Updated: Aug 5, 2019
"I will never do another Goodreads Giveaway again." - Me, in 2014
There are many reasons I said this back then, and those reasons still stand. Now that Amazon has monetized the process, making it even more difficult for indie authors to compete with traditional publishers, I feel it's imperative I warn you away from this before you get duped.
These are the supposed benefits of a Goodreads Giveaway, prior to the changes:
1) The entrants of Goodreads Giveaways have to add your book to their To-Read shelf.
2) The winners of Goodreads Giveaways must review your book or risk being rejected from any further giveaways.
Let's talk about why these "benefits" just don't work for Indie authors.
1) The To-Read shelf (or Want-To-Read shelf). You may think someone having your book on their To-Read shelf is meaningful. That, at least, someone wants to read your book. That they will in the near future actually read it and, if you're lucky, review it. Yay!
Ostensibly this is meant to act "word of mouth" advertising. Wow! Susie from my Horror Book Club "wants to read" the latest title from Generic Horror Press. I'd better buy that one!
But take a closer look at some of the Want-To-Read shelves of entrants. There are thousands of books on many of them. No one can read that many books. Which means those entrants will likely never read your book. They will never review your book. They will never talk about your book. In fact, they will likely forget about your book a few seconds after they click Enter Giveaway because many of them – possibly MOST of them – are going through the list of giveaways entering every single one, as there is no limit to how many giveaways you can enter at one time.
I repeat: there is no limit to how many giveaways you can enter. None.
Which leads me to…
2) It is a known fact that MANY WINNERS sell the books on eBay etc without even opening them. There is LITERALLY NOTHING preventing them from doing this. So... the writer or the publisher spend however much of their marketing budget (and time, which is just as valuable) sending out books that will never be read.
As if that weren't bad enough, the only condition for entering further giveaways is to review the book they've won. But they only have to give it a star review. Not a single word of review is guaranteed. So you get a 3-star "review" with no actual review (ie. no proof the book was ever read) of a book you've spent upwards of $20 to send out. How does that benefit the indie author/small press?
3) The only way to profit under this new model is to spend thousands of dollars, which most indie authors/small press do not have. And even then you aren't guaranteed any ROI (Return On Investment). Now that Amazon has monetized this process with their "More Powerful Book Marketing Tool for Authors and Publishers" (at $119 for the cheapest Standard package, and $599 for the Premium package), it will be even more costly.
What makes it "more powerful"? Will they make these giveaways visible on Amazon? Will they tweet about them? Send out emails?
Here are the "new" functions of a Giveaway: "Everyone who enters your giveaway automatically adds the book to their Want-to-Read list." This is not new. This was how the previous unpaid incarnation worked, and as I mentioned above, didn't work.
"The author’s followers and anyone who has already added the book to their Want-to-Read list get a notification." This, at least, is an improvement over the previous giveaways. But think about this for a moment. How many notifications do you get on Goodreads that you actually open? I'm willing to bet the ratio is pretty low. And now that this is added to notifications, it's going to be even less.
"Exclusive placements on the Giveaways homepage on Goodreads." This could possibly be beneficial. Although just try standing out among the Paula Hawkinses and the Joe Hills on the same homepage. Note: THIS IS THE ONLY ADDITIONAL "BENEFIT" TO THE PREMIUM PACKAGE.
The "not new" functions:
"About eight weeks after your Giveaway ends, winners receive an email from Goodreads to remind them to rate and review your book." This is already the policy. Have they changed it to a mandatory written review of 50 words or more? No? Then this is pointless.
"Giveaways are shown in the Giveaways section of Goodreads and the book page." They already were, they were just a little more difficult to find than in the image shown.
Conclusion: This is just another example of Big Business chipping away at the indie market. It happened with Bookbub, which now appears to be mostly Trad Pubbed books with the indies chosen by a lottery system. It happened when Facebook started choking page views. It happened when Amazon introduced Kindle Unlimited.
Save your money. Don't participate in this fiasco.
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