My experience with Goodreads giveaways and some handy tips for posting your own…


If you are an author and you want to get your book noticed then there are many ways that you can do it. There are thousands of articles populating the internet telling you how you should ‘build a platform’ and get yourself a ‘tribe’ in order that they can shout out about your book so that you can generate sales.

I can tell you now that all of the above is very hard work. I work (this is not my day job) for about fifty hours a week, I have a baby son and I have a life to lead. What this means is that I have one hour a night in which to write. Since I started trying to publish books this hour has been split between writing, editing, marketing and, perhaps most importantly, learning…

Of course many of you know this story (Oh woe is me, it’s so difficult to find the time, blah blah, etc). To be honest, I love the writing, but I also want people to actually readย my books (because everyone needs feedback on their work, you know?).

Anyway, I decided that I should do a thing called a ‘Goodreads giveaway’. If you love books and you haven’t checked out Goodreads then I would highly recommend that you pop over and have a look. It’s a great tool for finding what we all want (that’s more good books to read, not piles of gold or Jennifer Lopez in a bikini by the way…).


The thing about Goodreads is that they will only allow you to do a giveaway with a paperback book, you just can’t do it with an ebook. This presents a problem to many self published authors as they cannot or will not produce paperback versions of their work. This was a stumbling block for me too and it took me the best part of a year to pluck up the courage- and figure out how- to format and publish a book through Createspace (the alternative is to use Lulu or Lightning-source or Ingram-spark, but I chose Createspace because it seemed the easiest and was free to use).

It took me a while but using Scrivener (a truly wonderful piece of software) I was able to put together the files for a paperback and upload them to Createspace.

Anyway, I digress, I am going to post a blog about my Createspace experience soon, so you can read all about that process then ๐Ÿ™‚

When I had my paperback version of ‘Empire under siege’, the first book in my epic fantasy series ‘The Adarna chronicles’, I posted a giveaway on Goodreads.

The process itself is quite straightforward, you fill in some fields detailing when you want the giveaway to start and finish, how many books you want to giveaway etc, and then you link it to your book (you must have uploaded it to Goodreads already to do this).

I posted my first giveaway for two days and gave away one book. During the two days 779 (forgive the use of numbers, it’s just so much blooming easier that writing out longhand, although actually by the time I’ve explained it all it’s probably about the same… ho hum…) people ‘requested’ it (they entered the competition). This means that at least this number actually saw the cover and blurb and liked it enough to enter the competition. In addition 314 people added ‘Empire under siege’ to their ‘to-read’ bookshelf (basically saying that they wanted to read it at some stage).

I was totally over the moon! Wow, I thought, there will be over 300 sales from this one little giveaway!

Well, actually, no… The fact is that in the last week or so since the giveaway ended I have sold about the same number of books as I sold before. I do think that about seven people from Goodreads have bought the book (as the number with the book on their ‘to-read’ shelf is now 307) which means that I have just about broken even on the giveaway. I could be wrong of course and seven people might have removed it from their shelves…

There may be more people over the coming weeks and months that buy ‘Empire under siege’ because of the giveaway, but I don’t think that it will be that many. You see, when you examine the statistics for the people who have put the book on their to-read shelf it turns out that most of them have several thousandย books marked to read. Clearly the chance of most people getting around to reading ‘Empire under siege’ย when it is one of thousands to choose fromย is virtually zero.

Am I worried? Well, no, actually. You see the thing is that the book got some exposure, and in my mind that has to be a good thing as it increases the discoverability of my work. I actually did another giveaway for my other work ‘Paradise’ with even more people adding it to their shelves (although bizarrely, even though it is only 99c, no one has actually bought it following the giveaway).

Meanwhile ‘Empire under siege’ has another giveaway scheduled for the 24th to the 29th June with the hope that more people will add it to their shelves.

So, in order to try to be helpful, I have added my top tips (using my absolutely vast experience ๐Ÿ˜‰ – that’s a joke by the way, just in case you didn’t get it) for Goodreads giveaways below:-

1) Make sure you have a good cover. If you haven’t, then less people are going to stop and read your blurb…

2) Make sure that your blurb is good. Don’t just cut and paste your book cover blurb, you need to be more creative. I put extracts of reviews for my work and also offered the books as autographed copies.

3) Make sure that you spend some time working on the ‘tags’ as there are hundreds to search through and many of them may be relevant to your work.

4) Don’t expect to sell loads of books, it’s more about exposure. Unless you just wrote the next fifty shades of grey (which apparently took off because of a Goodreads giveaway) you ain’t going to make a profit.

5) Consider only offering one book. I don’t think offering more does anything other than cost you more. Although it should be noted that some people use giveaways to get reviews and if so, more books equal more reviews (potentially).

6) Try out different lengths of time for your giveaways to find out what time span works best (my first was two days and the next was three, the one about to start is five).

7) Perhaps most importantly, it takes a couple of days at least for the Goodreads team to approve your giveaway, make sure you start yours in the future so that it doesn’t finish before it has started (if you know what I mean).

Hope this was useful (wow, long post!). If you like it why not ‘like’ it below, or follow my blog (top right for the button) or tweet me or facebook me or do some other social networky thing. Cheers.


14 thoughts on “My experience with Goodreads giveaways and some handy tips for posting your own…

  1. Thomas Weaver

    Still waiting to see if the print edition giveaway for my clone’s novel will be beneficial. It got a lot of people adding it to their “want to read” list, but then it dropped OFF a few lists in recent days, and there’s no way to know if that’s because those people have moved it to “reading” or if they just lost interest. Hopefully, at least the 5 who will be receiving their free print copies in a couple of days will read it and POST A REVIEW. *sigh* (As I type this comment, my clone is working on the sequel to that novel, which we hope will be ready for release in August. Maybe by then there will be several reviews of the first one.)

    Not expecting to make big money — or any money, really — from this first novel. As you said, it’s about exposure with the first one, not profit. We’ve got the good blurb and a good cover (although no quotes from reviews because so far we only have one), and have already offered the e-book version for free on one day (80-something people who took advantage of that offer — where are the reviews??) and are getting ready to do so again.

    I only have experience with Goodreads, but this is what I’ve learned so far about doing giveaways there: Post an announcement for your giveaway on whatever relevant groups you belong to — if you write apocalypse stories, let other members of “Apocalypse Whenever” know about your giveaway, and also groups for more general sci-fi/fantasy. Even better if you let people know BEFORE the giveaway starts.

    Also, Goodreads seems to be much more active on some days than others. Weekends are dead; for whatever reason, Mondays are rather busy. If your giveaway is one day only, try to schedule it for an active day, especially if you don’t announce it in advance.

    1. Jason K Lewis - Writer Post author

      Hi Thomas,

      Thanks for the info, it’s counterintuitive that the weekends would be quiet on Goodreads but perhaps everyone has better things to do on a weekend ๐Ÿ™‚ Really useful advise, thanks very much!

      Best wishes


  2. MishaBurnett

    My personal experience resulted in my novel getting added to several hundred people listing it as “want to read” and me sending out five paperbacks. That was it. No reviews, no sales, and as best as I can determine no one every moved the book from “want to read” to “have read”.

    Two of the copies that I sent out ended up being sold on-line as new, which makes me suspect that some people use Goodreads giveaways as a revenue stream–they sign up for every one that comes up and then just sell any books they get. I would advise anyone who is doing one to stamp “Promotional Copy: Not For Resale” on the title page.

  3. T.E. Sharp

    This was very helpful to me. You are motivating me to finalize my proof paperback copies and also post my own experiences with goodreads self-advertising.

    1. Jason K Lewis - Writer Post author

      Glad I could help ๐Ÿ™‚ would be interested to know how you get on…. I have a giveaway starting tomorrow and they still haven’t approved it (its been four days since I submitted it!). Good luck with your giveaway…

  4. myrahmcilvain

    I offered ten copies of my book on Goodreads, had loads of interest and lots of “plans to read.” Four people gave very nice reviews, but I’m not sure anyone bought a copy. One woman who did not “win” a book said her husband was disabled and could she please have a copy for both of them to review. Did not get a review from that source.

    1. Jason K Lewis - Writer Post author

      Hi Myrah,

      I am sensing a theme here. Has anyone had a good experience with a giveaway? Can’t believe the lady didn’t give you a review when you sent out two books….

      Best wishes


  5. mobewan

    Hmm, definite takeaway here is that goodread giveaways don’t lead to sales. Encouraged by the smattering of reviews gained but it makes me wonder if traction plays a part (as it does with most stuff). I’ve entered giveaways before and usually I go look at the back catalogue of the author. Often it leads me to look at their other books, adding them to shelves (I’m not a prolific good reader though) or even purchasing them (or more often adding to a wish list I have on Amazon). As with everything the more you have available for readers to choose from the more likely it is you’ll gain traction.

    Be intrigued to see if the giveaways therefore improve as you put more work out there…

    Whatever happens it’s great sharing in your experiment. Wish you all the best.

    1. Jason K Lewis - Writer Post author

      Cheers Colin. At the moment my attitude is just that I need to get as many people to see the work as possible. Goodreads offers that (to a degree). Time will tell if it actually work…
      All the best ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. cathylass

    I thik a majority of the people entering a giveaway on Goodreads are just after winning, not actually reading a book. That said, not everyone, just wants to win, some will enter as they want to read the book. ๐Ÿ˜€ However, as the winners are picked at random, I would say it would be more likely the book just ends up with someone who might not even plan to read it.

    I enter competitions. I love entering competitions. ๐Ÿ˜€ I love entering for what I want to win – I don’t enter for the thrill of winning, or to sell things on.

    I’ve won 3 books in the last two years. Two I specifically entered in the hope to win (coffee table books… there’s something about HUGE hardback books that tempts me so much), the third was a runner up price. A paperback book that still hasn’t been read (I will eventually get around to reading it, but it wouldn’t have been a book I would have chosen if I was to buy one… I hoped to win the hamper that was offered up as first prize).

    So… as you cannot decide who the winner will be, I would suggest that you search out blogs that do book reviews instead. ๐Ÿ˜€ Take a little bit of time, just beacuse someone has thousands of followers, that doesn’t mean their followers actually read their posts. It’s better to find a blog that does book reviews that has 50 followers that read their posts, instead of one that has 3000 followers, and none of them interact with the blog (by holding a giveway on a blog, people can rack up thousands of followers in a matter of weeks).

    Giveaways DOES work… but the prizes has to reach the correct target. I once won BB cream (some make up foundation cream). I’d never used BB cream before, and was curious, so I entered in the hope to win. I won, and have since bought the same brand 3 times. ๐Ÿ˜€ (if anyone is on the lookout for decent BB cream I recommend Garnier!) However, if my other half had won it (believe you me, in the comping circles there are those that enter for ANYTHING), he would have just chucked it in a box for a boot sale (although he would of course never have entered for BB cream, it was just an example). Same goes for other toiletry items, and even cleaning items… there are those I would have never discovered had it not been for winning them, and I’ve kept buying them as they’ve been good. I still brag about my Nikon camera which I once won (although I would never buy one in the future… as they’re way too expensive!), and even got it mention on one of my About pages here on WP.

    (And in reference to Myrah… sorry that happened to you… I see it all the time. Once a lady claimed her disabled child would be so happy to win a little teddy, as she had 4 other children and couldn’t afford toys… turned out she had no kids and the teddy was up for bids on e-bay the day it arrived!!! There’s good “compers” and bad ones… and generally the bad ones are the ones with some horrendous sob story, about living in a shoe, with 19 kids and only one toothbrush to share.)

    A giveaway will give you loads of exposure… but it might not be to the right audience. ๐Ÿ˜€

    1. Jason K Lewis - Writer Post author

      Wow. Thanks for the comprehensive reply. Loads of good points raised there. I am running another giveaway right now to see if the results are any different. I changed the blurb this time around. Funny thing I think I changed it for the worse. Far less people adding to their shelves this time around.
      Will have to hunt out some more book review blogs… ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. J.D.Hughes

    I had a similar experience with my ‘Northman’ ebook on KDP Select – 7000 downloads as a freebie, but no discernible increase in paid sales. The upside is that 7000 people have the book on their Kindles. The downside is that they may be unread. A reader asked me if I was discouraged by low sales. I answered, as I suspect most of us would, that if you write, you write and there’s no stopping it.

    1. Jason K Lewis - Writer Post author

      I think that’s a really good point. I have to agree (to a certain extent), the writing is (for me) a bit about fulfilling a dream and less about people buying the books (although more people seeing the books is just great!). Cheers, Jason


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