A Goodreads Giveaway is an affordable way to promote your book, and solicit book reviews. It must be a print book and you can offer it any time, as frequently as you like, and Goodreads does not charge a fee. (Support for Kindle Giveaways has been announced, but not rolled out.)

Why and what to expect

We’ve heard Goodreads described as Facebook for readers. On Goodreads, readers keep track of what they are reading, what they have read, and use Goodreads to discover new books to read. As an author, you want to join and use Goodreads as a reader first, author second. It’s first and foremost a community of readers, so be respectful.

Before you list your book for a Giveaway, it must have a listing. Establish your free author profile, and add your book (if it isn’t already there).

Keep your expectations for reviews in line with the reality of how long things take: time to run the promotion, ship the books, the winner needs time to read it, and then they have to write the review—your #1 goal. The earlier your start, the better the results. You can’t rush this.

Costs ($)

  1. Copies of your book.
  2. Mailing envelopes.
  3. Shipping. Note: you can run giveaways on a country-by-country basis. Just keep in mind that you pay the cost to ship the book to winners.

Rules and Best Practices

  1. Print books only.
  2. There is no limit to the number of books you can offer.
  3. You must ship the books, at your expense, and notify Goodreads when they have been shipped.
  4. Instead of one Giveaway of several books, consider fewer books (2 or 3) with several Giveaways. The reason is because new giveaways, and giveaways ending, are announced to members. That means more exposure for your book.

Pre-Giveaway/Listing Advice

  1. Write your “ad”, don’t do this on the fly or simply copy your description from Amazon. Check out giveaways of books similar to yours to see how they describe their book.
  2. Schedule your start date. Goodreads now specifies the earliest date your book is eligible, about a week out.
  3. Consider specifying that your book is autographed. This may make it more valuable to readers and hopefully reduce the chance of your book being resold by the winner.
  4. It’s okay to conduct a Giveaway before the release date. You just need to make sure you have copies of the book to mail, or schedule the end date after you know you’ll have those copies to send.
  5. End your Giveaway on non-holiday, a day when people are not distracted.

During the Giveaway

Promote your book’s Giveaway. Don’t assume Goodreads is going to actively promote it or that your book will “sell itself.” This is similar to running a KDP Select promotion, not promoting it, and then wondering why you had so few people take you up on your offer.

Use the giveaway as an excuse to connect with your contacts. Announce it on social media and notify your mailing list.

After Your Giveaway Ends

  1. Include a handwritten note with each book you mail.
  2. Tell them you’d appreciate their feedback. Ideally as a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads, but include your email address as well. Just don’t get pushy; be grateful and courteous.
  3. Autograph your book.
  4. Keep track of who you send the book to and watch to see if they leave a review. There is no need to follow-up, or thank them if they do leave a review—it’s just a good marketing practice.

Caution: you are not permitted to contact the reviewers beyond sending them the book. As a practical matter, its unlikely anyway since you won’t receive an email address and further follow-up would have to be by postal mail, which is expensive.

Intangible Benefits

There are more benefits that just reviews. Some people will put your book on their shelf with plans to read it anyway and all this activity helps raise awareness of the book.

Like any good marketing plan this is just one way to promote your book to get reviews and your experience will vary. The good news is that it is inexpensive and you can run a Goodreads Giveaway as many times as you like.