Getting your name out there is all part of marketing as an author. And having a blog as an author can act as your base of operations, so to speak. In this case, we can show off our Goodreads reviews for our books as a widget in WordPress.
Currently, what you can do to integrate Goodreads with WordPress is a bit limited. In 2020, Goodreads got rid of the author API and doesn’t have a lot of promotional options off of the site.
However, this widget will give you a way to show off reviews while inspiring visitors to read your book.
That is as long as you’re able to drive traffic to your website.
Adding the Goodreads Widget in WordPress
In this tutorial, I’m going to assume you have a Goodreads Author account, a WordPress website, and the ISBN of your book. This is for self-hosted WordPress, not the free version you get with WordPress.com.
It also helps if you have some reviews to show on your site. But if you don’t, you can still add the widget and the reviews will show automatically once they’re added to Goodreads.
This is a really simple process, so, let’s jump right in.
Step 1: Configure the Goodreads Widget
Go to your Goodreads profile and click your icon from the top right.
Click the link for “Author Dashboard.”
Click the “Author Widgets” option on the right. You may have to scroll down a bit to find it.
On this page, you can choose to create a reviews widget or download any of the “button” images to use on your site. We’ll cover adding the Goodreads button to a blog post at a later time.
Goodreads will also show a sample of what the reviews widget will look like on your site. Don’t worry, this can be customized.
Click the button to configure and add the widget.
Adjust the settings for your widget. This includes hexadecimal colors, height, width, header text, and more. You can customize this to your liking while seeing the “sample” of how it will appear on your blog.
I am setting mine to show “3” views at a time. This is so that I don’t fill the right sidebar of my site with a lot of text. I also changed the width because I know how wide my sidebar is for the theme I’m using.
Also, if you have a custom style sheet, you can use its URL at the bottom. This allows you to customize the widget’s appearance to match your blog. However, it’s completely optional.
Once the widget settings are to your liking, click the “submit” button at the bottom. The Sample will change to show your customizations.
If you want, you can keep adjusting the settings until the Goodreads widget appears how you want.
When you’re satisfied with the results, here’s where it gets a bit interesting. You’ll need to paste the HTML separate from the CSS of the code snippet.
Let me show you what I mean.
Step 3: Paste Code into a Text Editor
Perhaps the easiest way to separate the CSS from the HTML is by using a text editing app, such as Notepad. You don’t want to use a regular word processor like Word because it will adjust the code automatically and may remove vital elements.
Click into the code window from Goodreads, and it will highlight the entire code snippet. Copy this and paste it into Notepad or other text-editing apps.
Step 4: Copy and Paste the CSS Clip into Your Theme
The Goodreads widget code is set up in two distinct coding samples. First, we’re going to copy the CSS code.
Select all of the text from under “<style>” to above “</style>.” Do not select the style lines themselves.
Go into the WordPress admin dashboard of your website.
Hover over “Appearance” and select the “Customize” option. This will open the WordPress Customizer tool for the theme you are currently using.
Click the “Additional CSS” option on the left. It may be in a different location depending on your theme. But in most cases, it’s near the bottom.
Paste the CSS code into the Additional CSS window.
If you have other custom CSS in this window, you can just paste the Goodreads clip below it. As you can see in the example image above, I also have an author box modification. So, I’ll enter an additional space and then paste the CSS clip.
Click the “Publish” button at the top after pasting the code.
Now, your changes are live and we’re ready to add the actual Goodreads widget to your blog. You can just click the “X” icon on the top left to return to the WordPress dashboard.
What if You Don’t Have Additional CSS in Your Theme?
Most themes will have the Additional CSS option in the Customizer. But if not, you can use a variety of plugins to add CSS to WordPress. One of the more popular plugins currently is Simple Custom CSS and JS.
Another good option is the WP Coder plugin. This lets you add custom HTML, CSS, and JS code directly from its interface.
Lastly, you could always input the code manually in the style.css file of your theme. Though, if you’re not sure what you’re doing, I don’t advise editing theme files. If you do, though, make sure you include the style lines when copying and pasting the code in this fashion.
Step 5: Paste the Style Code as a Widget
Now, all we have to do is add the widget itself to the website. Remember, you’ll need a theme that has a sidebar area. Otherwise, you can use the code in much the same way on a post or page.
Go back to your code snippet from Notepad. This time, you’ll want to copy all of the code for the HTML. But unlike the last time, we’re going to include the “<div>” and “</div>” lines.
Go back over to your WordPress dashboard. Hover over Appearance again and select Widgets.
Choose which sidebar or widget area you want to use and click to expand it. This is completely up to you, but I’m going to use the right sidebar for my theme.
In this sidebar, you’ll see a rectangle “add” button. Click this to add a new widget.
Search for and select the Custom HTML block. You can just type “HTML” in the search bar and the block will show up in the list.
Paste the code from Goodreads directly in the space provided.
Once you’ve done that, simply click on the “Update” button on the top right.
Congrats! Your widget is now live on your blog.
If your widget doesn’t show up, you may have to clear your site’s cache if you’re running something like Lightspeed or Autoptimize.
Step 6: Get Some Reviews for Your Book!
All that’s left is to get some reviews to show. This is the hardest part of adding a widget from Goodreads. There’s really no point in showing this widget if you have nothing to show, right?
So, what can you do to get a few reviews?
- Ask readers on social media to leave a review if they’ve read your book.
- Promote the book on Goodreads itself while reaching out to followers.
- Do a giveaway and ask for a review, assuming you have author copies of your book available.
As you can see, I don’t have any reviews on my book. But that’s because I haven’t done much to promote it outside of Amazon. It’s a relatively niche book, which makes it much harder to market to the right audience.
Is the Goodreads Widget Worth Adding to Your Blog?
I’m a fan of any kind of marketing. Especially if you can get your name out there as an author for free. What makes the difference is how active you are on those platforms.
Like anything else on the Internet, you have to remain consistent as a creator. Success is all about keeping yourself in the minds of followers, subscribers, and fans. Because if you don’t, they’ll stop being as such.
If you’re utilizing Goodreads to the fullest, adding the widget to your blog can be quite helpful for driving more people to read your book. This is especially true if you have a few glowing reviews you can share.
The number one reason why more books don’t sell is because of marketing. No one is going to buy the book if they don’t know it exists. This includes making sure your book is in as many places as possible, plugging yourself as often as you can, and writing up a good description that gets people to buy the book.
If you take a few moments each week to update your Goodreads author account, it may make a huge difference in your overall success.
Marketing Your Book Matters
Adding a Goodreads widget to your blog is but a simple method to help with your marketing efforts. You’ll still need to have an active role and build a community of readers who appreciate your work.
Out of everything I’ve done to publish my first book, marketing is by far the most difficult. It takes a bit of time to master but is well worth the effort if it boosts your book sales.
How do you market your book as a self-published author?
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