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message 1: by Owen (new)

Owen O'Neill (owen_r_oneill) | 625 comments What are people's experiences with giveaways here on GR? Did you get reviews from the winners? Did you see a tangible benefit, whether or not you got any reviews? Would you do it again?

Thanks for any info!


message 2: by Ken (new)

Ken Doggett (kendoggett) Maybe it depends on genre, and how many books you have out there, but last year when I published my first novel I offered it for free on Amazon for one day. I got nearly 100 downloads, but not a single review. I wouldn't do it again. Your experience might be different. Offering a free copy in a contest on Goodreads is something I haven't tried yet.


message 3: by Nathan (new)

Nathan Coops (icoops) | 30 comments I've run a number of Goodreads print book giveaways and have had generally good results. I would say that 40% of the people left reviews and for the most part they left positive ones.
It gets a little expensive if you ship to other countries. Watch out for the customs fees at the post office. That can dent your budget a little. I am running a print giveaway now for my second novel and will likely do more. It's a great way to jumpstart reviews on a new book or a book with low review numbers.


message 4: by Owen (new)

Owen O'Neill (owen_r_oneill) | 625 comments Ken wrote: "Maybe it depends on genre, and how many books you have out there, but last year when I published my first novel I offered it for free on Amazon for one day. I got nearly 100 downloads, but not a s..."

We tried that also on Amazon for our first book. We had it listed as a free promo for 3 days (I think). The book got a ton of downloads and shot up to No.1 on the free 'bestseller' list for military sci-fi (ahead of 'Basilisk Station' at No.2). But did us no evident good and may have hurt things. We didn't get any reviews we can tie to that, although how many people bought the next book after getting the first one free, there's no telling (we know one person did, so presumable there were others). But sales dropped after those 3 days and did not fully recover thereafter (and we lost 3 days of sales when the book was selling well -- bad timing on our part). So like you, I don't think we are going to try that again.

We did try a giveaway on GR, once (7 copies). The results were disappointing, and we haven't tried it again. But we are curious if other people have had better luck.


message 5: by Owen (new)

Owen O'Neill (owen_r_oneill) | 625 comments Nathan wrote: "I've run a number of Goodreads print book giveaways and have had generally good results. I would say that 40% of the people left reviews and for the most part they left positive ones.
It gets a li..."


Thanks Nathan. Your book does seem to have been very well received! It's possible that our book is just one that does not garner a lot of reviews, as compared to sales.

Yes, customs fees can be an issue, but I ship directly from Createspace and have never had an issue, shipping to Denmark, Canada, or Poland. (In fact when I sent a book to Poland, I chose expedited shipping because it was tracked and regular shipping said it could take over a month. The expedited shipping -- which was not that much -- was delivered to Lublin, Poland in less than 24 hours! How they did that, I cannot fathom.)


message 6: by Nathan (new)

Nathan Coops (icoops) | 30 comments One of the biggest review generators you can do is to get your book nominated as a book of the month read in a group that likes your genre. This can be either really great or really bad based on whether your book is any good or not. The Time Travel group I co-moderate has had some really great authors that we continue to praise and some that probably wished they never nominated their books. Book clubs are usually populated by serious readers who aren't afraid to write reviews. I enjoyed the experience of interacting with readers in that format too, so it can be a lot of fun, even without the reviews aspect.


message 7: by Owen (new)

Owen O'Neill (owen_r_oneill) | 625 comments Nathan wrote: "One of the biggest review generators you can do is to get your book nominated as a book of the month read in a group that likes your genre. This can be either really great or really bad based on ..."

We haven't pursued that, mainly because our books don't fit neatly into a well-recognized genre. We aren't looking so much for more reviews, but more sales, and (from what I've seen on Amazon), reviews are more of a trailing indicator of sales than driving force for sales, beyond a certain point. (We have 50+ reviews on Amazon and 20 here on GR, combining both books. I don't count GR ratings without a review.)

So I may not have worded my question above clearly enough. I probably should have emphasized the the real question is whether people saw a sales benefit that was attributable to their giveaway, which may have come from reviews (which are easy to track) or just the exposure a giveaway provides.


message 8: by Nathan (new)

Nathan Coops (icoops) | 30 comments I think the reviews matter more if they get added to Amazon as well as Goodreads. The problem there is that people didn't buy them there so they may not post there, and even if they do, it won't be a verified review. Natural Amazon reviews that are verified go farther and get you showing up in "people also bought" listings etc. that's where you want to be seen. Have you checked out Nick Stephenson's sites? He has some free videos that do a nice job of explaining Amazon keywords. Maximizing how well seen you are is more important than reviews in my opinion. No one can read your reviews if they never find your book in the first place.


message 9: by Christina (new)

Christina McMullen (cmcmullen) | 1213 comments Mod
I just did a giveaway in November. Out of five books, I have zero reviews. My biggest issue is that GR requires physical books and does not allow the authors to contact the winners. For all I know, no one ever receieved their books.
My Amazon purchase to review percentage is less than 1%. To be fair, I don't send out review copies or ask for reviews. Every so often someone will message me asking for a book to review and I have to decline. I'm far too paranoid and have heard too many horror stories about books being stolen and rebranded. It's bad enough the pirate sites have my books for free. No sense in letting someone else try to make money off of them.


message 10: by Owen (new)

Owen O'Neill (owen_r_oneill) | 625 comments Nathan wrote: "I think the reviews matter more if they get added to Amazon as well as Goodreads. The problem there is that people didn't buy them there so they may not post there, and even if they do, it won't be..."

I was not aware of Nick Stephenson at all. That is good info -- thanks!

Getting people to your product page is, of course, key. From what I have observed, the "people also bought" listings are the main sales driver on Amazon. Reviews, I think, are a bit more complicated there. I've seen books that have lots of great reviews selling poorly and books that have lots of bad reviews selling well. Trying not to be long-winded here (which is not my forte), readers are (IMO) pretty sophisticated regarding reviews and what they consider credible and how it relates to their tastes. If people are dinging a book over something they don't care about, those reviews don't hurt. If people are praising a book uncritically, that does not help. Once you have a "credible" number of reviews, more reviews don't seem to have that much effect.

And the nature of your book matters, too. People seem more to willing to take a flyer on some types of books than others.

And so it goes. We are still learning, obviously. I was not aware there was a link between reviews and the "people also bought" lists; I was under the impression that was mainly based on sales data. We did benefit (I believe) from good placement on "people also bought" lists when we had only two reviews. In fact, we got the bulk of our sales for our initial release before we had 5 reviews. (That was back in 2013 and things do change.) So it's always been a bit muddled as to what drove what.

Anyway, I will certainly check out Nick Stephenson's sites. And thanks again!


message 11: by Owen (new)

Owen O'Neill (owen_r_oneill) | 625 comments Christina wrote: "I just did a giveaway in November. Out of five books, I have zero reviews. My biggest issue is that GR requires physical books and does not allow the authors to contact the winners. For all I know,..."

One thing that did sort of annoy me when we did our GR giveaway is that we are pretty sure one of the winners turned around and put the book up for sale as "used" on Amazon just about as soon as they got it. (But for more than it cost new -- don't get that part.)

Our review to sales ratio is in the same ball park as yours, but I have no idea what is typical. We also don't ask for reviews. (And so far, no one has asked us.) In our case, our books are too easy to mistake, in terms of what they are about. If people who bought them want to review them, that's great, but when it comes to some 'random' person, we'd rather not. The books aren't for everyone, and we'd rather not get a misguided review because the reviewer didn't know what they were getting into. (Fortunately, we've only had a couple of those and I don't think they matter much.)

Just last week I did find our first book on a sharing site. I didn't know if we should be flattered or not. They took it down as soon as I asked.


message 12: by Anthony Deeney (last edited Jan 30, 2015 05:12AM) (new)

Anthony Deeney | 81 comments Cost me £180 for 10 book giveaway and international shipping. One lukewarm review. 380 added. No notable sales increase. 803 entries.


message 13: by Owen (new)

Owen O'Neill (owen_r_oneill) | 625 comments Anthony wrote: "Cost me £180 for 10 book giveaway and international shipping. One lukewarm review. 380 added. No notable sales increase."

Thanks for the info. I hope things have improved since then.


message 14: by Anthony Deeney (last edited Jan 30, 2015 05:20AM) (new)

Anthony Deeney | 81 comments Owen wrote:

Thanks for the info. I hope things have improved since then."


Also think there are people entering giveaways and then selling the book. I found my book in among list of other books "collected on goodreads." It costs them almost nothing (a little time). You are out £10-£18 per book. One winner openly told me that it was going on eBay after he read it. He said he would review it. He has yet to do so.

Maybe my book was rubbish and nobody wants to say so, or maybe I was just unlucky. Might work better for others than it did for me.


message 15: by Owen (new)

Owen O'Neill (owen_r_oneill) | 625 comments Anthony wrote: "Also think there are people entering giveaways and then selling the book. I found my book in among list of other books "..."

That's charming.

One thing that bothered me about the GR Giveaways was some of the people (quite a few actually) were signing up for it without paying any attention to what the book was about. We got a whole slew of YA readers in the beginning. Maybe I'm wrong, but I thought the blurb made it pretty clear that it was not a YA book, and the reviews certainly do.

We did have a content warning on the giveaway, but at the end of the description. I quickly moved it to the beginning, but we still got a lot of people who (based on their listed interests) seemed like they would really dislike the book.

If people are just entering giveaways to get something free, without any regard to what it is, I think that tends to undermine the whole concept.


message 16: by Richard (last edited Jan 30, 2015 03:05PM) (new)

Richard | 490 comments Mod
Mine, a year ago, lasted a month and up for grabs were twenty signed copies of the hardback. And, while the Giveaway itself was still in progress, the book was soon punching well above its weight too - doing brilliantly in fact. It started on page 34 of the list, i.e. near the bottom of a pile of more than a thousand books on offer, climbed steadily for the whole four weeks overtaking everything in its path and, with three days to go, reached page one. On the final day it finished in ninth place among books by some well-known authors. 1965 people entered, more than half of those also marking it "to read". I was over the moon: my little book - which had had no publicity, no advertising, no promotion or help of any kind - had done better than just about every other book on the list.

So I wrapped and posted off the twenty, although when I saw the list of winners I did go a bit pale for a moment: they lived (I'm not making this up, it's the truth) on every continent except Antarctica (I just thank my lucky stars that at least no one up there on board the International Space Station was among the winners). Bubble-wrapping, packaging up and addressing them all wiped out an entire weekend; the cost of postage wiped out my bank balance. Then off they went...and almost all of them vanished without trace. No word came of their fate; there was no way of knowing whether they'd even reached their exotic destinations; like lost children or dogs, most of them were simply never heard of again.

One problem with Giveaways is this: there are swine on Goodreads who enter just to win free books with no intention of reading what they win. These parasites go down the entire list pressing every "Enter" button - and, of course, do routinely win books which can be sold on eBay or the nearest market stall round the corner. The second problem is that Giveaways aren't genre-specific: even those (few) winners who do read your book are reading in a genre they wouldn't usually go anywhere near, a genre they wouldn't give a second glance to in a real bookshop as they head straight past it on their way to the Romance, or the Crime Fiction, or the Trashy-Potboiler sections. The chances are that none of your twenty winners are readers who would pick up your book in that same real bookshop, read the blurb, count their change...and take a chance on it. My Giveaway produced three reviews - none, I'm pretty sure, from readers who buy our kind of stuff - and resulted in no improvement at all in what I insist on calling (I have a great sense of the ridiculous) my "sales". As in life, just by the laws of chance there will always be some authors for whom everything just slots effortlessly into place. For the rest of us, though, Giveaways are an absurd, ill-designed, unfair and utterly enthusiasm-sapping waste of money, time, thought, effort - and books.


message 17: by Christina (last edited Jan 30, 2015 03:06PM) (new)

Christina McMullen (cmcmullen) | 1213 comments Mod
Honestly, Richard, I feel like giving you a standing ovation for that. I've still got a handful of paperbacks floating around. I'm going to run my own promos in the future or try to hop on with another indie group like I did in the fall. I think the whole not having direct contact with the winners makes it too impersonal. To them, we aren't real people. Half or more probably have no idea what indie means. As far as they are concerned, some company with a marketing team just sent out a tax write off.


message 18: by Sue (new)

Sue Perry | 175 comments I will join you in that ovation!


message 19: by K.N. (new)

K.N. (karmaplace) | 12 comments To offer a view from the other side, I enter GR Giveaways for books that sound appealing to me, and I've won twice! When I received the first I read and reviewed it within days, and I'm currently working on the second (I just got it in the mail on Wednesday).

I also go through GR groups looking for Read and Review posts. Whichever books I get for R&R I make a priority and try to get my reviews out ASAP.

I will admit though that I am not quick when it comes to sale or free books, as I have not exchanged words nor made any promises to the author to put out a prompt review. I have a terribly long to-read list is all. I do make a point to review everything I read, however, so the reviews will happen, just possibly not for a long while.

I know I must be in the minority, but I just wish to convey that there are readers out there that appreciate the opportunities to read and review something new. I'm sorry that most of you have had bad experiences, and I wish you luck in future attempts.


message 20: by Owen (new)

Owen O'Neill (owen_r_oneill) | 625 comments Richard wrote: "Mine, a year ago, lasted a month and up for grabs were twenty signed copies of the hardback. And, while the Giveaway itself was still in progress, the book was soon punching well above its weight t..."

Indeed! You really hit the nail on the head.


message 21: by Owen (new)

Owen O'Neill (owen_r_oneill) | 625 comments Kaitlin wrote: "To offer a view from the other side, I enter GR Giveaways for books that sound appealing to me, and I've won twice! When I received the first I read and reviewed it within days, and I'm currently w..."

I certainly do not (nor I believe do others) mean to indict all the people who participate in these giveaways. The problem is structural. GR selects winners without any regard to whether the winner has any likely interest in the book being given. That is what creates the problem.

Clearly you do not enter giveaways for books you do not wish to read, but many do, and that does a disservice to both people like you and to the authors.

For our part, I have no problem giving a free copy to pretty much anyone who wants one, if it seems like they have a genuine interest. (I'll admit that I'll more selective about that since we did once send a book out someone who requested it, only to have them not finish the book and write a rather misguided review because it turned out that they did not fact much like sci-fi.)

So personally, rather than participate in GR giveaways, I'd rather have some vehicle to give our book to people who express genuine interest.

Maybe there could be a place to post that here?


message 22: by Christina (new)

Christina McMullen (cmcmullen) | 1213 comments Mod
Owen, there should be a folder for read and review requests. There's also the Bettereads project if you would like a peer review before sending out to readers.

Kaitlin, despite the fact that there are apparently some opportunists, I still feel the issue here is with Goodreads and their handling of the contests, not the readers.
Authors are made to feel as if we are predators if we so much as send a message to clarify an address. I had planned on giving my winners the option of a signed or unsigned book, but I couldn't do that. On top of that, I had no way of letting the 500+ folks who clicked 'want to read' know that the ebook would be on a free promo if they were still interested.


message 23: by Richard (new)

Richard | 490 comments Mod
I can't help wondering if this is all back to front anyway. What we've got now is authors posting their books, then readers doing the browsing for ones which interest them - but what if it was the other way round? I'm imagining a sort of gigantic notice board where readers post what they want to read - as vague or as specific as they like - and authors browse that looking for any they can fulfill.

For all I know, it exists already. If so, where is it? Does it work? And if it doesn't exist, why not? It would help authors I think, but would it help readers too Kaitlin?


message 24: by K.N. (new)

K.N. (karmaplace) | 12 comments Richard, you may be onto something. I'm sure I came across a group like that before where the goal was to put authors and reviewers together. I'll have to go back and do a search for it. I think I declined to join because it was a HUGE group and I didn't want to attempt to navigate through it all.

From the readers side, the GR Giveaways are organized fairly well, at least in my opinion. I would click on the keywords that appealed to me and search them that way, though as it's been stated, some people seem to just click on anything and everything.

I think in writing it makes sense for GR to not allow interaction between the author and the reviewer as the contest is run through their sight, and they want to cover their butts in case there ever was harassment (lately with the weird Authors VS Goodreads, Authors VS Reviewers publicity it makes sense, though this policy was already around before). But I can understand the frustration of not being allowed to verify addresses or check if the book was received. That is a ridiculous, I'll admit.


message 25: by Owen (new)

Owen O'Neill (owen_r_oneill) | 625 comments Christina wrote: "Owen, there should be a folder for read and review requests. There's also the Bettereads project if you would like a peer review before sending out to readers...."

I have noted the Bettereads project with interest. We have a crew of beta readers and a great editor (until she starts teaching in Japan later this year), so we're doing okay for this book. But we are finishing up a novella at some point, and I will likely submit it for consideration when it's ready.


message 26: by Owen (new)

Owen O'Neill (owen_r_oneill) | 625 comments Richard wrote: "I can't help wondering if this is all back to front anyway. What we've got now is authors posting their books, then readers doing the browsing for ones which interest them - but what if it was the ..."

That would an awesome idea. Getting buy-in from readers might be tough. I've detected a great deal of wariness by readers to expose themselves to "spam". The current assumption seems to be that that reader can search, but that has issues. I'll admit I'll get a nit frustrated because I read reviews where the reviewer will say (in effect) "This book was close but quite there. I would have liked it better if..." and I think, well, maybe they'd like to check out our book. Clearly they are looking for something that they didn't find, but we lack a way to gently, politely and respectfully point out that here is a book that they might possibly be interested in.

But as Kaitlin points out, that sort of thing tends to get overwhelming fast. There is a massive noise level that would have to be dealt with. After all, why shouldn't everyone be interested in our book?


message 27: by Owen (new)

Owen O'Neill (owen_r_oneill) | 625 comments Kaitlin wrote: "From the readers side, the GR Giveaways are organized fairly well, at least in my opinion..."

I agree that it makes sense the way GR handles things, given that people get unpleasant at times. And it is pretty well organized for readers, as you say.

But this is the central point: what is the giveaway for? Who is it supposed to benefit? If it is merely a vehicle to give readers free stuff, then I (the author) at least should have a say in who gets my free stuff. But more to the point, why should I participate if that is all it is?

If the giveaway program is to benefit authors, than they ought structure it better and respect that we are giving away our work at considerable cost in time and money. But they don't. They give our books to people who pretty clearly have no interest in them -- even object to them (as happened with me). And as Christina says, they expect you to participate, and then because a few authors are jerks, tend to treat the rest of us like predators or parasites that the readers need to be protected from.

I understand the position they are in. I have seen a lot of ham-handed and rude attempts by indie authors trying to get their work "noticed". And I have also seen a lot of hostility here on GR towards unknown indie authors, to the point where I've considered bailing on the whole thing.

I don't blame GR particularly for that, given the nature of the problem, but I do feel that they haven't thought the giveaway program through and I do think that on the one hand they are promoting the giveaways as a benefit to authors, and in the other, treating us like "bad elements" for participating in it.

This is why I think the whole thing is ill-conceived. GR needs to think more about what the program actually is for and who it serves. They are free to make whatever decision they want about that, but they need to be clear about it, so we can decide if we want to participate.


message 28: by David (new)

David Staniforth (davidstaniforth) | 21 comments There doesn't seem to be any point in offering more than one book, which is what I have just set up. The cost is minimal, as far as it can be, and any exposure gained is surely the same as if offering more books. We shall see…


message 29: by Anthony Deeney (last edited Feb 02, 2015 12:16AM) (new)

Anthony Deeney | 81 comments One book is all its worth to the author. 5 is generous. 10 is a mistake. 20 is madness. Originally it was a good idea and worked well. Shysters always ruin good ideas.


message 30: by Peter (new)

Peter Fugazzotto | 2 comments I am about to run my third giveaway (first one was in January). As a newer author, I see it as a valuable tool to get some looks from folks (increase visibility for both book and my name as an author).

I am experimenting with the number of books to give away (1-3), the copy and the number of days(3-5). The metrics I am looking at are how many folks add my book to their want to read list.

I have seen some sales during the giveaway days (very modest) though I am not sure whether they came from the giveaway exposure. Too hard to tell. No direct way to measure.

But I like the giveaways as one part of a longer term marketing strategy (in terms of impressions and reviews) which I hope lead to increased sales.


message 31: by Anthony Deeney (new)

Anthony Deeney | 81 comments I had 800 entries. 400 "to read" added. That number falls daily and is now 365. I haven't sold 35 books.


message 32: by David (new)

David Staniforth (davidstaniforth) | 21 comments Two days in, with one book for offer, I have so far had 365 entries. My "to read" added figure mirrors Anthony's, at roughly half. I really don't see the point in giving away more than one book, Peter. There are books with ten copies available, and only thirty or so entries. More copies means more expense for the same amount of exposure. I've put mine up to run for a full 30 days.

A fair few of those that have added, have already read and rated thrillers similar to mine, so I am hopeful that some of those adds will translate into sales.


message 33: by Christina (new)

Christina McMullen (cmcmullen) | 1213 comments Mod
Here's the thing though: those to read clicks aren't really exposure when they go on a shelf that already has thousands of other to read books.The reason for more books given away is supposed to be more potential for reviews. When I ran mine, I had 1200 entries with almost 700 to read clicks. The contest ended mid-november and the to read list is down to 528. The books aren't being moved to already read lists, they're being culled.


message 34: by Anthony Deeney (last edited Feb 10, 2015 02:18AM) (new)

Anthony Deeney | 81 comments Just to confirm my cynicism: My book has turned up on eBay in the US. This cost me £18 to buy and send. It is advertised as Unopened, unread, signed copy. The seller is selling books and old VHS tapes. He will potentially make more out of the book than I would had someone bought it.

I think I'd rather he just said, "Don't bother sending the book. I am not going to read it, just send a tenner."


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