The Essential Guide to Running a Goodreads Giveaway

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The Essential Guide to Running a Goodreads Giveaway

The Essential Guide to Running a Goodreads GiveawayGoodreads Giveaways are a low-cost way to promote your book and solicit book reviews. And since every new book needs reviews, and a Goodreads Giveaway is free, it pays to make early and regular use of this important promotional tool (btw, this is for print books only, no eBooks allowed).

In this brief guide I’ll explain the key benefits and steps to take to running a successful Goodreads Giveaway and link out to some additional wisdom you might find helpful.

Why Run a Goodreads Giveaway and What to Expect

Unlike Facebook, Twitter and Pintrest, Goodreads is a social network for book lovers. On the other social networks your offer—free or otherwise—has to break through the noise to get attention. It’s easier if you are an established author with a following, but new or occasional authors will find it more difficult to get and sustain traction.

But keep your expectations for reviews in line with the reality of time: time to run the promotion, ship the books, the winner has to read it and then they have to write the review—your #1 goal. The earlier your start, the better the results. You can’t rush this.

Costs ($)

  1. Copies of your book.
  2. Mailing envelopes.
  3. Shipping (you can specify which countries you’ll ship to)

Rules and Best Practices

  1. Print books only.
  2. There is no limit to the number of books you can offer.
  3. You must ship the books, at your expense, and notify Goodreads when they have been shipped.
  4. Instead of one Giveaway of several books, consider fewer books (2 or 3) with several Giveaways. (I had more than 200 entries in two days for a client’s book and we’re going to run it again, and maybe again.)

Pre-Giveaway/Listing Advice

  1. Write your “ad”, don’t do this on the fly or simply copy your description from Amazon.
  2. Schedule your start date 2-3 days in the future. Each offer is manually reviewed and this gives you time to plan your promotion. This is especially important for shorter promo periods.
  3. Specify that your book is autographed. This may make it more valuable to readers and hopefully reduce the change of resale (also see resources for a “fishy” cautionary tale).
  4. Use popular tags. These are like keywords for search engine optimize (SEO) of your book. This is a link to the popular tags on Giveaway.
  5. End your Giveaway on non-holiday, a day when people are not distracted.

During the Giveaway

Promote your book’s Giveaway. Don’t assume Goodreads is going to actively promote it or that your book will “sell itself.” This is similar to running a KDP Select promotion, not promoting it, and then wondering why you had so few people take you up on your offer. (See the results of our research, slides 18 & 19; it’s a self-fulfilling prophesy that people who have poor experiences are the same ones that don’t advertise these promotions.)

After Your Giveaway  Ends

  1. Send a handwritten note with each book.
  2. Tell them you’d appreciate their feedback. Ideally as a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads, but include your email address as well. Just don’t get pushy; be grateful and courteous.
  3. Autograph your book.
  4. Keep track of who you send the book to and watch to see if they leave a review. There is no need to follow-up, or thank them if they do leave a review—it’s just a good marketing practice.

Intangible Benefits

There are more benefits that just reviews. Some people will put your book on their shelf with plans to read it anyway and all this activity helps raise awareness of the book. Read this interview with one of our authors about his experience.


Giveaway-Main Page on Goodreads

Goodreads Giveaway FAQ (source: Goodreads)

Goodreads Giveaway Slideshow (source: Goodreads)

One author’s experience. Includes detailed stats and 11 tips (2012 but still good to know)

Something Funny and Fishy About Goodreads’ Giveaways and Amazon (feedback about how some books end up with resellers)

Goodreads Giveaways are just one option

Like any good marketing plan this is just one way to promote your book to get reviews and your experience will vary. The good news is that it is inexpensive and you can run a Goodreads Giveaway as many times as you like.

Please share your experiences in the comments. What worked for you? What other promotion tools have you used to get reviews?

photo credit: Kris Krug via photopin cc

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