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Self-Publishing? Awesome. Let Me Save You Some Time Pt 2

Updated: Oct 6, 2021

Seeking Reviews- Goodreads Giveaway

As you read in part one, I’m not too fond of soliciting individual review blogs for reviews. The question becomes, where do I go to get them then. I have some things that I’ve found moderately successful.

Let’s start with Goodreads and their giveaway promotion. I’m assuming you already know what Goodreads is since you’ve been around long enough to be self-publishing. While I believe it is important to have a presence on Goodreads, using their giveaway promotion just might not be for you. I’ll share my experience and you can make your own decision.

First, what’s their giveaway promotion? Well, for roughly $120 you can run a giveaway of your book. The logistics are great for using this promotion as Goodreads handles the entire giveaway while listing it on their giveaway site which also helps to promote it. That’s good and bad. We’ll talk about why in a second. As for how it works. You can give away paperbacks or kindle ebooks. The paperback option will cost you time and money on top of the $120 because you have to physically send paperback copies to the winners. I definitely don’t recommend that option.

The kindle ebook option on the other hand is ideal IF you decide to try this promotion. That’s a big if. Since Goodreads is linked to Amazon, you can offer up to 100 kindle copies of your book without paying any added cost. I recommend offering all 100 if you elect to try this promotion. Hey, it’s free to you (after the initial $120), so you might as well get your book to as many people as possible. The more books in readers’ hands, the better, right?

Here is my experience with the giveaway. I did it for my dystopian fantasy released in May, 2021. I offered all 100 kindle books and ran the promotion for one month, ending on my launch date. I had 488 people enter, 100 people win, and virtually no detectable sales after the contest ended. But this blog is talking about reviews. To date, I’ve received two reviews from those 100 giveaway copies and this is despite Goodreads nudging the winners for reviews a month after they received their prize.

This could be for a couple reasons. Let’s assume my book doesn’t simply suck and they're being nice to not review. What I’ve found over the years with different free promotions of various books is that people seeking free books aren’t typically buying books. Most of the time, they just want it because it’s free. Like your friend who had Napster in the early 2000s and downloaded every song he could find. He had tens of thousands of songs and likely didn’t listen to a quarter of them. Good luck getting a review from that guy.

This is the same reason when I advertise on Amazon (I’ll talk about Amazon ads in more detail later in this series), I make one of my negative keywords “Free.” That means people searching “free” won’t see my ad. That’s because I don’t want to waste my advertising dollars on people who aren’t going to buy anyways. Same theory as to why my 488 interested people in the Goodreads giveaway didn’t translate into 388 sales after the 100 giveaways, and the winning hundred didn’t translate into reviews. (Amazon’s free five-day KDP Select promotion is a bit different and I’ll explain why later in the series. Though it’s not because people seeking free books suddenly start buying.)

In saying all this, I am still debating the use of the GR giveaway for my coming horror collection. That’s because to me, $120 to advertise my book in front of thousands of readers could still be worth it. I consider it advertising dollars spent instead of a review gathering opportunity, though. In saying that, I don't feel I saw much benefit the last time, but it's possible my dystopian fantasy just wasn’t intriguing enough.

Update 10/6/21: I decided to try the Goodreads giveaway once more for A Firefighter Christmas Carol and Other Stories. I'm thinking this is my last time. The giveaway ended on Sept. 25, 2021. I had 748 entries and gave away 100 ebooks. As of today, I haven't gotten a single review back. I'm not totally discounting what will happen because it's only been just under two weeks, but I'm not getting my hopes up.

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