book?
In case you’re interested, here’s a quick synopsis…
The Bone Church
After secretly witnessing the murder of his father at the hands of a Nazi thug, Czech hockey star Felix Andel sets his sights on revenge. Soon Felix and his half-Jewish lover, Magdalena Ruza, become embroiled in a Prague Underground plot to assassinate the man who ordered the hit on his father: Hitler’s nefarious Minister of Propaganda, Josef Goebbels.
But in the surreal and paranoid underworld of wartime Prague, Felix and Magdalena must forge unlikely alliances in their quest—with a mysterious Roman Catholic Cardinal, a reckless sculptor intent on making a big political statement, and a gypsy with a dangerous sex life.
When the assassination attempt against Goebbels goes wildly wrong, fierce historical winds blow the lovers in separate directions. Critically wounded and slipping into a fog of extraordinary visions, Felix’s destiny is sealed at The Bone Church, a mystical pilgrimage site on the outskirts of Prague where he experiences a religious conversion. Magdalena, abandoned by the Cardinal who promised her safe passage out of the country, goes deep into hiding lest she be rounded up and transported to Auschwitz.
Twelve years pass.
Felix, now a Jesuit priest, is an emissary for people in trouble. From Vienna, he runs a Vatican-financed operation that smuggles prominent dissidents out of Soviet-occupied countries. Only this time, it’s Magdalena who needs his help. After a long exile in various political prisons, she turns up in a bleak corner of the Czech countryside – disgraced, impoverished and struggling to stay alive. Felix’s superior in Rome, the Cardinal who betrayed Magdalena, reluctantly dispatches him to collect her.
With government security forces closing in around them as they run for the border, the émigré priest is forced to confront his past…and the fragility of his faith.