Goodreads Giveaways: Don’t Do What You’re Told



(UPDATE: This post was originally published in August 2014. Since then – I’m adding this in August 2015 – I’ve heard anecdotal evidence from other authors that Goodreads has committed to a complete crackdown on the sending of private messages to Goodreads users you are not “friends” with on the site. Therefore while my advice regarding the length and frequency of giveaways still stands, I cannot recommend that you ever send private messages to other Goodreads users – even to the winners to check they received their prize. From what I’ve been hearing, it could get you banned from using the site. )

(UPDATE #2: Thanks to Jennifer for pointing out in the comments that Goodreads have now enforced a ‘minimum 1 week’ rule on their giveaways, and won’t let you list one that’s less than 7 days in the future. Hmm… *suspicious face* On top of that, the suggestion text in the “description” box actually mentions signed copies. Perhaps we’d all started doing what we weren’t told, and the site didn’t like it. Whatever the reason, you can still apply this advice in principle. No month-long giveaways for 25 books at a time, basically!)

Any self-published or self-publishing author who’s done even the tiniest smidgen of research into how to use internet thingys to help sell their books will already be familiar with Goodreads. It’s Facebook for book lovers, a place where you can share what you’ve read, divide your reads up into lists and recommend books you’ve loved to others.


As an author you can have a Goodreads Author Profile, a jazzed-up version of the standard one to which you can add videos and blog posts, and you can run giveaways where you offer Goodreads users a chance to win a copy of your book.

Why Run A Giveaway?

The beauty of the Goodreads giveaway system is that you don’t have to do much except tell Goodreads how many copies you want to give away, where you’re prepared to post them to and how long you’d like the giveaway to run for. They take care of the rest. They run it, pick the winners and send you their addresses, freeing up time for you to develop an obsessive habit of checking your Amazon sales ranks. Fantastico.

Then the winners receive their copies, drop everything to read them and post gushing reviews on the site. Hundreds of other Goodreads users see these reviews and drop everything to go buy a copy. Then they read it and post gushing reviews on the site, and the cycle continues until you’re a bestselling author who can pay for life’s big purchases in cold, hard cash.

Or, you know, your Amazon sales ranks don’t ruin your day.

But is that always what happens when you run a Goodreads giveaway?

Um, no.

Usually what happens is you run the giveaway, send out the books and then… Nothing. Silence. Deafening silence. Your book doesn’t take off. The ratings don’t change. If you’re lucky, one new review might appear on the site in three months’ time. But essentially, your Goodreads giveaway disappeared without trace like a raindrop falling into the ocean.

Now, up until recently I put running a Goodreads giveaway into the ‘sure, you might as well!’ category of Things To Do When Promoting Your Book. (For maximum authenticity, you need to say ‘sure, you might as well!’ in a Tom Cruise in Far and Away Irish Accent, pronouncing the first word ‘shurr’ and the second word ‘yee’.) It was easy, it would only cost you a few books and some postage and it gave you something to say on Twitter, Facebook and your blog, i.e. ‘I’m giving away copies of my book. Come get ’em!’ The winners might also leave a review on your book’s Goodreads listing, which may help too.

But everyone is self-publishing now and the Big Boys have copped onto the fact that if you sell an e-book for sofa change, it will sell more copies. Therefore when it comes to promoting your book online, don’t we need something better than, ‘Sure, you might as well!’? I think we do. We need something that will actually work, that will achieve successful results that we can measure.

So like Carrie Bradshaw, I got to thinking (a phrase that always made me wonder what she’d been doing up until now): is there a way to do Goodreads giveaways better?

Beginnings and Ends

Goodreads have a lot of really interesting and helpful guides for authors on their website, including a guide to giveaways. In it they say that a month is the perfect length of time to run a giveaway for and that, ideally, you should run two giveaways: one before publication and one after.

I completely disagree and the thing that got me started on disagreeing is a graph that Goodreads included in their own Guide to Giveaways:

Screen Shot 2014-08-18 at 11.15.29

It’s showing us how giveaways get results by charting the number of times a user added Beautiful Ruins (my favourite book of 2012, by the way) to their Goodreads shelves, including during a giveaway period that ran from March 31st to May 12th and offered 25 copies as prizes.

But what’s wrong with this picture? When I look at it I see something painfully obvious: that the real benefit of running a giveaway only comes at the start and the end.

Why is that? Well, let’s think about how Goodreads users discover giveaways. They can either navigate to the book’s listing on the site and see the ‘Enter to Win’ button, or they can browse the lists of current giveaways. Scrap the first one, because in order for that to happen we have to somehow send a user to our book’s listing in the first place, and that’s not what this is about. This is about getting new people to discover for the first time that our book exists independently of any other social media activity we might be engaged in.

So, let’s look at the lists.

Screen Shot 2014-08-18 at 11.26.25

Goodreads giveaways are listed in four different charts: Recently Listed, Popular Authors, Most Requested and Ending Soon. Presuming that you’re starting from scratch, you won’t have a hope of elbowing your way into Popular Authors or Most Requested, so that just leaves Recently Listed and Ending Soon. Clearly, being in these charts has an effect on entries, because of the Beautiful Ruins chart above – that title saw the most activity it would ever experience on the site at the beginning and at the end of the giveaway. In short, beginnings and endings are good.

So why in the name of fudge would you minimize the beginnings and endings you have by running one long giveaway? That’s just one opportunity to get into Recently Listed and one opportunity to get into Ending Soon – when we know that appearing in these charts is your giveaway’s best chance of winning entries. Wouldn’t the intelligent thing to do be to construct your giveaway schedule so that you have as many starts and stops as you possibly can?

(Spoiler alert: the answer is yes.)

Think Bigger Than The Winners…

But Catherine, you might be squealing now, who cares about how many entries you get? We’re just trying to get a couple of reviews here, right? So what does it matter if 100 or 10,000 people enter my giveaway? I just want the 10 who win copies to read them and write a review.

This is not about getting reviews. Would we really go to the trouble of running a giveaway, publicizing it and then spending our first royalty payment sending copies of our books to far flung places just to get reviews? I hope not, because there are easier ways. No, this is about informing Goodreads users that our book exists in the hope that some of them will think it looks interesting, add it to their ‘To Read’ list and then, on a date in the future, purchase it for themselves. That is our goal here: sales. That is always our goal. So, the more entries we get = the more people know our book exists.


When you enter a giveaway, Goodreads even clicks by default a box that adds the book to your ‘To Read’ shelf, placing a permanent reminder of it on your Goodreads profile whether you end up winning a copy or not.

It’s just as well people-knowing-we-exist is what we’re really after, because Goodreads say that on average only 60% of winners of giveaways go on to read and review the book they win on the site. I think that’s a tad optimistic, if I’m honest. I know in the giveaways I’ve run in the past, the figure was well below 50% as far as I could tell. And we’re self-published authors, remember. Our budgets are not bottomless. We have to pay for the books themselves and the postage, so we just can’t afford to give away the 20 or 25 copies we see traditional publishers offering on the site. We’re lucky if we can stretch to 5 or 10. And what’s 60% of 5 or 10?

The answer is no feckin’ point at all. (Again, best read aloud in a Tom Cruise in Far and Away Irish Accent.)

…And Don’t Think About Geography At All

I cannot adequately express in words how much it annoys me when I see self-published authors restrict their Goodreads giveaways to specific countries… SO SUPERFLUOUS USE OF CAPITAL LETTERS WILL JUST HAVE TO DO INSTEAD.



Publishing houses have a genuine reason for restricting giveaways geographically: they only have the rights to publish the book in certain territories. You only have one reason, and it’s stoopid: you don’t want to stretch for international postage.

Give. Me. A. Feckin’. BREAK.

Have you ever posted a book internationally? Unless you’ve written a doorstopper, it’s not going to break the bank. You don’t have to FedEx the damn thing; Goodreads tells winners to wait for up to 8 weeks for their books after the giveaway closes. Don’t think of the shipping costs as something separate, which is a mistake I think a lot of people make. They say to themselves, oh, I’ll giveaway 20 copies because that’s (my unit cost + cost of shipping books to me) x 20, and then when the postage bill kicks in it seems like a fortune. I say create a budget, e.g. $75, and then work out how many books you can giveaway and post, potentially internationally, for that price.

Also, you don’t have to send your winners books you ordered in from CreateSpace. That’s actually kind of a silly idea, when you think about it. Why would you pay to send the books to yourself, and then pay again to send them to the winners? Send them directly from CreateSpace instead. For example if I have a person in the US who needs to receive a complimentary copy of my book, the cost of the book plus domestic postage (because CreateSpace is in the US) is half the price my book is to buy. If you live in the US and your winner is in, say, Ireland or the UK, why not get to send them the book? The shipping will be minimal and you’ll get some of the price you paid back in a royalty payment. The Book Depository will even ship one book anywhere in the world for FREE.

The bottom line here is that if our goal is to inform as many Goodreads users as possible that our book exists, you have no choice but to set your giveaway open to all countries.

And personally I think it’s rude not to, especially when, as a self-published author, you have world rights. More importantly, when I log into the site, by default I can only see the giveaways that are open to Ireland. So if you exclude me, I can’t just not enter your giveaway – I won’t even know you’re running it. Therefore, cross me off your list of people who’ll discover that your book exists.

Backlists and E-book Only Titles

The official title for the Goodreads giveaway system is ‘First Reads’, the idea being that the prizes are proof copies or shiny new ones that still aren’t for sale on any shelves, virtual or otherwise. I used to think the prize book had to published in the last six months, although I can’t find any evidence that this was ever strictly the case. Anyway, the case now is that you can giveaway a book that was published at any stage as long as the copy you’re giving away is a brand new one.

Screen Shot 2014-08-18 at 12.12.58

It actually says on the ‘List Giveaway’ page that giveaways can be used to ‘build awareness’ for a previously published book. You can only enter this year and next year as a publication date, but all you need do is make a note in the ‘Description’ box that the book was previously published, .e.g. This title was first published in 2012. I would then set the publication date to the day the giveaway ends. Great for building a bit of a buzz if, say, the final installment of your trilogy is coming out soon. I’d run giveaways for the previous two and then have a series of giveaways for the new book.

You can’t give away e-books and I’m glad about that. E-books are just not worth running a giveaway for. We want a physical prize, something we’re excited to open in the mail. But what do you do if you’ve only published in e-book? Does that mean you can’t use Goodreads giveaways at all? I’d suggest making a print edition with CreateSpace or Lulu just to serve as prizes. They can look like proof copies – they don’t have to be the real deal. Use CreateSpace’s template that lets you put a full bleed picture on the front, slot your e-book cover in there and, hey presto, you have a paperback.

So, You’re Thinking of Running a Giveaway

Once upon a time, I would’ve recommended you giveaway 10 copies of your book in a single Goodreads giveaway that lasts a month.

But now I’m saying:

  • Give away as few books as you like, because this isn’t about the winners. It can even be 1.
  • Instead of one long giveaway, run 3-5 shorter giveaways (5-10 days) of varying length to maximize your appearances in the Recently Listed and Ending Soon charts.
  • Open your giveaways to all countries OR ELSE THE T-REX WILL COME FOR YOU WHILE YOU SLEEP.
  • Don’t think about giveaways just for new books. You can give away new copies of some old ones too.
  • If you’ve only published in e-book, consider making a physical proof-like copy to give away instead.
  • Definitely do it, because it’s a great way to spread the word about your book.

Does this work though? Going back to Goodreads own Guide to Giveaways, they tell us we should give away at least 10 books and run our giveaways for a month.

They also tell us the average number of entries is 825.


(Apologies to Goodreads for desecrating one of their slides in the name of blog graphics. Remember I really love you and I think you’re brilliant. SMILES.)

Now in the last few months I’ve been trying it my way with one of my social media clients, a major UK/IRL publisher, and the results are clear. Before this, standard practice was to do what Goodreads told us to do: a month-long giveaway for 20-25 copies.

I took one title and split those 25 copies into 5 shorter giveaways of varying length for just 5 copies at a time. These ranged from 5 days in length up to 2 weeks.

The average number of entries was 1,726.

In a six-week period, we won over 8,000 entries over all.

For exactly the same number of books: 25 copies in total.

So I would say yes, yes it does.

Have you run a Goodreads giveaway? Any against-the-grain strategies you’re willing to share? What do you think of my dastardly plan?

Let me know in the comments below… 

173 thoughts on “Goodreads Giveaways: Don’t Do What You’re Told

  1. ERMurray says:

    Oh, Catherine, what would we do without you? And just for the record, I like it when you make that face. Especially over cheesecake 😉 Love your comment policy by the way. Still figuring out how to put all that gumph on the bottom of my blog. Yet another WIP…

  2. Aidan Reid says:

    I’ve silently devoured all your posts about self publishing in the past few weeks, and I’m genuinely excited that you’re bringing out edition 3 of Self Printed.

    Welcome back. You had disappeared for quite a while! Thanks for your inspirational and candid posts.

  3. Barbara Forte Abate says:

    Oh, pooh and tarnation, but I did do what I was told! I’ve only just mailed out my shiny new book to my Goodreads Giveaway winners and am feeling very T-Rex grumbly since much of the wisdom in this brilliant post is news to me now. Thankfully my giveaway was only for 3 copies–so it’s not the horror it might’ve otherwise been and I can launch into a new Giveaway sometime very soon.

    As a weird side note about Goodreads. My giveway fell victim to what Goodreads claims was “a glitch that has never happened before,” in that, rather than three winners as specified in the Giveaway, Goodreads selected and notified six winners. It took them several weeks to sort out the chaos and notifiy me of the REAL winners. Goodreads assured me that the previously notified non-winners would be informed it was a mistake on behalf of Goodreads and not a jerky author boo boo–so here’s hoping.

  4. Irish writer Mel Healy says:

    Hi Catherine,

    Some brill tips there. I particularly liked the one about sending prizes directly via Createspace; I never thought of that trick before. You’re also so right about not getting caught up in the number of reviews you generate directly from prizewinners. It’s all about the bigger picture.

    – Mel

  5. writerlyderv says:

    You mention that you’re bringing out Self Printed Edition 3 in a few weeks. Can you buy it for a top-up price if you’ve already bought Self Printed Edition 2. If you’ve mentioned this already someplace else, I will bang my head against the wall repeatedly in remorse.

    • catherineryanhoward says:

      Unfortunately not because I can’t think of a way to make that work really… But since it’s been 2 years since the current edition came out, I hope readers will feel there’s enough new material to justify buying the update. (Plus the e-book will only be $4.99 at most USD).

      • Iola Goulton says:

        Are you saying it won’t automatically update on my Kindle? Because I bought edition 2 last December and *whispers* haven’t actually read it yet (because while I’ve made the big-picture decision that I’d prefer to self-publish if I had a book to publish, I haven’t actually written a book so I’m not at the stage of needing the detail).

  6. daisyfitz says:

    You’ve no idea how much I heart you. From your ‘Get a Professional Cover Designer’ rant, to colour coordinated blogs – it’s all been top notch advice. (Andrew off-of D4W did such a good job on my cover than the blog practically styled itself.)

    And now when I’m about to do my first Goodreads giveaway, you give me all the secrets. Thank you! ps. I have told many people to buy your paperback, as was told to me by Kitty French.

    You rock.

  7. Jennifer Barricklow says:

    Wow! This is just, well, brilliant! Thank you for sharing your hard-won knowledge. And I’m inordinately impressed by the “proof” you provide at the end — blew my socks off!

  8. Sine says:

    Great article, thank you! I did of course as Goodreads said and ran 5 copies for one month, and noticed exactly what you say: Only start and end are interesting. But of course I didn’t make that leap of “duh, run it shorter!”. Oh, and I also feel totally ashamed for limiting it to the US. Thanks for setting me straight in that regard:-)

  9. Rebecca Nolen says:

    Catherine, I sure do wish I had read this before I did my own giveaway on both books. I offered 20 books in the US. Please T-Rex don’t come for me. I will offer another few giveaways following your advice for worldwide.

  10. Catherine Brunelle says:

    Reblogged this on Ottawa Writes and commented:
    If you self-publish and are not following this savvy lady – get on that asap! Check out her post here about Goodreads Giveaways. (Her name is also Catherine, so another point in her favour!)

  11. jenanita01 says:

    thanks for the updated advice on a Goodreads Giveaway. We have done several in the past and although our books are now on a lot of readers TR lists, no increase in sales as yet!

  12. Franny Fearnby says:

    Hi Catherine, Thought I would say hello after months of lurking! Self-Printed is by far the most engaging and useful book on the subject out there, Really looking forward to the new edition! Thanks for all the hard work. Will it be available as PDF?

    Having just set up my blog, I was doubtful about Facebook, your article confirmed my suspicions! As far as Goodreads goes, what you say obviously makes sense, (some sneaky marketing there!) However I seem to remember you wrote something sometime about Goodreads taking up too much time, this was my initial thought about it, seems you have to read and review far too much, leaving no time to actually get any writing done. Have you changed your mind, or are there better ways to engage with Goodreads? Is it worth it?

    (PS. Currently distracted by Backpacked!)

  13. Laura Fredericks says:

    Thanks for the post Catherine – just enough data for us numberphobes! I probably would have stared dumbly at the graph of views and entries for a few seconds, and then decided to get myself some hot chocolate. But you instead took the data and made it make sense!

    I’ll make sure to share this with…well, everyone. Very helpful!

  14. paulacasill says:

    I love the ideas of this post, but I did want to add a quick note about your shipping advice. Before deciding how you’re going to handle shipping, it’s worth doing a little research to see what will be most cost-effective. For instance, I’m not sure how it works when they ship overseas, but when Createspace ships within the US, the per-unit cost of shipping goes down DRAMATICALLY when you order books in bulk. It would actually be cheaper for me to order 10 copies of my book at once and then individually mail them (within the US) than to have Createspace send them each directly. Of course, for some authors the savings might not be worth the hassle, but I thought I’d mention it

    • catherineryanhoward says:

      That’s a good point too, thanks for sharing. Most GRs winners tend to be in the US so for me, in Ireland, it would cost a fortune to order in stock and then ship it back across the Pond again.

    • Tudor says:

      Yes, and also, be aware of the Amazon / CreateSpace situation in different countries. I was planning to send all my winner copies directly from Amazon / CS and then got a winner in Australia, and realized Amazon doesn’t sell physical books in Oz … who knew? So I had to send one of my own books, which I’d already paid for, and pay the quite high mailing costs to Australia. Not the end of the world, as it was just one book, but worth knowing in advance …

  15. bridget whelan says:

    I am going to do this now. Or this week. Sometime in September. And I promise to buy your book in a form that I can pick up and throw across the room when I realise that I’ve already gone ahead and done something you say don’t….Thank you for another great post and I can say that with a smile because I was planning a Goodreads giveaway this autumn and & now I can do with a bit more thought & planning .

  16. PD Singer says:

    One thing to keep in mind for shipping directly from Createspace is that they tuck an invoice in there. Will that invoice be giving away information you don’t wish to share, like your real name and address and the author’s cost of the book? Double check what was on your last packing slip. Book Depository may have a “gift” option. I don’t know, I haven’t used them, but that sounds like the best option for overseas winners.

    Also, speaking as someone who just spent about 12 hours getting a nonfiction book formatted correctly for print, your breezy advice on creating a print copy sounds like a recipe for a book that looks like dog’s dinner. Most fiction isn’t as complicated or time consuming, but if it’s worth doing at all, it’s worth doing right. Now you have the added luster of a print copy available and priced higher than your ebook. The product listings at the retailer then point out how much the customer saves by buying the ebook, which looks like a wonderful bargain and you haven’t discounted anything. That’s probably a different topic altogether, but sending out a print book that looks thrown together will get you a review and it won’t be pretty.

    • catherineryanhoward says:

      CreateSpace do not include any information that you wouldn’t want anyone to see. Only a packing slip type of thing. I presume this is because they know there’s a chance you are shipping onto a bookshop or another reseller.

      I have to completely disagree re: the print copy and if you were a regular reader of my blog you would know that I’m not talking about ‘throwing together’ a print edition or anything else for that matter and nor do I ever offer ‘breezy’ advice. I’m taking about making a proof copy.

      The Goodreads First Reads giveaway is designed for books pre-publication. By definition these are ARCs (Advance Reader Copies) or proofs, i.e. unfinished copies. These are widely used in the publishing industry and most Goodreads users would be familiar with them. They generally have a cover card that isn’t as high a quality as the finished book, text that hasn’t been proofread yet, text that hasn’t been properly typeset yet (i.e. no page numbers, etc.) and a warning like ‘UNCORRECTED PROOF COPY. NOT FOR RE-SALE OR QUOTATION’ printed both on the cover and inside the book. When a traditional publisher gives away a book on Goodreads before the publication date, it’s a proof copy the winner gets. Goodreads users are familiar with this as is anyone who regularly reviews books for publishers.

      There’s no reason why self-publishers can’t make their own proof copies too. As I said CreateSpace has a cover template that allows for a blank back and spine and a full image on the front. Stick your e-book cover in there and you have a perfectly acceptable proof copy cover. Copy and paste your edited (but not necessarily proofread) text into a CS interior template and clearly mark it as a proof copy on the first page. Your proof will then be just as good as any traditionally published proof, if not better, because the paper and cover card quality from CS is actually better than most proof copies I’ve received.

      • PD Singer says:

        I think we may be coming at this from two different directions. I am a coal, air, water, and InDesign girl. After playing with the template a bit, I got a chapter to look more or less okay, with a couple of not easily resolvable messes like paragraphs where half the lines are hyphenated. That could possibly be deemed acceptable in an ARC. The template built books I’ve seen haven’t had that much adjustment done to them, and were offered for sale.

        The print book doesn’t have to actually exist at the time the giveaway is listed, as long as it has an ISBN assigned and it’s ready when the giveaway ends. Then you can do it once and have it right.

        I am an intermittent visitor here, and clearly missed the advice you referred to.

        • catherineryanhoward says:

          The key is not to offer the proof or any version of it for sale. My advice was to people who are only interested in publishing an e-book (which, if I had my time over again, I would do for my travel memoirs). You can’t give away e-books on Goodreads, so you must produce something in print to run a giveaway. There’s absolutely no point hiring a cover designer to make a full paperback cover and spending hours making the interior perfect if it’s for 3-25 copies, especially when the recipients will only be expecting proof copy standard.

  17. Rich Amooi says:

    Hi Catherine!

    Great post. Coincidentally, I am right in the middle of a Goodreads giveaway. I just published my debut romantic comedy two days ago. I set up the giveaway for a duration of ten days and I am giving away ONE signed copy to anyone in the world. Here are my stats so far (after five days): 615 people entered the giveaway. 348 added me to their “to-read” shelf. I like what I see so far. 🙂


  18. Amber Polo says:

    I’m noticing there are more freebie grabbing people on Goodreads. More winners are coming up as having 1098 to read books, no reviews or rating or even read books, and no personal information. I know you say it’s not about reviews but I’d like to know my book is going to a real person who can read and not someone who does resale or ???

  19. Paul Duffau says:

    A couple of things that I did a little differently –

    First, I limited my countries. Now, don’t loose T. Rex yet. I did so because I can come back (to Ireland next, promise) and market to new areas separately. This lets me see what kind of response I get in each region on a rolling basis. If the books may sell well in Australia, and lousy in Myanmar, I want to focus on Australia. Until I run tests, I don’t have the answer to the question.

    Second, I ordered the copies for Australia from Amazon. It cost a grand total of a buck more per copy (so $2 total) but gets it to them weeks faster. It is a closer repetition of the basic marketing message. In the meantime, I’m sending a separate letter letting them know the book is on the way. Another point of contact. Each contact increases the chance to get a positive review. I’ll be following it up with a thank you scheduled to come in several days after the book.

    Extra work – but not much. It also requires a good deal of patience. I am planning on being in this business for a couple of decades.

  20. paulduffau says:

    A couple of things that I did a little differently –

    First, I limited my countries. Now, don’t loose T. Rex yet. I did so because I can come back (to Ireland next, promise) and market to new areas separately. This lets me see what kind of response I get in each region on a rolling basis. If the books may sell well in Australia, and lousy in Myanmar, I want to focus on Australia. Until I run tests, I don’t have the answer to the question.

    Second, I ordered the copies for Australia from Amazon. It cost a grand total of a buck more per copy (so $2 total) but gets it to them weeks faster. It is a closer repetition of the basic marketing message. In the meantime, I’m sending a separate letter letting them know the book is on the way. Another point of contact. Each contact increases the chance to get a positive review. I’ll be following it up with a thank you scheduled to come in several days after the book.

    Extra work – but not much. It also requires a good deal of patience. I am planning on being in this business for a couple of decades.

    • catherineryanhoward says:

      I think these are fabulous ideas but I also fear they’re wasted in the GRs environment. This would be fab for bloggers, but it’s working harder not smarter for GRs reviews. I also don’t understand why you’d test audiences…? The huge benefit self-pubbed authors have is the global market, ie the fact that we don’t have to focus on any one territory. You’ll find out who likes your book most after it’s for sale (and the answer will undoubtedly be the US, because it’s the biggest ebook market at present). Promotion takes enough time as it is and my rule is never spend time on it that could be better spent writing another book.

  21. Mike Young says:

    Great ideas, I will be doing my own giveaway I think.
    I am disappointed to hear there is a new edition on the way – mainly because I just bought a copy last week. Sorry to hear there’s not an upgrade coupon option.

    • Mike Young says:

      BTW – my publisher isn’t keen on spending the time on doing the orders, Since we’re a co-op type micro-press, out time is donated, so I guess it’s up to me. I looked up the rates, and is not much more to send Internationally, so I’ll try that and ship from the box I have here of wholesale copies.

  22. Russell Phillips says:

    If you live in the US and your winner is in, say, Ireland or the UK, why not get to send them the book?

    The last time I tried to use Amazon UK to send a book, they wouldn’t accept the order without a contact number to ring if there was a problem with delivery, so I ended up having the book sent to me, then I sent it to the reviewer 😦 If you know a way around that, I’d love to hear it.

    • catherineryanhoward says:

      Can’t you just put your own phone number? When is there ever a problem with an Amazon delivery…? If you’re sending one book, it goes through the letterbox. Problems occur with parcels, not letters.

      • Russell Phillips says:

        Er, yes, I guess I could. That particular book was going to someone in Belgium, and addresses in other countries always look very odd to me, so I was a bit concerned I’d completely messed it up.

        In future I think I’ll just put my own phone number. As you say, it’s very unlikely that there will be an issue.

        • Amber Polo says:

          Would that work if you lived in the U.S. and were sending to the Uk? I just emailed the winner and asked for the number. Don’t know if all would divulge that?

  23. says:

    Great info. Thanks and I have a question. Do you have experience/opinions/t-rex faces regarding Goodreads ads, especially their usefulness during a giveaway? I don’t have your book yet but looking forward to buying the new release.

  24. Amber Polo says:

    I just ordered a proof to use for a Goodreads giveaway. The total cost with shipping (US) was $13.40. This seems over double what a proof for a longer book cost a few months ago.

  25. Joel D Canfield says:

    There is a giant hole on this here Internet thing where the practical marketing advice for authors was supposed to show up.

    You’ve filled some of that gap with wit and panache. Er, and words, of course.

    As a data and psych junkie from (probably) before you were born, I am much heartened by the use of actual data which actually seems to be related to the actual results you actually achieved sorry once I started saying “actual” I couldn’t stop.

    Starts and stops are fundamental memory markers in the human mind, much like bleeding injured prey in the T Rex mind (er, walnut?) your explanation for why starts and stops work is sensible. I just love how it fits neatly into human psychology.

  26. Caroline Batten says:

    I started mine on Sept 1st. 1 book for 1 week. I have 426 entries (as I type), and my book is on 216 shelves (was on 217). So I think that’s okay so far. And I also like that my book has more entries than any other launched that day. Hoorah!

  27. writerbeelove says:

    I found that the giveaway got a lot of “Want to Read” clicks, but not many actually reading-at least not evidenced on the site. It might get the idea in their head – I was impressed by the numbers that got involved in the giveaway. The copies I sent out, to the US and to Canada, didn’t seem to generate any reviews anywhere. I don’t know if they read the books or sold them to Half-Priced Books without breaking the spine.

    I understand your point about shipping the book directly from CreateSpace, but if you offer an autographed copy, that won’t work. It also depends on if you buy in bulk to sell copies at an in-person venue at the same time, reducing your shipping cost to yourself.

    You make good points within your article. It is about gaining attention. Then you have to cross your fingers and hope the attention holds long enough to turn into a purchase.

    I also used the ads for a short while, but saw very little action from them.

    • Caroline Batten says:

      It’s interesting. I’m getting lots of WTR action and lots of entries, but looking at the entrants, most have 14k books on their WTR list – I guess they’re giveaway whores who enter everything. No sales generated so far.
      I stopped my Facebook ads which were costing more than I was selling and my sales have dropped off entirely. I’m going to run them again for a few days, to see if they are making any difference.

    • Mike Young says:

      I’m going to do a giveaway, and just send out from the box I have here already. I only will have a couple of books available, so no big shipping cost difference. Was going to sign them too – nicer for recipient but harder to resell I suppose.

  28. bridget whelan says:

    I took your advice and went for a very short giveaway period – just five days so when it dropped out of the recently added page, I went straight into the closing soon box. I didn’t plan it this way but I did almost no promotion – didn’t mention it on my blog or my facebook page. The only place I flagged it up was on my very new newsletter sent out to less than 200 subscribers. The result was over 1200 applicatons which was double my expectations – I have no idea if it will result in any extra sales but that’s 1200 mentions on Goodreads that I didn’t have before (on the automatically generated want-to-read lists). Two of the four winners were from England, one from US and one from Canada which was an interesting spread. I’m going to follow it up with a coundown special deal in the US and see what happens….I do relish the freedom of being able to experiment with marketing. Thank you for the advice Catherine, it works.

  29. e m bahnsen says:

    Wonderful article! This article was ‘archived’ in my Email Folder, so I just read it. I ran a Goodreads Giveaway this past June. I sent out four copies; one to USA, Canada, England, and Australia. Because the story is set in the posh and sometimes stuffy Main Line Philadelphia area, I signed and gift wrapped (is that a new verb I invented?) each book – establishing how things are done on the Main Line. It was expensive – more than the cost of the paperback version. Three of the international winners responded to my email, regarding receipt of book, with two writing how much they “loved” my book, but didn’t post a review. Unfortunately, the USA winner didn’t like my book at all and posted her two-star review. No one is adding my book to their lists and sales are slim.

    I will definitely re-read this post for my next Goodreads Giveaway. Thank you.

  30. Mike Young says:

    Good tips. I just finished my giveaway for Kirk’s Landing. Ran it for nine days, with two copies, and got 951 requesting it, with 464 adding it to their to-read. One winner in the US, one in Indonesia – with a very long address. I’m waiting for Goodreads to clarify what is needed by the postal system for that winner.
    I’ll be interested to see if any of my stats go up further now – be that to-read lists, reviews, or actual sales.

      • Sally Ann Melia (@Sally_Ann_Melia) says:

        Hi Guys,

        I would just add a cautionary note on the cost of postage. I am in the UK, and it costs between £10 and £17 to send a 500gr book to the US or futher afield.
        I used tracked postage, because the last thing I want is a complaint from someone not receiving the book.
        When running an international campaign fewer than 30% go to the Uk and US.

        Just something to factor in. I paid £108 to send out 5 books yesterday at the post office.


        • catherineryanhoward says:

          Sally those are INSANE prices to be paying for postage. It would absolutely have been cheaper for you to buy your own book from The Book Depository (remembering you get some of it back in royalties) and sending them directly to the recipients (as they do FREE postage worldwide). I also wouldn’t bother sending anything by tracked or registered postage – that actually is an inconvenience for the recipient because they’ll have to be at home to sign for it, and if they’re not they’ll have to go pick it up somewhere. And books shipped from companies like The Book Depository rarely get lost, and if anyone says it has, you can forward them the purchase receipt e-mail and they can take it up with them. At postage rates that high there is no point doing a giveaway at all. It’s just not worth it.

        • Joel D Canfield says:

          I’m curious why folks always give away multiple copies. Is there any evidence that more free copies = more adds, reviews, friends, love from the universe, or chocolate?

          My first Goodreads giveaway starts Sunday, and I’m giving one single copy. Limited to the 4 countries where 90% of my fans live. Even if I mail a copy to Oz, it’ll cost less than $20US. I don’t yet see the value in spending a hundred bucks or more.

          • catherineryanhoward says:

            I don’t think you need to give away more than one book but you should open it to all. The idea is not to offer a free copy to fans but to find new ones. The aim of the game is increased visibility and the best way to achieve it is to maximize the number of people who see your giveaway. That means open to all. Remember if you live in a country outside of your giveaway target, it’s not that you can’t enter the giveaway – you don’t even see it by default.

            • Joel D Canfield says:

              Understood. I’m experimenting right now, and may do the next one open to all. Since, at the moment, I only have 13 fans, even limiting it to the US, Canada, UK, and Australia leaves quite an opening.

  31. Dev Love Press says:

    I’ve gotten pretty good visibility running Goodreads giveaways for a single hard copy and a one week period. It’s definitely about getting the book onto people’s lists and in their awareness. I haven’t done one of my own books yet, but when I do I’ll make that single copy an author signed one!

  32. chicken wings for the soul says:

    I’m a little late to this, and I haven’t read ALL the comments….but I was wondering why Goodreads don’t send a little reminder message to the winners, enquiring if they have written a review for their prize yet? Just a little gentle reminder…I think it would be a nice way of giving the winners a gentle nudge. I don’t see how it would be objectionable…no? I did ask Goodreads if they would do that, and they said they don’t yet, but that it wasn’t a bad idea…I don’t think they are doing it though, are they? I did my Goodreads Giveaway last year.

  33. E. Kaiser Writes says:

    You are brilliant!!! I love your logical deducting skills, and the fact that you share them with the rest of us!!! (If it were in my power I would send you an Irish-accented Tom Cruise, as seen in “Far and Away”…)

    Thanks! I will certainly feel much more effectual when it comes time to run those Goodreads Giveaways!!! 🙂

  34. theeternalscribe says:

    An important thing to consider: If you have Amazon Prime (which I do), you can ship for free. And that’s 2 day shipping so long as you’re using CreateSpace, I believe (because I think all CreateSpace generated books have Prime shipping available). Amazon Prime shipping does not apply when shipping overseas.

    However, the cost for shipping to Europe through Amazon is only 3.99, and 4.99 for Canada.

  35. donstevens (@donstevens) says:

    About to do a giveaway. I heard about choosing all countries and dealing with CreateSpace, but I am going through LS, and the countries I picked were US, UK, Australia, and Canada. Shipping to Indonesia, or Russia sounds a little daunting to me.

    Any thoughts on using LS (Lightning Source) and shipping with them to a foreign country? Also, excellent point about offering an autographed copy.

    Plus, has anyone posted an ebook giveaway (not the official Goodreads one) but listing a ebook giveaway on Goodreads forum for giveaways?

    Thanks for sharing!

    • catherineryanhoward says:

      I wouldn’t over think the CS element. I was just saying that it might be easier to send directly from CS depending on where the winners live. I don’t know how LS works but I think it’s different, so you’d just have to buy stock or order it from Amazon (or The Book Depository) and send it directly to the recipient that way. There is nothing daunting about sending something anywhere in the world. Online companies like Amazon send things everywhere; just enter the address Goodreads give you and they’ll take care of the rest. If you’re sending it yourself, it’s nothing more complicated than writing the address on the package and bringing it to the post office. The postal system works the same across the world.

      I wouldn’t bother running an e-book giveaway by listing it on a forum. That defeats the entire purpose of the giveaway, which is to raise visibility on the site through concentrated activity as described above. Forums do not offer the same mechanisms and there will be no “To Read” additions. It’s pointless.

  36. Jean Gill says:

    I am so glad that someone feels as I do about restricting the countries in giveaways – and sees how irrational it is! If someone’s online they’re connected world-wide! And as I live in France, I feel very angry at exclusion. I have really enjoyed sending books – and hearing from readers – in the Philippines or with addresses like ‘the house with the green shutters’ – and these winners have had good old-fashioned pleasure in winning. No chance that they sold on their books without reading them.

  37. amethyst212 says:

    This blog post was shared in a FB thread where I oh-so-naively asked about doing a Goodreads giveaway – it looks “too simple.” LOL Your whole post is super, and spot on for what i need – in fact, I made the comment, ” I get as excited over a good review as anyone but I’m still in the, “Hi, my name is Robin E. Mason, and I’m an author.” phase!!” I especially like your logic of opening outside the U.S. – and shipping directly via CS. My only drawback to that is not being able to sign it… I’m kicking mine off tomorrow [well, today now] and will [let GR] select my winner on Christmas Day!!
    Thanks so much for a fanTAStic post!! and Merry Christmas to you!!

  38. writersamrussell says:

    Great post thank you, and just in the nick of time! I have rushed back to edit my Goodreads Giveaway, Now 2 books, worldwide, unsigned (so that I can despatch from Createspace) and lasting a week! Generously shared advice, for which I am very grateful.

  39. Bob Peak says:

    Great review of Good Reads Giveaways. I was thinking along these lines and will follow your lead. I did Steve Harrison’s National Publicity Summit in New York April 2014 just after publishing January 2014 my book, “The 85% Man and Lessons from Lucille.” You meet 120+ press, radio, and TV people to pitch. I’ve been on 15 radio shows, 3 TV shows and the book did well, but nothing earth shattering. I’m just about to do a revival since I’ve had 5 major reviewers (Kirjus, etc.) all give it 5-stars, and do more promo. We’ll see how it goes with Good Reads, your tips are invaluable.

  40. Charles Vella says:

    I have to admit I’ve been doing Goodreads giveaways to try to get reviews and been very disappointed. About 25 percent of the giveaways have provided reviews and judging from how many used copies are available on Amazon more people have been trying to resell them. I’ve been steadily going to a longer giveaway but I’ve noticed that most of the adds come at the end, so I think the advice to shorten them is good. I’ve also bought your guide to self-publishing to see if I can get any advice on getting more reviews. Thanks for the advice.

  41. owenobs says:

    Thank your for your life-saving blog. I opted to read it instead of nuking the lawn. Its 98-in-the-shade in Florida, now its tea-time so, manana.
    Before I dash off to eyeball your: “Self-Printed: The Sane Person’s Guide to Self-Publishing Edition #3”, would you advise if there’ s 4th Edition on the slips?
    Great stuff re:Taming Goodreads. And a super excuse for tomorrow’s honey-dew items ;^D

  42. owenobs says:

    Good. Just posting your link to the Ancient City Writers in St. Augustine. Some think it should be renamed the Ancient WRITERS of St. Augustin. Mostly they are not long-term investors. They don’t buy green bananas.

  43. M T McGuire says:

    Loved this. Sounds like excellent advice, too. Now I’d better go before the dinosaur gets me! BTW that’s my fierce Mummy face, where did you get a photograph of me disciplining my son?



  44. lisaemme says:

    Great advice and timely too. I was just thinking about planning a giveaway now that my book’s release date is approaching. Thanks!

  45. Lorraine Devon Wilke says:

    Thank you, Catherine… considering I have never done a Goodreads Giveaway, despite having three books up on the site, when I somehow stumbled on your blog and gave it a read, it made so much sense I decided to do EVERYTHING YOU SAID! 🙂

    Actually, your perspective is backed by your very thorough research so why wouldn’t I be a good student and let the “teacher teach”? My first week-long, 5-book, anywhere in the world giveaway starts this Saturday and we’ll just see how it goes. From there, I’ll follow your next step of advice and schedule others on a sort of cycling basis.

    Thanks so much; you’ve offered a very nice gift for us giveaway newbies!

  46. Angelika Schwarz says:

    Your face scared me…your words made me think…I’m figuring out my budget…Thank you so much … 🙂

  47. Madison Woods says:

    I’m doing a giveaway of one copy, but I can’t just send it from Createspace. It’s a nature sketching journal I designed and the winner will get an original signed sketch and journal entry from me on the first blank page. However, after reading your advice, I did make it open to all countries so I’m curious to see how many enter. I wish there were a way to view the entrants or at least country of origin. I also made it only 15 days long instead of an entire month after reading your post. That makes a lot more sense. Thanks for all the useful information!

  48. Lorraine Devon Wilke says:

    Hey there, Catherine: Wanted to weigh in again with some new thoughts on this after my recently concluded giveaway, a cautionary tale, perhaps, that might be a useful addendum to this post:

    Based on the very wise perspective you shared in this post, I have conducted two giveaways in recent months: 5 books each of my two novels at Goodreads. Per your advice, I opened it up to the global audience. While my first go-around had a few long-distance winners (which pumped up the cost of postage), it was well-balanced with US readers, allowing me an affordable exercise in reaching out to new readers who will, hopefully, read and enjoy my book.

    This second go-around, however, broke the bank. ALL FIVE of the winners were from far-flung corners of the globe and my postage for ONLY FIVE BOOKS WAS $146.85!!

    That’s right: not only did I contribute five books for free, I had to shell out almost $150 for postage. Holy hell, a bit beyond my marketing budget for a giveaway!

    When I wrote to Goodreads to ask how winners were chosen, they said it was a random selection and if I didn’t want to chance that kind of expense again, I should limit my global audience. As you admonish, I hate to do that, but, as I responded to them, I may have to alternate my “generosity” so that I can actually afford a future giveaway.

    As for sending books directly from CreateSpace, I’m not sure if it would’ve been cheaper (and, believe me, I looked for the cheapest way from my postal service!), but sending the books directly allows the writer to include a personal note, sign the books, etc., and that’s a valuable step in the process, I believe.

    Anyway, just wanted to offer this as another angle on this thing. I know I’d want to know about this possibility… I mean, think of it: if you were giving away ten books and the winners were all from Russia or Singapore, imagine the cost!!

    • catherineryanhoward says:

      Lorraine how did you send them?! And from where? Here in Ireland I could send an average hardback book anywhere in the world for €10, €15 at best. $150 is *insane*, I agree!

      P.S. Ah – the penny drops. 2 x 5 x €15 would be €150. I guess my advice would be to figure out the average cost of posting the book and then work backwards from how much you want to spend. But at the same time, we can’t do this for free. Doing giveaways does cost money.

  49. Lorraine Devon Wilke says:

    Catherine: I very specifically asked the postwoman (in Los Angeles) to check for the very cheapest way I could send them (one to Singapore, one to Argentina, one to Russia, and two to the UK). In the US there is a “media mail” option for books (very cheap), but this does not apply, I discovered, to international mail. Yikes!!

    So I’ve decided the best way to go is to alternate between keeping it close to home one time, then opening it up internationally the next. It’s a tad too expensive otherwise.

    But yeah… bit of sticker shock with that one!!

    Thanks again for all your great perspective.

    • catherineryanhoward says:

      That sounds like a good idea! I know postage costs from US to the rest of the world Vs Europe to the rest of the world are a bit crazy: I see it on the parcels that come to me from the U.S.

      You might consider The Book Depository in the future, if your books are for sale on there. Free shipping worldwide, and you’d get part of the book cost back in your royalties.

  50. Jennifer Geist says:

    Great post! I went to implement your advice for our first Goodreads giveaway, and unfortunately, it looks like Goodreads has closed some of these options/changed their policies.

    * Giveaway start date must be +7 days in the future.
    * Giveaway has to last a minimum of one week.

    So that means you can’t do a lot of short giveaways (unless you want to do 1 a week), and you need to schedule them at least that far in advance, rather than ~3 days or so. Just thought you and your readers might be interested!

    Thanks for your detailed post.

    • catherineryanhoward says:

      Thanks Jennifer for letting me know!

      I find it a bit hilarious that they’ve changed it – AND did you notice that in the description box the suggestion text actually includes a mention of signed copies? Perhaps too many people were following the advice in this post and others like it… ;-D

      • brickmantelbooks says:

        No problem!

        I did notice that! It is logical that signed copies would be more desirable than not, but it is funny that they picked up on what authors/publishers were doing.

  51. brickmantelbooks says:

    Thanks for the detailed post! It looks like Goodreads updated these policies recently, though, as I discovered when I went to implement your good advice.

    “Giveaway start date must be +7 days in the future.”
    “Giveaway has to last a minimum of one week.”

    So the shortest giveaway is a week. They have at least not made a minimum number of books, so if you have the time before your launch, you can still offer one per week to maximize on exposure, but I was hoping to do shorter giveaways since our pub date is fast approaching.

  52. alfageeek says:

    I’ve investigated international shipping rates from the US for people around the world who were interested in getting a signed copy of my book. I think opening up to any geography is very risky. The cheapest I could get it to a reader in India, for example, was about $80. I have had readers in South Africa and Argentina report similar costs for international shipping. So although I can understand why the T-Rex face, I think a self-published author would be nuts to follow your advice unless there was some way they could game the shipping. (Getting my print book into Book Depository is impossible, because at 400 pages I would have to crank my list price crazy high to get into “expanded distribution” from CreateSpace.)

    What I have yet to find on any blog is any evidence that these giveaways translate to sales. I have plenty of reviews, and as you point out, even if I didn’t, spending all this money for reviews would be bonkers. What I want are sales. Are you aware of any (even anecdotal) evidence that getting onto all those “to-read” shelf lists actually translates to books sold?

    • catherineryanhoward says:

      I just don’t understand where these crazy shipping costs are coming from. I sent a proof copy of my book to New Zealand this morning – as far away as it can go before it starts coming back – and for an A4 sized padded envelope containing a trade paperback of 352 pages and weighing 0.8kg, the cost was EUR€11.50 to send it by standard post. As is the case for all social media and online book promotion (with the exception of paid adverts where actions can be traced) there’s no proof that anything translates directly to sales other than the fact that I (and other authors) can say we did this to promote books that subsequently sold well. The aim of the game is to inform as many people as possible that your book exists in a way that is not annoying or spammy (like “buy my book” tweets), and GRs giveaways are a great way to reach 1000s.

      However if you are not in ED, is likely the only major retailer where your print book is for sale, so in that case you might want to stick to the U.S. for your giveaways. The U.S. has the most GRs users, so it shouldn’t affect your numbers too much. My advice is more for authors who restrict their giveaways to their own country when their own country has hardly any GRs users – such as Ireland – thus resulting in a tiny amount of entries/reach.

      • alfageeek says:

        The US postal service has a web site where you can put in the particulars of what you want to ship and where, and it tells you the price. That’s where I saw the $80 figure for shipping to India. But I just found another part of the postal service site that says it would only cost $18 to send a 1lb book to India, so perhaps part of the issue is that the US Postal service web site sucks 🙂 At $18, it is certainly less scary to consider a global promotion. What I find is that people outside the US/UK pretty happily settle for the Kindle version if they cannot get print. So if I promoted internationally, it might bear sales even if those people have to settle for the Kindle version.

        As for the other part of your answer (“you did this, and it sold well”), that’s what I’m having trouble finding evidence of. I read a lot of “I did this, and nothing happened” or “I did this, and a lot of people put me on lists, but I haven’t seen any change in my sales.” And sometimes I see “I did this, and I saw a bump in my sales, but I was also doing a bunch of other things at the same time, so I don’t know what led to those.”

        There is a lot of book promotion that people do on faith alone. I can see doing that when it’s free, but when you have to shell out money, you’d like some evidence that these techniques have actually worked for other people. I’ve been following an author named Ana Spoke, who is a meticulous number cruncher about her promotions (, and she has yet to find any promotion that doesn’t lose money.

        She is doing a GR giveaway right now, so I hope she gets some results that are clear and quantifiable. Time will tell.

  53. Joy Jennings says:

    Great article and very helpful but I read it a little late. My giveaway started today and will be running for 28 days. I restricted it to my country without realizing the mistake I am now making, so you can send the T REX on me if you like. I am offering a signed autographed copy, so sending from Createspace won’t work for me. I think people like signed personalized copies and wanted to add that touch. It will be interesting to see how it goes. Where do I find those stats you referenced in your post though? I cannot see where to access that graph?

    • catherineryanhoward says:

      Hi Joy – I found them in a slideshow that was on the GRs site under something like “find out about running giveaways”. They recently made significant changes to their giveaways so maybe that slideshow has been moved/replaced since…?

    • catherineryanhoward says:

      Joy, are you looking for the Beautiful Ruins graph? Because the link in my post works – it brings you directly to Goodreads’ original slideshow (although it’s on a third party site, not

      And, if you’re on Goodreads, follow the links to list a giveaway. Then, when you’re on the giveaway details page, you’ll see a link in the upper right hand corner that says “Goodreads Guides to Giveaways”. That also leads to the slideshow, so they’re still using it.

  54. readingroomcafeproject says:

    I know this is quite an old post and I love that you keep updating it! I’ve been planning to get my act together with a goodreads givaway for a while now – I’ve had a few books from them (and as a writer I review them all) but for some reason I’ve been dragging my feet. tomorrow’s the day, thanks for all of this wonderful advice as I have no idea what I’m doing! x

  55. shariwrites says:

    So, here’s my problem currently. I’m trying to do a series of one week giveaways in a row but when I try to post the second giveaway, Goodreads won’t let me. It says I already have a current giveaway. They don’t overlap dates or anything. Can you only do one at a time now? Which would be stupid with the one week in advance rule because then you would have to set it up a week in advance, run it for a week. Set up another one one week in advance, run it a week, etc. They could never be consecutive.

    • catherineryanhoward says:

      Yes, you’re exactly right: one at a time, no overlaps, a week in advance. GRs have made a lot of changes since I wrote this post (although you could only ever set one giveaway at a time) – so much so that I’ll soon be posting a new one as much of this is rendered obsolete. I would still take the general principle though: multiple giveaways of varied length. Week-long gaps in between them doesn’t really affect the general idea.

  56. T.M. Wells says:

    Wonderful article! I have learned so much….I wish I read your article before running a giveaway on Goodreads. I’ve made so many mistakes, however, will approach my next giveaway using your advice. Currently I am running a giveaway for my first self-published book. Thank you

  57. Christopher D. Morgan says:

    Great article, although I suspect there might be a bit of a flaw with the numbers presented at the end. If you submit multiple entries of the same book, you are of course submitting to the same audience, so it’s entirely possible that those 8,000 entrants are riddled with duplicates. In other words, I might see your book pop up several times as a giveaway and enter each time. It might be 8,000 ‘entrants’ but substantially fewer ‘unique entrants’. Just food for thought.

    I loved the article, however, and I did learn quite a bit from it. It was posted a couple of years ago, so there’s also every chance that the way that Goodreads runs their promotions has also changed and I do wonder whether all the advice is still current. I’m a first-time author and self-publishing but I did manage to get Forestium into both the Ending Soon as well as Most Requested list (currently on page 2) with around 1,200 requests at the moment and just under a day to go from the original 1-month promotion for 10 signed copies.

    I did like the idea of using your printer (POD) to send the books direct to customers, although this of course won’t work if you’ve advertised signed copies, as you’ll need to have those to sign before you send them.

    Not sure if it’s common but I also plan to include a letter and, hopefully, a branded book mark with the book that I’ll be sending out to my lucky 10 winners, along with a nice letter thanking them and asking nicely for a review if they like the book.

    – Chris

  58. cleemckenzie says:

    Thank heaven or T-Rex I found this post. I’ve been going in circles on this goodreads giveaway issue and you’ve finally set me on a straight path.

  59. CyberSavvy says:

    While most of the advice here is good, be CAREFUL about the advice to allow entries from anywhere in the world. I did — and four books that I had to send overseas it cost a total of about $100 (and that was the cheapest at the USPS), plus I had to fill out customs forms. You might want to reconsider that advice.

    • catherineryanhoward says:

      We’ve already discussed shipping costs issues in the comments.

      I think it’s absolutely fine to give away one book. (There’s an updated version of this post linked to above where I discuss this in more detail.) That would cut your shipping costs down to $25. You could cut them down further if your book is out already, or soon – send it directly to the recipient from The Book Depository. They do free shipping worldwide and you’ll get part of what you spend back as royalties.

  60. Jennifer Vandever says:

    Thanks for the advice, Catherine. I recently ran a Goodreads giveaway using the shorter time span and three books and plan to do a couple more in the future. I followed your advice to include other territories and then sadly forgot your other advice to ship from Amazon direct — spent $22 at the post office instead of $8 for shipping w/ Amazon from US to GB. Damn. Lesson learned. 🙂

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