How to Use the Power Of Goodreads Giveaways

When it comes to marketing a book, never underestimate the power of a book giveaway. Perhaps one of the best ways to kick start book discovery is by offering your book for free. I recommend doing multiple giveaways for a book and, in fact, I have done pre-publication giveaways that have really helped to spike success and reviews on the site.

I recommend that you run your giveaways for 30 days. You can run them for a smaller amount of time, but the longer you have to promote the better, right? Be sure to post an update about this on your Goodreads page and you can also post it to your blog (for your blog readers) especially if your blog is connected to your Goodreads page. So how many books should you give away? I’ve done anywhere from ten to fifty. Keep in mind that while the higher number is great, at some point you will have to fulfill this order and Goodreads only allows printed books, so you can’t give an eBook version or PDF, they have to be print books and they are all mailed (or you can also ship them from Amazon if you want to).

If you are a member of a few groups, it’s likely that there is a thread to promote a giveaway. Find that thread and promote your giveaway. If you’re running it for a month, you should feel free to post it once at the beginning and again as you’re nearing the end of the giveaway. I’m not a fan of blasting groups with “all about me” posts so twice is my limit. You may find groups that encourage more frequent giveaway reminders but I doubt it. Remember that other authors are on there trying to get attention, too.

If you’re reading this post and thinking, “Well, my book is too old for this,” take heart. There aren’t any rules on Goodreads preventing older books from getting promoted on the site. If you have a great book and are just discovering this site, by all means do a giveaway and see what happens. Especially if it’s not your only book and you continue to write new material. I’ve known authors who have multiple titles that start with the oldest and work their way forward.

One more point on the giveaways. If you want to really max out your exposure on the site, I recommend letting the contest run worldwide. You’ll get much better participation that way and in the big picture global shipping isn’t really that expensive.

Ready to sign up for your own giveaway? Then head over here: Once you’re there be ready to list the start and end dates as well as all of the pertinent book information such as ISBN, book description, publisher and number of copies you’re willing to give away. Once you have that information, you’re ready to go with your first Goodreads giveaway!

When the campaign is over, you’ll get notified and the system will send you a spreadsheet with the winners, their Goodreads ID’s and their addresses. It’s a great idea to congratulate them on Goodreads and let them know you’re shipping the book out. Why is this good? Because it’s another great way to connect with the person on the receiving end of your book. And it helps encourage a review from the reader. You’re no longer an anonymous writer; you are now connected on Goodreads and following each other’s reviews, etc.

Whenever I’ve done a Goodreads giveaway I am always sure to include a short, hand-written note thanking them for participating and congratulating the person on winning. I never ask for a review in the note, but that’s just me. Instead, I encourage their feedback because I really do want to know what the reader thinks of the book. Then I give them my email address if they wish to make direct contact. I think the added step of a personal note is key. Why? Because it’s a great opportunity to connect with a reader and encourage them to connect with you. I also sign each of the books I give away. Why? Readers love signed books!

So how many reviews can you expect, really? Well Goodreads estimates that 60% of the books that are given away get reviewed. I think that’s probably a really good average. I’ve seen numbers higher than 60% and also lower. A lot of it depends on the book of course. Good books get reviewed more frequently, also it would seem that fiction gets a lot more reviews than non-fiction, but I’m not always clear that that’s true.

Another way to boost exposure is to run an ad to help push your giveaway. Ads are really simple on Goodreads. They operate on a pay-per-click system, which means you only pay when someone clicks on your ad. You also buy credit, so I suggest starting with $10, you can always add more, but you may never use $100. Get started by going here:

It’s important to keep in mind that Goodreads openly admits that new ads that generate a lot of clicks in the first few days will be shown more frequently throughout the day – essentially Goodreads gives its users what they want. So make your ad content compelling, and don’t go the super cheap route when it comes to bidding on your per click cost. The minimum is $.10, the max is $.50. Some people say go big or go home, I say do what you’re comfortable with, but remember, higher per click ads are also given priority. Some additional insight into how Goodreads ads work can be found here:

I usually suggest creating two ads, try different tactics. One should say something like “Enter to Win” and the other should say something like “Get your FREE book.” The words “win” and “free” are always hot. In the main content include a short, irresistible description of your book, something that will make it stand out and close with “giveaway ends [insert date]” to help push people to act. The link you include with your ad should be the link to your giveaway page. Don’t know how to find the link? Go here: and on the right hand side of the page you’ll see a section for “Giveaways You’ve Created.”

A few more giveaway tips:

* Let readers know if you plan on providing signed copies.
* End your giveaway on a non-popular date, like the middle of the week, definitely not a holiday.
* Again, more countries = more exposure.
* Mail your copies promptly.
* Reach out to winners with a short, respectful follow up. Friend them, let them know you’d love their input when they’re ready.

Bonus! When you’re done creating your ad you’ll be given the HTML code for a giveaway widget that you can add to your blog or website!

While authors often tell me that they don’t want to give copies of their book away, I always caution against that way of thinking. You have to give something to get something. Will every person who got your book review it? No. Do some people just want free books? Sure. But I’ve found that most of the readers on this site are genuinely interested in books and love it when their opinion matters. I mean, who doesn’t?

Using the power of free to help boost your book is always a good idea, especially on a site like Goodreads. Just keep in mind that using a giveaway like this can help push other opportunities like connections to new readers and a dialog about your book in general. Maximize this opportunity; you’ll be glad you did!

And one final note on this Goodreads piece. This was tested with anonymous, first time (fiction) authors. Why did I do that? Because I wanted to make sure the playing field was even and the test was authentic.

Reprinted from “The Book Marketing Expert newsletter,” a free ezine offering book promotion and publicity tips and techniques.

How Authors Can Benefit From Visiting Book Fairs

How Authors Can Benefit From Visiting Book Fairs

How Authors Can Benefit From Visiting Book Fairs
By Julia McCutchen

It is one of the main book fairs which take place each year for professionals in the book trade alongside Book Expo in New York, Frankfurt and the Bologna Children’s Book Fair. There are also many smaller yet worthwhile book fairs and exhibitions internationally.

Many authors wonder if it is worth attending these trade fairs and many commentators say that it isn’t. My view is that it can be a valuable experience if you approach it with the right mindset. You also need to plan your visit well in advance and wear sensible shoes in the knowledge that you’ll be on your feet for most of the day!

It is important to be realistic when thinking through a book fair visit, especially if you have a vision of meeting agents and editors to present your book to them. Most publishing professionals will have filled their schedule of 30 minute meetings well in advance of the fair taking place.

Having said that, serendipity can, and does, occur at book fairs.

When I was attending these events as a publisher, I remember well the number of times an author just happened to turn up at our stand when I was in between meetings. On some of those occasions, I did engage in impromptu conversations about new projects, and although it was rare, some of those spontaneous approaches did lead to us to publish the book the author had presented.

So here are 3 tips to help you benefit from attending a book fair this year:

1. Do some research to understand the basics about book fairs, set clear intentions of what you want to achieve, and plan your visit in advance. These events were created primarily for people in the industry and most professionals are there to do business with other trade insiders. Many agents and the conglomerate publishers will not be interested in the kind of spontaneous connections I described earlier. In fact, unless you have an appointment, you probably won’t be allowed in to the agent’s area which is cordoned off from the public.

However, there are many possibilities for authors who let go of unrealistic expectations and who concentrate on what is possible.

For example, you can:

• Research appropriate agents and contact them in advance to set up an appointment at the book fair

• Attend one of the increasing number of seminars being held specifically for authors to help you to get your first book published or advance your career as an established writer

• Identify publishers you may not have come across before who might be interested in your book and keep up-to-date with the ‘vibe’ in the industry.

2. Prepare appropriate materials to take with you.

Although it is unwise to count on being able to show your book ideas to anyone for the reasons I have already given, I do recommend that you take some good quality information with you just in case the opportunity does arise.

Here are my suggestions of what you should have with you. If you are writing:

• non-fiction, take a good book proposal with you plus one or two sample chapters for your book

• fiction, take a one page and a two page version of your synopsis available plus information about you as the author and ideally some marketing ideas

• an illustrated book, take some sample illustrations to show your vision of how you see the book overall.

Make sure that your contact details are securely attached to any material you might have the chance to leave with an agent or editor.

3. Remain alert to unexpected opportunities.

Alongside sensible planning, I also recommend keeping your eyes and ears open for spontaneous possibilities cropping up. You might not be able to get to see the particular agent or publisher you have targeted as being perfect for your book, but you never know who you’ll stand next to in the queue for coffee!

In such a situation, remember the importance of being able to describe your book in one compelling key sentence. That way, the person concerned can quickly make a judgment on whether further discussion is relevant or not. Finally, keeping an open mind will enable you to leave with more information, resources, contacts and opportunities for your book and to further your journey to successful published authorship – and beyond!

Julia McCutchen opens the way for writers to find their true voice, discover themselves in the process, and write consciously, creatively, successfully and with soul. A former managing director and publisher with over 20 years’ publishing experience, Julia’s holistic approach includes coaching, mentoring and masterclasses for aspiring authors. To access free articles, audios and other resources for writers, visit and

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Authors Sound Off on Small Press Month

Authors Sound Off on Small Press Month

by Dana Pittman

“Small presses take chances. Chances are at the heart of all literature we later know as great.” Educator and poet Kay Ryan’s quote is most appropriate during March, which is Small Press Month. And for many minority writers, small press publishers are vessels used to transition from being a closet writer to a published author. What is a small press publisher? What are the advantages or disadvantages of signing with a small press publisher? What are some of the questions you should ask when considering a small press publisher?

In this article, I will not attempt to answer these questions, at least not solely on my own. Experience, I’m told, is the best teacher, thus I will seek the insight of several published authors that have opted to work with small publishers.

What made you decide to publish with a Small Press?

Darine Davis, author of Bayou Drama

The decision to go with a small press was a no brainer. The intimacy of a small press sold me. In a large press they consider you and your project as a number and unless you are making major sales for them they are really not that interested. A small press is interested in your ideas and your success. You are able to have a family based relationship and they teach you the true nature of the business.

TL James, author of The MPire Chronicles of the Haulm Boys

I didn’t want to lose control of my literary project. I wanted to have a say in when and how things were going to be produced and marketed.

Ja’Nese Dixon, author of Black Diamond

I have had the opportunity to mingle with authors that have experienced every form of publishing. However, I knew that I wanted to begin with a small publisher because you have the ability to develop a relationship with the team.

What are the advantages of publishing with a Small Press?

TL James, author of The MPire Chronicles of the Haulm Boys

The main advantage of being with a small press is the feeling of individualism. You are not treated as a number, but instead you are a partner in your literary project.

Jean Holloway, author of Black Jack

After waiting 28 years to get published, I got the attention of a Small Press and they offered me a contract. I’ve never regretted my decision. One of the greatest advantages has been finding a publisher that still believes in assisting its authors with marketing and promotion.

Darine Davis, author of Bayou Drama

The biggest advantage with working with a small press is the ability to reach your publisher and true interaction with them in person, via e-mail, over the phone. That type of relationship is crucial to the rise or fall of a rising author.

Ja’Nese Dixon, author of Black Diamond

I love the idea of being a partner in presenting my work to the world. I didn’t have to worry about giving my “baby” to someone that would not give of themselves the way that I have to the project. In my limited experience, I know that we both have a vested interested in the end product and the success of my book.

What are some questions a new author should ask his/her potential publisher?

TL James, author of The MPire Chronicles of the Haulm Boys

What are my rights? What is the “Term” clause? What are my responsibilities in reference to the company and my literary project? What can/cannot do when I am representing the company?

Jean Holloway, author of Black Jack

Any questions regarding marketing and promoting tips should be on the top of the list. They also need to know if they will lose any rights when they sign a contract.

Darine Davis, author of Bayou Drama

Read before you sign if it and if it does not make sense to you ask an outside source and don’t be afraid to ask the publisher. If it sounds too good to be true it probably is.

Ja’Nese Dixon, author of Black Diamond

WOW…there’s a lot. First, READ your contract. READ the fine print. READ the clauses that you don’t understand. And if you can’t afford an attorney reach out to other authors, pull out a dictionary, visit a law library, and know what you’re getting yourself into.

Beyond the immediate rights associated with the contract ask about: distribution, marketing, and also whether the publisher is embracing technology (i.e., ebooks, audio books, etc.).

It’s Up to You

I am not championing for small press publishers. I am not attempting to persuade you to come to the dark side, if in fact that place exists, I would however, encourage you to consider all options when looking for a publisher.

How to Get Started

This month is a great time to begin, many small publishers may have an open house of sorts on their websites, or you may find local bookstores holding special events. Here are three steps to get you started:

1. Determine whether a small press is the right option for you and your work.

2. Research reputable small publishers that deal (or preferably specialize) in work close to your own.

3. Reach out to other authors.

In closing, use this month to explore your publishing options. Visit to learn of events in your area, and don’t be afraid to contact other authors to learn about potential homes for your literary work.

* * *

Dana Pittman is the marketing strategist for Nia Promotions. She has worked with authors such as Anita Bunkley, TL James, Jean Holloway, Evelyn Palfrey, and she recently established S.I.R. Authors, a book marketing promotion group. Books are her passion and marketing is her lifeline. For more information visit and

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