A lot of authors have strong feelings about Goodreads, but no matter where you stand, the reality is the platform is owned by Amazon now and having a solid profile, pushing for reviews and ratings, and running giveaways to get books in hands are part of staying competitive in today’s publishing marketplace.
So I’m a fan of Goodreads giveaways, but if you aren’t doing it correctly the exposure you get for your book will fall flat. Let’s cover some key ways to ensure you’re making the most of your giveaways:
Best Length for Goodreads Giveaways
Goodreads encourages you to run your giveaway for a month, because it gives readers more time to enter, and this really is a smart strategy. With the new paid format every single reader who enters to win your book gets it added to their “Want to Read” list on their account.
Start & End Dates
In terms of start date, Goodreads requires a 7 day notice before launching a giveaway so keep that in mind as you’re planning this out. They also require you to run the giveaway for a minimum of 7 days.
Concerning end dates, I wouldn’t recommend ending on a Saturday. Extend the giveaway through the full weekend and end on a Sunday or Monday instead. This also makes sense logistically if you don’t have the option to give away a Kindle edition and will have to mail out print books, which we’ll also cover.
Goodreads Giveaway Description
Keep in mind only the first handful of lines shows as part of your giveaway preview, so you need to make an impact right away! What’s the best hook for your book? If it’s fiction, you need a first line that makes people go, “Whoa, I need to read more.” Don’t assume you have time to tease them, you have to wow them.
If you write non-fiction your first line should connect to the problem you can solve for them, you want people to instantly think, “Hey, they’re talking to me…” and that will get them to read more.
Whatever you do don’t follow the format Goodreads gives you. Yes, it makes it easy, but it won’t help you stand out. Being a successful author in today’s market is more about standing out than ever before – don’t fade into the crowd.
What Format & How Many Books
If you’re a Amazon KDP author you can give away up to 100 Kindle copies and I say go for it! You want books in hands and you’re paying the same price no matter what.
If you need to give away print copies I typically opt for 10. You’ll have to pay shipping, and I suggest writing a custom note to the recipient, which is one added bonus of going through all the other work – the connection you make with those 10 recipients is potentially stronger.
National vs. International
If you’re giving away Kindle copies and you have a strong argument for an international, English-speaking audience, then go ahead and include major markets like the UK and Australia and of course Canada. If you’re mailing print copies you may want to stick to the US for shipping reasons but that’s totally up to you.
Promoting your Goodreads Giveaway
I’ll be candid, I haven’t had a lot of luck with Goodreads ads, so I wouldn’t recommend relying on those for your giveaway promotion.
This is a fun, new addition from Goodreads: The author’s followers and anyone who has already added the book to their Want-to-Read list get a notification, letting them know there’s a giveaway starting. This helps generate even more entries, creating more stories in the Goodreads updates feed.
But definitely plan to share on social, do a short blog post or special email to your list.
Also take advantage of the Events option on your profile to create an event for the giveaway. You can link to your giveaway page, ask followers to “invite” their networks and help you spread the word.
You should belong to genre-appropriate groups and many of these have a self-promotion or giveaway thread going, so be sure to post there. If you’re not as active in your groups as you should be, this is your motivation. I hear a lot of authors complain about Goodreads giveaways because they feel the readers are just in it for the free books – and you know what – there’s a lot more truth to that when the author only shows up to give something away, and doesn’t spend any time getting to know their readers and supporting the genre by taking part in discussions in groups like a true fan.
If you have a Superfan group this is a great time to enlist their help as well! Ask them to rate and review the book on Goodreads if they haven’t yet, and share your social media posts or tag friends in them.
After Your Goodreads Giveaway
Connect with your winners. Goodreads will email all your winners to remind them to leave a rating or review approximately 8 weeks after your giveaway ends, which is a fantastic new feature of the paid programs.
But you can do your part too.
Connect with your winners and see if they’ll accept a networking request from you. Be sure to make it personal, check out their profile first, and don’t spam them.
Congratulate them on winning a copy, let them know how grateful you are that they’re interested in your book. If you noticed you belong to any of the same groups (because you checked their profile!) call attention to that connection as well. And then sign off saying you’d appreciate adding them to your network and look forward to any feedback about the book, and welcome them to message you directly at any point in the future.
And don’t waste the opportunities you created by having your book added to all the participants’ “Want to Read” list! You can check out where your book has been shelved by going to the book’s page, then scroll down the right hand side until you see Genres. As part of that you’ll also see “See top shelves…” click on that and you’ll see everywhere on Goodreads where your book exists, and the individual accounts that have shelved your book. Again, be thoughtful and strategic about connecting with the right people, because if done genuinely, you’ll for sure start building up your network and impressions on Goodreads, which will serve you long term.
With more than 90 million book lovers online daily — reviewing, sharing, discussing and searching for new books – Goodreads is full of opportunity for authors, and I suggest you start taking it seriously!