Saturday, February 9, 2013

Going great guns about Goodreads? Maybe ...

A Goodreads Giveaway Update!

A Goodreads Giveaway for TWO!! paperback copies of Ahnak: Edelin's Revelation ended on June 18. 

411 people signed up to WIN!! one of those books! 

And the winners are: Garry Lomen of Kelso WA and Magen Bosarge of Moss Point MS! Woohoo!

Last August, the month that Lycentia: Harrak's Scrolls was unleashed on an unsuspecting readership, the idea came to me: what about putting a copy of Lycentia up on Goodreads? One of those "giveaways" all the fine Goodreads folks are always chatting about? And so I did!

I ran the giveaway for two weeks. During that time, over 480 Goodreads-readers clicked on that "I want!" button. When the dust finally settled, a young lady in the Golden State was declared (by the Goodreads admins, of course) the winner.

So, after emailing "Lisa" the information (that she already knew, BTW, thanks to the Goodreads admins), she kindly replied with her snail-mail address. That evening, I wrapped up a brand-spanking new, freshly-signed copy of Lycentia and the next day headed for the post office and mailed it. Then I rushed back home and emailed Lisa that her copy of book two of the trilogy was on its way. Within the hour she replied, saying that she could not wait to get it. Then I waited ... two days ... two weeks ... four weeks ... I emailed Lisa again, asking if she had received the book. No response. And as of today there are still only two reviews of Lycentia posted on Goodreads. So what went wrong? What did I do? Or what didn't I do?

So this got me thinking: what have some Writers Cafe novelists done with "Goodreads Giveaways"?

"Only a tiny percentage of the people who shelve your book on a giveaway will go on to read/buy it. A tiny, tiny, tiny percentage. It's still a good way to put your book on people's radar. I recommend getting your cover art as soon as possible. I put my next due out book up as a giveaway as soon as I had the cover art (nearly a year ago now). The giveaway has over 7000 entries and nearly 4000 people have added it to their shelves. It basically constitutes a very very very long-term ad which costs only the number of books I choose. Plus, Goodreads sends an email to people who have my books on their shelves during the month of release. As for using Goodreads otherwise, use it as a reader would. Keep track of the books you read. Review them (you don't have to rate).  Read other people's reviews and comment on the interesting ones. Follow people who write reviews you like. Join groups discussing books you want to talk about. Use Goodreads to TALK ABOUT OTHER PEOPLE'S BOOKS. Strangely enough, that seems to be the most effective way to start people talking about yours."

"I don't want to be a downer on your giveaway. But I did one. I had almost 700 entries. Five winners. I bought the books, signed each one with a note as well, mailed them. Sent congratulations posts to the winners on Goodreads on the day I sent them out and said the books were in the mail. What happened? Nothing! No one bothered to even send me a PM with a thank you.  No comments. No reviews. It cost me over $50.00."

"I joined GR a few months ago, and went to some discussions in my genre. I did not mention my book, I made valid observations about the discussion topic, behaved myself, etc. It didn't seem to be a real back-and-forth 'discussion,' just individual comments posted in a void. Maybe I ended up in some bizarre place I shouldn't have been, but based on that experience, I have no idea what else to do there; it didn't seem to be an intuitively user-friendly place. Or maybe I'm just a fuddy-duddy."

"I also have been struggling with Goodreads. I posted that my third book had been launched, then the next day couldn't find the post. Eventually found it, there were no responses. I emailed Goodreads to ask if I'd done it the right way, it seems I had, their support is excellent. It's just their site. It's a labyrinth! I ended up tearing my hair out just making my way around it. And the 'discussion groups' are very limited. The author tutorials seem OK, but when I try to implement what I've seen, I still get confused. Sigh."

"You want to join a Goodreads group, like ROBUST and take part in its activities, then eventually someone on it will read your book and review it. There are also groups that choose a member's book to read and discuss once a week or month. I've made some really worthwhile connections on Goodreads. Thing is though, I've been a professional writer all my adult life; I know how to behave; I don't expect anything at all to happen instantly; I've never in my life asked anyone for a review, not even the professional reviewers for the newspaper that I know. Indies, by contrast, are a plague of demands for instant gratification. In their first post they positively demand that you review their book, and are then outraged when you say their book is so bad, they shouldn't pretend to be writers at all. Goodreads, like everywhere else that welcomes writers, is about organic growth, not hit and run promotion by idiots."

"I'm an indie author, though I don't consider myself an 'idiot' conducting a 'hit and run promotion'. I also wouldn't term myself 'pushy', nor do I think I'm 'flogging' a 'worthless book'. But I suppose that's for others to decide. At any rate, other than my giveaway I'm trying to use Goodreads as intended -- to document and comment on the books I'm reading. I'm refraining from invading the groups with my book (though I may participate as a reader). I plan to take advantage of their paid advertising services."

"I do a Goodreads give-away for all my print books as a part of the initial exposure blast. It does not create sales, but it does get your book on people's 'to read' lists, so it doesn't look quite so lonely there. I only give away one copy, and tend to run the contest for a short time (a few weeks). The majority of sign-ups happen in the last few days when your give-away shows up as 'ending soon.' Per many discussions here, there seems to be no advantage to giving away extra copies. The book rarely gets read and often shows up to be resold as used. Use common sense when doing digital give-aways on the other sites. If a reader wins and says they can't load the book, 'Can you please gift it through Amazon?' realize it is just a scam. They will cash the gift card and use it for whatever they want."

"Isn't Goodread where a lot of the 'flash mob' reviewers who slam book reviews hang out? Sounds like an impediment to the entire process."

"Goodreads is a wild animal that if you can get it tamed. Authors in the Amazon top-ten are there by using Goodreads. But it's a dangerous place for the unwary. I started a couple of groups over there; one seems to be working pretty well but it's focused on posting Select freebies in Romance titles. I'd set up another genre focused group if I knew enough people were interested (SF, Fantasy, ?, ?). I've stopped putting my Select promotion days on POI/ENT/etc. I've also dropped all FB and Twitter gyrations. Announce Romance free promotions It's mostly self-service for authors so please clean up your post after it ends. Advanced Review Copy promotion: This one is open to multiple genres. I'm still changing things around and adding at the moment. If you want to join and even post, then go ahead. This allows you to build fans before your launch, so the launch day it hits Amazon you can get a bunch of readers/reviews/sales. It also gets around the problem of Goodreads giveaways only being physical copies. I'm open to improvements in the group, so if you see good/bad/better then let me know here or there. When I get my WIPs, ready I'll be posting them there first. If you're not on Goodreads yet, get yourself a reader account, get it upgraded to an author account, get your author weblog RSS link tied into your Goodreads author account and load your books. Then start loading your WIPs and generating buzz for books before they are even out yet. When you are looking at a book on Goodreads, go to the upper right corner and click on 'stats' and see the chart for when added, TBR, reviews, etc. happen. They went from 6 million to 12 million members in 2012. Places like POI/ENT/etc had been advertising 100,000 members. FB advertises that 16% of your posts get transferred to your 'mailing list'. Probability favors getting discovered on Goodreads. but us authors have to behave over there."

"I had success getting some reviews while doing Goodreads giveaways. No immediate sales effects, but Goodreads reviews are handy, especially since Kobo uses them. I also added in a twist. I went through the list of entrants and hand-picked the ones who looked like my book would be perfect for them. I messaged them, told them I was sorry they didn't win, and offered them a free ebook review copy instead in exchange for an honest review on Goodreads and maybe somewhere else. I did this in a non-threatening, non-spammy way and told them there was no pressure, no hard feelings if they weren't interested. This last part is essential if you do this. No pressure, no hard selling. Just a friendly offer. The people who won print copies did Goodreads reviews, so did the ebook gifted ones. A few of the ebook ones gave me reviews at other sites as well. It was a lot of time-consuming work, though. I'd only recommend it if you're starting out and want a few reviews to get things going. (And of course, focus on the next book more than this.) I'm glad I did it but I wouldn't do it again."

"I've gotten thanks and reviews for my giveaways over there, but Goodreads is not a stand-alone platform in my opinion. I use it with my book blog and my Twitter account. Not so much with Facebook, but others do. I tend to ignore Facebook these days. I also integrate it with my other book blog giveaways which I run almost constantly."

"I absolutely do not use Goodreads for the discussion posts or the groups: those are black holes. But my author page, my book pages and the giveaway features are golden. Especially giveaways. I set up a giveaway last month for an upcoming book debut and it's like free advertising. I'm close to 1,000 requests for the book and 700 to-read sign-ups with the book not even publishing until the end of next month. I'm not saying those requests/to-reads translate to sales, but they don't hurt for visibility either."

"I ran a GR giveaway and gave away two copies. Both gave reviews. One was a four-star, the other wound up being my only 1-star. I'm doing another giveaway now for three copies. We'll see what happens. It must have netted a few sales because I received more reviews/ratings later. I also did a read to review in one of the groups I joined by giving away e-copies. I got reviews that way, too. But I'm hesitant to do that again. I think they run so many of them that readers rush through the books. I had some three stars with complaints about points that were clear to other readers. Those seemed to come from the readers who finally gave in their reviews at the last minute (there was a deadline the group sets up.) The reviews that came in earlier seemed to be more detailed and sounded like they took the time to really read the book. All in all, I think Goodreads is like anything else in this game: roulette. Post the right thing at the right time and it's helpful."


  1. Dave, thanks for sharing your experience on Goodreads and for all this information. As a soon-to-be published author, I'm grateful for writers like you who give us the real unvarnished facts.

  2. Thanks Penelope for reading my post! I have to confess that I should be spending more time on GR compared to FB and Twitter. But, as you've already read, mastering the ropes of GR is a more-difficult journey than it should be!

    Hope you have a great launching of your new book! I've love to learn more about it!