Goodreads Giveaways: Lots of Readers Want My Novel for Free by Tom Kepler

Author Tom Kepler
Author Tom Kepler

Goodreads is a reader and writer online community of over six million people. Sponsoring a book giveaway allowed me to promote my fantasy novel, The Stone Dragon, for very little money, only the printing cost of the book plus shipping. Running a Goodreads book giveaway was an easy, enjoyable, maintenence-free experience.

Having run two Goodreads giveaways for The Stone Dragon, what are the immediate results?

  • Number signing up for the book giveaways: 1,821 readers (797, giveaway #1; 1022, giveaway #2)
  • Number placing the book on their “to read” list: 314
  • Books given away: 5
  • Cost of the giveaways (books, mailers, postage): $38.75

A Goodreads giveaway runs automatically once the basic information is entered during the sign-up process. I chose to limit the contest to the U.S. so that I didn’t have to pay for foreign mailing. My postage for each book was $2.82, media rate. The real work for the author/publisher is to advertise the giveaway through online social connections.

There is no answering or chatting with contestants, although links to their Goodreads pages are provided. As far as I can tell, no mass-message capability is provided for the author/publisher to contact the participants. In fact, based on the interview with Patrick Brown of Goodreads and the FAQs from the site, anything resembling spam is discouraged–and mass mailings to readers you don’t know would be considered that.

I wrote two blog posts about Goodreads giveaways that can be found at Tom Kepler Writing:

How to Run a Goodreads Giveaway: what I learned from running one (Part 1)

How to Run a Goodreads Giveaway: what I learned from running one (Part 2)

Brief points from the two-part article are listed below:

  • If you are interested in a Goodreads giveaway, first read an interview with Community Manager Patrick Brown from Goodreads, at Novelists Inc., by Vonna Harper: “Goodreads for Writers.” Patrick provides the site’s philosophy regarding giveaways, the relationship between the promotion and readers, and statistics on giveaway results.
  • A book does not have to be newly published to be eligible for a giveaway, and a book can be in a giveaway more than one time.
  • When running a giveaway, you agree to not store the winners’ mailing addresses and to never mail anything to the winners except the indicated book.
  • In a giveaway, Goodreads does not advise contacting people who haven’t contacted you. “While you might think that entering a giveaway is sufficiently expressing interest in the book to hear about future giveaways, discounts, etc., we’ve found that this isn’t the case.”
  • One author commented on my blog post that she had contacted individuals who had placed her novel on their “to read” lists. She offered them a free ebook version of the novel and received no negative responses.

In my opinion, an absolute risk-free procedure is to simply research the individuals who have expressed an interest in your book–especially those who put it on their to-read list. Perhaps they are bloggers who review books–many are. Have they reviewed books like yours? What is their blog’s policy for review submissions? What links do they have that are useful? This is information that is available to anyone on the internet. That’s why people have webpages! Narrowing Goodreads’ subscribers from 6.6 million to hundreds is quite a useful, time-effective action.

The Goodreads giveaways were for me an inexpensive way to have a lot of readers see The Stone Dragon. For less than forty bucks, I had 1,821 readers say they’d like a copy. The 314 who placed it on their “to-read” lists I consider a useable data base, as long as I make sure I’m not spamming anyone. Since many readers have multiple books on their “to read” lists, there is no immediate way to determine how effective a giveaway is as a marketing strategy. Be that as it may, I consider running a Goodreads giveaway an inexpensive, useful, and educational experience.

If you want to know more about setting up your own Goodreads giveaway, check out Laurie Boris’s guest post here.

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Tom Kepler has been a classroom teacher for grades 7-12 for over thirty years. A teacher of the Transcendental Meditation program, he has taught at Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment, Fairfield, Iowa, since the fall of 2005. His current project, entitled Dragons of Blood and Stone, is a sequel to the fantasy novel The Stone Dragon. Other publications include Love Ya Like a Sister and Bare Ruined Choirs.  You can find Tom on Facebook and Twitter, and you can learn more about him here.[subscribe2]


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6 thoughts on “Goodreads Giveaways: Lots of Readers Want My Novel for Free by Tom Kepler”

  1. This is informative and useful. Although I have run several successful giveaways at Goodreads, it's very useful to see how other authors have fared doing the same thing, and what they think of the experience.

    My giveaways were not too dissimilar from yours, Tom. I enjoyed it and found that the exposure was achieved with little effort. And like you, I found that a number of repetitions do not hurt – either financially or time wise.

    Every little helps.

    Enjoyed this.

    1. My feeling is that a site with six million book lovers signed up is worth taking the time to get to know. Thanks for the comments. I just uploaded my Kindle short stories this evening (on my birthday).

  2. I'm ashamed to say that until a couple of months ago I didn't think Goodreads was any big deal! Thankfully I've seen the error of my ways. Thanks for the post. 🙂

  3. Thanks for sharing the numbers, Tom. I've done two giveaways with Goodreads, each time I only gave away a single copy. I'm curious what your thoughts are on the multiple copies that you gave away, and is there an optimal time to run the giveaway?

    1. What the site manager said is that giving away more copies increases the reviews you receive. He said about 45% of winners write reviews. So, more books given away, more reviews.

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