Goodreads Blog

How to Write a Post-Giveaway Message That Really Works

Posted by Cynthia on July 11, 2018
The new custom message feature for Premium Giveaways allows authors to reach readers on Goodreads like never before. When setting up a Premium giveaway, authors can now write a message that Goodreads will automatically deliver to anyone who entered the giveaway but did not win the book. Here are a few pointers on how to make the most out of this powerful new marketing tool:

  • Focus on communicating one thing. You might be eager to share a ton of information about yourself or your book with all those potential new fans but try to hone in on the most important message you want to get across. This very well might be to let readers know they can follow you on Goodreads, or how much you think they’ll enjoy the book, or to provide some background about the characters or the settings.
  • Be gracious. Thank readers for their interest in your book. Share the silver-lining of not winning the book – perhaps more of your books are currently being discounted, or you have another giveaway coming up in a few weeks. Use the opportunity to help readers learn more about you and your book; after all, they’ve already expressed interest so it’s up to you to keep them hooked!
  • Make it special. Readers are excited to get a personal message directly from the author (it’s what makes our Personal Selection emails so great!) so let your voice shine through. Talk about how much you enjoyed writing the book or how excited you are to share the story with readers to really give readers a glimpse behind the curtain. Follow the guidelines. Read the guidelines and FAQs [here] to understand what you can and cannot write in your post-giveaways message.
  • Proof-read your message. Once you submit your giveaway information and message, Goodreads will send you a preview of how your email will look to readers. Avoid unfortunate typos or other inaccuracies by re-reading your message several times; any edits will need to be re-approved, which could delay the start time of your giveaway.
  • Time your giveaway. The message automatically sends on the day after your giveaway ends, so keep that in mind when you set up the giveaway campaign. Does that date align with anything else you have going on? Figure out when that message might make the most impact on your promotions.

Note that Goodreads automatically incorporates some of the most important calls to action for you: there is a “Follow the Author” button at the top of the email and links to purchase the book from various retailers at the bottom. Adding the personal touch through the message enhances the email and makes the Premium Giveaway so much more valuable.

Take a closer look at how Bella Andre created her post-giveaway message for You Do Something to Me:


Questions about giveaways? Email our customer support team at support@goodreads.com

Next: Advice from Writers about Writing and Publishing

You might also like: Marketing Advice from Young Adult Author Jenni James

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Comments Showing 1-43 of 43 (43 new)

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message 1: by Elena (new)

Elena May Goodreads never ceases to amaze me.

Until recently, authors were strongly warned against contacting giveaway winners, let alone participants. Even when I ran a giveaway with one single winner and sent this one person a short note to say "Congratulations! I'll be mailing your book within the next couple of days" I was still seeing a warning that my message will likely be flagged as spam and that readers dislike being contacted directly. But now that they make authors pay for this, and for sending the note to ALL participants, it's suddenly not spam? So if I pay $600 to have the same message delivered to thousands of readers automatically, then "Readers are excited to get a personal message directly from the author," but if I pay nothing and send a specific reader an actual personal message, they'll hate it and flag it?

It was the same story with the ebook giveaways. For years, Goodreads offered no ebook giveaways and explained that this is for the authors' own good since readers are much likely to review print copies and will ignore any ebooks they get. But now that they've figured out a way to make money out of this, ebook giveaways are suddenly a great marketing tool.

The mental gymnastics is impressive *applause*


message 2: by Ken (new)

Ken And profitable! *more applause*

I'm surprised GR's allowing comments on a "Giveaway-related" post. Maybe it's a mistake. Up until now, comments have been closed on all "Giveaway-related" posts for fear of comments like Elena's eloquent one above.

After the big change to "pay to play," I stopped using the Giveaway program both as an author and as a GR reader. It's my silent and lonely protest against a ridiculously-wealthy entity like Amazon getting greedier still and kicking out the little indy publishers in favor of the Farrars, the Strauses, and the Giroux (plural already, maybe?)....


message 3: by Pamela (new)

Pamela Beverly Elena wrote: "Goodreads never ceases to amaze me.

Until recently, authors were strongly warned against contacting giveaway winners, let alone participants. Even when I ran a giveaway with one single winner and ..."


Exactly, Elena. I always read that we weren't allowed to thank winners of our books or reviewers, either, for that matter.


message 4: by D.W. (new)

D.W. Plato Couldn't agree with you more!!!


message 5: by J.M. (new)

J.M. Ney-Grimm Well said, Elena and Ken.


message 6: by Clifton (new)

Clifton Hill Amused by the comments.

Question for the OP, where are the FAQ's? There was no link as to what can or can not be discussed?

We'd naturally want to include a note that a participant can sign up for our newsletter for free stuff, including stories...


message 7: by Rian (new)

Rian Nejar The comments above from Elena May and Ken Craft are eloquent, accurate, and to the point. Goodreads, acquired by Amazon, has indeed adopted many of the indie-scamming schemes prevalent in the self-publishing world. And there are so very many...

Nevertheless, I recommend contacting winners - after say 6 months or more - and following up on their thoughts and feelings about one's work. Chances that any will respond, or mark the message so received as SPAM, are likely lower than a coin toss.

As for mass-emailing participants, just don't. Not worth the electrons sent, much less the money paid.


message 8: by C.R. (new)

C.R. Flamingbush I must admit I was disappointed when Goodreads started making authors pay to give away free books. I had been looking forward to participating in a free program. Now, in order to get anything out of the program, I'll have to give away an awful lot of books. Does anyone know the statistics as to how many reviews the average relatively unknown author gets from a free giveaway? That would be helpful in determining whether or not to participate in a giveaway, especially for someone who doesn't have a huge marketing budget.


message 9: by Elena (new)

Elena May C.R. wrote: "Does anyone know the statistics as to how many reviews the average relatively unknown author gets from a free giveaway?"

Hi C.R.

It all depends on what type of giveaway you run. Back when Giveaways were free, I ran multiple signed paperback giveaways, and these worked for me. I gave away 11 copies total and got 6 reviews out of them. That may sound like a huge return, but I had to put a lot of effort into these: each book was signed and individually gift wrapped, and I added other small gifts, such as bookmarks and character cards. The costs were piling up--ordering books for myself, wrapping them, mailing to winners.

Next, I ran a non-signed paperback giveaway, where I offered 20 copies. I had Createspace mail the books directly to the winners, and this hugely reduced the cost and time invested. It looked like a good choice... and then I got 1 review out of it. I guess when people get a signed book, they treasure it more and are more excited to read it, otherwise they forget about it.

Once Giveaways became paid, I decided to try the ebook offer. 100 copies... zero reviews.

Here is my experience with Giveaways:

- Giveaways will not bring sales
- Giveaways might bring some reviews, but you have to put quite a bit of time and money
- What Giveaways will bring is readers adding your book to their "to read" shelf. However, most of them will never read it, and many will remove it immediately right after the Giveaway ends.

I was also disappointed Goodreads started making authors pay for giving away free stuff, but what I find especially annoying is that they keep producing one article after another on how the new Giveaways system is amazing and great for authors and the best marketing tool ever, while none of the changes they made are actually an improvement


message 10: by C.R. (new)

C.R. Flamingbush You've given me a lot to think about. Thanks!


message 11: by Jeff (new)

Jeff Walker This my last giveaway on here. I agree that it’s just a cash cow for Amazon, goodreads use to be credible, but so few reviews and ppl only looking no to pay for a book (any book it seems - even if they’re not into the genre). It’s hard enough for self publishers to make a living out of this, but exploitation of them by amazon (and goodreads now) is outrageous. And they only link to the first review.....where are the others ppl put on there?


message 12: by Bobbie (new)

Bobbie Reid I ordered a Giveaway and thought I would see my book pop up but I didn't. Does the promotion sell any books?


message 13: by Nayden (last edited Aug 09, 2018 07:33AM) (new)

Nayden Kostov Pricing is really preventing me from giving away as many books as I'd like (before, I was giving away 2-3 signed books every month). Don't know how many reviews were generated this way, nor whether having few thousand people shelving your book "to read" helps the sales in any aspect...
On top of that, I still wonder why GR stopped the good practice of uploading a free sample/teaser. My first two books have those, the other two - not :(


message 14: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia Young-Shepard Everytime I think I am finished with book I think of more to say. I wanted it to be a guide for advice and instruction on managing finances. How do I know when to stop? When I do publish I will exercise the sample/teaser option since it is a guide I do not think giving the entire book away is economically sound. Any help, thoughts or ideas would be appreciated. Oh this is my first book.


message 15: by Tony (new)

Tony Breeden Amazon ruined Goodreads. It had lots of potential, especially for integrating Goodreads' superior review/book fan features, but now it's just scamming indie authors.

I haven't even been that active on Goodreads lately because what's the point?


message 16: by A. (new)

A. Nothing Goodreads' members say will matter on Giveaways unless they stop paying for them. As long as the Giveaway program makes money for Goodreads, there won't be any incentive to stop it. So everyone should vote with their pocket. Don't give away books until Goodreads reverses its decision and makes Giveaways free again!


message 17: by T.J. (new)

T.J. Wray Howdy, I'm TJ...I'm new at this. I read trough some of your comments.. I have given away about 20 signed paperback copies of my book on here. It has generated 4 or 5 reviews. I gave away 100 ebook, kindle books , on Amazon, before coming to GR. and I got (zero) reviews back on those ebook. I'm not sure what the difference is exactly, but I am having better luck getting reviews here on Goodreads.. TY and have a nice day!


message 18: by Cynthia (last edited Sep 11, 2018 11:49AM) (new)

Cynthia Young-Shepard thank you so much because I will not waste my time.


message 19: by T.J. (new)

T.J. Wray Your welcome Cynthia, and good luck with your giveaways.


message 20: by Ken (new)

Ken I can back Elena and others' stats on sales via Goodreads Giveaway. I did four giveaways back when they were free, and they generated zero sales and zero reviews. Thus, for me, it was the cost of books and postage as a reward for my efforts.

That said, one thing a Giveaway will do is falsely inflate your book's "To Read" numbers. 99.9% of these people will never read it, though, so it is smoke and mirrors, a false God.

As for the .01%, yes, some people may click on the Giveaway for your book because they genuinely want to read it, but the majority are people who just click every Giveaway in sight , trying to game the system and up their odds for winning something, ANYthing for free.

The moral of the story: Paying big bucks to a billionaire company like Amazon to market your book is sheer folly.

Sheer. Folly.


message 21: by J.M. (new)

J.M. Ney-Grimm I occurs to me that a quick summary of my experience with giveaways on GoodReads might be useful to others considering whether or not they want to run one.

My first giveaway in 2013 did seem to make a positive difference in my sales and reviews.

It was in April (10 copies) and made readers beyond my circle of acquaintance aware of my books, and some of them did buy my books. I'd been selling books very sporadically, perhaps 4 per month, and mostly to family and friends. After that giveaway, I began to sell 10 - 15 books per month, clearly to complete strangers. (All the family and friends had already bought their copies.) I didn't get many reviews, however. Only 3.

My next two giveaways produced more reviews: 6 for the second, 4 for the third. My sales did not increase, however. I continued to sell 10 - 15 books month.

I did a giveaway every month for the next 8 months, but I received fewer reviews every time: 2 reviews, 1 review, 0 reviews. And my sales showed no change.

There was no charge for giveaways back then, but because I was giving away 10 copies each time, I was spending $60 - $90 for each giveaway, depending on the page count of the book (more pages meant it was more expensive).

With no reviews coming in and no increase in sales, I decided to stop running giveaways. My sales stayed steady at 10 - 15 per month, even when the giveaways stopped.

Then, in 2016, I decided to try running 1-book giveaways. My reasoning was that they would be much less expensive, just $10, and might serve to increase awareness of my books among my potential readers. Every business in the modern world requires advertising. Why should mine be any different?

I have no metrics for assessing the result of that decision. Reviews from readers who did not get their books from a giveaway had been trickling in, and they continued to trickle in. It seemed reasonable to spend $10 per month on advertising, even though I could not measure its effectiveness.

Unfortunately, in 2016 I also made some other business decisions that (unbeknownst to me at the time) ruined the algorithm path for many of my books on Amazon. Thus my sales started to slowly decline through 2017. I am now embarked on algorithm repair. Wish me luck!

When Goodreads started charging $119+ per giveaway in January 2018, that changed my assessment for running giveaways. Spending $10 per month was reasonable for me. Spending $119 per month on something that had no proven effectiveness was neither reasonable nor feasible.

Late in 2017, I had already set up giveaways to run through most of 2018, and I wondered if I would be offered a choice to either pay the new fee or cancel them. But, in fact, they have run without charge for most of this year. Apparently, since they were already approved, there would be no retroactive charge.

My last giveaway will run in October. After that, I will run no more.


message 22: by Ellen (new)

Ellen Behrens Question for GoodReads: Is there any chance e-book giveaways will come back?

I'm asking as a reader as well as writer. I'm a full-time RVer, living and traveling full-time in an RV, so getting packages is a problem. I've seen a few giveaways by authors I follow and would like to sign up for them, but would prefer to receive an e-book.

And because most of my most devoted readers are RVers as well, they would prefer e-books to printed books as giveaways, so I don't offer them (instead I use another platform for those, though I'd rather do it here).

We non-print folks are small in number, but that doesn't mean we're insignificant, doesn't mean we don't enjoy a good book.

Is there any hope we'll have a shot at a giveaway???

Thanks!


message 23: by Maria (new)

Maria So, I ran an ebook-only giveaway that ended this month. And now I'm reading about this post-giveaway message. I had no idea it existed when I ran my giveaway, and now I have no clue how to actually send such a group message. Is there some link somewhere on the giveaway that lets me create this message to send enmasse? I'm seriously confused. Thanks so much to Elena et al for their comments on this. It's really bonkers.


message 24: by Elena (new)

Elena May Maria wrote: "So, I ran an ebook-only giveaway that ended this month. And now I'm reading about this post-giveaway message. I had no idea it existed when I ran my giveaway, and now I have no clue how to actually..."

Hi Maria, the post-giveaway message if only for premium giveaways, i.e. the ones that costs about $600. If you ran a regular giveaway, this option is not included.


message 25: by Adrian (last edited Nov 02, 2018 12:33PM) (new)

Adrian Lawrence C.R. wrote: "I must admit I was disappointed when Goodreads started making authors pay to give away free books. I had been looking forward to participating in a free program. Now, in order to get anything out o..."

Everyone has to earn a living, sites like goodreads are hard work to maintain and keep relevent. Keep at it I say!


message 26: by Sreedhar (new)

Sreedhar Iyer Adrian wrote: "C.R. wrote: "I must admit I was disappointed when Goodreads started making authors pay to give away free books. I had been looking forward to participating in a free program. Now, in order to get a..."

Just like authors are suggested to keep their books priced in a reasonable range, websites like GR needs to be reasonable on the pricing of giveaways and promoting authors. In the long run, it is evident that it is the writing of the author that clicks.


message 27: by T.K. (new)

T.K. Richards It’s great to know I’m not alone in feeling disappointment with the pay to play system in place. Amazon is making self-publishing unbearable. They removed a review from a person I know through a former co-worker ( yes all of that) simply because we both ship reading material to prisoners. Then I received a threatening message saying family, friends, coworkers, neighbors etc... can not review my work. They can buy my books on Amazon but can’t review it. I joined Facebook groups and host giveaways there. I sent two winners their ebook copies and they kindly reviewed my work. They removed those reviews because now it looks like I know them as well, but I don’t. I simply honored my obligation to winners in a contest. So I scrolled through other writers comments and it’s obvious the people writing those reviews personally know the author, but their reviews are still posted.


message 28: by G.J. (new)

G.J. Griffiths Elena wrote: "Goodreads never ceases to amaze me.

Until recently, authors were strongly warned against contacting giveaway winners, let alone participants. Even when I ran a giveaway with one single winner and ..."


Elena wrote: "C.R. wrote: "Does anyone know the statistics as to how many reviews the average relatively unknown author gets from a free giveaway?"

Hi C.R.

It all depends on what type of giveaway you run. Back..."


Elena, I agree with everything you have noted and commented about GR changing their Giveaway "opportunities". I was about to put two of my books on their Giveaway page when I was shocked to see how much they were now charging for their originally free service. Bummer!
Plus, I have also found the recipients are much more likely to post a review for a signed copy. And, to echo other comments above, how curious that ebooks may be included now that there is a charge for the service? Could there be a connection to Amazon's "bottom line" with the new style of opportunity for new authors struggling to get known? Surely not!


message 29: by Betsy (new)

Betsy Robinson The correct word is "home" in on something. Not "hone" in.


message 30: by D. (new)

D. Krauss Boy, am I out of touch. I spent this morning going through inventory and figured I had about five month's worth of giveaway books available, clicked on Goodreads (which, admittedly, I have not been visiting too much lately), accidentally stumbled across this thread and, whoa. Waaaait a minute.

I've done fairly well with the free giveaways, at least in terms of reviews. That is, at least I got some. Not so much sales. About the only thing that has ever bumped those has been radio ads. Yes, expensive, but I got 400 downloads from them...of the free books. I'm about to run my first national radio ad in a couple of weeks and will see how that goes.

But if GR giveaways are now just a money trap, then I guess the best thing is a Twitter or Facebook giveaway. What's your thoughts on those?


message 31: by Nikki (new)

Nikki Stern Goodreads has discouraged me big-time. Now that Amazon is so successful across a HUGE variety of products, I keep hoping they'll support the small publishers and indie writers, not just ask for money. For one thing, the practice limits authors without means. For another, readers begin to see product as so much effluvia, not really worth paying for at all.


message 32: by Susan (new)

Susan Budd J.M. wrote: "When Goodreads started charging $119+ per giveaway in January 2018,..."

I haven't done a giveaway in a few years so this is the first I'm hearing of this. I double-checked because I found the price you quoted impossible to believe. But you are indeed correct.

There is no way I could possibly afford to spend $119 to give a book away. Even if I could afford it, I wouldn't do it because it's unethical.


message 33: by J.M. (new)

J.M. Ney-Grimm Susan wrote: "I haven't done a giveaway in a few years so this is the first I'm hearing of this. I double-checked because I f..."

I wish I were not correct, but it is what it is. I cannot afford to do giveaways at $119 a pop, but I feel badly for those of my readers who enjoy them.


message 34: by Belinda (new)

Belinda Austin I have been an indie author for 7 years and have 11 books published. In the past I have had 3 readers from Goodreads at different times ask me to send them a free book and promising a review. One book, I even paid the shipping to India which was expensive but I was being nice because the person claimed to really want to read my book and had no money to purchase. NOT ONCE did any of these 3 readers follow through on their promises to review my book after I sent them a free copy.


message 35: by D. (new)

D. Krauss Think I know that guy. He cages free books this way, although he did write a decent review for me. With pictures.


message 36: by H.C. (new)

H.C. Gray Belinda wrote: "I have been an indie author for 7 years and have 11 books published. In the past I have had 3 readers from Goodreads at different times ask me to send them a free book and promising a review. One b..."

I gave three books away to people I KNEW and had this! I asked on my personal facebook page if anybody wanted a free book in return for a review. Three people replied. Three people got sent the book. No reviews!

I even chased them up months later with a friendly pm saying that if they didn't have time to read and write a review, then no offense taken, just please post me the book back - and I listed my address. That gained enthusiastic promises to still read and review. Then... no reviews!

Some people just won't do it.

Oddly I did a ten book giveaway through GR and got 6 good reviews!

I came on here to see if the new pay-for-it giveaway was working for anybody and... no. It's not is it?

I don't know how anybody could make a good living from indie publishing now because everybody sees us as a cash cow. It's terrible.


message 37: by Belinda (last edited Jan 27, 2019 07:29PM) (new)

Belinda Austin I totally agree. I gave away 100 ebooks with the new giveaway for 4 different books, so 400 books; i.e. I paid for 4 giveaways. I did get a few reviews, more for some books than others. The books were 4 different genres, some of the genres got more reviews than the other books so I think it depends on the genre and those types of fans. I got about 500 or so people requesting the giveaways for each book and putting it on their bookshelves. In the past, with the free paperback giveaways, I would get 1,000 to 2,000 people requesting my books. I have found that readers rarely thank the author for the giveaway. Usually they just thank Goodreads. I guess they all think that Goodreads paid for the books they're getting for free.


message 38: by Elena (new)

Elena May Belinda wrote: "I have found that readers rarely thank the author for the giveaway. Usually they just thank Goodreads. I guess they all think that Goodreads paid for the books they're getting for free."

Oooh, I love that one! First, you pay a fortune to Goodreads to get a giveaway listed. Next, you buy a paperback, wrap it, and mail it to the other end of the world at your own expense. And then, you get a review starting with "Thank you Goodreads for the free copy!" Whaaat? I haven't done giveaways in a long while and both my conscience and my wallet are happier for it, while my sales remain the same :D


message 39: by Beacon (new)

Beacon Smiles Dental Couldn't agree with you more!!!


message 40: by Nayden (new)

Nayden Kostov I have the feeling that the person responsible for giveaways in GR won't be promoted any soon...


message 41: by John (new)

John Yunker As a long-time GR member and author, I have to agree with the sentiment here -- Goodreads has put profit over goodwill. The free copies element of Goodreads was always a great way for authors to get their books into the hands of people who are interested in the books. And it was never free because we had to print and ship those books. But now that it's paid and highly commercialized (and poorly executed), I just can't see the value of it anymore. A real shame, particularly since Amazon can easily afford to make this feature free again. And I should add that for all of Amazon's expertise, I've seen few positive changes to Goodreads since the purchase. Just this paid option.


message 42: by Marc (new)

Marc J. after reading this I will do a give way. I think most readers will think the book stinks if you are giving it away for free.

I say at least charge 99cents for it


message 43: by Prakhar (new)

Prakhar netflix series book available !! click here!


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