Goodreads Giveaways: Important Changes Effective January 9, 2018

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Like many authors and publishers, I have used Goodreads giveaways for years to help with discovery, create buzz, and seek honest reviews for newly released books.

I have been a big fan of the Goodreads giveaway, having written a few articles about it on my blog.

I’m still a fan, but there are some important changes coming January 9, 2018:

  • All KDP authors/publishers will be able to offer eBook giveaways. Previously, this was only open to traditional publishers.
  • It will cost a minimum of $119 to run a Goodreads giveaway. That’s in addition to the cost of purchasing and sending physical copies (if you choose to run a contest for print books). Until now, there has been no fee to run a Goodreads giveaway.
  • Entrants will have the book automatically added to their Want-to-Read lists (which friends potentially see through their update feeds).
  • You will gain additional exposure, as Goodreads will notify the author’s followers and anyone who has already added the book to their Want-to-Read list about the new giveaway.
  • Initially, Goodreads giveaways will only be open to residents of the United States. (This restriction applies to entrants, not to authors.)
  • It’s possible to gain premium placement among Goodreads giveaways by paying $599 (instead of $119) for a Premium Giveaway (instead of a Standard Giveaway).
  • You will need to link an Amazon account to your Goodreads account in order to run a Goodreads giveaway. (You can create a new Amazon account if you don’t already have one.)

Are these changes good or bad?

Like most changes to the publishing world, it will be better for some authors than others.

Let’s start with the bad. There are really only two things that I don’t like:

  • It’s no longer free. Having to spend $119 seems a bit pricey. And if you run a print giveaway, it costs even more, as you must pay for author copies plus shipping and packaging.
  • Only residents of the United States may enter the giveaway, at least initially. It’s not a big issue for me, personally, since most of my book traffic comes from the United States, but I have acquaintances in the United Kingdom and Canada who feel left out.

The real question is this:

Will the benefits of a Goodreads giveaway offset the cost?

Keep in mind that with the changes to the Goodreads giveaway program, it’s possible that it will be more effective now than it has been in the past.

How might it be more effective starting January 9, 2018?

  • There might be less competition from other giveaways, making it easier for readers to discover your book. Not as many authors/publishers will be willing to pay the fee.
  • The giveaway might gain more exposure since the book will be automatically added to Want-to-Read lists, and since Goodreads will notify the author’s followers and anyone who has already added the book to their Want-to-Read list that a giveaway is available for the book.

Note also that the cost of the giveaway has not necessarily increased as much as it may seem.

Starting January 9, 2018, you can run a Standard Giveaway for $119. However, if you choose to run an eBook giveaway instead of giving away print books, you will save on the cost of author copies, shipping, and packaging. I’ve actually paid more than $119 for a Goodreads giveaway when it was FREE: I’ve spent over $50 on author copies and over $80 on shipping for several giveaways, which comes to over $130. In those cases, I would have saved money by paying $119 for an eBook giveaway.

The new cost of the Goodreads giveaway encourages authors/publishers to offer more prizes.

You pay the same $119 fee for a Standard Giveaway, regardless of whether you offer a single book as a prize, or several copies of the same book.

If you only give away one book, $119 is a pretty steep price to pay. However, if you offer several copies of your book, the cost per book drops down dramatically.

Like all paid marketing, Goodreads giveaways are more likely to be cost-effective for authors who write compelling books. If you only sell a few books per month, paying $119 for a giveaway will come at a great loss. If your book sells thousands of copies per year, paying $119 is relatively cheap.

Are you upset that you won’t be able to run a free/inexpensive giveaway?

That’s ridiculous! Of course you can.

You can run an Amazon Giveaway directly from your book’s Amazon product page.

You just pay for the selling price of the book. For a print book, you must pay the shipping charges, too. In either case, you will be compensated partly later when you receive your royalty. You can even require entrants to follow you at Amazon. (When you publish a new eBook through KDP, Amazon notifies your Amazon followers of your new release.)

Learn more about the changes to Goodreads giveaways:

  • Click here to see the Goodreads giveaway help page.
  • Click here to read an article by David Wogahn.

Would you like to tell Goodreads how you feel about the new giveaway program?

  • Click here and scroll down to the bottom of the page to find the survey (if it’s still available). Look for “send us feedback” in bold letters.

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2017

Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more
  • Kindle Formatting Magic (coming soon)

Click here to view my Goodreads author page.

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25 comments on “Goodreads Giveaways: Important Changes Effective January 9, 2018

  1. I’m disappointed, because I’ve been looking forward to the opportunity to have Goodreads giveaways for my ebooks. I know the ebook giveaway was being “tested’ with traditional publishers. I expect the Giveaway will now be dominated by big publishers (for whom the cost will be almost nothing). As for the opportunity to run a “free” Amazon giveaway, the Amazon giveaway audience for a book is not nearly as large as the Goodreads promo, which because it features many books, draws a large number of entrants. Even so, I’ll probably participate from time to time. I’ve never had many entrants for my Amazon giveaways, but many hundreds for Goodreads giveaways.

    • Thank you for sharing your experience with Amazon giveaways. I’ve had upwards a few thousand entrants, which is competitive with what I can get at Goodreads, but only for my most popular books. I usually get 300 to 1000 entrants for my Amazon giveaways, depending on the book, number of prizes, the odds, and requirements (I get better participation when I don’t require followers).

      There may be more traditional books in Goodreads giveaways now, but for the indie books that continue to participate, it might be good in a way. If you try it out, I hope it works for you.

  2. Thanks for the update, Chris. Relevant as I am ready to launch a new book. Any thoughts about how reviews from books given away on Goodreads will be received by Amazon? They’ve changed their rules on reviews they accept.

    • They should be fine, especially as Amazon owns Goodreads. Unfortunately, they won’t have the Verified Purchase tag, which helps reviews get exposure at Amazon. Goodreads giveaway winners are more likely to review at Goodreads than at Amazon though.

  3. I dumped GR nearly a year ago and it has made no difference to my sales. Honestly, you’d have to be a mug to pay for a giveaway – especially at those prices – when there’s no guarantee of reviews. Good riddance goodreads, or as I call it, troll reads!

  4. I have never been a fan of giveaways of any type. Why should one spend two or three years writing a novel, have it edited, have a professional cover designed, and then just give it away? Good friends and family — sure, but to the general public, no way. It costs $12.00-$18.00 plus shipping to give away a print version — that’s probably $25.00 total, per book, added to the editing and cover cost. As far as ebook giveaways are concerned, if I knew that every person who received one was going to read the book and post a timely review, I would be more inclined to do it, but too often this does not happen. The free download sits at the bottom of a 200-book “to read” list on Goodreads, and that is no help. I think at this point in time, authors, novelists anyway, had better get used to the idea that the writing is its own reward, and not give up their day jobs. If you happen to get lucky and your book resonates with what the public wants at EXACTLY the time the public wants it, bravo and more power to you, but this is not something that is going to happen often.


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  8. I’m not a writer I’m just a casual reader from down under. I’ll be honest, although I tend to prefer indie authors over authors from the big publishing houses, I don’t mind that goodreads is making authors pay. My favorite indie authors are selling well so I think this will be no problem for my favorite indie authors. My two problems here are:
    ♥Goodreads is showing a lot of bias toward titles from the big publishers to allow them to get away with things such as fake marketing (like ignoring the GR users who shelved Sarah J. Masss books as New adult and erotica to allow her to compete in the YA category of the GR choice awards) and now this? They are favoring the publishers who prefer not to open their giveaways internationally.

    ♥ What’s the benefit for readers like me who don’t live in the US on doing that? As I see it they are trying to eliminate the competition. Elise Kova, giveaways always get at least 10000 entries, outnumbering (therefore making her giveaways more visible) giveaways for titles from the big publisher that are open ONLY for US readers That’s because she doesn’t discriminate Aussie readers like myself whereas some big publishers do discriminate international readers and those publishers will get a boost on the visibility of their giveaways now. If they are going to keep the giveaways only on the US confines, then THE VISIBILITY should be kept also only on the US. I shouldn’t be able to see when one of my US friends enters a giveaway I won’t be able to participate in. That’s so wrong.

    For the record I’m always complaining when authors, (disregarding whether they’re indies or traditionally publishe) make their discounts, promotions and giveaways available only in the US. I’m as much of a reader as anyone who lives in the US. No reason not to include me and it’s sad to see Goodreads playing this kind of discrimination. It’s unfair.

    The giveaways used to be one of my favorite Goodreads features. I’m sorry to see those gone.

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  10. When Amazon took over Goodreads, what did people think was going to happen? Amazon has closed down Goodreads givaways to drive authors to Amazon. Unfortunately, you, the author of the book, has to pay Amazon full price for your own book (instead of having your own discounted copies), and you can’t sign and personalize your book. What a ripoff! Time to break up that company and many of the other monopolies that are controlling our culture.

    • Authors don’t have to pay full price for their books. With ebook giveaways, the giveaway fee includes the ebooks, so it actually comes out cheaper than in the past with 100 ebook giveaways (the price per book is quite reasonable for the standard giveaway). With print giveaways, authors can order author copies and ship those via media mail.

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