Most authors find that Goodreads giveaways don’t help sales much. Nevertheless, they can be helpful in getting reviews and in building buzz. There’s lots of information available about how to set up giveaways, and there are a few simple best practices you need to be aware of:
For your Goodreads giveaway, plan to:
- Run the giveaway for a short period of time (most responses are on the first day and the last day of the giveaway; there’s no need to go on for weeks).
- Give away a lot of books (and they have to be printed books, not ebooks).
- Receive reviews from only a portion of the people who get books (between 10% and 60% will review it).
- Let participants know you’ll be providing a signed copy (it tends to increase response).
- Target your own country (or budget a lot of $ for postage to mail books to participants in other countries).
- Include all applicable tags (you aren’t limited to just one).
- Run an ad along with your giveaway.
More info on Goodreads giveaways:
- The Goodreads Guide to Giveaways.
- A helpful article (Jan, 2014) by Maria Andreau: What I learned from my first Goodreads giveaway.
- A two-part interview of author Judy Croome on Jean Oram’s The Helpful Writer about How to Hold a Successful Goodreads Giveaway.
- The Power of the Goodreads Giveaways by author marketing expert Penny Sansevieri.
And here’s what Goodreads has to say about best practices:
How to: Create a really good giveaway
Goodreads giveaways are free to list and help build great buzz for your book. If you or your publisher has physical galleys of your book, you can give those away, or you can give away finished books when they’re ready. Here are some tips to make your giveaway a great one:
Start early. The best time to offer a giveaway is before your book comes out, which means you should set up the giveaway a few months before the publication date. This allows enough time for winners to read and review your book before it’s officially available—and get readers talking about your book! However, that shouldn’t prevent you from listing a giveaway for a book that has already been published, which we also allow. The only requirement is that it’s a physical, bound book.
More books = more reviews. Give away as many books as you can afford. There is no magic number, and one copy is enough to set up a giveaway. The more books you offer, the more reviews you’re likely to get.
Build relationships with readers. Catch the attention of readers by telling them in the first sentence of the giveaway description whether they will receive a signed copy. Include a link back to your author profile and encourage readers to follow you. This way they’ll be notified when you share a status update or a blog post, perhaps telling them that you decided to offer a special discount after the giveaway for those who didn’t win.
Give it time. Schedule your giveaway to run for at least a month. A month gives readers the time to discover and enter the giveaway and allows you time to promote it. Be sure to let your fans know you’re giving away books: Write a Goodreads blog post or a status update, tweet about it, Facebook it, or include it in your personal newsletters.
Measure the results. How many people entered your giveaway? How many people added the book to their shelves? These numbers tell you how successful your giveaway was at attracting attention for your book. For perspective, the average 20-copy giveaway in the U.S. attracts 940 entries. Remember that you can track numbers like these right from your book pages.
Quick Tip: Book Stats
How do you know whether what you’re doing is making an impact? Since Goodreads is not a retail site, we can’t measure book sales, but we can measure whether readers are discovering your book. Click on “Book stats” in the top right-hand corner of your book page. Take note of what the numbers look like before your giveaway and after!
Next: Update your website.