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.