7 August 2015

The Pros and Cons of Book ‘Giveaways’ - an author's experience


After spending a year researching and writing a book, you’ll forgive me if I hesitate for a moment before offering to give it away to readers for free.  It doesn’t help that I once had a disconcerting experience with Amazon’s KDP Select ‘promotion’.  In return for promising exclusivity to Amazon for ninety days, I ran a special giveaway weekend and watched as over five hundred readers happily downloaded their free copies of my book. I waited for the review to roll in. They didn’t.

Then a friend pointed out that although Goodreads giveaways look as if they are only for new books, you can also use them to introduce older books to new readers. This was good news, as I had a couple of paperback copies of my previous novel, The Secret Diary of Eleanor Cobham. This book had been in the top ten on Amazon UK Historical Fiction Biography since it was published and now I wanted to find an effective way to raise awareness in the US.

The Goodreads program has given away more than 200,000 books since its inception and around forty thousand readers enter giveaways every day.  It’s free to list a giveaway for Goodreads authors - and you choose how many books, for how long and even to which countries. Goodreads recommends to offer ten books - but conscious of the postal costs I limited mine to two and only chose the US, Canada and Europe from the list, running for the last three weeks of July. The link for listing a new Goodreads giveaway is here:


I thought it was a shame that the giveaway is limited to hard copy books – then I remembered my ‘Booklikes’ account. If you haven’t come across it, Booklikes is a great community of readers and authors. As well as reviews and discussions about books, they also offer ebook giveways, so I decided to offer some copies of ‘Eleanor’ at the same time as the Goodreads giveaway.  All you need is a free Booklikes account and the process is very similar, with a simple form here:


I found my giveaways provided a useful source of material for my social media networks. 'Have my book for free' is unsurprisingly much more popular than the dreadful 'buy my book' messages we see too often. I was also interested to see how widely news of the giveaways was being shared on Twitter and Facebook. 

So how did it all work out?  Well the good news is sales of ‘The Secret Diary’ have really taken off in the US, more than doubling since the giveaways. It is still too early to expect reviews, although both communities of readers are well aware of how much authors appreciate a short review. Goodreads estimate that around 60% of giveaways result in reviews, so fingers crossed.

The cons? Well the ebook versions were easy, as I was sent a list of emails of the Booklikes ‘winners’. Goodreads sent me the addresses of the winners of the paperback giveaway (one in the US and one in Canada) and I had to parcel them up and pay the postage - but it is a tax allowable expense so the real cost is my time. Would I recommend it? Definitely, for as well as the boost for ‘Eleanor’ I’ve seen a spike in sales of my other books in the US and the UK which far exceeds the value of the giveaway copies.



1 comment:

  1. One way to reduce the shipping costs of the giveaway books is to purchase and have them shipped directly from the recipient's country's Amazon site. And you'll earn some royalty that way as well!

    ReplyDelete