German Social Reading Platforms – Connecting with Readers in Germany
Readers who want to share the books they love with other readers can choose among several Social Reading platforms. Most of them are also open to authors (for free) and offer special promotional opportunities like giveaways and reading circles. Here are some notable Social Reading networks on which German readers hang out:
You’re probably familiar with Goodreads one as it’s the biggest Social Reading platform worldwide. It’s rapidly gaining traction in Germany. There is already a substantial German user base and you’ll find lots of German books that readers or authors have added, with reviews. So there’s nothing keeping you from adding your translated books to the large Goodreads library. If you have an author profile set up, you can even take advantage of the numerous activities to interact with readers and promote your book.
Lovelybooks is the German equivalent to Goodreads and the biggest Social Reading network in Germany. Authors and readers can start a so-called reading circle (“Leserunde”) to read and discuss a book together with other readers. During these events, authors can give away ebooks or print books to readers who have applied. Even without an author profile, you can start such a discussion circle. Oftentimes, reading circles result in valuable reviews. Of course, it’s all in German. Read about my experiences with Lovelybooks here.
Watchareadin is a relatively new platform, also completely in German, offering a forum, groups, and blogs. Authors here have the opportunity to do giveaways, reading circles, contests, and price promotions. However, as an author you can only use use these activities after you have participated actively in the forum discussions.
Wattpad works differently than the other sites. It’s a reading and writing community. Every user can post articles, stories, fanfiction, etc., and can comment on other users’ writing. It has an active German user base and is mostly frequented by the younger crowd – who don’t have enough money to buy all of their own books, yet. Some authors post their books on Wattpad chapter by chapter (once or twice a week) and build up a fanbase this way, which might later go on to buy other books of that author (but remember – many users are not especially high in funds).
“Was liest du” means “What are you reading?“. This is a combination of a reader’s community and an online magazine covering book-related topics. Readers can sort their books on virtual shelves and discuss them with others, write reviews, and participate in reading circles. For each activity they gain bonus points, which they can later exchange for prizes like books. So far, authors can’t have a special profile on this platform – it’s mostly for the exchange among readers.
Literaturschock.de or “Literature shock” is a community all around books that features reviews, author interviews and other blog articles as well as forums where readers can exchange their thoughts. An interesting opportunity they offer for authors is similar to the Lovelybooks “reading circles” (Leserunden). Those are moderated book discussion groups where readers can win a book and read and discuss it together. But in contrast to Lovelybooks, this is done for books that haven’t been released yet and can therefore serve the author as a test platform (a little like Vorablesen). Also, these reading circles are moderated by the Literaturschock team, but the author can read along and participate, of course.
“Vorablesen” means “Reading in Advance” – and that’s exactly what it does: Prior to the actual publication of a book, readers get the chance to win a free copy to read and review it. Most of the books are trad pub, but they are open to self-publishers with a “professional appearance” (it’s pricey, though). There is also a “Pre-Advance-Reading” to get your covers, manuscripts, and even ideas in front of the community for a first impression of what readers think. This can be used by every community member, including indie authors. Here’s an article by Joanna Penn on how she used Vorablesen: http://www.thecreativepenn.com/2014/06/12/self-publishing-in-german/
Blogg dein Buch
“Blogg dein Buch” means “Blog your book”. This platform brings authors/publishers and bloggers together: Publishers offer review copies, bloggers apply for one of those books. If they are drawn for one of the free books, they are required to leave an honest review on their blog within 30 days after receiving the book. All reviews are checked by Bloggdeinbuch. This means after paying the fee and offering the review copies, BloggdeinBuch does all the work of finding bloggers willing to apply for it – as opposed to platforms like Rezisuche.de where authors have to contact each blogger individually.
NetGalley is not a ‘classical’ social reading platform where readers talk about books, but more of a tool for authors and publishers to connect with ‘professional’ readers like book bloggers, journalists, book sellers, and librarians. NetGalley has expanded its services to Germany in March 2016. You can find more information on how to use NetGalley to gain reviews for your book in this post.
As for all social networks, the key is: The more social you are, the more success you’ll have with these kinds of sites. This is especially true for Watchareadin, which requires a certain number of forum posts before any of the author activities can be used.
Tip: Use Social Reading Sites to find reviewers!
You can use Social Reading Platforms like Goodreads and Lovelybooks to find potential reviewers. How? Search for books similar to yours (same genre, topic, target audience, etc.) and look at the reviews these books have and the users who left them. If a user has left multiple good reviews for books of the same kind as yours, then you could approach them directly by asking them if they would like to get a free copy of your book in exchange for an honest review. Tell them you saw that they enjoyed book XYZ and how your book is similar, which is why you think they might enjoy that one too.
If you are not sure how to start, check your Amazon book page and look at the Also Bought section (in German: “Kunden, die diesen Artikel gekauft haben, kauften auch”) to get an idea of which books may be similar to yours. Sometimes, Amazon reviewers can be contacted directly as well. I don’t think there’s anything scammy about offering a reader a free book in exchange for an honest review. They can leave a one star or no review at all – no obligations. If you make that clear, why would a reader turn down a free book, especially if it sounds like something they’d enjoy? Of course this entails only offering this to readers who have shown by their reading activity that they love your kind of book. Just as if you were to approach a book blogger, make sure your request is personalized to the user in question.
For detailed tutorial vidoes on Lovelybooks, Vorablesen, and Bloggdeinbuch, check out my online course “How to market your book in Germany.”