In an effort to drum up interest in my book, Undead Rising: Decide Your Destiny, I took the advice of Writer’s Digest and created a Goodreads Giveaway. People love free stuff, so the idea is that you can let people know about your new book by giving some number away, thus attracting a lot of interest and getting those much-needed early reviews.
I decided to give away 5 copies of my book, and I took the WD advice that the advertising to lesser-served readers outside of America was worth the potential shipping costs and opened the giveaway to readers in the U.S., Canada, and United Kingdom. Because, really, what are the odds that one of those readers will win?
This was my first giveaway, so I wasn’t entirely sure how long to run it for, but I let it stay up for about 3 weeks (there was a bit of confusion about when it would be posted—hint: it doesn’t go live until Goodreads staff approve it, so the start date is a little fuzzy).
In three weeks’ time, 977 people requested it—with the “peak” entry times at the beginning and end of the contest, no surprise there—and many people put it in their “to-read” category, meaning they’ll hopefully get around to reading it anyway.
Goodreads randomly selected 5 winners out of that pool and sent me their addresses in an easy-to-read CSV.
…Out of the 5, one was in London and one was in Canada.
All told, shipping cost me about $50 plus a nice lesson from a postal worker about how to fill out customs forms. I used bubble-wrap envelopes–Priority Mail for the U.S. readers and regular old bubble-wrap for the other countries–to ensure the books arrived safely, signed each book with a little note, and included a note thanking them for entering the contest and requesting they consider reviewing the book or otherwise letting me know what they think.
So, would I do it again?
I think so. But I’ll be better prepared next time!
While I really liked the idea of shipping Priority so that readers got their books as quickly as possible, it unnecessarily ratcheted up the price. I think it’ll be regular brown bubble envelopes for everyone from here out.
I’m not sure I’ll still allow entrants from the UK and Canada, though I do love the opportunity to get into that market. I’ll have to consider it carefully.
I think I’ll open the giveaway to more readers next time, which in turn may encourage more people to enter and show more people the book.
I’ll also do a better job of getting a well-targeted Goodreads ad up (again, I had a little confusion with how those worked and when they’d populate) so that more people will know about the Giveaway.
I’m not sure I’d tell authors to expect reviews from a Giveaway. Because the winners are randomized and they have zero obligation to review your book, you may get folks, as I did, who have very few (or no) reviews of books. So it was great to get the book in the hands of new readers, but not necessarily a guarantee of reviews. (Of the 5, only one has reviewed my book so far. But she seemed to like it!)
All in all, a Goodreads Giveaway was a little bit less of a slam-dunk, and shipping was a lot more nerve-wracking than I expected! I think I’ll try again, but I’ll be better prepared for the results (and have a bit more money stashed aside for shipping costs!).