Goodreads Giveaway Tutorial

Author Laurie Boris
Author Laurie Boris

Last year, I attended a workshop given by a local published author on how to promote your book on social media. “Goodreads?” she sneered, in response to an audience member’s question about the site. “I don’t know anyone who’s on Goodreads.”

Uh…well, there are LOTS of people on Goodreads. And they love books. I mean, seriously love books. Some members of this community read hundreds of books a year. They talk about them. Review and rate them. Many blog about them.

Yeah, Goodreads can be buggy, like so many other social media sites, and isn’t the most intuitive place out there. But its many features outweigh the occasional glitch. For one, you can maintain a “bookshelf” of books you’re reading, have read, and plan to read, so you can make friends based on common interests and favorite books or authors. You can join a multitude of groups and grow into the community. Participate in a book club, and read and comment on the selection of the month. You can become “fans” of your favorite authors and follow their reviews and blogs.

But what has helped me most is one of Goodreads’ most popular features: the giveaway. Okay, everyone wants something for nothing. But specifically choosing your book out of dozens offered up at any given time signals interest. If you have a new book coming out, a giveaway can help you generate early buzz. Almost 900 members signed up to receive eight ARCs (advanced reader copies) of my first published book. That’s 900 motivated readers who hadn’t known about me or my work prior to the event. This boiled down to eighty-some readers who decided to add me to their “to-read” shelf. And of my eight winners, six gave me a written review or a star ranking. (Giveaway winners are encouraged, but not required, to reciprocate with reviews.)

Ready to give it a try? Okay!

  1. Sign up for Goodreads at It’s free, and mostly straightforward.
  2. Build yourself an author page. Populate it with your books and, if you’d like, your blog.
  3. Schedule your giveaway:

4. Watch in awe as the entries pile up.
5. Send your book(s) to the winner(s)!
6. Wait for their reviews and ratings.

Come on, is it really that easy? Uh…mostly. For one, Goodreads won’t accept e-books for giveaways. Sorry, Charlie. There are plenty of other places you can throw yourself a download-a-palooza. Also, Goodreads wants books that are either set for release or have been out no longer than six months. (We are talking early buzz, here. Find another way to launch your second-wind tour.) And think about how you set your giveaway timetable. Not only do you want reviews to coincide with your final release date—or with the promotional event of your choosing—you want to give potential winners enough time to read and review the book. Also, it’s a pain in the ass to change the dates once you’ve submitted them.

It is in the fine print that YES, you can hold a giveaway twice for the same book, but you can’t overlap your giveaway slots.

Good luck, get buzzing, and have fun!

Note:  If you want more information about the Goodreads Author Program, please visit their Author Program page here.

Author: Laurie Boris

Laurie Boris is a freelance writer, editor, proofreader, and former graphic designer. She has been writing fiction for over twenty-five years and is the award-winning author of four novels. She lives in New York’s lovely Hudson Valley. Learn more about Laurie at her website and her Amazon author page.

7 thoughts on “Goodreads Giveaway Tutorial”

  1. I have enjoyed participating in Goodreads, and have discovered some highly talented Indie authors through that site.

    Be advised that although book giveaways on Goodreads attract attention, there is no screening method used by moderators who select the winners. You will be giving away hard copies, packaging and mailing them out.

    If your target audience is YA, Sci-fi, paranormal romance, horror, thriller, or historical romance, you're in luck. Those genres dominate the shelves on Goodreads.

    When nearly three hundred readers signed up for my giveaway, I assumed that the title and book description would attract readers of nonfiction, biography, and cross-cultural mysticism.

    Giveaways attract readers who want free books.

    When I wrote to the staff and asked if consideration is given to the genres these readers favor, clearly evidenced by the books on their shelves is a factor in determining who will receive the free books, the answer was murky, at best.

    "We can't explain our method, except to say that a complex algorithm is used." 

    [al-guh-rith-uhm] noun

    "a set of rules for solving a problem in a finite number of steps, as for finding the greatest common divisor."

    Nearly 300 members signed up to receive a free copy of my book, and several of the ten winners do not have a single nonfiction book on their shelves.

    If I do another giveaway, I will host it differently, and select the winners based on their reading preferences.

  2. As an indie author, I was looking for places to connect. I've been on Goodreads for about 4-5 months. It's not as buggy as Shelfari and serves its purpose.

  3. Yeah, I went kicking and screaming to social networking but I realized that it's the way to promote. And it took me quite a while to really get a handle on FB and Twitter. Not that I'm an expert: I have to make a concerted effort on a regular basis. Don't ask me how long it took to set up my blog and online shop! I was basically like, hmmm…let's see what this button does! All I can recommend is plug, plug, plug away. Keep trying new things, play around. The learning curve is exponential. Good luck!

  4. True, every networking site has their quirks, their slants. Learning what each can do is only to your benefit. Goodreads is interesting to me…well, it was more interesting before they broke up with Amazon. Book bloggers are big on Goodreads, and if your book is in their wheelhouse, it's worth having a conversation. Marcia, have you been to SheWrites? From what I've seen there, you might have a more receptive audience.

  5. I love goodreads, because as you say, the readers on that site just love books. The interactions are genuine, and many people keep their friend lists low because they really are looking for people who have similar interests because they're trying to find a new favorite book. So when someone adds your book to their to-read list because they saw it on the giveaway, their friends see that, too, so there is a ripple effect that goes beyond the winners of the book.

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