The Essential Guide to Running a Goodreads Giveaway
There are two Goodreads Giveaways: choose the lower cost option. Includes pre-listing advice and five important tips for maximizing your Goodreads Giveaway experience.
The Essential Guide to Running a Goodreads Giveaway

The Essential Guide to Running a Goodreads Giveaway

Providing free copies of books to interested readers is a proven strategy for building word-of-mouth awareness of books. Some of these readers may also go on to leave customer reviews—a critical goal for any author, and especially for self-published authors who don't have the imprimatur of a traditional publisher. A Goodreads Giveaway helps in this regard.

A Goodreads Giveaway has two price levels, and it is available for either print books or Kindle eBooks. Here are the highlights:

  • Prices: $119 and $599
  • Your eBook must be published using KDP. In other words,  you cannot use an aggregator such as Draft2Digital, Smashwords, or Publish Drive to list your eBook in the Kindle store. (There are no such requirements for print books.)
  • If you want to give away copies of each format (Kindle and print), you must pay for two giveaways.
  • Kindle eBook giveaway limits: up to 100 copies. (These are free, so you do not receive a royalty.)
  • Print giveaway limits: no limit.
  • Amazon handles delivery of the Kindle eBooks. You must mail the print copies at your expense.
  • Countries: US and Canada only. (They have been talking about expanding the program internationally since 2018.)
  • Release date: It does not matter when your book was published. (Most people schedule a Goodreads Giveaway before a book's release date.)

Spending the additional $480 gets you three benefits:

  1. Your book gets premium placement on the Goodreads Giveaways page.
  2. You may customize a message sent by Goodreads to entrants who don't win.
  3. About eight weeks after your giveaway ends, winners receive an email from Goodreads to remind them to rate and review your book.

New to Goodreads? Scroll down for our five tips for making the most of your experience on this important platform.

Reasons to Run a Goodreads Giveaway and What to Expect

Unlike Facebook and Twitter, for example, Goodreads is a social network specifically for book lovers. In addition to building word-of-mouth awareness and getting reviews of your book, a giveaway on Goodreads has two more benefits:

  1. When you list your book's giveaway, you can choose to market it to a category of reader interest. Limiting it to readers with an interest in your book's subject improves your book's chances of receiving a relevant review. Only those readers who enjoy your book's subject matter will enter the contest.
  2. Everyone that enters a giveaway contest is required to add your book to their “Want to Read” list. This raises awareness of your book beyond the giveaway period by showing that people want to read it.


It takes time to run the promotion, and if you're mailing print copies, it takes time for the copies to be delivered (Kindle copies are delivered automatically). Either way, the winner then has to read the book and write the review.

Costs ($)

  1. Either $119 or $599 (we recommend $119 unless you are a well-known author).
  2. If you choose a Kindle giveaway, there are no further costs. KDP handles delivery automatically.
  3. If you choose to give away printed copies, you'll be paying for these as well:
    • Copies of your book
    • Mailing envelopes
    • Postage

Pre-Giveaway/Listing Advice

  1. Compose a compelling offer. You have a chance to write what is essentially an advertisement for your book. Take time to study how other books are being promoted. Don't simply copy your description from Amazon.
  2. Schedule your start date at least three days in the future. Each offer is manually reviewed, and this gives you time to plan your promotion.
  3. If you are sending a print book, consider autographing it. Readers like this and it may reduce the chance of it being resold as used.
  4. Use popular tags. These are like keywords for search engine optimization (SEO) of your book. This is a link to popular tags used for giveaways: best book lists; browse by tag.
  5. End your giveaway on a 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 and 19. It’s a self-fulfilling prophesy that people who have poor experiences are usually the same ones that don’t advertise these promotions.

After Your Giveaway  Ends (print books)

  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. 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.)

New to Goodreads? Here are five important tips:

  1. Complete your personal profile. Similar to Author Central, this includes a bio, picture, links to your website and reading preferences. You can also connect your blog.
  2. Join the free Goodreads Author Program so you can claim management of your book's listing (anyone can post a book, but authors can manage its details and rectify problems like multiple posted versions).
  3. Did you know that Goodreads is the second-most-popular place for readers to post reviews, with only Amazon ahead of it? Encourage reviewers to post reviews on both Amazon and Goodreads. Rate and review Kindle ebooks as soon as you are done reading the book
  4. Find and follow a few other authors that publish books similar to yours. Monitor what they post and learn from them.
  5. Participate as a reader first, not as an author. The Goodreads community is sensitive to authors that hawk their own books. Those that do, run the risk of being added to the group “Authors Behaving Badly.” Add books you are reading, and review books you have read. After all, that’s what we are expecting others to do for our books, right?


Like any marketing plan, this is just one way to promote your book to get reviews, and your experience may vary. The good news is that the program is open to any book, no matter when it was published. You can also run a Goodreads Giveaway as many times as you like.

Giveaway Main Page on Goodreads

Goodreads Giveaway FAQ (source: Goodreads)

Goodreads Giveaway Slideshow (source: Goodreads)

Goodreads is one of 11 book review services profiled in the 10th edition of The Book Reviewer Yellow Pages

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