For years I debated on whether or not to hold a Goodreads Giveaway. I’ve heard scary tales of authors who held giveaways, sent the book to the winner, only to discover that the book was put up for sale by the winner for more than the paperback cost. *Cringe*
Then there was deciding how much money was in my budget to pay for said books, because hey, I wasn’t about to purchase them, sell them, then make my money back. Nope this was going to be a strict giveaway, an investment in myself and my work.
And of course there was the fear that NOBODY would enter the contest at all because there are sooooo many popular authors and publishers on Goodreads doing giveaways. Just a month ago I entered a contest for a copy of The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan. (By the way, that’s one of my favorite movies!)
With my new release set for November 3rd, I wanted to try something completely different than the normal Rafflecopter Giveaway that I’ve done for the last three years. Most of the time, the people who see that giveaway are already following you as an author on blog tours, website, and social media sites. Asking them to follow me, like me, or share ‘XYZ’ in order to enter would not yield a lot of results, because like I said, they are already doing that. I wanted to reach out to a different kind of reader, someone who may not have ever heard of The Butterfly Memoirs or me.
So, I stepped into my big girl panties and well….you’ll see the results! Here are a few things I learned/experienced/appreciated during my first contest!
5 STEPS TO RUNNING A SUCCESSFUL GOODREADS GIVEAWAY
1) DECIDE HOW MANY BOOKS YOU ARE GIVING AWAY
If you are self-published, this could be the point where you pause and think about how much money you’re willing to give away. While you can run a contest with one book, it’s suggested that you really do at least 10. I know, gulp! But it makes sense. The number of books being given away during the contest is listed in the details. The more copies there are, the more chances you have of people entering. The more people that enter, the more people are drawn to your Goodreads Author page to learn more about you, thus introducing yourself to a new reader who may not be looking at books in your genre. I lucked out because I was able to receive a limited number of books from my new release, ALONE, which is the book I was using for the contest. As much as I wanted to do 10, I had beta readers that were already promised autographed copies. So, 4 books was my magic number.
2) PLAN AHEAD!
When I filled out the giveaway information on Goodreads, I thought that I could set the date for the giveaway to start and that was that. Uh…nope. Unlike Rafflecopter, which lets you set the start date/time of your giveaway, Goodreads sends you through a verification process. It can take up to 7 to 10 days for them to get back in touch with you and let you know if your contest has been approved, and even then, THEY set the actual start date based on when you submitted you the information. You can only control how many days it runs. I chose 30 days, and it was well worth it! It seemed like forever, but I assure you, it was over way too soon! Also, you can set a giveaway for up to 30 months in advance!
*Keep in mind that if you open the contest to readers outside of the USA, you will need to be prepared to pay additional International Shipping fees.
3) GET THAT GOODREADS AUTHOR PAGE ON POINT!
Now that people are finding your contest, discovering your book, and you, you better believe you’re going to attract a few curious readers to your page! In 30 days, I had seven more people follow me as fans, and the sales for my back-list of books increased! I even managed to get a few more reviews out of it between Goodreads and Amazon. Also, 73 people listed my new release as a TO BE READ book! How do you have your page on point?
Take a look at mine, but be sure to include the following:
• Author Photo
• Author Bio
• Sales links
• Book covers/blurbs*
• Any other information you have to share, such as videos, trailers, etc.
*Make sure you have claimed all of your books so that they show up in your profile. Not sure how to do this? Go to your Goodreads Author Dashboard, then look for the ‘Add a Book ’tab, fill in the info.
4) PROMOTE, PROMOTE, PROMOTE!
Do not trust that readers on Goodreads will automatically find your contest! Take a few moments and share it with book clubs and reading groups found on Goodreads. Groups that are specific to your genre are great! Also, use your social networking sites, and word of mouth is good, too. Blog about it, tweet it, and anything else you can think of. This, of course, is not a one-time thing. What worked best for me was writing a blog about it, sharing it, then loading it up into my Hootsuite account for multiple tweets during the week, as well as occasional shares on FB and my Instagram account. The day the contest started, I woke up and checked and found 30+ people had entered in a matter of hours! At the end of the 30 days, 520 readers had entered! The beauty of it all was that throughout the contest, I would visit the page to see how many people had entered. They show you the profile picture of the last 5 people that entered, and I was truly amazed by the diversity of the readers! All races, both male and female!
5) BE READY TO MAIL YOUR WINNERS!
The moment the contest is over, Goodreads selects the winners, then emails their names and addresses. You have 4 to 6 weeks to get your books sent out. I ship my books in standard bubble insulated mailers you can find at the store for a cheap price. Mailing fees may differ depending on where you are shipping to. To avoid spending an arm and a leg (I did that once for a contest winner, never again!) I would advise making sure your contest is set for winners inside of the United States. Also, make sure you tell the postal agent that you are shipping Media Mail (books to winners) so that you can get a discounted price. (I spent $2.64 per book). Don’t get carried away with adding extra swag to the packages unless you’re ready to eat that cost because they weigh each package!
To learn more about what steps to take when setting up a Goodreads Giveaway, check out this image from Goodreads. Ready to create your own giveaway? Follow this link! Be sure to check out the video, and good luck!
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