There are lots of pros and cons to Goodreads, and everyone who uses it has an opinion. If you’ve never used Goodreads, it’s explained as a facebook-like social media for readers. You can track books you want to read, you’re currently reading, and those you’ve read. You can rate books, leave reviews, join chats, and browse many lists. There are a lot of good features.
The cons to Goodreads usually tie back to bad behaviors of other Goodreads users. I won’t go into that since I’ve been lucky enough not to run afoul of any of the Goodreads trolls I’ve heard so much about. I’ll just say, it can be a useful site but, as with everything, tread with caution and don’t allow others to dictate how you feel about yourself.
For me, Goodreads has been a good thing. I enjoy seeing what friends are reading and following other authors I enjoy. One of the features of Goodreads I was slow to take advantage of is the Goodreads Giveaways, but they can be great for readers and for authors.
For readers, it’s easy to sign up for many giveaways, entering for chances to win free physical copies of books that look interesting. It’s a no-risk way to perhaps explore a new author’s work.
For authors, setting up a giveaway is a very inexpensive way to reach hundreds or even thousands of potential readers. How do they work?
First, you have to decide how many copies of your book (ARC copies or final, published copies) you plan to give away, and to which countries you’re willing to ship to. The cost of the books and the shipping is all yours to swallow.
Next, design your giveaway.
The simplest approach is to add your cover, title, and a brief blurb. That’s all you need and you can launch the giveaway. You specify the start and end dates of the giveaway, and let it rip. This works, but there are tons of giveaways running, and the downside is it’s hard to find a specific book among the long lists of giveaways. So it’s easy to get lost in the flood. I’ve found that most of the readers you snag to sign-up for your giveaway are won in the first days and in the final days of the giveaway, when it’s near one end of the list or the other. It’s easier for people to find them.
There’s a simple way to increase your discovery rate and boost the number of readers who sign up for the giveaway. To do so, you must make a secondary giveaway image.
As you can see, it’s a pretty simple thing to put together. But this image displays larger than the basic cover and helps pop out from the long lists of plain giveaways when readers are scanning the page, helping to draw their gaze. If you have a great cover and an enticing one-liner, you can get them to add the book.
For Set in Stone, my first giveaway, over 1000 people signed up for the giveaway – 2 signed hardcover copies. Even better, over 500 people added Set in Stone to their “To Read” queue! Not everyone is going to eventually buy the book, but by clicking that they want to read it, the chances are higher. That’s five hundred potential sales by investing a few minutes in setting up the giveaway, plus the cost of a couple of hardcovers plus shipping. If I hadn’t listed Set in Stone in the giveaway, none of those people would have known anything about it and none of them would have even considered reading it.
I did a local book launch for Set in Stone and did everything I could to let folks in my circles know about it, but the Goodreads giveaway allowed me to reach beyond my normal circles. The book has sold pretty well in its first month since being released, and I believe that at least part of that success is due to the Goodreads giveaway helping me reach a wider audience.
Here’s the image we just designed for the giveaway of Memory Hunter, an alternate history novel I’m releasing July 24th. It’s an awesome book with an incredible cover, and is available already for pre-order here. I’m hoping it will catch a lot of readers’ attention.
Anyone interested in checking out a currently live giveaway, or even signing up for the free hardcovers, here’s the link to my giveaway.
Goodreads Book Giveaway
by Frank Morin
Giveaway ends July 17, 2015.
See the giveaway details
I just finished a Goodreads giveaway, and I’ve used them many times. BUT … I’ve still got mixed feelings about how effective they are. Yes, you get people adding your book to their “Want to Read” lists, but I don’t do enough on Goodreads to know how well that information carries over. Certainly people aren’t going to buy the book until the find out whether they’ve won, so I do try to keep the length of the giveaway short. Most entries seem to come on the first and last days of the giveaway.
My “peeve” is that Goodreads doesn’t give you email addresses like other sites do, so you can’t add any of those people who’ve entered to a mailing list. I use a romance giveaway site that includes a “yes/no” box when people enter so they can opt in or out right there; other sites tell you up front you’ll be added to the author’s mailing list, and they can opt out from there.
If anyone has any data to share about any “tangible” results from giveaways, I’d love to hear them. Does having 5000 people ask for a free book help? How many of these people simply enter giveaways and pay no attention to the book itself? (I ask because I noticed one of my entrants had thousands of books on his Want to Read list, and his “read” list showed a whopping SEVEN books.
Great point. I don’t have statistics yet to show direct link between the number of people who add the book to their “to-read” list and actual sales. There are certainly a percentage of those folks who are only clicking on as many giveaways as they can to see if they can win something. But I’m not sure those are the folks who would add it to their “to-read” list to begin with.
I agree with you that the big downside to giveaways is the lack of ability to add people to your newsletter list. In my first giveaway, I planned to include a link back to my website, but had troubles getting it to work. In the giveaway I have starting today, I also plan to have the link included. I’m hoping folks will follow it and sign up for the newsletter, but we’ll see how many people are interested in taking those additional steps.
I do believe that some of the initial sales I had were due to folks noticing the book via the giveaway.
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