Goodreads Blog

Five Tips for Running a Giveaway on Goodreads

Posted by Cynthia on January 22, 2016
Running a giveaway is one of the most important things you can do in your book promotion. You can set up a giveaway on Goodreads for the print edition of your book here. But before you do that, read our five tips to running a giveaway on Goodreads:

Tip #1 Give away as many copies as you can afford. You don’t need to give away all your books at the same time, but allocate a number of copies you’re willing to provide to Goodreads members for free. The more copies you give away, the more reviews you’re likely to get.

Tip #2 Write a concise description. You have a limited number of characters to pull your audience in, so make those opening lines good. Don’t bother rehashing the details of the giveaway (“Five copies of my new book available here”), since Goodreads provides that information for you. Instead, find something that will hook the reader into clicking on the book and your author profile to find out more (“Find out why Goodreads members are raving about this book!”).


Tip #3 Plan your giveaway in advance. Working backwards from your publication date, identify the right time to run your giveaway. Three months prior to publication date is a good rule of thumb. If you’re running multiple giveaways, space them out by several weeks. Your giveaway is required to run for at least a week to allow more readers to discover it, but we recommend running a giveaway for at least a month to increase the number of entries.

Tip #4 Keep shipping costs in mind. Making your giveaway open to every country has its benefits, as some countries don’t receive as many giveaway opportunities as others. However, inquire about the shipping costs to these countries at your local post office. Shipping to the winner directly from your distributor might be more cost-effective than shipping to yourself first.

Tip #5 Send your books in a timely fashion. Goodreads notifies the winners that they have won a copy, so readers are expecting your book within 2-3 weeks. Resist the urge to contact winners to inquire about the progress they’ve made in your book, or the status of their review. Remember: giveaways are “no strings attached,” meaning readers are not obligated to write a review upon winning a book. Contacting winners may be considered spam and could have serious consequences. Read the updated terms and conditions to understand what you can and cannot do.

Did you know?

Goodreads sends out an email to anyone who has marked your book as Want-to-Read when your giveaway goes live. Goodreads also sends a friendly reminder email about the book a few weeks after the giveaway ends.

One more thing:

If you’re traditionally published with a publishing house, shoot them a quick courtesy email letting them know when you’re planning your giveaway. They might be planning similar promotions. Since only one giveaway can run for a book in one country at the same time, it helps align your plans with your publisher’s plans.

Ready to list a giveaway? Click here to get started.

Next: How to Run a Goodreads Giveaway

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Comments (showing 1-47 of 47) (47 new)

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message 1: by David (new)

David Soper Do you think giveaways work with CreateSpace or other PODs?


message 2: by Joanne (new)

Joanne Tailele Yes, the definitely work. I am self-published and I get my best reviews from my Goodreads give-aways. Town Without Mercy


message 3: by Jean (new)

Jean Baker I did a giveaway, and although I had many people sign up to win a copy, no one wrote a review. I have had good reviews on Amazon, but to the best of my knowledge, my Goodreads giveaway resulted in zero additional sales, so it was just a waste of money.


message 4: by Pike (new)

Pike And what about E-books? I'm still learning the ropes and would like some info on that as well... please and thank you.


message 5: by Mike (new)

Mike Rhynard Ditto to what Jean said a few minutes ago. I did a 20-book giveaway and got only 2 reviews -- both excellent -- so the other 18 either haven't read it yet or didn't do reviews. And, like Jean, I've seen zero sales attributable to the giveaway, and only a couple that might be attributable to the "marked it as to-read" list, which is now at 585. I'm currently giving "giveaways" one last chance, with the hope of better results.


message 6: by John (new)

John Beckman Would you rather they give you a one star review, than no review at all? The winners may be doing you a favor by not bad-reviewing your book. Good or bad, reviews and/or advertising don't sell books. Word of mouth sells books. If your book is any good, those who read it will recommend it. It it isn't, they won't. And there is no way to control that aspect of writing.


message 7: by Amber (new)

Amber Polo Yes, Mike, there are no guarantees that a winner will review or that a "want to read" will ever buy a book. But you are getting your name out. I wish Goodreads could find a way to give more weight in the giveaways to readers who are more active than just trolling for free books.
Mike wrote: "Ditto to what Jean said a few minutes ago. I did a 20-book giveaway and got only 2 reviews -- both excellent -- so the other 18 either haven't read it yet or didn't do reviews. And, like Jean, I've..."


message 8: by Jean (new)

Jean Baker No, of course I would not. That part was simply meant to convey the idea that although the previous commenter said she receives lots of reviews via giveaways, I did not. Additionally, I have no way of knowing who, if anyone, buys the book as a result of Goodreads, because there is no way to track that. I prefer to spend my marketing dollars in places where I can see whether it's effective or not.


message 9: by Jean (new)

Jean Baker I would also like to see a way to do some follow up marketing with the people who sign up to win but don't (especially if they've put it on their "marked to read" list.


message 10: by Lenita (new)

Lenita Sheridan How do I do a Giveaway months in advance when I won't know what the cover will look like until a week or two before it's published?


message 11: by Amber (new)

Amber Polo Remember you have to send the book to the winner withing Goodreads requirement. So the giveaway can't be too far pre-pub.
Lenita wrote: "How do I do a Giveaway months in advance when I won't know what the cover will look like until a week or two before it's published?"


message 12: by Barbara (new)

Barbara Sala Jean wrote: "I did a giveaway, and although I had many people sign up to win a copy, no one wrote a review. I have had good reviews on Amazon, but to the best of my knowledge, my Goodreads giveaway resulted in ..."

Jean, I do not think you wasted time and money.There are more people now who have your book on their "want to read" list. I organized two giveaways, and I did not get a review up to now.I still keep hoping. Which are the other places where you can track the buyer?


message 13: by Rodney (new)

Rodney Carlson Something to consider is:

a lot of people enter multiple giveaways at once.

Most of them are avid readers.

Your book may be on a long list of books that they need to get to, and it's more than reasonable to see the review or the results months down the road.


message 14: by Mike (new)

Mike Rhynard One can hope.


message 15: by Donna (new)

Donna Sawyer I believe the best reason to run a Goodreads Giveaway is to build awareness of your book. I ran a Giveaway for 5 signed copies and had 998 people sign up - it would have taken many active hours to reach that many avid readers any other way. It took me 5 minutes to set up the Giveaway - seems like a pretty good return on that time investment to me. As for reviews, they would be nice but I agree with John, word-of-mouth sells books.


message 16: by Lyle (new)

Lyle Nicholson I have done several Giveaways on Goodreads, and like many other posts I've had limited success. I've even sent out personal letters of thank you to the recipients in hopes it would spark more reviews. I think I got one more review out of that.

Someone remarked that giving away just one or two copies is as successful as ten. I think they are right. I also am not to impressed that Goodreads makes this a print only giveaway. When you realize that Goodreads, Amazon and Createspace are all connected, then you see that we are essentially putting money in their pockets, and somewhat less in ours.

I'd like to see the giveaways go to digital copies. We could give even more copies away, and our cost is nothing. I think that would be fair to authors, and cost us much less. There are numerous websites where authors can give away digital copies and ask for reviews. The cost of some of these sites is in the $10.00 range.

Will I keep using Goodreads? I will, but with fewer copies.


message 17: by Angela (new)

Angela Howell I just did my first giveaway so we'll see what happens. I am very pleased with the amount of people who entered the contest. I drove it hard on other social media sites. Did any of you do additional paid GR advertising? I tried to, but I couldn't get a click to save my life. I think I got 15 clicks in a month, despite trying many different titles and descriptions and audiences. I got a decent amount of views, so maybe it worked in my favor? Maybe they went straight to the giveaway and didn't click on the ad.


message 18: by Mike (new)

Mike Rhynard Angela,

I've had 2 Goodreads ads going (since Nov), covering my 1st and 2nd giveaways, and they've only drawn 40 clicks total. But my first giveaway ended up with >1000 entries, and my second giveaway, which started Jan 27 and ends Feb 27, has 325 entries so far. So I'm not sure there's a tight relationship between clicks and entries.

Mike


message 19: by Angela (new)

Angela Howell Thanks Mike! I think you're right. So ... Good for us!


message 20: by Eileen (new)

Eileen Iciek I've done a couple of giveaways myself and I don't think I've gotten any reviews from the winners. Added a note to the books, thanking the readers and asking for a review. The book's last page also asks for a review. Nada. As someone else said, it would be great if Goodreads could give more weight in the giveaways to those who actually review the books they win.

I've won probably 8 to 10 books on Goodreads over the years and reviewed every single one of them. Doesn't seem quite fair.


message 21: by Ravi (new)

Ravi Bedi Click on this
:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/s...

Best luck with your giveaways. Have you ever asked why they do not publish names of winners? Because it's a Trade Secret.


message 22: by Duncan (new)

Duncan Smith Ravi, about that blog - if some giveaway winners are immediately reselling books online for profit, that's quite disturbing. Authors run these contests in good faith and at their own expense. I hope anyone doing that receives a lifetime ban from Goodreads, or at least is stopped from entering giveaways.


message 23: by Eileen (new)

Eileen Iciek Duncan wrote: "Ravi, about that blog - if some giveaway winners are immediately reselling books online for profit, that's quite disturbing. Authors run these contests in good faith and at their own expense. I hop..."

I don't think anyone is going to get rich by reselling the books they might win on Goodreads, given the usually poor odds of winning. As a writer, it doesn't bother me if someone resells my book to someone who is more interested in reading it and possibly reviewing it.


message 24: by Pat (last edited Jan 03, 2017 09:40AM) (new)

Pat Thanks for all this great input.

Re: Goodreads ads (click through), I ran ads (two novels) for months and had very few clicks. Sales were negligible. I felt like I totally wasted my $$$. Click through ads on Amazon do much better at driving sales but the ROI is very poor. You'll spend $100 very quickly and make about $10. But it's money put toward reviews and word of mouth. Facebook ads result in lots of click-throughs but very little sales. And forget Twitter. I've hired multiple book tweeters with little sales as a result.

Re: GiveAways, I did my first on Goodreads Oct. 9. Gave away 10 of each. Yikes! Should have read these posts first, and I would have given away fewer. I did see that my novel is for sale on Ebay for far more $$$ than on Amazon. Evidently, this is okay with Amazon but is a bone of contention with authors. Ebay sellers did not get free copies from me, but I will check to see if my Goodreads GiveAway results in more copies available on Ebay at a lower price.

Re: Marketing follow up, I understand that Goodreads wants this to be a social site with little to no sales efforts by authors, but not being able to contact your readers/reviewers to let them know about your latest novel or to encourage them to tell their friends is ridiculous. I guess it's darn if you do and darn if you don't, from Goodreads' perspective. If they open the floodgates even a bit, the damn will collapse. I do see a lot of authors' posts within groups like the Oprah Book Club. Goodreads says those are independently monitored.

Thanks again for your input.


message 25: by Wango (new)

Wango Tango Pat:
Thanks so much for that valuable input - you posted the answer to the main question we all have. All of these platforms sound great - to debut authors (new to the publishing industry) who are passionate about their book and/or its message. We then invest our precious resources (time & $$$) in some of these marketing efforts only to find out it is all BUT a level playing field. Thanks again!


message 26: by Marjory (new)

Marjory Harris What about giving away a professionally recorded audiobook instead of hard copy or ebook? Is that allowed and, if so, has anyone had success with this approach?


message 27: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia Shannon Marjory wrote: "What about giving away a professionally recorded audiobook instead of hard copy or ebook? Is that allowed and, if so, has anyone had success with this approach?"

Hi Marjory! You can give away an audiobook as long as it's the physical CD recording. Coupons to download the audio book are not allowed. Hope this helps!


message 28: by Cyndy (new)

Cyndy Etler I view the benefit of my Goodreads giveaway primarily as reader awareness. My publisher is giving away 2 ARCs; with 5 days left in the contest, 599 people have signed up. That's 597 readers who now know about my book, and will be notified, as I understand it, when it's published. If they liked what they read in the description, maybe they'll then buy it. My thought is, if I've done my job in making my book and it's descriptions irresistable, well...there's 597 possible sales!

I saw my entry numbers skyrocket when I took the advice of a social media advertising pro friend and "boosted" one of my best "Giveaway! Link here!" tweets. I put down only $25. My numbers jumped from 410 to 599 overnight...but another bestselling author friend shared the link, too, so I can't say which caused what.

Also, when the social media friend, Bad Redhead Media, shared my tweets, my giveaway entries, and twitter followers, jumped by 15 or 20 at a time. She really knows how to git'rdone.


message 29: by Nicole (new)

Nicole Mike wrote: "Ditto to what Jean said a few minutes ago. I did a 20-book giveaway and got only 2 reviews -- both excellent -- so the other 18 either haven't read it yet or didn't do reviews. And, like Jean, I've..."
What about all these "i wrote an honest review in an exchange for a free book" posts i see everywhere? How do you get that deal, anybody know? Either as the author or the person(s) writing reviews.


message 30: by Kate (new)

Kate Lyle wrote: "I have done several Giveaways on Goodreads, and like many other posts I've had limited success. I've even sent out personal letters of thank you to the recipients in hopes it would spark more revie..."

Library Thing let you do digital copy giveaways but I got no reviews that way....


message 31: by Kate (new)

Kate I have wondered about giving proof copies away as giveways, not sure if Goodreads allows this but it would cut down on any unsavoury reselling activity...


message 32: by Cynthia (last edited Jul 17, 2017 03:44PM) (new)

Cynthia Shannon Kate wrote: "I have wondered about giving proof copies away as giveways, not sure if Goodreads allows this but it would cut down on any unsavoury reselling activity..."

Hi Kate! You can give away galleys or pre-release copies of your book. Just make sure it's as close to the final version as you can get it, including the cover, if you add one.

You can browse the list of giveaways here. Nicole, this is where you can also enter for a chance to win a free book, or list your titles for other people to win. Remember, giveaway winners are selected at random. Of course there are also other places you can give away your book; I'm just obviously most familiar and inclined to the Goodreads one :) Hope this helps!


message 33: by Kate (last edited Jul 17, 2017 04:08PM) (new)

Kate Thanks Cynthia. Yes, I have several proof copies - they have 'proof' written in the back. Yes they all only have minor changes, I don't send off for them until they're ready! Some also have older covers as I have updated some of the covers since. Is there an option to mention that they are proofs when doing a giveaway? I've not done any for a while. Thanks :)


message 34: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia Shannon Kate wrote: "Thanks Cynthia. Yes, I have several proof copies - they have 'proof' written in the back. s there an option to mention that they are proofs when doing a giveaway?"

Absolutely! Include that mention in the giveaway description. You still might get a reader who is unfamiliar with the concept, but at least you made it clear ahead of time (and it's good that it's written on the actual galley. Best of luck!


message 35: by Kate (new)

Kate Brilliant! Thanks Cynthia! Now I know what to do with them...I've got quite a few and it's a shame to waste them :)


message 36: by K.L. (new)

K.L. Loveley Lots of useful information here. Thank you, everyone. I will be taking on board the advice and hope to run a successful book give away for my second novel ' love, lies absolution' which I hope to publish November 2017.


message 37: by Philip (new)

Philip Mann I ran a GR giveaway in January of this year. I gave away 30 copies, so by their estimate I should have gotten twelve reviews.
I got three reviews, and one of them trashed the book, and couldn't find a single good thing to say about it. You have to wonder why some people are so bitter, but that's for the psychologists here.
As for who benefits, yes, it's Amazon. they sell the books, after all.
Getting your name out? Post on whatever sites you can, contribute positively, look for media types to give you a break.
Looking back, I should have sent those thirty copies to radio stations around the country and maybe gotten better results. But getting on a to-read list means nothing. Look at the profiles, some people add dozens of books per week.


message 38: by Rose (new)

Rose Corcoran Sometimes it takes readers a while to get through books. One of my giveaway winners didn't review my book for a whole year.

I feel like even if the giveaway doesn't garner a review, it does garner views of our books. People read the blurbs in our giveaway description when they might never have heard of our book before. I think of it like buying an add that just costs as much as shipping a book.


message 39: by Philip (new)

Philip Mann I still have my doubts. It's been almost a year now, and still just those three reviews. Plus, I think some people live off these giveaways, and stash them like postage stamps.
All in all, I'm still at sea about how to get recognition. I'm trying to get into anthologies, magazines, platforms with readers. Stay tuned.


message 40: by Kate (last edited Oct 23, 2017 03:52PM) (new)

Kate I agree Philip. I only ever got one review from four books (and these were well over a year ago.) I just did another giveaway with 4 books but I won't hold my breath for any reviews. I don't know why Goodreads doesn't prioritise those people who have given reviews as a result of giveaways. It's not rocket science.


message 41: by Philip (new)

Philip Mann Amazon owns Goodreads, so they benefit from all those free books. I think that most of the winners mention how they got a book.
But the best is a professional review, and those are very hard to come by. Us commoners have to scrounge around. Such is the writer`s lot.


message 42: by Kate (new)

Kate It's just that Goodreads say they encourage winners of giveaways to leave a review but if there was some sort of incentive for these winners to leave reviews ie if those leaving them were awarded some sort of points or better odds for receiving free books in future, then the system would work better IMO.

Yes I remember the dim and distant days of the odd professional review when I had one of my books trad published. Long time ago now and I suppose I was lucky to have my 15 minutes


message 43: by Eric (new)

Eric Hansen Does anyone know if it is possible to post a message to those who did NOT win in the giveaway? I had 600 people interested, 25 books, and would like to reduce the Kindle price for a day or two specifically for those who did not win but who were honestly interested in the book. So I am looking for a way to specifically inform those 600 non-winners. Anyone know? Thanks!


message 44: by Kate (last edited Dec 14, 2017 05:21AM) (new)

Kate I don't think you can, Eric, once the giveaway is finished. You can see who's entered it while the giveaway is live. But I don't think it's something that Goodreads would encourage, tbh. You don't know the reasons why people enter giveaways. I like to think it's for noble reasons but people may decide to sell the books on for all I know. I've only had one review as a result of giveaways. I recently gave away 4 copies of one of my books. I decided only to give away proof copies or those with a few errors, stating this in the giveaway. I think if people are interested in an author's books, having seen their giveaways, then they will find it if they want to.

This is just from my experience - others may have a different perspective!


message 45: by Philip (new)

Philip Mann I agree with you, Kate. Don't bother .They may not even care. For all you know, they may enter one or more giveaways every day. Read my previous comment and you'll see my experience.
I looked at the profile of one reviewer. the guy had added over one hundred books to his "wants to read" list. In other words, the figures are meaningless. You can go p and down the system , entering contests, reviewing books, and it just adds up to nothing. Until somebody puts down cash for your work, giveaways and all that other stuff is a waste of time and money.


message 46: by Eric (new)

Eric Hansen Thanks! And much success to you - Eric


message 47: by Eric (new)

Eric Hansen Thanks! And much success to you - Eric


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