Book Giveaways in 2018

Image from ShutterStock.

BOOK GIVEAWAYS

Two of the most popular methods that authors and publishers use to hold contests for book giveaways have changed.

  • Amazon Giveaways have undergone a series of changes.
  • Goodreads Giveaways changed significantly as of January, 2018.

So 2018 is a good time for a new post regarding how to host a book giveaway.

WHY HOST A GIVEAWAY?

A giveaway is one tool that authors and publishers utilize to help with book marketing.

Following are the main goals for a book giveaway.

  • Help create buzz and initial exposure for a new book release.
  • Give the author a chance to call attention (in other forms of marketing) to a contest, rather than always calling attention directly to the book.
  • Hope that some of the winners will write book reviews.
  • Hope that the winners love the book so much that they help with word-of-mouth sales.

When a book is loved so much by an audience that it thrives on word-of-mouth sales, it can really take off. This is the best-case scenario, but often isn’t attained.

Only a percentage of winners will post reviews. A good percentage of Goodreads winners will rate or review the book at Goodreads, but it’s not as common for Amazon or Goodreads winners to review the book at Amazon.

There are a few other possible benefits of running a giveaway.

  • Generate activity. At Goodreads, entrants automatically have your book added to their To-Read lists. (They can undo this, but most don’t.) It helps make your Goodreads book page look more active.
  • Increase your following. At Amazon, you can require entrants to follow you. Note: You don’t have to give away a book. You can run an Amazon Giveaway for a $5 gift card or most other products. For a popular product, you may draw many followers (but keep in mind that most probably won’t be part of your target audience).
  • Help with branding. People see your book cover and read your name. A large part of book marketing involves effective branding. This helps a little.

HOW MUCH DOES A GIVEAWAY COST?

That depends. Of course, it’s free for the entrant. The author or publisher who sets it up does pay a cost.

  • For an Amazon Giveaway for a Kindle eBook, you pay for the current price of the Kindle eBook plus any applicable tax. (They may not show you the tax when you setup your giveaway, but you may notice that it has been added when you view your orders and then select Digital Orders.) If your book is in KDP Select, you can save money by setting up your Amazon Giveaway while a Countdown Deal is in progress. (This also adds a little exposure to your Countdown Deal.) Note: You can’t receive a refund for unclaimed prizes (but you can run a new giveaway for them, gaining additional exposure, or you can turn them into gift cards to send out).
  • For an Amazon Giveaway for a print book, you pay for the current price of the print book plus estimated shipping charges plus any applicable tax. If your book happens to be on sale when you setup your contest, you will save a little money. Sometime after your contest ends, you will receive a small refund if the actual shipping charges are less than the estimated charges. You will also receive a refund for any unclaimed copies.
  • For a Goodreads Giveaway for a Kindle eBook, you pay a setup fee of $119 for a standard giveaway (or $599 for a premium giveaway). However, you don’t have to pay for the cost of the Kindle eBook on top of the setup fee. When the Kindle eBooks are delivered, you will see free copies of your Kindle eBook show up in your KDP sales reports.
  • For a Goodreads Giveaway for a print book, you pay a setup fee of $119 for a standard giveaway (or $599 for a premium giveaway), and after the contest you must also pay to send the books to the winners (which means you must order author copies in advance, package materials, and be prepared to send the books via media mail, for example, at the post office).

In general, Amazon Giveaways cost less to run.

  • There is no setup fee. You just pay for the cost of the book (plus tax, and plus shipping for a print book).
  • If you choose to give away a small number of books (or just one copy), the cost will be fairly reasonable.

For example, if you have a Kindle eBook on sale for 99 cents, you can run an Amazon Giveaway for one book that costs approximately $1, or you can run a contest for 10 books for about $10.

As another example, if you have a paperback book with a list price of $9.99, you can run an Amazon Giveaway for one book that costs around $20.

However, Goodreads is now quite cost effective for giving away a large number of books. Suppose, for example, that you wish to give away 100 Kindle eBooks.

  • If your book’s current price is $2.99, it would cost $299 plus tax to do this at Amazon (and you may need to setup multiple giveaways for such a large number of prizes).
  • At Goodreads, you could give away 100 copies for a total of $119, which in this example would save you $180 (or more, as Goodreads might not charge you tax on the order).

If you want to give away several copies of your book, hoping for maximum exposure, confident that your story will merit word-of-mouth exposure, Goodreads lets you run a contest for 100 Kindle eBooks at an effective cost of $1.19 per book, which is pretty good.

However, if you want to host a contest for a small number of books, the cost per book is much lower with an Amazon Giveaway.

WHAT HAS CHANGED?

With Goodreads Giveaways:

  • There is now a setup fee. It used to be free.
  • You can now run a contest for Kindle eBooks. It used to be for print books only.
  • The book is automatically added to Want-to-Read lists. This helps make the book’s Goodreads page appear more active.
  • Entrants must currently reside in the United States. Previously, authors or publishers could choose to open participation to a few other countries.

With Amazon Giveaways:

  • There is a little automated exposure now. Before, you had to share the link to your giveaway, or at least tweet about it using the #AmazonGiveaway hashtag. Now there is an option to click Public, which gives you some added exposure. This might include the Amazon giveaway listing page, a daily email, or other placements on Amazon.com.
  • Your manage your giveaways page now shows you the number of hits (people who visit the giveaway page), number of entrants (people who enter the giveaway), and the number of product page visits. For example, for one of my more popular contests, I had 4033 hits, 2424 entrants, and 79 product page visits, but for one of my recent contests, I had 290 hits, 124 entrants, and 13 product page visits.
  • You can’t enter a custom message anymore.
  • You can’t require entrants to follow you on Twitter (but you can still require them to follow you on Amazon).
  • You can require entrants to watch a short video.

HOW MUCH EXPOSURE WILL I GET?

It can vary considerably. There are no guarantees.

A popular giveaway can receive 2000+ views over the course of a week or a month. An unpopular giveaway might not receive 100 views.

I’ve run over a hundred giveaways and the results are quite varied. (Keep in mind that some of my books are under pen names.)

When a book happens to be popular among the giveaway audience, it often pulls 2000 to 3000 views without any marketing on my part.

If a book isn’t attracting the giveaway audience, if the contest isn’t marketed by the author, it can really struggle to pull 200 views.

Many books fall somewhere in between.

Results can vary considerably depending on the genre or subject, whether it’s print or Kindle, cover appeal, and whether the book’s audience matches the giveaway audience.

At Amazon, if you require entrants to follow you or watch a video, you will get somewhat less participation.

Note that the Goodreads giveaway audience is changing with the recent changes to Goodreads giveaways. It used to be exclusively for print books, but now many of the giveaways appeal to Kindle customers.

DO GIVEAWAYS HELP WITH AMAZON SALES RANK?

The first thing to realize is that the answer to this question may have changed over the years.

Amazon appears to contradict itself on this very point (perhaps also due to a change having occurred over time).

Consider this quote from the KDP help pages:

“Activities that may not be an accurate reflection of customer demand, including promotional Amazon Giveaway sales and purchases that are later returned, are not counted towards sales rank.”

This states clearly that Amazon Giveaways do not count towards sales rank.

However, consider this quote from the Amazon Giveaway FAQ’s:

“Using giveaways to manipulate sales rank (i.e. by creating multiple giveaways for the same ASIN, rather than creating one bulk giveaway).”

If, as the KDP quote suggests, giveaways don’t impact sales rank, how could creating multiple giveaways for the same ASIN manipulate sales rank?

Perhaps the giveaway FAQ’s page is simply a little outdated. Maybe the giveaways used to impact sales rank, but now they don’t.

Nonetheless, I often see a boost to sales rank after hosting a giveaway. But the effect may be indirect.

The giveaway generates activity on your Amazon product page, it gets customers interested in your book, and it may result in a couple of sales of its own. Thus, if you see your sales rank improve during the giveaway, it’s possible that this occurred indirectly due to that added interest and not directly from the giveaway itself.

For Kindle eBooks enrolled in KDP Select, sales rank is even more complicated. That’s because every Kindle Unlimited borrow helps with sales rank, but your reports don’t show you when your book is borrowed (they instead show how many pages are read, which may occur weeks or months after the actual borrow).

Goodreads giveaways are different. If you run a Goodreads giveaway for a Kindle eBook, when the contest ends, the books show up as free books in your reports, not as paid sales. Amazon has separate ranks for free book promos and paid sales, so Goodreads giveaways definitely do not impact paid sales rank directly (though again their can be indirect benefits). (If you run a free book promo with KDP Select, your free rank looks great during the promo, but that isn’t a paid sales rank. Once the promo ends, it will be replaced by a paid sales rank.)

SHOULD I DO A PAPERBACK OR EBOOK GIVEAWAY?

If either edition is likely to offer a better reading experience, or if either edition is more likely to be appreciated by the customer, that’s the edition I recommend.

For example, if the Kindle edition has color illustrations while the print edition is black and white, I would prefer the Kindle edition.

As a counterexample, if parents are more likely to read an illustrated kids’ book to their children in print format, I would prefer a paperback or hardcover.

If you’re giving away a large number of copies, it’s much more economical to create an eBook giveaway.

If you want to include a brief thank-you note or bookmark, go with a print edition.

WHAT ABOUT OTHER COUNTRIES?

To enter a Goodreads or Amazon Giveaway, the entrant must be in the United States.

HOW CAN I WIN A FREE BOOK?

Enter for a chance to win my latest book, 50 Challenging Algebra Problems (Fully Solved).

https://www.amazon.com/ga/p/1b25ef65c4b48278#ln-en

Explore the Amazon Giveaways page.

https://www.amazon.com/ga/giveaways

Explore the Goodreads giveaways page.

https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway

TIP

Spend a little time as a customer exploring giveaways before creating a giveaway as an author.

For example, at Goodreads, this will help you get ideas for writing an effective contest description, and it will show you which types of giveaways tend to be more popular.

If you’re thinking about paying extra for a premium giveaway, spend some time researching active giveaways to see whether or not the premium placement seems to be bringing in the kinds of results that you would expect. If you find premium giveaways on the main landing page that have been out for over a week, but don’t have several thousand views, it’s not likely to expect huge results for your own contest.

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Copyright © 2018

Chris McMullen

Author of:

  • Kindle Formatting Magic (new release)
  • A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon (also part of a Boxed Set)
  • The Improve Your Math Fluency series of workbooks (algebra, fractions, arithmetic, trig, long division, and more)

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

 

Tips for the New Goodreads Giveaways

GOODREADS GIVEAWAYS

As you may have heard, Goodreads Giveaways have changed.

  • One change is that KDP authors can now give eBooks away.
  • Another change is that it now costs money to create a Goodreads giveaway.

If you’d like to learn more about these recent changes to the Goodreads giveaway program, click here to read my recent article about it.

In my current post, I will offer some tips for making the most of it.

EXPLORING THE GIVEAWAYS

First off, there is the question of how readers will find your giveaway. It’s worth exploring the giveaways as a reader would before you proceed to create a giveaway as an author. This will give you some insight into the process.

Unfortunately, when I visit the homepage at www.goodreads.com, I don’t see any mention of the giveaways there. But that’s okay. Experience shows that thousands of readers already know where to find them.

After I log in, I still don’t see the giveaways out in plain sight. But they are accessible. Hover your cursor over the Browse tab and you will find them fourth on the list. That’s one plausible way for a reader to discover them (aside from the thousands who already know exactly where to go).

Some readers have this page bookmarked in their browser: https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway. If anyone uses a search engine to find Goodreads Giveaways, this page will also come up that way.

Once they get there, there are a variety of ways that readers will search for giveaways. Here are some examples. I encourage you to explore these options.

  • By default, you see a list of Featured giveaways. If you were wondering whether or not it may be worthwhile to invest the extra $$$ for a Featured giveaway, browse through this list and check out the stats. Look where it says Availability, and compare the number Requesting to the Start Date. For the amount of money it costs to be Featured, you should have some very high expectations for the number of requests. If you’re not seeing it, I suggest going for a basic giveaway instead.
  • Some readers like to click the Ending Soon tab. Why? Because if they win, they will find out before they forget all about it. If they don’t win, they might still remember the book, and perhaps they will think to go check it out at Amazon. This section is handy for authors, too. Look at the number of requests on the Ending Soon page. This will show you how successful the giveaways tend to be. Today, for example, I see several with 500+ requests and a few with 1000+ requests, but these numbers will vary over time.
  • Another option is Recently Listed. Giveaways get the most exposure on the start date and end date.
  • The last option at the top is Most Requested. Today, I see giveaways that have received over 10,000 requests. These show the potential of a fantastic giveaway (combined with great marketing, and perhaps a great cover or an established name). Back to reality: If you’re thinking about hosting a giveaway, the numbers you see on average under Ending Soon offer more realistic goals.
  • Perhaps the best option is to Browse by Genre. Find the categories over on the right. This way readers can find the kinds of books that interest them. If your book seems to fit into more than one category, I recommend that you explore the giveaways that you see in various categories. This will help you decide where your book fits best, and which categories seem to be more popular.

GIVEAWAY TIPS

(1) Browse through active Goodreads Giveaways.

  • Check out the number of people requesting the book under Availability.
  • Note whether the Format is print book or Kindle eBook.
  • Browse through a few pages of results under Ending Soon to get an idea for the average popularity of a giveaway.
  • Look at the Most Requested books. Try to find some that aren’t popular because of a big author or publisher name. Check out the giveaway descriptions and author biographies: If these giveaways did something right, maybe they will inspire you. Check out the author’s social media pages to see where and how they shared their giveaways (though it may also have been announced via email newsletter).
  • Try to find books similar to yours. A good way to do this is to browse through the categories at the right. How are these giveaways doing? That will help you gauge your giveaway’s potential.

(2) Increase your exposure.

  • You get most of your giveaway traffic on the start date and the end date. However, the days in between matter: The more days your giveaway runs, the more in-between days you will have, and they can really add up. Let’s say your giveaway would get 500 views on the first day, 500 views on the last day, and 50 views per day in between. If you run a giveaway for one week, you get 1250 views, but if you run a giveaway for a month, you get 2400 views, which doubles your exposure. The more days your contest runs, the more views you get. (The drawbacks are that the longer the contest runs, the more people will have forgotten about it, and the longer it takes to get your reviews. However, a contest is primarily about exposure, and longer time equals longer exposure.)
  • Share your giveaway with many of the same ways that you normally market your book. You’re getting double exposure: People are learning about your book and they’re learning about your contest. Share your giveaway on Facebook, Twitter, and your other social media platforms. Share it on your blog or author website (you can start a Goodreads blog, too, by the way). Share it in your email newsletter. Etc.
  • If you advertise on Goodreads (there is an economical self-service option), you can draw additional attention to your giveaway. Of course, this is an additional expense on top of the cost to run the giveaway (and the cost to send out the books if you choose the print option). However, if you occasionally pay for advertising, now is an opportunity to advertise a contest instead of just advertising that you have a book. Again, it’s like a double effect: You’re sending the message that you wrote a book plus the message that people can win a prize.

(3) If you run an eBook giveaway, educate readers and contestants.

  • You don’t have to own a Kindle eBook to read a Kindle eBook that you win through a Goodreads giveaway.
  • Winners can read eBooks using the Kindle Cloud Reader, and Android device (phone or tablet), or iOS device (phone or tablet). (However, there are a few Kindle eBooks, such as those created with the Kindle Textbook Creator or Kindle Kids’ Book Creator, which aren’t available on all devices, notably phones. So if you used one of these publishing tools, you might want to check into the details first.)
  • In your marketing, you can concisely mention how a Kindle eBook can be read even if the winner doesn’t own a Kindle device. There are instructions on Goodreads’ FAQ page, for example: See the second link in Tip #6.

(4) More prizes reduces your overall cost per book, and they make the odds more appealing to contestants.

  • The setup cost is the same whether you offer 1 book or 100 books as the prize. (For a print book, you will also need to purchase author copies and pay for packing and shipping.) The more books you offer, the less the giveaway costs you per book.
  • If you’re offering a print book, I suggest that you not go overboard and offer way too many copies until you gain some experience with how it works and what kind of results you’re able to get. Author copies and shipping can get expensive (and become a hassle at the post office) if you offer a large number of prizes.
  • More prizes also make the contestant feel like the odds are better. Would you rather go to the trouble of entering a giveaway where the odds are 1 in 1000 or where the odds are 20 in 1000?
  • Only a percentage of winners post reviews (and then primarily on Goodreads, not as often on Amazon), so the more prizes you offer, the more reviews you are likely to eventually get. (There is no guarantee that you will get reviews though.)

(5) I.t…t.a.k.e.s…t.i.m.e.

  • The giveaway itself may run for weeks. The longer the giveaway, the more exposure, so if the contest runs for a month or more, you get more views and participation.
  • Reading takes time. Most winners don’t read the book cover to cover instantly. People are busy. They may have other books to read, too. It will take months for some readers to complete the book. (And not everyone may enjoy or appreciate the book enough to read it all the way through.)
  • Reviews take time. People are busy. Even after reading the book, it takes time to write a review.
  • What does this mean? If you publish your book and then run a contest, you should realize that it may take several months to fully realize any results that the giveaway may bring.
  • If, on the other hand, you run a contest months in advance of a book’s release, some readers may be ready to post reviews when the book comes out.
  • Another thing that takes time is packing and shipping books. If you run a print contest, order author copies well in advance (keeping in mind that Murphy’s law might make you waste time getting defective copies replaced by the publisher), and be prepared to spend time (and money) with packing and shipping.

(6) You can include a note with your print book. (But other than that, you’re not supposed to contact winners or entrants.)

  • A short thank-you note that doesn’t violate the Goodreads giveaway terms and conditions is appropriate. (Also check the FAQ’s. Note that it currently has 2 pages.) Note that there are probably reasonable expectations that aren’t specifically mentioned in the posted terms. Use discretion so that you don’t ruin your good standing with Goodreads.
  • You may include a link to your website, blog, Amazon author page, social media, etc. Tip: At Author Central, click on the Author Page tab and create an Author Page URL that will be easier to type than the default URL. For example, I made it so that readers can type amazon.com/author/chrismcmullen to reach my Amazon Author Page, which is easier to type than the default URL which is www.amazon.com/Chris-McMullen/e/B002XH39DS, which includes a hyphen and a jumble of numbers and letters at the end.
  • If you have an appropriate bookmark or business card, you may include it with your book. A nice looking bookmark (that doesn’t look like an advertisement) may actually get used, continually reminding the reader about you or your book, and it’s not too hard to find a place to get these printed economically (they come in handy for many marketing endeavors).
  • After thanking or congratulating the reader, you can politely mention that it would be great if they posted a review. Really, it’s not necessary, as Goodreads already encourages this, and readers loathe to be nagged about reviews (and you’re not allow to bug the winner).
  • Be careful: You want to clearly state that reviewing is optional (it is NOT required by Goodreads), and you want to ask for an HONEST review. Just like Amazon’s terms and conditions, you shouldn’t place any conditions on the review (any review that the winner may choose to write is unconditional).
  • Most readers naturally post a review at Goodreads if they write a review at all. If you’re hoping for a review at Amazon, then you might mention politely (one time) something like this:

Congratulations on winning my Goodreads giveaway. Reviewing is optional, of course. If you decide to write an honest review at Goodreads, Amazon, or anywhere else, I would be very grateful for your time and consideration. Thank you.

(7) It’s nice to hold a prize in your hands.

  • Obviously, it costs you less to send an eBook, but a print book has many advantages for a giveaway. Since there is a setup fee regardless of which format you use, you might want to spend a little more to get the best possible result for your investment.
  • For several years, Goodreads members have become accustomed to winning print books. People who have participated for years may be more likely to enter contests for print books.
  • When you browse through current giveaways, compare the number of requests for print books and Kindle eBooks. See if contests for print books seem to be more popular (all else being equal).
  • Print books provide a marketing opportunity. If your book is engaging enough to get read, it might get read in public. Other people might see your book being read on a bus, train, plane, park bench, restaurant seat, etc. And they might ask that person, “What are you reading?” They’re thinking, “That book sure has captured your interest. Maybe I will enjoy it, too.” So they might indeed ask a stranger about it.
  • You can include a short (appropriate) thank-you note as I mentioned in tip #6 with a print book, but not for an eBook.

(8) Deliver your prizes promptly. You want your winners to be excited about your book. Don’t disappoint them with a longer than necessary wait (for a print book to finally arrive in the mail).

For a print book, use reliable packaging. Make sure the address label can’t possibly fall off. You want the winner to receive your book, and to receive it in excellent condition.

POSSIBLE BENEFITS

Running a Goodreads giveaway comes with an expense. It also comes with possible benefits:

  • A few winners may eventually review your book somewhere. Most likely it will be Goodreads. Occasionally, but far less likely, it is also Amazon (but it won’t show as a Verified Purchase).
  • You should see a lot of activity with your book being marked as to-read. This was always the case, but now it is even more so, since it’s required for entry into the contest. If nothing else, this helps to draw a little interest to your book at Goodreads, as it shows some sign of a little popularity. (Of course, there are many other books that receive hundreds or thousands of to-reads this way. But there are also books that have very few to-reads, and yours won’t if you run a giveaway.)
  • Goodreads will notify your followers about your giveaway. If anyone has marked your book as to-read, Goodreads will notify them, too. This helps draw additional attention to your giveaway. These are new features.
  • Even more people see your book than enter the giveaway. Every time someone sees your book cover, reads your author name, or reads your giveaway or book description, it helps with branding, which is a huge part of marketing. Branding is a very long and slow process. Every little bit helps.
  • Some participants will check our your books and biography at Goodreads. You will get some attention. Maybe not as much as you hoped for, but you do generate a little activity.
  • Hopefully, a few people who saw your book, but who didn’t win it, will visit your book page at Amazon and consider buying it.
  • Between the winners who receive your book and any readers who don’t win but still buy your book, if they enjoy your book enough, they may help to spread the word about it. Word-of-mouth sales are the toughest type of sales to earn, but when you earn it, this can be the best kind of marketing that you can get. There is hope.

The question is whether or not the benefits will outweigh the expense. In regards to that, please read my disclaimer:

DISCLAIMER

Nowhere am I suggesting that a Goodreads giveaway will be successful for you.

Nor am I suggesting that they will be worth the cost for you.

Every book and author is unique, and just like with book sales, results will vary. It will work better for some than for others.

Rather, what I’m saying is this: If you decide to run a giveaway, the above tips are intended to help you make the most of it.

Good luck with your giveaway and with your book.

If you’re a reader and you enter a giveaway, I hope you win and enjoy your prize.

FOLLOW ME AT GOODREADS

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6970004.Chris_McMullen

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2018

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)

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

Goodreads Giveaways: Important Changes Effective January 9, 2018

Image from ShutterStock.

GOODREADS GIVEAWAY CHANGES

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.

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

Goodreads Giveaways: Recent Changes

Image from ShutterStock.

Image from ShutterStock.

GOODREADS GIVEAWAYS

Goodreads has recently improved their Goodreads giveaway program.

Authors who sign up with Goodreads can run Goodreads giveaways for their books.

  • It must be a print book. (CreateSpace is great for self-publishing a paperback.)
  • Goodreads sends the author a list of winners. The author ships author copies directly to the winners.
  • You can give away as little as 1 copy, so you can get some good exposure for a reasonable price.
  • If you give multiple copies away, it improves your chances of getting reviews at Goodreads (but winners are less likely to post a review on Amazon).
  • One benefit of the giveaway is that hundreds of readers are likely to add your book to their to-read list, which makes your book’s Goodreads page seem somewhat more popular.
  • The giveaway may not have a noticeable direct impact on sales. It can help with exposure and to generate some activity on your book’s Goodreads page.
  • Most of the contest traffic comes on the first and last days. However, the days in between add up, so you get the most exposure for your contest by running it for at least 30 days. You might as well generate as much exposure for it as you can.
  • Many giveaways seem to start on the 1st of the month and end at the end of the month, so if you avoid those days, you might be able to avoid the crowd somewhat. The first and last days of your contest give you the most exposure, so plan these dates wisely.

Goodreads has recently updated its giveaway program. Here are a few changes that they have made:

  • You now choose up to two categories instead of entering tags. This will make it easier for giveaway hunters to find the kinds of books they like to read (unfortunately, you still see the tag system when searching for giveaways, but it seems like this should change over soon).
  • The book no longer needs to be a new release; they have removed the 6-month restriction. When you enter the release date, you choose from a dropdown menu that goes back to the early 1900’s. However, if you run a contest for an older book, you might want to make this clear in the giveaway description so as to avoid possible confusion.
  • You must now schedule your Goodreads giveaway at least 7 days in advance, so plan ahead.
  • The terms and conditions now appear in a pop-up window. You must scroll down and click the Agree button at the bottom.

Want to enter for a chance to win a free book? Here are some sample Goodreads giveaways (these authors don’t know that I’ve given them a little exposure here on my blog, but these caught my eye when I was browsing for giveaways—though you may remember I also featured Jenny Pearson’s coloring book on my blog a couple of posts ago):

Coloring Book for Teens or Adults by Jenny Pearson

Click here to find Coloring Book for Teens or Adults on Amazon.

Chick Lit {And Other Formulas for Life} by Abby Rosmarin

Click here to find Chick Lit on Amazon.

A Bit Witchy by Danielle Fisher

Click here to find A Bit Witchy on Amazon.

The Dust in Sunlight by Christopher Rees

Click here to find The Dust in Sunlight on Amazon.

Camille’s Itchy Twitchy Eczema by Candis Butler

Click here to find Camille’s Itchy Twitchy Eczema on Amazon.

4,500 Multiplication Problems with Answers Practice Workbook by Chris McMullen, Ph.D.

Click here to find 4500 Multiplication Problems with Answers on Amazon.

More Goodreads Giveaways

Click here to see all Goodreads giveaways. If you’ve browsed for giveaways in the past, check it out to see how it’s changed.

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2015

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

Click here to view my Goodreads author page.

  • 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)

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

Comments

Click here to jump to the comments section.

Advertising: Amazon vs. Goodreads

Image from ShutterStock.

Image from ShutterStock.

ADVERTISING e-BOOKS

Since KDP introduced Advertising Marketing Services (AMS) for KDP Select books earlier this year, I’ve placed 50 ads on a variety of nonfiction Kindle e-books.

I’ve also placed over a dozen ads with Goodreads. It’s interesting to compare the two options for advertising e-books.

AUDIENCE

There are two great things about advertising right on Amazon’s website or on a Kindle device (both are possible with AMS via KDP):

  • Many of the customers who see your ad are already shopping for other books, i.e. they are looking for books to read, they have their wallets out, and they are ready to spend money.
  • Since they are already on Amazon, your ad isn’t interrupting some other activity and trying to persuade customers to leave one site to visit another.

If you advertise at Goodreads with a link to your Amazon product page, you’re asking readers who were busy doing something else at Goodreads to stop what they were doing and visit another site all together.

You could instead advertise at Goodreads with a link to your book’s Goodreads page or a giveaway page, but if your ultimate goal is a sale, that’s an indirect way to go about it.

However, the way the self-service advertising options are presently setup, Goodreads ads seem to have an advantage with branding. We’ll return to this important point later.

TARGETING

The targeting options are considerably different with Amazon and Goodreads advertisements.

Amazon offers two kinds of targeting with AMS via KDP:

  • Interest targeting competes for ads based on category. Amazon has recently improved interest targeting by adding subcategories. Some books do fall nicely into one of those subcategories, but those subcategories are still too broad for other books, especially in nonfiction.
  • Product targeting lets you search for specific books or other products by keyword. Amazon has an advantage here, as Goodreads doesn’t offer keyword targeting, nor does Goodreads let you target specific books, nor does Goodreads let you target other products besides books (like movies).

Goodreads also offers two main kinds of targeting:

  • Goodreads also has categories to choose from, but these tend to be very broad.
  • I prefer not to select any categories, but to target by author instead. Visit Amazon and search for very popular books that your specific target audience is likely to read. Then enter those author names at Goodreads to target readers of those authors.

A great thing about Goodreads is that when you target specific authors, they will show your ad to Goodreads readers who have given those authors high ratings.

Imagine if you could target customers at Amazon who rated similar books 4 or 5 stars. You have to love Goodreads for this option.

I try to avoid other targeting options at Goodreads, such as gender, age, or country, since some accounts may not have selected an option.

COST

Advertising with AMS via KDP requires a minimum $100 budget. You’re not required to spend your whole budget: You can pause or terminate your ad at any time. But if you bid high, you could blow through your budget quickly without knowing it because the ad report sometimes has significant delays.

I find that I can get very low-cost advertisements with effective results at Amazon. I have several ads with average CPC bids of a dime or less.

In comparison, I find that I must bid much higher at Goodreads.

My strategy with AMS is to bid very low in the beginning, and always wait at least 3 days before raising my bid, knowing that the ad report can be delayed. When I do raise my bid, I only raise it a little. I’m in no hurry, but after a few weeks, I finally start to generate impressions, clicks, and sales at a good rate, and my strategy minimizes my expenses (and lets me opt out before spending too much, if necessary).

IMPRESSIONS > CLICKS > SALES

Both services charge by the click. Impressions are free. Click-through rates (ctr) can be quite low (clicks divided by impressions): You might get 0.1% (1 click for every 1000 impressions), which is typical of much online advertising these days. But the ctr doesn’t really matter, since those impressions are free. Every impression helps with branding; you only pay for clicks.

While I often generate impressions at a good rate with AMS with average CPC bids of 10 cents or less, I often must spend 50 cents or more to generate impressions at a good rate at Goodreads.

AMS seems better for generating sales directly, while Goodreads seems better for branding, generating activity at Goodreads (followers at Goodreads, getting on to-read lists), and generating interest in a Goodreads giveaway. That branding issue is big.

BRANDING

Most companies who pay big money for advertisements don’t expect to generate immediate sales from it; they use advertisements to help with branding.

When you drive by a billboard, see a commercial on television, or hear an advertisement on the radio, do you stop what you were doing and race over to the store to buy a product that sounds great? Probably not.

But the next time you’re shopping for a product, see if you favor products you’ve heard of before. If so, branding has worked on you. And even if it didn’t work on you, it does work on the majority of consumers.

It’s not easy to break even in the short-term from advertising. The bigger goal is long-term, through branding.

That said, I do have some advertisements through AMS that have paid for themselves or brought a profit short-term, and I have benefited indirectly through more sales of paperbacks, similar books, and Kindle Unlimited pages read. This is partly because I apply a low bidding strategy, and partly because these ads aren’t asking customers to stop doing one thing to start doing another (they’re already shopping for books on Amazon).

But I also feel that I get better branding out of Goodreads, and this is an important long-term goal. However, you don’t want to lose too much short-term with branding hopes. Unlike AMS, it’s not as easy to gauge short-term ROI at Goodreads. You can see how much the ad is costing you, and you can see the clicks, but you don’t know how many of those clicks lead to sales.

If you use AMS, you can find out what your conversion rate is (sales divided by clicks). If it’s around 1% to 3%, that’s pretty low; if it’s 8% or higher, that’s pretty good. But if you spend too much on your clicks, or draw a low royalty, you can still lose out even with a nice conversion rate. You want to look at your royalties earned compared to money invested, but also want to consider possible indirect benefits like Kindle Unlimited borrows, print sales, sales of similar books, and potential for future sales through branding.

TAG LINE

Both AMS and Goodreads let you enter a short tag line. This is text that will appear alongside your ad to help generate interest. Goodreads lets you enter a longer tag line.

Put some time and thought into how to use this valuable advertising space. It can make a big difference.

FACTORS

Advertising isn’t for all books. It probably won’t be the cure for a book that isn’t selling.

Here are some factors that can impact the effectiveness of an advertisement:

  • content has a significant audience
  • wise targeting choices
  • wise bidding strategy
  • tiny thumbnail of cover attracts target audience
  • how likely blurb, Look Inside, price, reviews, etc. help in closing the deal
  • how much royalty you will earn for each sale
  • effectiveness of your tag line

OTHER ADS

There are many places to advertise on the internet.

Ideally, you want to be able to target readers, namely your specific target audience. You want to generate impressions and clicks at a good rate, but with little cost.

Some services, like Bookbub, E-reader News Today, and a host of similar sites, can help to advertise short-term promotional prices. In this case, the short-term promotion can help create a compelling impulse to buy now. But you need an external promotional service that can help your book reach its specific target audience to get the most out of this strategy.

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2015

Chris McMullen, 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)

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

Comments

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Book Giveaways (How to + Chance 2 win)

Images from ShutterStock.

Images from ShutterStock.

BOOK GIVEAWAYS

This post has two parts:

  1. Quick tips for hosting a book giveaway
  2. Several contests by a variety of authors that you can enter

I’ll give the tips first.

Find the contests that you can enter below. There are many cool books there by different authors.

Entering those contests is quick and easy.

And the last one on the list is free to everyone.

So you’re guaranteed to get at least one free book.

TIPS FOR BOOK CONTESTS

Tip #1 Trust & Convenience

Most readers are familiar with Goodreads and Amazon, and trust these companies. This helps to get reader participation.

Running Goodreads and Amazon giveaways is easy and convenient, provided that you have a print edition (you can publish in paperback for free using CreateSpace). You can quickly setup a Goodreads giveaway from your author dashboard. Find the option to run an Amazon giveaway at the bottom of the print edition’s detail page (US only).

Check out this post for everything you ever wanted to know about Amazon and Goodreads giveaways, and more.

For e-books enrolled in KDP Select, you can run a free promo, but you really need to find websites and bloggers with a large following in your genre or category to really get the most out of the exposure. See tip #2.

Update: When you publish a Kindle e-book through KDP, now you can run an Amazon Giveaway for the e-book.

Tip #2 Promoting the Giveaway

For Amazon giveaways, tweet about it using the #AmazonGiveaway hashtag. Don’t add a photo to your tweet and it will likely be included automatically. I’ve received excellent exposure for a few hours tweeting with this hashtag without including a photo in the tweet.

For Goodreads giveaways, it’s all about the tags that you enter. So here’s what you do first. Visit this Goodreads giveaway page. Look on the right column for the tags and click the More link beneath it. This will show you the 1000 most popular tags in order. Although you can enter several tags (separated by commas), only use tags appropriate for your book.

To help advertise free e-books, you can find a list of promotional websites here.

Tip #3 Group Marketing

Sure, you can mention your own contest on your own blog, social media, or email newsletter.

Or you could get together with 19 other authors, and all of you could promote all 20 contests to your much larger combined following.

It’s a great idea for readers, too. If you learn about one contest, you have to click on the link, login, enter the contest—it’s kind of a hassle, especially when you were busy doing something else when you learned about the contest. And your chance of winning one contest is outrageously slim.

But if you have a list of 20 Goodreads giveaways for related books, a reader can login once, click on all the links in succession, and enter 20 giveaways in about a minute. And your odds of winning are 20 times better. it’s a win-win-win situation.

(That’s not quite what I’ve done. I have a few contests running. I thought that instead of just mentioning my own books only, I could invite others to get a little exposure on my blog. But maybe my example shows you how 20 authors could get together and get a lot more exposure out of their contests.)

Tip #4 Beyond Self-Promo

You could just write one post about your contest. Or a few posts and several tweets about it.

Or you could write posts all month long about other things, and simply mention your contest at the end of your posts.

For example, my current post includes several contests that you can enter (see below), but it also provides tips for running a contest.

Most of my blog’s followers are authors with interests in self-publishing. A hundred or so people might read my post when it comes out. But if one of my posts generates search engine traffic, it can generate hundreds or thousands of views over the course of a year, and from an audience who didn’t previously know who I am. A post that includes tips about a contest has better search engine potential than one that simply promotes a list of books.

You probably don’t have the same audience as I do, but you can similarly mention your contest as part of posts on other subjects.

CONTESTS TO ENTER

These contests are easy to enter.

Most of these are Goodreads giveaways. So you could login to Goodreads once, click on the contest links in succession, and quickly enter as many of these contests as interest you.

The more contests you enter, the better your chances of winning. Good luck.

And the last one is simply free. You’re guaranteed to get that book free (unless you discovered this article after Wednesday, June 17, 2015, probably according to Amazon Pacific time).

Cursive Handwriting for Math Lovers by Julie Harper and Chris McMullen

a Goodreads giveaway; expires June 30, 2015

You can also win it through an Amazon Giveaway here

Try both and you improve your chances of winning.

Learn or Review Trigonometry: Essential Skills by Chris McMullen

a Goodreads giveaway; expires July 15, 2015

Why Do We Have to Go to School? by Chris McMullen

a Goodreads giveaway; expires July 7, 2015

Also, see the last contest on this list below.

Weary of Running by Adrienne Morris

a Goodreads giveaway; expires June 20, 2015

from the author: “Weary of Running is about Cadet Buck Crenshaw and his less than successful life at West Point Military Academy in the 1880’s.”

The Legend of Dust Bunnies, a Fairy’s Tale by Michelle R. Eastman

a Goodreads giveaway; expires July 4, 2015

a children’s picture book

from the author: “It’s the story of a dust fairy who doesn’t quite fit in with the others… This story will have families looking at dust bunnies in a different light and may give kids an excuse NOT to clean their rooms!”

Island in the Clouds by Susan M. Toy

a Goodreads giveaway; expires June 21, 2015

also, see the author’s blog here for additional contest info

Ridgetop by Carol Ervin

a Goodreads giveaway; expires July 4, 2015

thriller, suspense

Time Shifters + 3 more books by Shanna Lauffey

contest hosted by the author through Facebook and Twitter

Blood and Bane: The Dragon Sage Chronicles by CK McKee, narrated by Wendy Anne Darling

audio book

10 free Audible codes to give away (US & UK codes)

Wacky Stories (10 Short Stories for Kids) by Julie Harper, narrated by Michael Pauley

audio book

25 free Audible codes to give away (US & UK codes)

M.J. Moore is looking for submissions for an anthology from Canadian residents

Find out more here.

This last one is FREE via Kindle Tuesday, June 16 and Wednesday, June 17, 2015 (probably Amazon Pacific time).

Why Do We Have to Go to School? by Chris McMullen

Not a contest. It’s just free for two days.

I guarantee that you will enjoy this book. If not, please let me know, and I’ll happily gift you another book (not necessarily my own).

Where else will you find a guarantee like this? (Especially, a guarantee when you’re getting a FREE book.)

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2015

Chris McMullen, 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)

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

Any Authors Running a Contest?

Images from ShutterStock

Images from ShutterStock

BOOK CONTEST

Do you have any contests or giveaways, such as a Goodreads giveaway, presently underway or planned to launch soon?

If so, please let me know.

I’ll be happy to mention your giveaway when I mention my own giveaways (which will be soon).

If you have a cover reveal coming soon, or recently posted, I may also have a chance to mention that.

For a giveaway or contest, just leave a comment with a link to your giveaway.

For a cover reveal, once you have a post revealing your cover, leave a comment with a link to your cover reveal post.

It only seems logical. Why mention just my own contest instead of several?

But I just need to know what those other contests are so that I can mention them.

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2015

Chris McMullen, 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)

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

My Experience with Amazon & Goodreads Giveaways

Image from Shutterstock

Image from Shutterstock

BOOK CONTESTS

Amazon has a new giveaway option for physical products, like print books. Scroll down toward the bottom of the product page to find this option.

Update: KDP authors can now run Amazon Giveaways for e-books, too.

Goodreads also has an option for authors to give away free books.

I’ve run several Goodreads giveaways and I’ve also run four Amazon Giveaways to give free print books away.

Here is how the two giveaway programs compare:

COST

Goodreads giveaways win when it comes to the author’s cost:

  • At Goodreads, you can order author copies directly then ship them yourself with the cheapest shipping method available (economical if you restrict the winners to your own country). If you live in the US, you can also ship to US addresses via media mail. (It may be even more economical to drop-ship directly to the customer, rather than order author copies to your home first. However, ordering author copies lets you inspect the books first.)
  • At Amazon, you pay full retail price for the books plus standard shipping charges. You must pay up front when the contest begins. Although you will earn a royalty, it will still cost much more than a Goodreads giveaway, in general.

TRUST

Both Amazon and Goodreads are trusted by customers.

Although Amazon actually owns Goodreads, Amazon is the more recognizable brand. Readers who have Goodreads accounts trust Goodreads, but it’s harder to drive readers who don’t use Goodreads to sign up.

Also, Amazon ships the books directly to winners, and Amazon has a good customer service policy in case there are any issues (like damage during shipping or a defective book).

Therefore, I give Amazon a slight advantage in the trust department.

TIME

Amazon again has a small advantage with regard to time:

  • The big thing is that Amazon ships the book directly to the winner (with standard shipping) as soon as the winner is declared, which is pretty good delivery time.
  • Also at Amazon, entrants find out immediately upon entry whether or not they win. There is no delay. With Goodreads, you can enter a giveaway today and it might not end for weeks, by which time you’ve forgotten about it.
  • Amazon approved each of my giveaways within a couple of hours; Goodreads usually takes a day or more.
  • Amazon giveaways run for one week or less; most of my giveaways were over in a few hours. You can run a short-term Goodreads giveaway, but it will cost you traffic. Amazon giveaways can generate good traffic in one day (but see my Promotion note below). I usually run my Goodreads giveaways for a month to generate as much traffic as I can.
  • If you want to give out books in a hurry, you can choose an Amazon giveaway to award winners on a first-come, first-serve basis. (However, my recommendation is to use the Lucky winner option, where 1 in 50 or 1 in 100 will win. In my experience, the books still go out quickly. See my Promotion note below.)

AUDIENCE

There is a big difference between the audience for Amazon giveaways and the audience for Goodreads giveaways.

Readers enter Goodreads giveaways. They love to read books. They search for books that they are interested in.

A much broader audience enters Amazon giveaways. There is a good chance that many of the people who enter Amazon giveaways aren’t specifically looking for your book. They might just be hoping to win something cool from Amazon, and your book is one of many products giving them that chance.

This means there is a greater chance that your book won’t be read, that the reader won’t be familiar with your genre, etc. (That’s if you use the #AmazonGiveaway hashtag. If instead you promote exclusively on your own, you can control the targeting better. But then popular is reduced to what you can achieve on your own.)

TARGETING (BIG FACTOR*)

Goodreads lets you target giveaways by entering keywords. (Tip: First search the Goodreads giveaways to see which keywords are in use and how popular they are. Try to find popular keywords in use at Goodreads giveaways which are a good fit for your book.)

Amazon doesn’t let you target your giveaway. If you tweet your Amazon giveaway with the hashtag #AmazonGiveaway, everybody looking for free Amazon merchandise will see your contest. Some won’t be readers; some won’t be readers in your genre. Everyone at Goodreads is a reader, and with all the Goodreads giveaways to choose from, most will be readers. (However, instead of using the #AmazonGiveaway hashtag, you could promote on your own, though that will diminish the popularity of the contest, unless you have a great marketing base or plan.)

TRAFFIC

Amazon giveaways generate a lot of traffic in a short period of time IF you tweet your giveaway using the #AmazonGiveaway hashtag.

I ran a couple of giveaways where every 100th entrant would win, where I gave away 5 books. Most of my contests were over (or nearly so) within a few hours. That means 500 people saw the book in a span of a few hours.

Goodreads giveaways can also generate good traffic, but it takes time. You get the most traffic on the first and last days of the giveaway, but all the days in the middle add up, too. If you run a giveaway for a whole month, you can get 1000 or so entries, depending on how wisely you select your keywords and how popular your book is.

POPULARITY

Amazon giveaways seem to be popular. For one, Amazon is huge. You can win products at Amazon, shipped to you directly from Amazon. How cool is that?

There are some cool products in the Amazon giveaways. I saw one for a guitar. Great prizes put people in good moods.

Also, the Amazon giveaway is new, so it has people curious.

Goodreads giveaways are also popular among Goodreads members. And since the Amazon giveaway is new, people are still learning about it.

Both kinds of giveaways are pretty popular right now.

EXPERIENCE

Customer experience in these giveaways is good in both cases.

Obviously, Amazon is well-known, well-trusted, and has a great satisfaction guarantee.

But Goodreads members love their giveaways, too.

A nice thing about the Goodreads giveaway is that you can ship the book to the winner directly, allowing you to inspect it firsthand and pack it nicely so you know that the winner receives a great copy of your book (no defects, no damage—if you pack very well).

REVIEWS

Goodreads encourages winners to review books. Goodreads also selects winners who are more likely to be a good fit for your book or who are more likely to review books that they win.

Not every Goodreads winner posts a review, however. If you give away 5 books, you might get a couple of reviews. There are no guarantees, though.

Goodreads winners are more likely to post a review or rating at Goodreads. Very often, they don’t also post the review at Amazon, but it does happen once in a while.

You might think that Amazon giveaway winners would be more likely to post a review at Amazon. But the audience for these giveaways isn’t restricted to just readers, and the contest isn’t targeted, so it might not work out that way.

FOLLOWERS

You can require people who enter your contest to follow you on Twitter. If they already follow you, they can still enter the contest. (Note that you can also waive the Twitter requirement.)

I tried this on a couple of giveaways. With every 100th entrant winning and 5 books to giveaway, I had a few hundred extra followers on Twitter in a few hours.

Wow! I thought that Twitter option would discourage entries, but it didn’t seem much different from my other giveaways.

You’re not “buying” followers. You’re saying, “Since you’re interest in this book, perhaps you’d be interested in following the author of this book.” And they can simply unfollow you afterward, if they wish, so really there aren’t any strings attached.

Since they are willing to win your book, they must have some interest in that genre or content, right? (Well, some people just want to win something.) So many of these followers are indeed relevant to your audience. Unlike all the promises you see of people who can give you hundreds of followers, this contest can actually attract Twitter followers who have some interest in books like yours. However, since the contest isn’t targeted, they probably aren’t as relevant as, say, Goodreads winners would be.

Here’s another way to look at the optional Twitter follow requirement. The people who are actually willing to follow you on Twitter are probably, on average, somewhat more interested in your book.

People who enter Goodreads giveaways are unlikely to follow you on Twitter. But they are likely to add your book to their to-read lists, which helps make your book appear more popular at Goodreads. Also, having added your book, they’re more likely to bump into it again in the future.

CONVENIENCE

Both giveaways are convenient for customers to enter. They just need to have an account at the respective site (though presently Amazon giveaways are only open to US customers). If you’re driving traffic to your giveaway, people who don’t have a Goodreads account already need to sign up for one. They’re more likely to already have an Amazon account. Though very many readers do have Goodreads accounts.

Amazon is quite convenient for the author: Set it up in a few minutes and you’re done; Amazon takes care of the rest, except for promotion. However, if you simply tweet your promotion with the #AmazonGiveaway hashtag, in my experience, that is fairly effective for the first few hours.

Goodreads requires obtaining author copies and mailing them yourself (or drop-shipping). It can also be inconvenient, if something comes up in your life at about the same time as the giveaway ends.

PROMOTION

You have to promote the Amazon giveaway. However, if you have Twitter, you can tweet the link to your Amazon giveaway (you receive it in an email an hour or two, usually, after your giveaway is approved) with the hashtag #AmazonGiveaway. If successful, you can get good exposure through that hashtag for a few hours.

The truth is that you can sign up for Twitter for the first time, run a giveaway with 1 winner out of 100, include the option for entrants to follow you on Twitter, and by giving away a few books, you can have a few hundred followers a few hours later (depending on how successful your giveaway goes).

At Goodreads, you just need to select keywords wisely to get decent exposure for your giveaway.

In both cases, you can get added exposure for your contest on your blog, through Twitter of Facebook, by getting bloggers in your genre to mention your contest, and so on. (In fact, if you want to target your Amazon giveaway, one way is to promote it yourself instead of using the #AmazonGiveaway hashtag.)

QUALITY

At Amazon, there is no way to check the book beforehand to ensure that the book isn’t defective. However, Amazon has a great customer satisfaction policy.

At Goodreads, you can choose to order author copies from the publisher, inspect them firsthand, and ship them yourself. If you pack them very well, you’ll have peace of mind that the book will arrive in excellent condition.

INTERNATIONAL

Presently, only US residents (50 states + DC) can enter Amazon giveaways.

If you want to reach UK or Australian readers, Goodreads allows this. However, if you live in the US and allow international entries, shipping can get pretty expensive (and then there is the possible issue of a gift tax, depending…). Or if your book is available at The Book Depository (probably the case if you use CreateSpace’s expanded distribution), you might be able to ship your book internationally for free (though you’ll have to pay the retail price, and it may be higher than Amazon’s list price); and you won’t be able to inspect the books firsthand.

SALES RANK

I wasn’t expecting the Amazon giveaways to impact my sales rank, but I ran four different giveaways and the sales ranks improved considerably soon after the giveaway was promoted.

You have to buy the books directly from Amazon when you initiate the contest. So maybe this impacts your sales rank. (If so, this luxury might not last forever.)

Another possibility is that customers who didn’t win the book went to go buy a copy.

Whatever the reason, you can’t expect a huge impact from this. For one, sales rank tends to quickly settle back where it had been. For another, it’s not a cost-effective thing to do if this is your main goal: You’re paying retail price plus shipping. However, if you’re running the contest for other goals and you happen to get a small boost in sales rank, think of it as a nice surprise.

SALES

Giveaways can net a few sales. There could be short-term sales from people who didn’t win. What you really hope for is branding and long-term sales from recommendations. That is, you hope the winners will actually read your book, and then you hope they’ll like it enough to recommend it. It’s a risk, and it’s a hope. Successful contests help with branding and recommendations.

Amazon giveaways may be more likely to generate an occasional short-term sale. Here’s why: When you enter an Amazon giveaway, you find out immediately whether or not you win. If you really want the product, but you lose, the logical thing to do is check it out, perhaps add it to your cart or even buy it now. But other people will just go enter a different contest instead; it depends on how much they really wanted that product.

Goodreads members can do the same thing with Goodreads giveaways, except that often you don’t find out if you win until days or weeks later. Amazon makes the decision immediately.

WIN A FREE BOOK!

When I published this post, it appears that there is still another copy of my self-publishing guide available to win through an Amazon giveaway. If you haven’t entered this contest yet, here’s your chance to be a winner. Good luck! NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Ends the earlier of DATE / TIME, or when all prizes are claimed. See Official Rules: https://amzn.to/GArules.

https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/e45070404d91f90a

Chris McMullen

Copyright © Chris McMullen, 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

6 Star Rating at Goodreads… Umm…

Rating GR

The picture says it all:

  • Look under the author name.
  • Next to 1 rating, in parentheses, it shows 6.00 avg.

However, the rating isn’t above 5 stars on the book’s page at Goodreads.

This anomaly only appears on my Goodreads author dashboard.

Just thought I’d share this quirk.

Certainly not complaining about it. 😉

Authors: Where Is Your Happiest Place Online?

I’ll discuss a few places, then I’ll cast my vote in the last paragraph. I’d also like to hear your vote, if you’d be so kind as to leave a comment.

Let me start with Amazon, since it’s a huge website that authors are familiar with. I love shopping for books (and more) at Amazon and I love the support that Amazon has given to authors, including indies. It doesn’t win my vote with regards to happiness, however. For one, the current customer review and comment platform detracts a little from what would be a much more positive ambiance. It’s great that they promote freedom and independence, I just wish they could do that and still limit the occasional spitefulness. Another problem I see is that I sometimes find myself frustrated when trying to search for and discover new books by keyword or in a category. It’s sort of an inherent problem in trying to search through twenty million books. Maybe if we could see more than a dozen or so books on a page that would help speed up the process; sometimes, the way the results are ordered seems to make us scratch our heads, too. Still, I love Amazon and continue to use it.

There are many features that I enjoy at Goodreads, both as a reader and an author. Authors can connect with other authors, and friend reviews are allowed but clearly marked as such (I happened to see one on an author’s page recently, and thought it was an interesting option). You can see what friends have read, are reading, or intend to read. You can discover new books. However, there seems to be a little too much negativity (enough that some authors actually shudder at the mention of the website’s name), but not enough effort to try to make the ambiance more positive throughout. Again, perhaps the negativity is associated with the effort to provide independence and freedom. On the other hand, my vote goes to a website that seems to promote freedom and independence quite well, yet still appears to be a much more positive environment. If they can do it, why can’t others?

Another popular place among authors is CreateSpace. There may be a little room for improvement, but overall I like the way the website works as far as publishing books goes. I also love the wealth of free publishing and marketing information available to authors (if you haven’t checked it out before, you should). The community discussion forum is a nice place for authors to interact with one another, and a good place to look for publishing help. There are many helpful members there, some who are small publishers with many years of publishing experience. For the most part, the forum is very courteous (especially, compared to some community forums on other websites). Still, there are a couple of reasons that CreateSpace didn’t receive my vote. First, the file review process can be a little frustrating at times – even if you submit the interior or cover to specifications, there are sometimes unexpected changes (like telling you that your file is too complex, or resizing the cover on you). The defect rate may be a little higher than we may like (we can hope that they are working to improve this), yet there are defects with all publishers. Finally, eStore sales require the customer to setup a CreateSpace account and it’s not intuitive for customers to search for books on CreateSpace. Nonetheless, I still love CreateSpace and continue to use it, even though there are promising new rivals like Ingram Spark.

I’ll cast my vote now. WordPress is the happiest place online for me. Authors seem to enjoy ample freedom, independence, and creativity, while also in my experience it’s usually a very happy place online. The exception may be the occasional bitter rant, but that’s easy to ignore if you want. The comments section is often filled with positive interactions. The sense of community here at WordPress has been excellent, in my experience. WordPress draws me in like a magnet. I don’t hesitate, fearing negative experiences. I find myself spending way much more time writing posts and reading posts than I ever imagined, and I enjoy it. A positive ambiance attracts people, and the people make or break the place. Here’s a big THANK YOU to all the great people who make this place. 🙂 Please remember to cast your vote and share your opinions and experience.