How to build better relationships with your readers using Goodreads’ “Ask the Author” feature

Goodreads Ask the Author

Goodreads recently introduced an exciting feature called “Ask the Author.”  With this tool, fans can pose questions to their favorite writers.

As the author, the questions do not appear publicly until you approve them and post a response. You can choose which questions you want to answer and WHEN you want to answer them. The “when” is important because your answers will be displayed in the news feeds of all your followers. By spreading out your answers, you’ll increase the chances your readers will view these interactions and get engaged in the Q&A process.

You also get to turn the “Ask the Author” feature on and off whenever you want. Feel like answering questions this week? Turn it on. Had enough of the Q&As for the summer and need a little break? Turn it off. If fans are interested in reading your past responses (especially when you’re not taking new questions for a little while), all your previous answers will still be archived. posted some tips from Patrick Brown, Director of Author Marketing at Goodreads, on how authors can use “Ask the Author” to build better relationships with their readers. 

At the 2014 BookExpo America, he told authors to:

1. Set Expectations

Whether you are willing to answer questions for a day, or for a week, please let your readers know your parameters. Maybe you only want to answer questions about your new book; make that clear. You’re not obligated to answer all your questions, but you do need to be a good citizen and let your readers know what kind of questions you’ll take.

Goodreads suggests guiding your readers to ask the following types of questions:

• The author’s writing process
• The author’s favorite writers or influences
• Questions about specific characters or moments in books
• Questions about author’s writing life (not personal life)

2. Post Interesting Answers

You’re a writer — so write your answers in your unique voice. People like your books because they’re interesting. Don’t bore your readers online! If your books are humorous, your fans will expect funny replies. Be yourself — but make reading your answers worthwhile.

3. Distribute Your Answers Over Time

The answers in  “Ask the Author” get posted in a newsfeed. So if you put a little time between your answers they won’t all appear in a clump and your fans will receive them on a more consistent, regular basis.

4. You Can Ask Yourself a Question

If there’s something you really want your readers to know, but no one is asking, then go ahead: ask yourself — then create an answer.

Are you active on Goodreads? Have you started using the “Ask the Author” feature? Let us know all about it in the comment below.

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