How NOT to Run a Goodreads Giveaway: Tips & Tricks for the Indie Author

Goodreads should play a part in your marketing strategy as an author. Not a big part, certainly a smaller part than Goodreads management might like you to play. But still, a part.

The three-letter acronymns around the Goodreads boardroom table would like you, in particular, to give away lots of free books to their users. Not surprisingly, this makes their users happy. Here are their suggested guidelines.


Poppycock, says I. Poppycock!

Start Early Start on Day of Launch

The connection between people who “add” your book to their GR shelves and who actually then buy your book is tenuous. Tenuous as in a butterfly in China caused an earthquake in California. But we’re not talking chaos theory here, we’re talking book marketing.

What’s going to get you the most attention for your book? Listing your freebie with a link where people can actually download/buy the fricking ebook! Hello? Don’t waste your time and money running up “adds” on Goodreads. Go for the sale!

Run your giveaway for a month Run Your giveaway for 72 hours, tops

Anyone here done a GR giveaway before? This is probably what your stats look like:


Do you see the problem here? Almost all of the entries comes at the beginning and the end of the month-long giveaway, with a huge trough in between. To get maximum exposure, run giveaways for 2-3 days max, and you’ll get the spike at the beginning and the spike at the end.

Remember, on any given day there’s 40,000 giveaways on Goodreads. Readers will see the new listings and the about to close listings. That’s it.

Start the giveaway the day your book goes live. You can use the giveaway to either drive up your free downloads as part of KDP Select, or use it to sell the book at a discounted 99 cents. (You aren’t launching at full price, are you? Naughty, naughty…)

Offer as many books as you can Offer one copy only

OFFS. Of course Goodreads wants you to give away as many copies as possible! Duh! But do you think readers are going to hesitate to click the “Enter Giveaway” button because there’s only one copy available? And don’t go talking to me about the “60%” of winners who supposedly leave reviews on Goodreads. Bollocks. If you get 20-30% within twelve months, you’ll be lucky.

Use a self-serve ad to drive entries Don’t waste your money on Goodreads ads

Goodreads ads are a waste of money.

There. I said it. They totally are. You’re going to way better ROI on Facebook, and even then there are better strategies to drive sales. PPC advertising is expensive and delivers poorly, especially for indie authors.

Don’t get me wrong. My intent here isn’t to trash Goodreads. It’s a fun place to hang out and chat with readers. But if you’re goal is to shift units and make money, then you need to understand that Goodreads is a poor investment of your time and money. Give away a free book on launch date. Put up a decent author bio. Interact with readers who seek you out.

But otherwise? There’s more profitable ways to spend your time as an author.

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