My experience with a Goodreads Giveaway

I’ve just completed my first ‘Goodreads Giveaway’. My experience may be of interest to new indie authors who are looking for ways of marketing their books.

Goodreads.com is an Amazon-related site for both readers and writers. Giveaways, which are only for printed books and not for ebooks, work like a lottery. The author undertakes to send out a certain number of copies, interested readers apply to receive one, and the winners are selected by Goodreads. It is up to the author to choose how many copies to offer, how long to run the promotion, and which countries of the world to include.

I did a week-long promotion, offering five copies of my novella Carmen’s Roses to readers in the US or UK. I was pleased to find that about 500 people entered the draw, and about 250 added my book to their ‘want to read’ shelf. My book is a print on demand title, published through CreateSpace. I sent out the books to the winners as ‘gifts’ from the Amazon website, because this was a faster and cheaper option than having them shipped to my home in New Zealand and then shipping them back to America. One of the winners has already posted a 5-star review, and seven paid copies of the book were ordered during the promotion period – hopefully there are more reviews and sales to come.

This venture has not made any financial profit so far, and I have realised in retrospect that I would probably have got just as many entries if I had offered just one copy instead of five. However, although I tend to be phobic about marketing, I found it quite interesting and enjoyable. It has provided some free advertising and, because I am able to view the profiles of the people who requested my book, given me access to demographic information which may be useful for targeting any future marketing campaigns.

I know that other authors have reported different outcomes from their free promotions – some much better than mine and others much worse. My own results have confirmed what is probably obvious, that the easiest way to reach a large readership is to offer free books, but that free promotions do not necessarily lead on to more paid sales. This is also what I have found when running free promotions of ebooks on Smashwords and on Amazon kdp. Although for reasons discussed in a previous post I am still reluctant to make all my work free, I have just started another Goodreads Giveaway of my novella, which is set in New Zealand, for local readers. This will obviously attract less interest, because New Zealand has only a small population and Goodreads is not so well known here, so anyone who enters should have a high chance of winning! For details, click here.

3 thoughts on “My experience with a Goodreads Giveaway

  1. This is a great post for writers considering giving away free copies of their books. I think it paints a realistic picture of the possible outcome. What I got from this post is when giving away books, set realistic outcomes. I had not considered giving away free books on Goodreads, but now, after reading this post, I will consider Goodreads when I publish my memoir.

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  2. Interesting post! It caught my eye because I’ve just listed AMY’S CHOICE as a Goodreads Giveaway this week. I think it’s a great program and you’re right, it really doesn’t matter if you give away one book or twenty, since the same amount of people will see it listed. Although I guess there’s a chance for more reviews with more winners. I gave away seven copies with my first book and I think five of the winners left a review, which is always helpful. Good luck with CARMEN’S ROSES!

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