Goodreads Blog

How to Run a Goodreads Giveaway

Posted by Cynthia on January 22, 2016
If you do just one thing when promoting your book on Goodreads, run a giveaway. The benefits of running giveaways have been proven time and time again: they increase the overall exposure of your book, they allow people to read and review your book, and they increase the number of To-Read shelvings of your book. We’ll walk you through some of the best tips and tricks to make your book giveaway on Goodreads successful.

To run a new giveaway on Goodreads, your book needs to be in our database and you must be a Goodreads member (ideally you will have already claimed your author profile and made it look great, since curious readers will want to learn more about you!). Simply tell us how many copies of which of your books you’d like to give away, write a brief description, and set the dates and eligible locations. Giveaways are for print editions only, so if you publish in eBook format, look into print-on-demand options to create a few specifically for the Goodreads giveaway.



Giving readers access to your book early is the only way you’ll get reviews in advance of publication. The publishing industry invests thousands of dollars into the production of galleys or Advance Reader’s Copies (ARCs) to hand out at conferences or to send to influencers, including the audience on Goodreads. Avid readers are familiar with the term, but you should still indicate in your giveaway description that you’re giving away an ARC.

You can give away finished copies, too. Consider setting up at least one giveaway of a finished copy around publication date—make it extra special by signing it!

Your giveaway will show up on the giveaways page, your book page, and it has a unique landing page. This landing page includes the first few lines of your bio, your author profile picture, and a follow button (another good reason to make sure your author profile is in top shape!).

Promote your giveaway the entire time it’s running, not just at the beginning and end. Include the link to your giveaway in your newsletter, on your blog, and in advertisements or social media posts. The more people you tell about the giveaway, the bigger it will be. Readers also browse giveaways by genre, so identify the two most relevant ones for your book. Finally, giveaways that have advertising running concurrently have 60% more entries than giveaways without. Consider running a self-serve ad campaign directing to your giveaway.

Want more? Read our five tips to running a successful giveaway on Goodreads.

Next: Marketing Advice from Author Kendare Blake

Goodreads Authors can subscribe to the Monthly Author Newsletter by editing their account settings.

Comments Showing 1-21 of 21 (21 new)

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message 1: by Don (new)

Don Viecelli I am an Indie writer and do not offer print books yet due to cost. Once my ebooks are popular enough to justify the costs of printing on demand books, I may decide to do so. For now, I believe we should also be allowed to give away free ebooks for promotion purposes. I can do so using Gift purchases, but it would be easier to send EPUB or Kindle formats free, which I can easily do using Amazon or Smashwords files. Please consider letting us Indie Writers who publish our ebooks on our own to participate in Goodreads book giveaways in the future.Don Viecelli


message 2: by Groovy (new)

Groovy Lee I agree with Don. Ebook authors should be able to host a giveaway without having to go the costly way of printing. How hard would that be to instigate that option? I'm on a very fixed budget and for now, printing is not cost effective, not to mention having to pay for the sometimes high cost of shipping and handling to other countries, or even across the US. Ebooks would not have to incur that expense---just a thought:)


message 3: by Roxane (last edited Feb 08, 2016 11:02PM) (new)

Roxane Lapa I also agree with the above. I would love to do a digital giveaway. For me it is not the printing so much as the shipping charges that are insane - especially when converting from the weak South African Rand.

Also not just as an author, but a reader too...I have more chance of being selected for free giveaways because of my location if they are digital and the author doesn't half to ship halfway across the world.


message 4: by Annie (new)

Annie Jai I don't see shipping or POD production costs as an issue in a giveaway.

If it costs me (say) £3 to buy a copy of my book from Createspace, and another £5 to mail it across the globe, and I send out five copies that's still only a spend of £40 for the possibility of great reviews and boundless publicity.

I think authors do need to invest to reap a reward, even if we can't afford it. It's as important as having a great cover or blurb. What it costs will come back many times over if the book is worthy.


message 5: by Roxane (new)

Roxane Lapa Annie wrote: "I don't see shipping or POD production costs as an issue in a giveaway.

If it costs me (say) £3 to buy a copy of my book from Createspace, and another £5 to mail it across the globe, and I send o..."


I disagree Annie. Maybe for a Brit, 40 pounds is nothing but in my currency that is almost R1000 which is nothing to scoff at.

I also don't think it is a matter of 'if the book is worthy'. I've seen people give really great books horrible, nasty reviews. You can't please everyone. Even the cutest puppy video on youtube is going to have a bunch of thumbs down..so it is a bit of a gamble.


message 6: by Groovy (new)

Groovy Lee I agree with Roxane. And the keyword is, "possibility". Just because you invest and spend a lot in shipping out your books for the "possibility" of great reviews and boundless publicity is just that, a big "possibility".

Even if you sell a lot of books, it doesn't add up to a lot of reviews; and some readers don't take the time to spread the word about your work, no matter how much they liked it.

I sold quite a lot of books last year, but received less than 1% back in reviews. I'm still looking for a response from those that promised one.


message 7: by Bacil (new)

Bacil Don wrote: "I am an Indie writer and do not offer print books yet due to cost. Once my ebooks are popular enough to justify the costs of printing on demand books, I may decide to do so. For now, I believe we s..." 100% correct. Giveaways need to admit of the existence of eBooks. It seems ironic that Goodreads, which can be tied directly into the Kindle and books purchased from Amazon for said Kindle, doesn't allow those same eBooks to be given away as a promotion.


message 8: by Nelou (new)

Nelou Keramati I'd also like to vouch for digital giveaways. The cost of printing and shipping enough books to gain notable exposure is astronomical for a debut author with little to no savings.

Thank you.


message 9: by T.L. (new)

T.L. Jones Don wrote: "I am an Indie writer and do not offer print books yet due to cost. Once my ebooks are popular enough to justify the costs of printing on demand books, I may decide to do so. For now, I believe we s..."

Me too Don ... not print books yet due to high cost and thus high retail price. Don't want the expense till I see sales on ebooks and since Goodreads is owned by Amazon, it would be great to enroll in ebook giveaways, and without signing up for KDP select. I didn't sign up for KDP select because my ebook is a second edition after a short lived streaming version. Peter and the Band of Pirates by Bruce Mercury


message 10: by T.L. (new)

T.L. Jones Annie wrote: "I don't see shipping or POD production costs as an issue in a giveaway.

If it costs me (say) £3 to buy a copy of my book from Createspace, and another £5 to mail it across the globe, and I send o..."


that's fine, I agree, if you already have or plan a print version. Some of us don't. Without a big budget for marketing, print books can cost more than production and shipping and create quick competition with resellers.


message 11: by T.L. (new)

T.L. Jones Groovy wrote: "I agree with Roxane. And the keyword is, "possibility". Just because you invest and spend a lot in shipping out your books for the "possibility" of great reviews and boundless publicity is just tha..."

How did you sell alot of books? Any marketing tips?


message 12: by Muz (new)

Muz Murray I agree with everyone, except Annie. Come on. Goodreads! I thought you were all for supporting authors? My books cost me seven pounds eighty-five p per copy to buy, plus the postage to me, then the postage to wherever (America, Australia?) from Europe, which could cost me almost the same. I sent out a dozen books (to prospective reviewers who accepted my advance enquiry) and never got one review. Dead silence. Even though the book has got all five-star reviews on Amazon. I write books to earn money, not to squander it for no result. Give us authors a break, Goodreads!


message 13: by Terez (last edited Oct 23, 2016 08:31AM) (new)

Terez Rose I'm in agreement about the prohibitive cost of shipping internationally and what a crap shoot it is, in the end, as to whether you get a review or not. When I published OFF BALANCE in May 2015, I thought I was being enlightened and generous about opening the giveaway to readers in UK, Canada and Australia. 4 of 5 winners were internationally based, and I was horrified to learn that it cost me $18.99 to mail each one, on top of my $6.00 cost from CreateSpace for each one. And NOT ONE of those international readers left a review. That really, really bothered and disappointed me. I am currently running a giveaway for my newest book, OUTSIDE THE LIMELIGHT, and I feel bad for international readers who are interested (many readers in UK and Australia love ballet and my book is set in the ballet world), because there's not a chance I'm going to rip myself off like that again. It would be wonderful if Goodreads offered an electronic option for international readers. Pretty small-minded of them not to, not to mention technically way, way behind the times.

I do agree with Annie that the actual cost of creating a print book is very minimum. To say "I can't afford a print copy" is the equivalent of Goodreads arguing against electronic giveaways. This is not the costly endeavor it once was. You can set up a print book FREE at CreateSpace and then pay $5-$6 per copy wholesale. That's it. (Shipping costs when you buy 20 copies for yourself are surprisingly affordable.) Paying extra for a print cover can run you $25 to $100 more, but it's easy to keep that budget low if you choose. The same goes for formatting into a PDF for CreateSpace. You could do it yourself and save formatting costs. I was astonished to discover how reasonably priced getting a few print copies could be. It was well worth it, even if just for the personal satisfaction of holding one's own book or handing it out to family members as a gift. Or offering ONE book for a Goodreads giveaway. (I wouldn't suggest offering 10 if you're on a budget!)

Glad to hear others' rants. That disappointing giveaway in May 2015 has continued to bother me, both the prohibitive cost and the complete lack of reviews/response from the winners. Shame on them, frankly. They certainly didn't further the case for why authors should open up their giveaways to larger audiences.


message 14: by Muz (new)

Muz Murray Right on, Terez. My condolences.


message 15: by Terez (new)

Terez Rose Right back atcha, Muz!

Well. This is fascinating new information that I just found online, dated from May 2016. Anyone else hear this?

"Goodreads announced in a blog post that it has established a giveaway program for Kindle ebooks, currently in beta. Previously, the program had only been available for print books.

"Authors or publishers—whoever controls the digital distribution rights—can now offer up to 100 copies of the Kindle ebook and choose how long the giveaway will run. When it is finished, Goodreads will chooses winners at random and automatically send the Kindle ebooks to users’ preferred devices and cloud accounts.

"Kindle ebook giveaways will initially only be available in the US. During the beta period, Goodreads will work with Amazon Publishing to host Kindle ebook giveaways. When the program is out of beta, though, it will be open to any author or publisher who sells their ebooks on Amazon.

"The cost of listing a Kindle ebook giveaway will be $119 for up to the 100 ebook limit. Listing a print book giveaway, however, will continue to be free.

"In the blog post, Goodreads explains why: 'Both types of giveaways give authors and publishers a powerful way to market their books, reach lots of new readers, and drive buzz. With a Kindle ebook giveaway, we give you the opportunity to offer a large number of free books, reaching even more readers. We also save you on both costs and hassle. No more printing books, hauling them down to the post office, filling out address labels, and paying to ship them off to winners (which can cost hundreds of dollars for a 100-copy giveaway).'

"Last year, Goodreads helped authors and publishers give away more than 300,000 print books."

(Source: DigitalBooksWorld.com - http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2016/...)


message 16: by Groovy (new)

Groovy Lee This is why I only do Amazon Giveaways. You can host ebooks, and the only cost is you pay for how many you give away. And you have the option of how you want to run the giveaway.

Even though the three I hosted were successful, I received maybe one review.


message 17: by Don (new)

Don Viecelli Don Viecelli
I use Amazon Giveaways as well. Better deal than Goodreads I think. The reason I use free giveaways is mostly for promotion, not reviews. I also find Smashwords the best option since it doesn't cost anything to offer free ebooks by using Coupon Codes.


message 18: by Groovy (new)

Groovy Lee That's a good way of looking at it, Don. Do it more so for promotional reasons. That makes me want to do more.


message 19: by Groovy (last edited Dec 10, 2017 06:03PM) (new)

Groovy Lee Jean, you should announce it on all of your social media like FB, Instagram, Twitter, etc., and on any Goodreads' forums you are part of.


message 20: by Van (new)

Van Fleisher My understanding is that ebook giveaways on Goodreads is only for KDP authors.


message 21: by G.A. (new)

G.A. Matiasz As of September individual third party Amazon giveaways no longer allow for a Random Winner option. The Lucky Number giveaway option is the only one that can go public and the “ lucky number” as mandated by Amazon is quite high, often insuring unclaimed prizes. Finally the First Come, First Served giveaway option is now purely private, dependent solely on the social connections of the giveaway sponsor.


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