Spread The Word With GoodReads

English: Open book icon

Open book  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you’re published a book recently or are about to publish one, here’s a simple, free, effective way to find new readers.

First, you will need to be a member of GoodReads. Described as a “Facebook for readers and writers”, GoodReads is a social network that is free to join, discreet and uninvasive, so you have nothing to lose by taking part, and potentially a great deal to gain.

Once you’ve set up your GoodReads profile, apply to join the GoodReads Author Program, an enhanced level of membership available to anyone who has written a book listed on their database. (You can also add your book if it’s not already on there. The Author Program offers you valuable advantages, including the option to set up  free promotional giveaways of your books. This is simple to do and totally under your control. All you have to do is decide how many copies to offer, the territory in which you’d like to promote it, and set a start and finish date for your promotion. In return, you gain worldwide attention for your title, free of charge.

How Many Copies To Offer

You can offer just a single copy, or as many as you like. Obviously the more you offer, the more people will enter the draw, as they’ll feel they have a greater chance of winning, but I always caution authors against giving away too many copies without good reason, on the basis that for every copy you give away, that’s one less to sell.

Which Territory to Target

You can choose the countries in which your promotion will be visible. Obviously, if the winner lives abroad, it will cost you more in postage to send their prize. Even so, it’s still a very low-cost way to reach countries that might be otherwise be beyond your budget or reach. Just be sure that you own the copyright for the book in your target countries. Apparently, for many books published in the US, the author or publisher holds the copyright only in the USA, so their promotions cannot reach abroad.

How Long to Run It For

This is entirely up to you. GoodReads suggests a month but allows you to set the start and finish date. Browse through the current giveaways and you’ll see some are longer, others much shorter. Once you’ve input the details of your proposed giveaway, it can take a couple of  days for GoodReads to approve it and make it go live. Then when its time is up, you’ll receive notification of the winner’s details, so that you know where to post the books. You send them directly to the winner, not to GoodReads.

How To Make The Promotion Work Harder

Enclose a personal note with each of the prize books. It’s reasonable to ask the winner to spread the word about the book if they’ve enjoyed it (and you hope that if they don’t, they’ll keep it to themselves!) GoodReads’ terms and conditions state that they expect the winner to post a review on GoodReads, as least, and I don’t see any harm in suggesting other places too.

Case Study

Here’s a real example of the results of a GoodReads giveaway, using my own book, published last month:  Sell Your Books!, a book promotion handbook for self-published and indie authors.

  • I offered just one copy, because I felt I should practise what I preach!
  • I chose to run the giveaway worldwide, because my book is available to order everywhere. This was an easy and economical way to reach distant countries that I otherwise only market to via Twitter and Amazon. This was well worth the price of extra postage should the winner be abroad.
  • I chose to run the promotion for a month, (a) to give people a reasonable chance of finding out about it, and (b) because I was too impatient to wait longer  for the result!
  • By the end of the month, 863 people had entered the draw, and 348 people had added it to their “to-read” bookshelf, where anyone looking at their shelves will now spot it.
  • The winner was a lady in the USA and I’ve just despatched her copy enclosing a personal note, a business card for Off The Shelf Book Promotions and a bookmark  from my publisher, SilverWood Books. My note included a gentle hint for a book review on GoodReads and Amazon US, where the book has fewer reviews than on Amazon UK.
  • In return for the cost of a single copy of my book and airmal postage of about £5, plus  a little thought and effort, I’ve been able to raise the profile of my book significantly all over the world. Result.

Bear in mind that to be eligible for a GoodReads giveaway, your book must have been published in the last six months, so don’t linger too long before making your decision, or it will be too late. Only print books are eligible, I’m afraid, so if you’ve published only e-books, this scheme isn’t for you. The reason for this is a practical one: there is no easy way to distribute free e-books that will suit all e-readers worldwide.

It’s also worth noting the wording on the GoodReads websiteL this giveaway option is offered at no charge to authors “for now”, which suggests they may charge in future. So there’s another good reason to give it a try now! Good luck with your book promotion and enjoy GoodReads.

Have you promoted your book via the GoodReads giveaway scheme? I’d love to hear how your got on! Please feel free to use the comment form below if you’d like to share your experience. 

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9 thoughts on “Spread The Word With GoodReads

    • Thanks, Helena – and I think there may be good news for you! Because you reissued “75×75 Flash Fraction” with that lovely new cover, it now counts it as being publishing in September 2012. Worth a shot, anyway! I’ve just entered the draw for a new edition of Tolstoy short stories, and I don’t think he’s been writing anything in the last six months! So new editions must count as new books, I assume. Good luck!

  1. Hi Debbie, great post – and congratulations that your giveaway was so successful. I did one for Can’t Live Without, offering two books, and gained over 300 added to bookshelves too. The two ladies I sent the book to left lovely reviews, and I found the whole thing seamless to carry out. I also tweeted and Facebooked about the giveaway as it drew to a close, doing a bit of a countdown, to gain more interest.
    Jo x

    • Gosh, I didn’t think of Facebooking and tweeting about it – great tip, Jo, thanks! I really need to spend more time on GoodReads, it’s a great resource, without any of the monopoly or tax issues associated with some other online services that had better remain nameless! 😉

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