It’s likely you’ve heard of, or already belong to, Goodreads.com (if you haven’t, run, don’t walk over there NOW and sign up!), the social cataloguing site where members can create reading lists, catalogue books they’re reading to their “book shelves,” participate in discussion groups and review books they’ve read.
With more than 7 million readers who have added more than 260,000 books to their shelves, Goodreads is an online community rich with opportunity for authors and bookworms alike. Their site delves deeper into the book review world because when someone reviews or recommends a book, the friends they are connected to see it, get excited about it, and are more apt to read it based on their bud’s recommendation.
One of the great opportunities Goodreads provides authors with is to give away their books, for free, to their members.
*Note: At this time there is only an option to give away paperback on Goodreads. A similar site, LibraryThing.com allows members to give away eBooks, look out for a post on LibraryThing giveaways on 30 Day Books next week!*
How Goodreads Giveaways Can Help YOU as an Author
As an author on a budget, you don’t want to turn down the opportunity to have your book reviewed by real people. Goodreads offers authors a fantastic way to get your book out there via their book giveaway program.
Here’s how it works:
- Authors fill out and submit a brief form describing their book and the timeframe for the giveaway.
- Authors agree to supply the indicated number of books on the date the giveaway ends.
- Goodreads will list (for free) the book on its giveaways page.
- Goodreads members enter to win giveaways. Many will add the book to their “to-read” shelf. Though some authors have argued these shelves have tons of books on them and many readers may not ever get to them all, it’s one way to make sure the book is more familiar to potential readers.
- Goodreads collects interest in the book and selects winners. Their algorithm uses member data to match interested members with each book (genius, right?!)
- Authors are given the list of winners and are responsible for prompt shipping of books.
Giveaways in Action
I can attest to the power of giveaways via Goodreads. My client, Kathy Lynn Harris, had a big response to her Blue Straggler giveaway – 550 people requested it and 95 people added it to their shelves. I’d say that’s an excellent ROI – the only cost was that of printing the book ($4.88) and shipping within the US (~$3).
Top Techniques Behind Successful Giveaways – from the Goodreads (author) Newsletter
- Give away as many copies as possible. If your goal is to get reviews, it makes sense to give away a lot of books. Nearly 60 percent of giveaway winners review the books they win, so the more books you offer, the more reviews you are likely to get!
- Run your giveaway for two weeks to a month. Giveaways less than two weeks run the risk of not getting enough entries, while a four-week giveaway will generate more entries. We recommend that you offer giveaways for one month.
- Post our Giveaway Widget on your blog, website, and Facebook page. When Diana Gadaldon used this widget for a recent Outlander giveaway, it attracted more than 5,000 entries. Interest in all her other titles spiked at the same time on Goodreads. The Giveaway Widget works by helping you reach the people most likely to enjoy your book – your fans!
- Use self-serve advertising in concert with your giveaway to reach the right readers. Self-serve ads greatly increase interest in giveaways. An average giveaway attracts about 825 people, but an average giveaway supported by an ad campaign attracts 1,292 people – that’s nearly twice as many! You can also target your ad directly to which readers are most likely to love your book.
My Tips for a Successful Giveaway
Building on Goodreads’ tips above, I’ll add a few that have worked great for us:
- When winners are picked, be sure to send out the book in a timely manner. If the book is late, a peed off winner might write a bad review – and no one wants that!
- When sending the book, include a hand-written note to the winner and ask them to review it if they enjoyed it! As the Goodreads folks stated above, nearly 60 percent of giveaway winners review the books they win.
- Run the giveaway over a week or so – even longer is better – for more exposure.
I’ve heard several authors complain that they don’t see any obvious results from Goodreads giveaways but I wholeheartedly disagree. The cost is low (especially compared to paid advertising), familiarity is ALWAYS a good thing and it’s important to remember that marketing is a long-term commitment. Don’t expect results overnight – keep having your book show up in as many different places as possible over time. It’s a process that takes time to strategize, cultivate and execute, but exposure is essentially what will make readers sit up and pick your book out of a crowded place. As the old psychological principal goes, familiarity breeds liking!
What have your experiences with Goodreads giveaways been? Are you thinking to run one in the near future?
Laura Pepper Wu is the co-founder of 30 Day Books: a book studio. She has worked with a variety of authors to successfully promote their books, including many Amazon best-sellers. Laura is the author of wedding non-fiction guides and book marketing guides 77 Ways to Find New Readers for Your Self-Published Book and Fire Up Amazon!
Laura also runs Ladies Who Critique, a critique-partner finding site. When she's not working at the studio, you can find her walking her dog, "yoga-ing" or at a coffee shop in Seattle.