Saturday, December 17, 2011

How to Run a Goodreads Giveaway: what I learned from running one (Part 1)

The Stone Dragon just finished its three-week giveaway at Goodreads.

Goodreads is a reader/writer online community of over six million people. Sponsoring a book giveaway is a means of promoting a book for very little cost: the cost of the book plus shipping.

Here is information regarding my book giveaway that just finished at Goodreads:
  • Run-time: 23 days.
  • Entrants: 803.
  • 2 books given away
  • 166 "to read" designations
The results for the giveaway were about average--although I could have run the contest for two months rather than three weeks. I wanted to end early enough to send the giveaways out before Christmas, though.

Patrick Brown from Goodreads was interviewed at Novelists Inc. by Vonna Harper: "Goodreads for Writers."
On average, about 750 people enter each giveaway, and of those people, we’ve found that about 8% of them will add the book to their to-read shelf, win or lose. About 45% of the winners review the book, meaning that the more copies you offer, the more reviews you are likely to get. And reviews are really the fuel that drives everything on Goodreads. When a member reviews your book, not only do their friends see that review, but it often gets pushed to Facebook, Twitter, and their blog, too. We’ve found that about 1/5 of all Goodreads users write a book blog, and we do our best to make it easy for those users to share their reviews on their blogs.
The interview is quite informative, and anyone interested in setting up a Goodreads giveaway should read it. Goodreads' inception and the development of the Author Program are covered in addition to the giveaway promotional opportunity.

Brown also mentions how to set up a Goodreads giveaway in the interview. Another explanation in a different blog article also describes the steps, at Ebook Formatting Made Simple. By the way, Goodreads is doing beta testing on ebook giveaways and hopes to have a program available sometime in the upcoming year.

What would I do differently with the next Goodreads giveaway?
  • Run for a longer period of time
  • Give away more books
  • Create a strategy and task timeline prior to starting the giveaway
  • Promote the giveaway more with forums and discussion groups
  • Contact bloggers that I know to also feature the giveaway and use the giveaway widget
  • Contact Facebook and Twitter friends to share the giveaway news--in general, to utilize the social networks I've developed
Anyone else who has suggestions, please comment below.

Goodreads is a vast resource, and I'm only now beginning to learn how to use it. It's a great big bunch of readers who love books, a virtual library and book shop: seems like a good place to hang out.

Copyright 2011 by Thomas L. Kepler, all rights reserved


  1. That's a very interesting and useful post - thanks for the advice! Good to know that something works in marketing, because I don't believe at all in those Twitter contests and giveaways...On the other hand, I'm not too surprised that it works on Goodreads: this is a natural for good book promotion - by good, I mean honest and not a hard sell, on the contrary since books made available to readers.

    I wonder whether you'd care to comment about the fallout from this event? Are you still finding new readers coming to you now? More sales?

  2. Tom, I've done several Goodreads giveaways. To optimize, place one copy up every couple of weeks. Gets the book more visibility since the book doesn't get buried. Also those people on the to-read list can be contacted. It's an interesting exercise to follow how the commercial publishers utilize the giveaways program. A book can be given away multiple times six months before and after publication. That's a huge window. Good luck!

  3. Thanks for sharing this - I've bookmarked this page!

  4. @Claude Nougat
    After only 2 days after the end of the giveaway, Claude, I don't have any news of sales.

    I do agree that this form of marketing is something I like--readers coming to me.

  5. @Linda LavidLinda, I really appreciate your comments. Yesterday I actually emailed Patrick Brown, the administrator of the GR giveaways, asking him if a book could run a giveaway multiple times during the allotted time period. Your experience shared is very helpful. I also wasn't sure what to do with those who had signed up--they were providing me with the list but had also mentioned no spamming. Thanks!

  6. @Steven WhibleySteve, there were a number of things I wish I'd known prior to signing up for the giveaway. I hope my research and experience helped. And I'm happy that others with more experience are also sharing with comments.

  7. Tom, Thanks for the info. Hope you get great sales results.

  8. Tom - useful blog and great comments, especially Linda's. I have run several giveaways on Goodreads - I have on on now, running to December 31, for Encore. The two winners will have an extra gift in the holidays.

  9. @Rosanne DingliI wrote Patrick Brown, administrator of the GR giveaways. He confirmed multiple giveaways as OK, suggesting one prior to the book's release and one after.