FAQ: Should I Run a Goodreads Giveaway? | Book Marketing

Hey there, hi there, ho there, authors & friends!

Our team over here at Sunbury has been getting a lot of emails about whether or not authors should run Goodreads giveaways for their book(s), so I decided to put together a little post so that everyone can return to it whenever they want a little book marketing boost.

I'm going to chat about what a Goodreads giveaway is, why you might consider it, why you might not, and where to get started. 

FAQ: What is a Goodreads Giveaway? Should I do one?

If you don’t know about Goodreads yet, you probably should. It’s a social media platform specifically for books and reading, and it offers you a few different chances of getting discovered by readers who love books just like yours.

Have you set up an author profile yet? Before we get started, I'd just like to tell you that it's a good idea. Check out these other blogs for guidance: 

Navigating Amazon as an Author: Amazon Central and Goodreads

Navigating and Understanding Social Media

Another way to get discovered on their platform is through a book giveaway. An author pays $119, writes a short description, and then readers browse the available giveaways to win a copy of your book and other authors’ books. When the giveaway time period is up, Goodreads chooses the winners at random, and either the author sends print books to the winners or KDP sends digital books to the winners (Don’t worry, we’ll get to this later).

In terms of numbers, one of our awesome authors did a giveaway on Goodreads recently and got 2,064 readers who requested to win one of ten copies of his book. Yours may be less than that, but it could be more too.

What are the benefits of running a giveaway?

  • Goodreads members choose which giveaways to enter based on the subject matter and genres they’re actually interested in. This means that a good amount of readers within your specific niche will see your cover and read your description. Without this giveaway, those readers may never have heard of your book. 
  • When you send a print book to a winner, you can personalize their victory and ask them if they’d consider leaving a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads when they’re done. Goodreads also emails the winners of the giveaways to ask them to leave a review. So big benefit: you could some get reviews out of it.
  • In order to enter, readers have to add your book to their “Want-to-Read” list. This means that when they sign into their Goodreads profile or Kindle, they may see your book in their list after the giveaway and decide to purchase it and read it.
  • Don’t underestimate the power of finding the right reader. You may only give away ten books, but one of those readers could be a podcaster or a bookish influencer who ends up loving your book and giving it lifelong publicity.

What are the pitfalls of running a giveaway?

  • If you don’t have $119 in your marketing budget, then obviously you won’t want to do this. You should also keep in mind that if you are doing the print books option (which I recommend), you’ll also need to pay for printing the books & shipping them to the winners.
  • Your giveaway winners might not leave a review. Both you and Goodreads will ask them to, but nobody’s forcing their hand at the keyboard. 
  • You're not going to make >$119 in sales from this giveaway. You could have new reviews, new email subscribers, new social media followers, and new lifelong fans of your work, but it's probably not going to increase your sales right away. 
  • This opportunity may not be the best fit for all genres. Fiction is pretty much good across genres, and so is narrative and some select nonfiction, but if you wrote a book of regional history or medical nonfiction, this probably isn’t the right platform for you.

“So, should I run a Goodreads giveaway?”

Here comes the most popular phrase in publishing...

That depends!

Do you have $119 + books + shipping in your marketing budget? Advertising is never guaranteed success, especially because success looks different to everybody.

Personally, I like Goodreads giveaways. Reviews are terrifically important (obviously), but on top of that, I also think it’s pretty special that you don’t have to do any additional promotion. You can, but you don’t have to. You’re reaching potential new fans with your Goodreads giveaway, not only your existing ones. 

Closing tips:

  • Make sure your Goodreads author profile & book page are both as good as possible before doing a giveaway. This means making sure it has the right ISBN, ASIN, cover, description, author photo, author bio, author website, etc.
  • I recommend giving away ten print books, but five can be good too. You can choose how many, but ten is my favorite cost-effective choice.
    • Also, you can give away eBooks in a Goodreads giveaway (up to 99!), but eBooks are much easier for readers to download and forget than a print book. It’s up to you in the end what you’d like to do, but I like the personalization aspect of the print books more.
  • You are given a 150-character pitch for the giveaway that goes with your cover on this page. Make sure to perfect your pitch for the giveaway with info on the giveaway (“Win one of ____ copies of [Title]”), the book’s hook, and a short description. If you're a Sunbury author who wants my input on your pitch before putting it up, just contact kcressman@sunburypress.com
    • Do you want to send an autographed copy? Cool! Just make sure you include that info in your pitch. 
    • You can even include your website address in the pitch if you want. But make sure that site looks awesome. A bad website can really dissuade readers from wanting to read your work.
  • Absolutely 100% no-doubt-about-it—make sure to put a handwritten or personalized note inside of the print book congratulating them on winning, hoping that they enjoy, and asking them kindly if they would please leave a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads. If you have a bookmark with your book or author info on it, it’d be a good idea to add that too. Let’s make their reading experience special from the very beginning.
  • I recommend setting the giveaway time at 18 days or 3 weeks.
  • You can definitely open the giveaway internationally to increase exposure, but it will be more expensive if they win.

 goodreads giveaway photo