THE Group for Authors! discussion

The Craft > Success of Print Giveaways

Comments Showing 1-50 of 90 (90 new)    post a comment »
« previous 1

message 1: by Marty (new)

Marty Beaudet (authormartyb) | 38 comments I had over 800 people enter one of my giveaways, but only about 100 people have put the book on their to-read shelves, most having done so before the giveaway. I guess the giveaway increased name recognition at best, but probably didn't increase sales significantly. Many to-read lists have hundreds of books, so it's unlikely that any one book will ever be purchased and read in the short term.

message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

Hard to say. I just listed a new giveaway for my 4th book. Over 900 signed up for #3, which was more than the previous. So each time I gain more entries.

I found the same about those putting my books on their to read list. But most of those people have MANY books on their list, so it may take awhile until they get to mine. At least the giveaways generates interest - and that's half the battle.

message 3: by M.A. (new)

M.A. Demers | 169 comments I approached an indie blogger for a review and sent her the book. She read it and said she would review it. She then asked for comp copies for a giveaway she was promoting on her blog. I gave her three digital files (she was only supposed to get one mobi or ebpub but we got our wires crossed) and one print version. The cost to send the print version amounted to $20 including the book itself. The number of sales that resulted was about 4, and they were all digital. And I have yet to receive the review that was promised.

So although I will continue to do print giveaways, in future I will only do one that is in conjunction with a review; otherwise it's too costly.

[image error]

message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

Actually, M.A., I think it is best just to figure if you give it away, don't expect anything in return. It's been hit and miss with me in dealing with reviewers. Some fulfill their promise in a timely manner, others take weeks, maybe months, and still others not at all. So I've learned to take what I get, continue to engage people and see what happens.

But I have pulled back on who, where and how many books I give away or send out from promotion.

message 5: by Alan (new)

Alan (coachmt) | 11 comments Unfortunately, there are very few ways of advertising that you can directly track sales from. Advertising is about repetition and creating familiarity through that repetition. If you see something in a multitude of places, you start to become familiar with it and familiarity breeds acceptance. It's a hard row to hoe, especially if you don't have a lot of money to spend on advertising. I did a Goodreads giveaway for my first two books and had 7-800 or so sign up for each. For the cost of two books each time and postage, it's a relatively cheap to get your brand out there.

message 6: by Lovern (new)

Lovern Kindzierski | 10 comments Shawn - Are you saying that you gave away that you gave away 900 ebooks?

message 7: by [deleted user] (last edited Jul 15, 2011 12:35PM) (new)

No! Over 900 entered to win 2 paperback signed copies of book 3, which was more than those who entered for book 2. As of this morning 100 had entered since yesterday to win 2 copies of book 4.

All I'm saying is each time I have a giveaway more people enter - showing my name recognition is growing. And that is the point of giveaways, to help become established.

message 8: by M.A. (new)

M.A. Demers | 169 comments I can certainly see the value of a GR giveaway because they have the readership. But I'm finding the blogs, not so much. Mind you, I've only been at it for a few months, and sporadically, soooo....

I think with marketing one has to take the long-term approach, as others have noted in different ways. "Brand recognition," as Shawn put it, "familiarity" as Alan put it. What is hard is finding patience for what can be grueling. And because reading a book demands more of people than a YouTube video or Twitter tweet, things don't go viral in the same way.

Staying patient and positive when you feel as if all your efforts are failing, that's the key to marketing success, I think.

message 9: by [deleted user] (last edited Jul 15, 2011 03:15PM) (new)

YES!! I second everything you said about patience through the grueling demands of being an author, M.A!

In this day and age of instant access and gratification, we want to see our books become best-sellers in a matter of months. Not understanding that even those who are best-sellers, didn't get there overnight. It took years. Trying to rise to the surface of recognition from among the mire of 1 million books published in 1 year is no easy task.

message 10: by Nicole (new)

Nicole (clfornax) | 4 comments I ran a give-away last month. Over 800 people requested a copy of my novel, and around 130 people put it on their "to-read" shelves as a result. I haven't seen a follow-through as far as sales go. At the very least, I hope the giveaway winners will write reviews.

message 11: by Larry (new)

Larry Moniz (larrymoniz) Shawn wrote: "No! Over 900 entered to win 2 paperback signed copies of book 3, which was more than those who entered for book 2. As of this morning 100 had entered since yesterday to win 2 copies of book 4.


Shawn, out of curiosity, have you also seen a resulting sales bump each time you do a giveaway?

message 12: by [deleted user] (last edited Aug 03, 2011 01:47PM) (new)

No, and I really don't expect sales, but it's encouraging to see more people interested and putting my books on their "to-read" list. Seeing an author's name repeatedly in giveaways or on threads helps to generate name recognition, and that is one of the keys to promotion.

I understand most people are looking for 'freebies', especially from new or unknown authors. This is what makes low prices e-books so attractive. I also know, they use GoodReads to obtain free books. However, with giveaways and promotions, I control the number of books that go out.

message 13: by Andy (new)

Andy Rane | 13 comments So, I have a couple questions for those who have completed a paperback giveaway. Does the list of those requesting a copy disappear after the giveaway is over? And, do you think it would be ok to offer a coupon to those who didn't win?

message 14: by [deleted user] (new)

I get the names and address of those who won to send them a copy of the book.

As far as offering a coupon - that would be between 700 & 900 for each book giveaway I host. I don't think that is feasible.

message 15: by Andy (new)

Andy Rane | 13 comments But, that's 700 to 900 people who showed some interest in your book. If it meant even just a small percentage of those used the coupon, I think it would be worth it. Just my opinion though.

message 16: by [deleted user] (new)

Possible as a 20% discount or something, but with it being a giveaway, people maybe expecting the book to be free. I'm not for giving about hundreds of paperback copies.

message 17: by Andy (new)

Andy Rane | 13 comments way. I certainly only meant a percent off coupon. The easiest (and most economic) would be to provide a discount off of the ebook. If I discounted my paperback, I'd probably lose money!

message 18: by [deleted user] (new)

A discount is a consideration. However,I don't get the full list of name who entered, so I can't cross check for the discount to see if those people were on the list. I've only received the winners names.

message 19: by Alan (new)

Alan (coachmt) | 11 comments GoodReads has stated in the past that they absolutely do not want authors contacting those who enter their giveaways, other than the winners. Evidently, others have had the idea you have Andy and spammed the entrants with promotions.

message 20: by Andy (new)

Andy Rane | 13 comments Hmmm...figured as much. And, I certainly don't want to irk the powers that be. Just seems like a missed opportunity, especially for a new author. :/

message 21: by Marty (new)

Marty Beaudet (authormartyb) | 38 comments Alan wrote: "GoodReads has stated in the past that they absolutely do not want authors contacting those who enter their giveaways, other than the winners. Evidently, others have had the idea you have Andy and s..."

I wonder if making this offer at the time of the giveaway announcement would work? Like, anyone who enters the giveaway is entitled to a 20% discount; contact the author for the coupon code, or something.

message 22: by [deleted user] (last edited Sep 01, 2011 02:53PM) (new)

That's possible, Marty, but it still leaves the problem of verifying the claim. I'm not going to give out a discount coupon to everyone who contacts me and 'claims' to have entered my giveaway. There has to be a way to verify the names.

Whereas I understand Goodread's stance on attempting to prevent authors from spamming, it would be nice to work out a compromise.

message 23: by Patrick (new)

Patrick Brown | 276 comments In general, mentioning in the description of your giveaway that your book will be available at a discount after the giveaway (or during it, I suppose) is fine. What is not fine is contacting all or many of the people who entered your giveaway to offer explicitly the same deal. We've found in the past that, though you may feel that they have expressed specific interest in your book, they don't necessarily feel that way.

We have thought about various products that incorporate messaging giveaway losers into the system but we've never hit on a method that seems quite right for our members.

message 24: by [deleted user] (new)

Patrick wrote: ".We've found in the past that, though you may feel that they have expressed specific interest in your book, they don't necessarily feel that way."

Why enter a giveaway if one isn't interested in the book?

message 25: by Patrick (new)

Patrick Brown | 276 comments Shawn wrote: "Why enter a giveaway if one isn't interested in the book?"

I think it's not so much that they aren't interested, but they aren't interested enough to want to get messages from the person who posted the giveaway. Interested enough to potentially get a copy for free just by putting in their address, but not really interested in hearing from the author (though that might change should they read the book and find that they like it).

message 26: by [deleted user] (new)

A rather subtle distinction for an author to try and make.

message 27: by Andy (new)

Andy Rane | 13 comments Plus, some folks just gravitate toward "free" stuff. Perhaps they could eventually have an "opt-in" when they register for a giveaway. "Would you like to recieve updates, offers, discounts, etc. from this author in the future?" From a reader's point of view, I totally understand the respect for privacy. But, from an author's point of view, it feels like lost potential. Thanks for all the input everyone! Hope I didn't hijack this thread too badly. :D

message 28: by Eva (new)

Eva Dillner (eva_dillner) Goodreads had a blog post about a year ago that claims a 45% review rate for books in the Giveaway program. Three months after my giveaway ended I'm nowhere near that statistic. I don't know if it takes longer for winners to post or that the demographics have changed that much in the last year. I've summarized my stats with links here
Marketing is so hard to measure...

message 29: by Eva (new)

Eva Dillner (eva_dillner) Some more thoughts on the giveaway process
Perhaps the focus needs to shift from winning free books to reviewing books that genuinely interest the recipients?

message 30: by Andy (new)

Andy Rane | 13 comments How many books did you give away, Eva? I gave away 50 ebooks over on LibraryThing and so far have only seen 3 reviews about a month later. Being as that technically cost me nothing, I can't really complain. My current giveaway is for 5 signed paperbacks, which still isn't costing me a whole lot, but I'd be pretty happy with getting 1 review out of the lot.

message 31: by Eva (new)

Eva Dillner (eva_dillner) I see I should have just copied my blog posts to here. The only problem is the links disappear.

August 28, 2011
Goodreads Giveaways Book Review Statistics
Three months have passed since the winners were selected in the Goodreads Giveaway for

First Reads
Be the first to read new books! Prerelease books are listed for giveaway by publishers and authors, and members can enter to win. Winners are picked randomly at the end of the giveaway.

25 winners each were selected for 6 of my books. A total of 150 books were shipped to the winners. According to Goodreads statistics, 45% of the winners write text reviews. By now I should have at least 67 reviews, an average of 11 per title. Let's see how the statistics hold up.

Z 2 A 2012 Art Calendar
9 ratings, 11 reviews
1,078 people entered

Z 2 A
6 ratings, 4 reviews
861 people entered

Meandering Mind
8 ratings, 7 reviews
1,022 people entered

Secrets of Transformation
6 ratings, 3 reviews
1,334 people entered

God put a Dream in my Heart - Handbook of Life Therapy
4 ratings, 5 reviews
765 people entered

Våga Leva
2 ratings, 4 reviews
273 people entered

A long ways short of the 45% review rate from the article published only a year ago. A closer look at the text reviews reveal that some are comments, not actual reviews, some are pleasant surprises, where a reader found a gem in a book they would normally not read, some are clearly not interested in the subject matter... or don't read the language... how do you write a review then?

The difficulty in measuring marketing efforts is you don't know what begets what. At first glance I may have wasted a lot of money. But lots of people requested my books, lots of people added them to their to-read list. Lots of people who otherwise hadn't heard of me do now. So down the road, this may trickle into something else. What I do know for certain, is that doing nothing gets you nothing. To reach the fruit of the tree you have to go out on a limb.

PS - Next up I'm testing Library Thing, two of my books are in the August batch for early review. On my website you can see a summary of feedback from many sources.

July 16, 2011
Goodreads Giveaway Winners - Are they customers?
Years ago I was part of a network for small businesses. At the time my focus was therapy and personal growth for individuals and groups. Our business network hired a marketing consultant to help us develop our brochures and hone our message to potential customers. Since the therapy work I do is deeply transformational, my brochure naturally spoke of healing deeper emotional traumas. One member of our network thought I should change the wording, tone it down, make it more about relaxation, because people might be scared off by the therapy aspect. Our consultant intervened.
- She's not a customer. So what she thinks is irrelevant. What she's saying is she would go to someone for relaxation, but not therapy. So she's not a customer. You need to target your message to people who are looking for therapy. They won't be scared.
That was so helpful. Since becoming an author, I've often reflected that feedback has to be viewed through a filter. Several friends think I should write about stuff that isn't personal. What they are saying is they prefer to read other kinds of books. They are not customers.

So what does this have to do with Goodreads Giveaway winners?

Goodreads is a social networking site for book lovers. Through their Giveaway program, publishers can send out review copies to the winners to get more buzz about their books and authors. Members choose which books they're interested in winning. Then Goodreads randomly chooses the winners, based on undisclosed criteria, however they hint that previous winners who write reviews are more likely to win again.
Sounds pretty good, to get book lovers to review your books. Goodreads statistics show a 45% review rate from winners. And that if you give away more than 20 books, the buzz increases even more. I'm not one to do things halfway, so I entered six of my titles with 25 copies each to be given away. That's 150 books in total. Winners were selected in May 2011. Since it takes a while to ship to destinations far and wide, and you have to allow time for the books to arrive, then a few more months for the winners to read and do their write ups, it's too early to see the whole picture yet.
But from the early posts, I have a few observations.
- Several of the winners have set their profiles to private, which means only their friends can see their reviews.
- Many of the winners aren't customers. Why you would want to win a book in a genre you don't have an interest in is a bit beyond me. To write that the topic is not of interest, or not your type of book, is not a review.
- I hope Goodreads doesn't count all the Yippie I won, thanks for sending me the book comments as reviews.
- Some who won my Swedish book have no knowledge of the language. One can only hope that the books get passed along to someone who has a bona fide interest in reading it...

The Goodreads community appears to have both serious readers/reviewers and those whose primary goal is to win as many books as possible. For a small publisher, sending out review copies is a big post in the marketing budget. We look at the effectiveness of every dollar spent. We happily send out free copies, in the hope of getting bona fide reviews in return. If the Goodreads program becomes more of a contest to win any book by the members, the publishers will find other avenues.
I recently signed up for Library Thing and will test their Early Review program in August. One thing I really liked when I entered my books, was the list of similar books. You can enter up to five ISBN's of books similar to yours. They realize that people with similar books on their shelves are more likely to write a relevant review of your book since they clearly have an interest in your subject. So we'll see how that goes.
By the end of August I hope to have enough statistics from the Goodreads Giveaway to evaluate how well I fared in bona fide reviews.

message 32: by Eva (new)

Eva Dillner (eva_dillner) The article I reference is here:
Where the good folks at Goodreads have compiled some very interesting statistics on the Giveaway Program

message 33: by Andy (new)

Andy Rane | 13 comments Duh...didn't realize the link and the info were one and the same. Wow...that's a lot of books. For me to reach 45%, I only need to have 3 people write a review. ;) Maybe the numbers even out when you have a bunch of folks giving away just 1 or 2. If I give away 1 and that person gets a review, I've had a 100% response rate!

message 34: by Eva (new)

Eva Dillner (eva_dillner) Yes it's a lot of books, but the statistics indicate that you get a better response rate when you do a higher quantity. I do notice that a lot of authors keep listing the same title and only give away one copy at a time. It's probably a clever way of keeping the books in front of the readers.
A question on the ebooks? Did you watermark or DRM protect the files at all? Pdf or Epub?

message 35: by Andy (new)

Andy Rane | 13 comments I'm offering 5 copies and have 325+ requests after 2 weeks. My ggiveaway ends September 30th, so I imagine I might end up with close to 500. I have a Goodreads ad to promote the giveaway, but I get many more requests than clicks on the ad.

I gave out coupons to Smashwords, which I use for some of my distribution. So far, so good (knocks on wood).

message 36: by Steven (new)

Steven Drachman | 169 comments I didn't realize that people could do a second giveaway after the first - what do y'all think about that? I am having a reasonably good response to my giveaway so far (after just a few days) but I screwed up the execution of it a little bit, since I sent the application on August 27 and listed August 27 as the start date - so when it was approved a few days later, it showed up halfway down the list, rather than at the top of "recently listed". So I want a do-over! And given the article that Eva listed, I'd like to give away more books and get more reviews. So do y'all think that running a second giveaway is a good idea or a bad one?

message 37: by Steven (new)

Steven Drachman | 169 comments And yes, I see now that I read Eva's latest email - citing the article - but not your earlier email, suggesting that it might not yield 45%.

But I agree, nothing gets you nothing.

Anyway, I still appreciate thoughts from my fellow writers about how it looks to run a second giveaway. thanks again.

message 38: by Eva (new)

Eva Dillner (eva_dillner) I didn't realize either that you could do multiple giveaways for the same book. But I suspect it may get you more, since you keep your book in front of the readers over and over again, and each time maybe you net a review, and once the ball is rolling it may be easier for people to add to it... and the name recognition grows.
My combined review rate so far is only 23% and of those, there are several that are comments like "I won... thanks.." or other comments that aren't reviews.
Number of people wanting to win my books was 5333. Hopefully that means they took the time to read the description and decide they'd like to read it. That's over 5000 people who previously hadn't heard of me.

message 39: by Steven (last edited Sep 02, 2011 12:16PM) (new)

Steven Drachman | 169 comments Congratulations on the more than 5000 who want your book! That's great. And thanks for your response.

Does it give a sort of annoying impression to our readers to run a second giveaway, or maybe an impression of desperation? I know that's not the case in reality, but is that the impression it gives?

I agree with you that if I get some reviews off of the current giveaway, it'll make people more eager to win, so that's another reason why I would want to do it.

(I'm an old school publishing guy, I've been out of that world for 20 years, so I'm like Rip Van Winkle trying to catch up to all the internet etiquette that's grown up in the years since and hoping not to make too many mistakes, faux pas.)

Thanks again.

message 40: by Patrick (new)

Patrick Brown | 276 comments We encourage most of the people purchasing our book launch ad packages to run two giveaways -- one two-to-three months before publication (to create pre-release buzz through reviews) and one at or around publication date (To create awareness). So I don't think it's bad form to post a giveaway a second time. I would not recommend posting the new giveaway the day after the old one ended. Better to take at least a week or two off and then post a fresh one. You'll get fresh eyes that way. If you group them too close together, you're likely to end up with some people who think the first giveaway never ended.

message 41: by Steven (new)

Steven Drachman | 169 comments That's great advice, very helpful. Thanks very much for the quick response, I appreciate it a lot.

message 42: by Eva (new)

Eva Dillner (eva_dillner) What might be helpful, to increase the feedback rate from winners, is for Goodreads to send a follow up email to all the winners, say 2-3 months down the road. To make sure they recieved the book and with helpful hints of what other readers would be looking for in a review. And a nudge that the reason authors and publishers participate in the program is to get reviews.
Or to have more info on why reviews are such an important part of the site... lots of places to nudge people in the right direction.
Or simply slant the giveaway algoritms so that winners are picked from those who write reviews.
A 23% review rate is very low, which is where my campaign sits 3 months down the road.

message 43: by Tracy (new)

Tracy Johnson | 3 comments my pennyworth on this is that there needs to be a return on author investment and the field isnt equal here. We are discussing this a lot on Indie Authors.
When a "Review Copy" is/was sent to a reviewer on a paper by a pub house it was with the express intention of getting a publicity write up. This is a hit and miss situation here.
Really with a giveaway, you are doing just that and hoping for some name recognition.Nothing else.
People want freebies - nothing else - as the lady said with the person who didnt even read Swedish.
Goodreads could easily send out a discount coupon at the time of the draw to all those who expressed interest but didnt win - then you would be able to convert interest to sales. But maybe Goodreads isnt up for supporting the authors

message 44: by D.M. (new)

D.M. Coffman | 1 comments I know my publisher is promoting my book, The Hainan Incident, in the US, but (since the book is an international/China thriller) I was concerned it may not be getting exposure outside the US. So, I did a 3-book (author signed) giveaway for 4 areas OUTSIDE the US. (Unfortunately, all 3 books ended up in Canada, even though there were requests from UK and Australia!) The point is, I think the giveaway program is an excellent (and inexpensive) way to get some exposure in hard-to-target areas. If those people like the book, they'll tell their friends, etc. Thanks to Goodreads for providing this venue!

message 45: by Larry (new)

Larry (lite312000) | 6 comments Hi Guys, I would like to know your thoughts on these questions you can answer one or both.
1) Is it okay to add the people who have your book in their to-read list as friend
2) How many of the people that added your book to their to-read list actually got a copy

message 46: by Eva (last edited Sep 12, 2011 02:04AM) (new)

Eva Dillner (eva_dillner) Exposure is good, if it leads to sales. It seems the Goodreads algoritm picks many winners who really aren't customers. To try to cross reference winners with who added my book to the to read list is hard for me to to, as you have to do it one by one. As for adding winners as friends, Goodreads specifically states you may not contact winners. But this is supposed to be a social network so sending a friend request is a fairly innocuous way of connecting.

I gave away 150 books.
Goodreads says they get a 45% review rate.
I should have 67 reviews at least.
I have 36 ratings. 34 text reviews (actually less as people use it for other comments)
That's 23%, far short of the 45% Goodreads claims is average.
To read list 453
People entering to win 5333.

My books print in the UK, USA and Australia and ship worldwide, so I chose to make the giveaways available in all countries. A fairly wide spread of addresses, including the US. So far I haven't noticed an increase in sales, but based on past experience with book fairs, advertising and other marketing efforts, there seems to be a time lag for the effect to kick in. Doing talks or workshops is the number one way to get sales right away, where there is no lag. But very time consuming.

message 47: by mlady_rebecca (new)

mlady_rebecca | 30 comments Shawn wrote: "Why enter a giveaway if one isn't interested in the book?"

Speaking as a reader, sometimes I sign up for a giveaway that I'm borderline interested in. Something that may be a bit outside my comfort zone, but that I would pass on if money was tight.

message 48: by Kyra (new)

Kyra Gates (koolaid) | 6 comments I am hosting a giveaway on my site http://www.walkersanewgenerationofvam... through the months of November and December. I will be giving away 10 print copies; five in November the others in December; Tortured Soul Walkers Book II. If you would like to enter go to my blog follow it or simply send me a message and you’re entered! Good Luck and thanks for the support.

message 49: by Eva (new)

Eva Dillner (eva_dillner) mlady_rebecca wrote: "Shawn wrote: "Why enter a giveaway if one isn't interested in the book?"

Speaking as a reader, sometimes I sign up for a giveaway that I'm borderline interested in. Something that may be a bit out..."

Thanks Shawn... that clarifies things.

message 50: by Steven (new)

Steven Drachman | 169 comments I gave away five books in early October, and of the five people who won the book, only one put it on her to-read list. I actually just won a book, and the notice I received when I won said that I would be more likely to win again if I actually reviewed it, noting that this is what the giveaways are for. So I was surprised that the winners didn't even put it on the list. Is this typical?

Nearly 1200 people entered to win, and a lot of them put it on their to-read list, but I didn't notice any particular uptick in sales as a result of the giveaway. Maybe that comes over the long term.

« previous 1
back to top