How to Make the Most of Goodreads Giveaways

goodreads, authors, books, giveawayAuthors looking to boost book promotion efforts should consider incorporating a presence on Goodreads. It’s an established site filled with potential to really boost book marketing plans. In fact, some authors have elevated this to an art form and have become Goodreads rock stars. (If you need tips on best practices, read this article.) Once you’ve established yourself on Goodreads, adding Goodreads giveaways to your marketing plan is a solid next step.

Many authors are hesitant to do a Goodreads giveaway, and this may be because they’ve heard that others have had mixed results. Doing a giveaway correctly can really help boost exposure for your book—Goodreads readers love giveaways. According to Goodreads, more than 40,000 readers enter a giveaway every single day. Wouldn’t it be great to have a segment of that group to add to your own fans? Additionally, every time a person enters a contest, it adds that book to their “To Be Read” shelf, and appears in their newsfeed for everyone in their network to see. So here’s how to maximize a Goodreads giveaway.

Shorter Vs. Longer Giveaway Runs

You’ll see that there are four tabs on the giveaway page: Ending soon, Most Requested, Popular Authors and Recently Listed. You want to be in one or even two of those categories. Ending Soon and Recently Listed will help to maximize your exposure on the site. As a rule, I recommend giveaways last one or two weeks. Also, it’s a great idea to run giveaways back to back. Consider rotating your books consistently—and, if you only have one book, then you may want to consider a seven-day giveaway with a single book as the prize. You can certainly do more, but take costs, like postage and the actual cost of the book, into consideration.

Start and End Dates

Take a look at popular end dates, and then choose something else to avoid competing for visibility. The list may thin out after a day or two, so watch for days that don’t have as many giveaways ending. As you get ready to kick off your giveaway, keep in mind that Goodreads requires a seven-day notice before launching, and giveaways must run for a minimum of seven days.

As far as end dates go, I do not recommend ending on a Saturday. Extend the giveaway through the full weekend and end on a Sunday instead. You’ll be able to mail out copies Monday to your excited winners! Don’t forget to let Goodreads know that you’ve mailed the books out (there’s a box to check off). This will help you avoid any issues running another giveaway.

Book Description

Goodreads gives you a 1,500-character limit for your book description. The first six lines matter most since they appear next to your book cover during the giveaway. Consider editing the standard copy that Goodreads suggests, namely the “Enter for a chance to win one of X copies.” Although these details are essential, they are included under “Enter Giveaway.” For the first few lines, consider adding any big blurbs or great reviews. Remember, people like what other people like.

How Many Books Per Giveaway

I used to love giving away a ton of books each time I did a giveaway—sometimes 10 or more. While it’s not a bad idea, if you’re going to try doing giveaway rotations, smaller numbers like one or two books may be the way to go.

National Vs. International

I always recommend that you open up your contest internationally, because it’ll really help to increase the amount of exposure any giveaway gets. If you’re on the fence about extending into an international market, read my post on mailing internationally without breaking the bank.

How to Promote Your Goodreads Giveaway

We’ve tested ads on Goodreads for this, and while they’re great (and cheap), it’s worthwhile to consider running other promos, too. Ideas might be a Facebook post, or even a Facebook offer. Definitely also consider writing your own blog post, as well. You can link directly to the giveaway and give your readers information on how to enter it.

Other Helpful Tips and Tricks

Goodreads provides you with a widget for use on your other social media pages. To find this, you can visit the giveaway page from your author dashboard. You’ll see on the right side of the page.

Anyone can do a giveaway; it’s not just limited to authors. The main stipulation is that it’s a new copy of a book.

There are groups specifically created for giveaways. Join them and post about your giveaway there. Here are a couple:

Another idea is to join groups specific to your genre. They will each have rules on how to promote giveaways—an example might be that you may have to be active in their group for a while before promoting a giveaway—but it’s worth your time.

You can also promote your giveaway in some of the larger groups. However, they have strict rules on how to do it, so be sure to read through their guidelines before posting:

Again, there are 40,000+ people entering giveaways each day. In addition, more than 40 million book lovers go online daily—reviewing, sharing, discussing and searching for new books. This means that there are tons of opportunities for authors on Goodreads. If you take the time to build a solid profile, spend some time each week connecting and staying active, and then leveraging your platform with giveaways, you’ll start seeing your Goodreads efforts pay off!

This article originally appeared on The Verbs.

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11 thoughts on “How to Make the Most of Goodreads Giveaways

  1. AuthorPalessa

    Great article. I admit it, I have been avoiding goodreads as I’ve heard many trolls live there BUT I think I need go give it more of a chance. This will definitely help me plan how I’ll go about it. Thanks!

  2. Verge Le Noir

    Penny, great post but I hope you don’t mind if I tell you a little about my GR giveaway adventure (did a blog post about it, don’t worry, I’m not here to promote so I won’t link to it) Anyway, I’ve done several giveaways in the past and I never got a single review. Since then, I’ve learned that some–if not all– of the GR entrants are spambots. Upon further investigation I ran into the following exchange between two authors:

    Katie M Klosterman:
    “My print give-away with Goodreads resulted in every book showing up for sale on Amazon less than 48 hours after they were received. I will never do another…”

    Jeanne Felfe:
    “So people got your free books, then turned around and sold them used? Sux.”

    Katie M Klosterman:
    Exactly…told them (Goodreads?) and they didn’t have an answer…

    Needles to say, I’m a bit sour about the whole thing. Will I do another? Well since I need reviews I probably will,(sucker that I am) I’m currently trying to work on a strategy to avoid this from happening again. (no reviews)
    I don’t mean to bum anybody out about the program. Just beware is all I’m saying. BTW does anyone know when GoodReads is going to implement their new eBook giveaway program for authors? That could be a better way to go.

    1. Penny Sansevieri (@Bookgal)

      This is really good feedback, I appreciate it. I’m going to email GR and see what I can find out. Also, for the eBooks they are rolling this out – incrementally. I would say in the next 60 days we should see most, if not all, eBooks accepted. I’m going to email GR about this, too – they should really move this along.

    2. Janet DiFabio

      I agree with you. I’ve done two giveaways and out of fifteen books that I mailed out, I received one review. Shortly after that, I too, noticed my books being sold “used in like new condition, signed by author”.

      I, too, will probably take a chance and list another giveaway on my newest release, hoping to get some reviews.

  3. P. Williams

    Every time I’m included International readers, Goodreads ALWAYS chooses them, so I’ve stopped. Using is not a solution as you have to pay a $16 monthly fee to use.

    I have had 3 Goodreads giveaways and none of them have increased sales. They do get people to add your book to their shelf; but that’s where it stays.

    I don’t even get a review from the giveaways. :o(

    1. Penny Sansevieri (@Bookgal)

      Sorry you had this experience – YES Goodreads does choose them they always do this.

      I mail a lot, hence why is a great deal for us – well it saves time not having to go to the post office and wait in line, etc.

      Best of luck!



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