What I learned from my first Goodreads giveaway

As I learn how to get the word out about The Secret Side of Empty I grow more and more grateful for Goodreads, the social networking site for readers. Imagine a website full of people who love the very thing you hope to popularize (and which you also love)… books. Amazing, right?

That’s why Goodreads giveaways are a great way to help spread the word. You list a free book on their giveaways page and the people who find it intriguing enter to win it. If they really find it interesting, they also add it to their “to-read” shelf.

I just did my first Goodreads giveaway and I learned some tips and tricks that should help you make yours more successful.

Here are the stats on my Goodreads giveaway for my young adult novel:

I ran the giveaway for 3 days.
I had 652 people enter to win the book
I had 304 people add my book to their “to-read” shelf.

That’s an average of 200 entries a day – a really good number. My giveaway ran Saturday through Monday, 3:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m. Eastern time. (So technically Tuesday. It doesn’t let you pick a time). When going for maximum entries, day of the week probably matters. I had over 200 entries on Saturday and Monday and less on Sunday, with Monday being the highest with over 250 entries. I was totally delighted that I averaged over 200 per day.

I have someone that I’ve never met to thank for this great initial success: the good folks over at NovelPublicity. See below for a link to their tip sheet.

Probably their best tip was to run the giveaway for a short number of days. I am a “more is more” kind of girl, so left to my own devices I would have probably run my giveaway for a long time and promised a whole lot of books, hoping to attract a lot of entries. But that overlooks two of the main ways that people find giveaways on Goodreads: the “Recently Listed” tab and the “Ending Soon” tab. When you first list your giveaway, it will naturally be listed in the “Recently Listed” tab. When it’s about to end, it will come up on the “Ending Soon” tab. If you list for a few weeks or a month, as I saw a lot of authors do, there is a whole lot of time in between when your giveaway is languishing in a sea of giveaways. Listing mine for 3 days meant I was getting entries constantly. I saw books with more entries than mine (some over several months) but few with that 200+ a day average.

Also, offering just one book did not slow down the rate of entries at all (other giveaways that were offering more weren’t necessarily getting entries at a faster rate). My theory is that if the book looks intriguing, people will enter whether you’re offering one copy or ten. (I mean, would you calculate your odds of winning based on entries divided by books available from book to book? I wouldn’t. I’m a writer, peeps, not a mathematician).

One other thing I did was employ my know-how from my marketing days. I know that you’ve got 3 seconds to catch someone’s attention. While deep and meaningful descriptions might sell someone on entering, potential entrants won’t even get to reading that unless you grab them right at the start. That’s why the first two lines of my giveaway were “Signed Copy” and “Junior Library Guild Selection.” If your book has gotten an award or an amazing review, put that up at the top where it will make you stand out from the pack.

Running this initial giveaway was a great learning experience. There are a few things I will do differently for my next one. For example, when tagging my giveaway, I looked to the list of tags and picked the one that made the most sense: young-adult. But it wasn’t until the giveaway was underway that I realized that you can tag with as many tags as are relevant, not just one. I didn’t edit it right then and there because I realized that giveaway changes have to be approved by the Goodreads staff, and approval of my giveaway took several days. When I made one edit pre-start date, it told me it had to be reviewed by the Goodreads staff again so I didn’t want to risk taking my giveaway off-line during its short run. I made a mental note to do it better next time. But that meant that if someone looked to narrow their search for giveaways to “YA,” (instead of young-adult, which is how I tagged it) The Secret Side of Empty didn’t show up.

Here are a few of the ones that are relevant to The Secret Side of Empty:

coming-of-age, ya, young-adult, new-adult, contemporary-fiction, love-story, teens, book-club, teen-fiction, book, books, young-adult-fiction, college, debut-novel, new-york-city, secrets, multicultural, sweet-romance, youth, family-relationships, ya-fiction, yalit, girls, author, juvenile-fiction, young-adult-romance, new-authors, first-love, ya-romance

Be sure to scroll through several pages of potential tags (list is to the right) so that you can jot down all the ones that are available for your genre.

Still, I am beyond thrilled with this amazing early exposure for the book. I thought I’d share my experience for authors finding their way through the wonderful world of Goodreads giveaways.

Write me or tweet me @WriterSideofM and let me know how your own Goodreads giveaways go!

And, in case you’re curious, here’s a link to my upcoming Goodreads giveaway (ending 1/24/14) so you can see all my tweaks in action. Click here.

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Click here for the Novel Publicity tip sheet

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6 thoughts on “What I learned from my first Goodreads giveaway

  1. Pingback: Speculative Reminiscences: Weekly Recap for 1/26/2014 | The World Remains Mysterious

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