The challenge for most first book authors, especially those without a large pre-existing audience of followers, is to get their work in front of as many people as possible. An obvious reason is to get sales. But often more important in the early days of a book's release it’s getting reviews. This is where the Goodreads Giveaway program comes in.
The cost: Free (other than copies of the book and shipping).
The catch: You must have a print book (eBooks are not eligible).
Author Lee Van Ham’s Experience
Our client, Lee Van Ham, recently participated in a Goodreads Giveaway by offering 10 free copies of Blinded by Progress: Breaking Out of the Illusion That Holds Us. Goodreads shares your offer with its massive community of readers who register for a chance to get a free book. At the end of the scheduled period they randomly select winners and provide you with the names and addresses.
Here in Lee’s words is his experience with the program. (By the way, you can learn more about Lee’s OneEarth Project by visiting TheOneEarthProject.com.)
David: What did it cost?
Lee: I gave away 10 copies of my book, Blinded by Progress: Breaking Out of the Illusion That Holds Us, in the Goodreads Giveaway program. Total cost to me for the books, shipping them to me, and then mailing them to the ten winners was between $70 and $80.
Did you gain any particular insights running a Giveaway? What did you learn?
The Giveaway helped me test the market or interest in my book. The book had been published only six weeks earlier. I was encouraged when 664 people considered the book interesting enough to take the time to register for one of ten copies.
Did you have any contact with contestants? How does it work?
Other than sending the contestants copies of the book, I have had no other contact. I inscribed each book and put in a bookmark that I’d designed. I also enclosed a cover letter, individually addressed, in which I congratulated them and told them how much it would mean to have them write a few sentences of review on Goodreads, Amazon, or both. I underscored that writing a review would not only encourage and inform other potential readers, but, more importantly, they would be adding their voice to the public conversation about the future inhabitability of Earth and other important themes of the book.
Writing the letter, inscribing the book, and inserting the bookmark all gave me more of a feeling that I was connecting with each one. I haven’t heard from anyone yet but they’ve only had their copy for three weeks. It would be a treat to hear from any of them.
How much time did it take?
Offering the Giveaway was a rather quick online process. Mailing the books to the winners took longer. I may have invested eight hours of time—no more.
Did you get any other benefits? Networking contacts, notice any extra sales during this period?
There were some spikes in sales during the Giveaway, but it seems more significant that sales have been up some in the month since the Giveaway ended.
During the Giveaway and in the four weeks since it ended, 270 people have indicated that my book is on their “to read” list.
I believe that networking contacts are beginning to happen through the Goodreads website. It requires that I give time to using the website so that the tools and features there result in optimal benefits—blogging, taking interest in other authors, and learning about reviewers, friends, and those expressing interest in reading my book are examples of what I mean.
Where to find out more
Begin by visiting this link where you can explore some of the book currently available from Goodreads Giveaway participants. To learn more you will need to have a Goodreads account to view the entry page which is a text link called “List a Giveaway” at the top of the column on the right.