I did a paperback giveaway of Revolution Earth on Goodreads and LibraryThing back in March 2013. LibraryThing has one slight advantage over Goodreads, in that you can offer ebooks as well as print books for free, which of course means that you don’t have the additional expense of postage and packing. Let’s hope that one of the improvements that Amazon makes, as the new owner of Goodreads, will be to extend their giveaways to include ebooks.
I offered four copies of the book on Goodreads and two on LibraryThing. The giveaway on both sites ran for a month and on Goodreads alone 1074 people requested a copy. When they didn’t win the book, two of the readers who wanted one messaged me directly; one was from for a literacy charity and the other from an interested reader, who promised a review in return for a free book. And because he was so enthusiastic and asked me so nicely, I couldn’t resist sending him a copy.
I am not one of those writers that restricts their giveaways to readers living in the USA or UK. I can understand why it might be tempting, as postage and packing can become quite expensive when you send out eight books and the winners are scattered across the globe. But as this book is an international thriller, with characters from Bangladesh, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand the UK, it was important for us to see how the work was received by readers, in as many different countries as possible.
The book was sent out to winning readers in India, Dubai, Canada, the U.K. as well as the USA. We received one two star rating from a winner on Goodreads, two five star reviews as well as one four star review on Amazon from a LibraryThing reader. The LibraryThing giveaway resulted in one very good review, not bad when you consider the return rate of reviews was 50%, compared with around 35% on Goodreads.
One of the more frustrating aspect of the Goodreads giveaway is that you know that you have hundred s of potential readers out there who added your book to their ‘to read’ shelf, but it’s hard to reach them. At the London Book Fair Patrick Brown, Director of Community at Goodreads advised writers against friending the many readers who may have entered the giveway. Prior to the end of the giveway, Goodreads sends out a message to all the entrants, inviting them to buy your book. If they didn’t take up the offer then, the argument goes, they’re not going to be all that receptive to a further approach from the author, as let’s not forget that Goodreads is primarily a site for readers.
If I do another giveaway on Goodreads I might, in fact exclude readers from the UK and the USA this time round, only because many readers seem to enter every giveaway, regardless of genre and aren’t necessarily going to review the book once they receive it. Besides, you can buy a bestselling paperback in a UK supermarket these days for under £5 – making a free book no longer much of a novelty. Other territories though, where books are relatively expensive, could be just the place to find a willing reviewer.
I’m also going to offer just one book at a time and run a second giveaway a couple of months later. Giveaways are a useful tool for creating buzz for a new release and it’s a cost effective way to promote a paperback, without breaking the bank.