Saturday, March 8, 2014

Glenn Miller: Three Social Media Profiles for Writers

“I know who you are.” The voice was mechanical.

She paused at her keyboard.

That menacing voice again, menacing her: “I know what you wrote.”

She trembled, tremblingly.

“I know what videos you made and what you said about them. I know where you blog. I’ve read your email.”

She knew him only as “G,” but he (it?) knew everything about her.

“And I’m going to expose you to the world.”

Finally. “Thank you, Google!”

* * *

GLENN MILLER: And that bit of overwrought schlock is why I don’t write mysteries. But I help those who do write them find their audiences.

So does Google.

Your Google+ Profile Is for Getting Found

Which is why the big G matters. A lot. And why if you’ve not at least built your Google+ profile, you’re announcing to the world and to your readers that you don’t want to be found online.

Only Google Really Knows You

That Google+ profile? Without it, Google can’t credit you with having authored your latest blog post, or even with being the owner of your own website. (Which you do have, of course. If you are an author without a website, then please allow me a moment to weep quietly for your children.)

What matters to Google is delivering search results that represent authenticity and authority. Authority comes from having well-organized, relevant content, inbound links from reputable sites, and a long history of original work—all the elements of good Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Authenticity comes from you—and that starts with your Google+ profile.

Set It and Forget It

Associating your Google+ profile with the content you create is called is called Authorship—and you need it to establish that authenticity. It’s not hard to do, and needs be done only once. For most sites, sending one email and then clicking a verification link establishes the connection. When you’re ready, Link your Google+ profile to your site. Once that’s done, you can use Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool to see if your new articles have the authorship link established. 

Google Plays the Long Game

Google’s not going anywhere, and its strategy is clear: to use Google+ as the social glue that connects the internet, including Google’s showcase services of search, YouTube, Maps, Gmail, and dozens more. Google plans ahead, and part of its plan includes giving you credit for your work. Which starts with your Google+ profile. Which you need.

But that’s not the only online profile you need.

Your Goodreads Profile Is for Nurturing Your Community

Here’s the bad news: The planet has 7 billion people who don’t care about your book.

Your Readers Are Here

The good news: among the 16 million users on Goodreads are the readers who will adore your book. Here is your targeted audience of book lovers, people who:

    •    Share what they like
    •    Come here for recommendations
    •    Set their “to read” book lists
    •    Announce to their friends when they find an author they are mad about

The few hundred or few thousand readers you need to champion your book and amplify its exposure are on Goodreads, and you need to be there too.

Start here to join the Goodreads Author Program.

Goodreads Publishes Your Blog Posts

You know those blog posts you spent hours crafting, the ones you want the world to see, but which never get the broad audience they deserve? Goodreads will publish those for your, as part of your author profile. Even better, every reader who is a fan of yours will get your blog posts as part of their Goodreads news feed.

Goodreads Is on a Fast-Track for Better Usability

There is more at Goodreads. In fact, there’s so much more that it’s a challenge for many authors to know how best to navigate the site: whether to start giveaways (yes, often) or join groups (sparingly) or lead online Q&A discussions (eventually) or even advertise (very cautiously).

Goodreads’ usability is sub-par. But it won’t be for long, since Goodreads was recently acquired by the world’s very best usability experts, who even now will be engineering a high-tech makeover.

Speaking of Amazon …

Your Amazon Author Profile Is at the World’s Largest Bookstore

Whether you are an independent author or James Patterson, if you have at least one book on Amazon then you have an Amazon author page, a place where seeing your sales numbers and author rank aren’t even the most valuable aspects of the property.

The world’s biggest online merchant has given you shelf space to describe yourself, list your books, and re-broadcast your blog and twitter feeds.

For free.

At Amazon.

Just go.

Create your Amazon author page.

LUCY BURDETTE: Is your head spinning now? Glenn will be here all day to answer your questions about social media. thanks Glenn!

Glenn Miller is a social media strategist who acknowledges that he cheats at life by cherry-picking only the fun tasks. He counts helping authors stake their claim on the internet among the fun tasks. Find him at or on twitter @glennjmiller.


  1. Using social media often seems pretty much like a navigating a minefield . . . it's good to know there are folks like Glenn who actually know how it all works . . . .

  2. I still don't quite get Google plus. I +1 most of my reviews, and the stuff I don't just dies. The rest of it pretty much takes off when I do.

    I'm sure there is more to Goodreads, too, but I just don't have the time to learn it all.

    Then again, I'm just a reviewer. I don't have the stake in this that authors do.

    I'll be interested in learning more as the day progresses.

  3. Thanks for the prod to update my google+ profile. It was there but now it's fresher. I do need to figure out how to link my blog posts to goodreads, and will head over there now to do so. I don't participate in group discussions on goodreads at all - I can't conceive of finding the time to do that. Thanks so much for your tips.

  4. Any author not on Goodreads is missing a big marketing tool. Big. Readers looking for new books shop there every day.

  5. So Glen: What MUST be on the author's profile page? Anything that should NOT be there?

  6. Unbelievably helpful. Thank you, Glenn, for sharing great advice. I will post this on FB. Everyone should get in on this information. Once again, June Red Writers rule!

  7. Aha! Thanks for the tips.

  8. Jack, here are four things you don't want to overlook on your google+ profile page:

    1. Under "Work," your employer -- even if "Author" or "Mystery Writer." That descriptor shows alongside your name when people are searching for you.

    2. Under "Links," the sites you contribute to, such as your own website. It's these links that google uses to establish your authorship.

    3. Under your entire profile, especially "Story," keywords that describe you. In a natural way, relevant to both people and google's robots, weave these into your Introduction, Tagline, and Work.

    4. A clear headshot photo.

    Things to avoid? Just use good sense. Anything you don't want made very public, since google is better than anyone at amplifying things of interest.

  9. This is so great! Thank you. I am haunted by good reads--and need to go update. But how much time do you think authors should be spending there?

  10. Brilliant! Thanks for the incredibly useful info.

  11. Hank, I wouldn't spend more than 30 minutes a week on goodreads -- at least not until their user interface is less of a maze.

    But when you have new releases, it's worth the time (and easy) to set up giveaways there.

  12. **Thought this Glenn Miller would be taking about the dance bands of the forty's. Shows you what generation I'm in. Thanks for the 21st century Glenn Miller's advice

  13. OH THAT would be a fun topic too, Anonymous:). Glenn, how are you on dance band music? LOL

  14. Hi Glenn,

    Thanks so much for the great tips!

    I confess to having NO Google+ profile. Where do I go to start one? I do have gmail accounts. Should I set it up from the public gmail that's listed on my website?


  15. I soooo agree with Glenn! That's why I keep my Amazon, Goodreads, and Google+ profiles up-to-date and ignore Twitter and Pinterest. I do add one more, Facebook, because that's my fun place to hang out.

  16. Nancy, you can use the nancyadamsfiction gmail address from your site, but it's even better if the google+ account is authentically you -- a gmail identity you use to communicate to the world in every facet, not just, for example, fiction writing. Also, to have the most value and allow "Authorship," the profile will need a real headshot photograph of you.

    Begin here:

  17. Hi Glenn! Thanks so much for the helpful advice!! I've just been checking my Google+ profile and while it's not bad, it could use some work. It's so difficult to navigate all the social media. I do well on Facebook, pretty badly on Twitter, have a Pinterest account but haven't used it for promotion, and am just now trying to get my head around Goodreads, which I have found unfathomable. My publisher has done lots of giveaways and set up events on Goodreads. I've updated my profile. But I'm not sure how, as an author, I should interact. I'm not comfortable posting reviews of other authors' books--although if I like a book I have no problem saying so on Facebook. But that's different from having to give a book a rating...


    PS: And thanks for reminding me to update my Amazon profile. I have a very sharp new web page in the works, too.

  18. Some people mentioned Goodreads. I have to say that I love Goodreads. I find it easier for Me to use than Google +. I admit that I am new to google + even though I have an easier time using my gmail account.

    I know of an author who was encouraged to use Facebook by the author's publisher though this author was Not a fan of Facebook.

    I wonder if some of you have privacy concerns and would prefer Goodreads to Facebook or another social media for privacy reasons but at the same time post updates about the books?


  19. Some people mentioned Goodreads. I have to say that I love Goodreads. I find it easier for Me to use than Google +. I admit that I am new to google + even though I have an easier time using my gmail account.

    I know of an author who was encouraged to use Facebook by the author's publisher though this author was Not a fan of Facebook.

    I wonder if some of you have privacy concerns and would prefer Goodreads to Facebook or another social media for privacy reasons but at the same time post updates about the books?


  20. Thanks, Glenn. In terms of email, though, what about privacy concerns? Whenever you pay with a credit card and get confirmation from an email address, it seems like that address wouldn't be a good one to put out on Google.

    And I do have a photo I plan to upload, just gotta get to it.

    Thanks for the link to get started.

  21. Deb,
    I sympathize with your sense of overwhelm, and your take on Goodreads’ labyrinthine nature. Your publisher is right to use the giveaways feature there: getting your title on readers’ “To read” shelf is what those do best for you. I encourage you to make sure that all your books are associated accurately with your name, route your blog through your profile, and make sure your bio is current. Interacting beyong that is optional, but I’d generally skip reviewing other authors’ book. The quid pro quo appearance is too strong.

  22. Nancy,

    Regarding your gmail address, under your google+ profile settings you can choose how public (including not at all) to make certain data, such as your interests, hometown, and email address. You can also make the email address public only to certain circles you establish.

    Your contact information on google+, including email address, is not public by default.

    But only you can decide how careful you want to be with such data. For my part, I am more comfortable with a very public identity than most.

  23. Great advice, Glenn! I'm looking at all the stuff I'm NOT doing yet and shaking my head.

    One of the things I've discussed before with the other Reds is maximizing our social media time. I'm not even spending the 30 minutes a week you say would max out on Goodreads, and my question is - what are the two things I OUGHT to be doing/have on at that site? Here's my location, if it helps:

  24. Thanks, very helpful.

    I think I'm on top of the Goodreads and Amazon stuff, but the Google + thing had completely alluded me.

  25. Julia,

    For most authors, I really suggest that Goodreads be a “set it and forget it” site. It can be creepy-stalkery when you start friending readers, you certainly must never respond to reviews, and the general interface is awkward. And yet it has value because so many readers are there.

    The 30-minute figure is a maximum per week; it’s not wrong to spend 0 minutes.

    I recommend routing your blog through your profile, but for you, given that your online discussions (when you have them) are in your own ning “Reader Space” forum, that may not be possible.

    A second to-do for you is to add any upcoming events to your Goodreads calendar.

    But Julia, Goodreads is a place to find readers who might like your work, among the million of book lovers there. But you already have them in your own private forum! Before spending much time elsewhere, I’d consider re-engaging in earnest with your followers there.

  26. Great post, Glenn! And I have to say, I was laughing at the opening...maybe it's the mystery writer in me, but there's something simultaneously cool and creepy about everything the Internet knows about you. Thanks for the social media tips...adding fixing my Google+ page to my To Do list now...

  27. Sounds like Glenn is not In the Mood for Goodreads.

  28. This is such great advice. I'm with several of the others that I find Goodreads to be unfathomable beyond the giveaway for new books. I can see why readers love it, but finding ways to interact with them in any type of time-efficient manner (for me) has proven impossible. I look forward to a (massive) redesign so it becomes more user-friendly for authors.
    I see Facebook as becoming so focused on forcing us to advertise that it's almost a waste of time. Google + however, does still seem to be focused on helping with discoverability. I just hope more people will discover it!

  29. As a reader and a blogger, I find Goodreads most useful. I have my activity linked from goodreads to my blog, so my blog is continuously updated with my goodreads activities, including a highly recommended books montage, what I'm currently reading, books I've added to-read, my yearly book challenge that takes you to the books I've read during the current year and their reviews, and my favorite quotes by authors. Also, I can copy the HTML from my goodreads book reviews and transfer it easily to my blog. I agree with Jack about Goodreads being an important marketing tool for authors, even though I am not an author. However, as a reader, I do consistently use this site to add books to my reading list, as do many of my friends. I like how I can automatically share my reviews of books on FB through Goodreads, which I always choose to do.

    With Amazon, I use two widgets, one for recent favorite books I've read and another for books coming out in the current year that I'm looking forward to reading. I also have a Amazon link to look up books quickly.

    I belong to Google plus, but I haven't utilized it much, or really barely at all. Until your article here, Glenn, I hadn't checked to see what material was being or not being transferred to Google plus. I now realize that I have to click on the Google + button at the top of my blog and choose to add my current blog content. Now I know. What else can I do with Google plus to promote my blog. I need to find a way to gain followers for my blog. Will Google plus help in this area, Glenn, now that I know I need to click to share the content?

  30. Oh, and another word about Goodreads and authors connecting to readers. The author chats that are conducted via Goodreads are great for readers (and I hope for the authors), who gain a connection to the authors of books they've read or want to read, and as a result, readers are even more likely to spread the word about those authors and their books. All the chats I've participated in have been fun and informative.

  31. Hi, Glenn - I hope you don't mind what feels like a complicated question. This may or may not be within your purview and, if it's not, that's okay. I need to figure out how to sync up two Google personas.

    My Google Analytics is accessed through my Gmail address, but my Feedburner was set up via my usual-but-non-Google main email address. Now I can't see my Feedburner stats because Google doesn't believe it's me. :(

    Is it too late to link those two under one Google Authorship umbrella? Thanks!

  32. Kathy,

    You’re an inspiration to others who might care to become adventurous on Goodreads. The tools are numerous if one cares to take the time to exploit them. For so many of these platforms, readers and authors are best served by trying out a site’s features to see which resonate.

    For Google+, a presence there will help you be found in search, at the least. To gain followers for your blog, you’ll probably want to explore setting up a circle specific to your target audience. You’ll likely get higher rates of interaction with your content in a more tightly segmented group than you would with a general audience.

    But to be honest, if you want to gain followers, you do have to be social. Interact with your circle, respond and +1 their comments, and give them fresh content to talk about. Then to kick the process in hyperdrive – host a video chat hangout.

  33. Thanks so much for your advice about the circles on Google+, Glenn. I wasn't sure about the effectiveness of doing that, but with your encouragement, I'm going to give it a try. I do a lot of interacting on FB and Goodreads, and I am gaining more contact with the wonderful authors that are favorites, but, unfortunately, the FB and Goodreads aren't translating into blog followers as I'd hoped. I do have a book group on FB, too, Bookaholics with a little over 400 members. Maybe I need to push my blog more, but I don't want to begin to sound pushy. Risking that I'll post the link here again. LOL!

    Please let me know from anyone here if there is a problem signing up to follow my blog. I've had a problem with the email following, but I think just the following the blog button is fine. Mark, did you have any trouble? Thanks.

  34. Rhonda,

    I want to suggest a separate approach. Your inability to log in may be because Google has sunsetted Feedburner. Rather than working to combine any stats, you should be migrating to alternatives.

    If you care to continue with RSS syndication, then I recommend you remove the Feeburner feed redirection from your site and revert to the native WordPress feed. For your site that would be

    Alternatively, you might even choose to remove the RSS icon altogether and push site visitors even harder to sign up to your email list. That’s where you really want them anyway.

  35. Thanks, Glenn. Sounds like time I start phasing out the RSS feed and encouraging folks toward the list.

  36. Thanks Glenn, very informative. Unfortunately, I can't post a real photo of me until I quit my day job (three years from retirement). So can I still set up Google + without a real photo of me?

  37. H.S.,

    Your Google+ profile can have a picture of your cat, a lovely sunset, or nothing at all. But without a headshot of your smiling face, Google won't recognize the profile for "Authorship," its attribution mechanism that recognizes other web content you write as your own.

    Increasing SEO and the "Author Rank" that comes from this attribution is an important element of Google+, but not the only element. You can still set up a profile without it.

  38. So after a marathon day of car shopping, I FINALLY get to post my comment.

    I have profiles for all three you mention. Google+ continues to baffle me. But can you se up Authorship if your website/blog is self-hosted (it's WordPress)? I'm not sure it's ever worked, and I have no idea how to test.

  39. Mary,

    A self-hosted WordPress blog like yours is exactly the type of site on which Google+’s Authorship has the most value.

    See if it’s working on your site by entering the URL of any of your blog posts here: (Yours isn’t. I checked.)

    But when you do that test, Google will show you the steps you need to take to set it up. That’s where to start.

  40. Glenn, this has been so valuable! Thank you!

    One question--how can I link my blog to Google+ without having the Google+ profile also overwrite the profile on the two group blogs of which I'm an administrator? That's the only thing that's kept me from doing it. Every time I've tried, Google wants to overwrite the group blog profiles, too, and won't let me except them.

  41. Linda,

    I see that those three sites are Blogger blogs. Just as you share only one Blogger profile for all of them, should you switch to a Google+ profile it would likewise be shared across all three.

    If you’re really ambitious you might explore setting up Google+ pages for the group blogs you administer, and associating those blogs with their new respective Google+ pages.

    There’s a little more on that idea here:

  42. Thanks so much, Glenn. I'll talk to the other admins on the group blogs and see if we can't do as you suggest. It should boost our group blog profiles, as well.

  43. Hi Glenn, no questions, just want to say that you are worth your weight in gold! Everywhere you turn these days, people are screaming that you must utilize social media to get your work out to the public--but NO ONE has given such succinct, detailed advice! Maybe you should write a book "Social Media for Dummies, er, Authors!" Thanks so much!

  44. Thanks Glenn. I was pretty sure I hadn't set it up properly, but at least now I can try with better instructions.

  45. Glenn, you're a genius. And it's so good to get a refresher course from you. This has been enormously helpful. But I STILL can't navigate Goodreads easily. However, I will keep trying, thanks to you.

  46. Sometimes dont understand while people are wasting huge amount of time in social media sites. May it is the Big thing for generation.