Tag Archives: goodreads

Goodreads Giveaway: Was It Worth It?

In an effort to drum up interest in my book, Undead Rising: Decide Your DestinyI 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.

Oops benedict cumberbatch

That’s right, very British Benedict. Oops is right.

…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!).


Filed under Publishing, Undead Rising

How NOT to Deal With a Bad Review

Being an author comes with a lot of challenges, but one of the hardest may be managing our own egos. Namely, having the restraint to accept that bad reviews will happen, and the wherewithal to keep yourself from trying to argue.

Because every once in awhile an author comes along, and does that, and serves as a horrific example of what can happen.

It’s like watching a train wreck sliding into the Titanic at the instant it impacts an iceberg. It’s painful to watch but you are so struck that it still is happening that you can’t look away.

His first response to the negative review (which, remember, on Goodreads means “didn’t like it,” not “literally the worst”):

“This review is not good for my business, so unless your desire is to ruin my dreams, it would mean a great deal if you could remove this review from my work and forget about it. But if it’s your desire to hurt me financially and ruin my business, then it’s understandable why you would post such a harmful review.”

In addition to responding to the review at all, this guy really screws up when he implies that this person’s review was posted out of “desire to hurt [him] financially.” What? One bad review certainly won’t be your ruin. But he’s not done. The reviewer politely responded (more politely than I would have) and explained she would not be removing her review, as is her right, and went so far as to compliment aspects of his book. But he came back again:

“Leaving a 1 star review on a book says much more about what kind of person does such a thing, and then attacks it for being “pretentious,” which is an erroneous statement that is defamation at best.”

And then it goes steeply downhill from there. Let’s be clear: a review is about the content, not the author. I mean, no one is leaving a review to just be hurtful to some stranger they’ve never met. I review every book I read; all that says about me as a person is that I read a lot, and that I like to give reviews about it. There’s no moral judgement. Also this guy has no idea what “defamation” is (hint: 100% totally not that).

This schmuck just can’t stop digging a hole, though. He goes on, for another 11 posts, with his rants getting more and more loopy. Worse, he seems to make a bit of a habit of doing this. And may have scared of this (and who knows how many other) readers from ever trying out a new, indie author. That’s just unfortunate.

Now, I commiserate with the author a smidge; I had one one-star review show up on Goodreads. It didn’t even have a review for me to nit-pick and pout over, but it had been created at the same time as like 37 other reviews. I ranted to my husband for 20 minutes, then I closed the page and went to bed and didn’t think about it anymore. And you know what? The next morning, I had two 5-star reviews.

The winds of popularity can change that fast, which is why it’s important to keep perspective. A negative review isn’t the end of the world. And even if it was disastrous for your book, remember, even failure has its values.

But there isn’t anything to be gained from acting out. In fact, it looks like this particular author’s rant lowered his Goodreads rating from a solid 4 stars to a dismal 2 (and falling) in less than two days.

This is one of those lessons it’s good to learn from watching someone else go through it.

Don’t make this guy’s mistake; have some dignity and leave reviews—especially bad ones—alone.


Filed under Publishing, writing

Which Way to the Ladies’ Library? Turns Out Even Reading Is Gendered

Book-reading cataloguer Goodreads made some waves when they recently released a study about the gender of a reader compared to the gender of the authors they typically read.

Lots of good data to chew on there: men and women read about the same number of books, collectively rate their Goodreads books at an average of 3.94, women read a lot more new fiction, and men write a lot more really long fiction (500+ pages).

Here’s a stat I stumbled over, though: in the first year of publication, 80% of a female author’s audience will be women; 50% of a male author’s audience will be women. Interesting….

Women authors’ books were also rated, on average, a teensy bit higher than male authored books (just by 0.1, though).

But the 50 most-read books for each gender fall on starkly gendered lines: Of the 50 books published in 2014 that were most read by men, 45 are written by men. Of the 50 books published in 2014 that were most read by women, 45 (46 if you count stealth J.K. Rowling, which you should) were written by women.

That’s the odd one, to me.

A lot of commenters jumped in with “well I never pick a book based on the author.” Assuming that is true, what may be going on here? I’m guessing there are quite a few factors:

  • gendered genre: it’s pretty well-understood that certain genres traditionally tilt to one gender or the other–romance is heavily read and written by women, while “literary” fiction and science fiction both heavily favor men. It stands to reason that these topics would pull the average one way or another.
  • cover design: there’s been some funny/interesting looks lately at the way a book cover is gendered when it goes through a publisher. This is intentional; they’re trying to attract an audience, so they market the book–typically by old and stereotypical methods–to whomever they think it will appeal to. But that also means that a book that both genders really may enjoy equally could get shunted in one direction or the other just because of which photo someone decided to put on the cover. Lots to think about there.
  • the “Oprah effect”: book clubs. From what I can tell, book clubs are overwhelmingly female, tend to pick new authors, and follow recommendations from talk show hosts like Oprah in order to find their next “it” topic. This may be having a powerful effect. (Sue Monk Kidd has said book clubs were the driving force behind her book, The Secret Life of Bees, becoming a best-seller.) The downside may be that book clubs try to pick a certain kind of book…most authors may not be able to harvest the “Oprah effect.”
  • maybe people really do like reading someone of their own gender; maybe they are, even subconsciously, actively selecting for a gendered read.

Personally, I find this kind of breakdown fascinating…and a little scary. I want to read a variety of backgrounds, so sometimes I do actively try to mix up my reading list and get a different genre, gender of author, etc. But there are times I’ve noticed that I’ve read a lot of books written by, say, white males in the 1950s. That’s not a bad thing, but it probably is flavoring my tastes and my writing voice.

But it also worries me as a writer: I’m interested in sci-fi–the male-dominated genre unpopular with book clubs. Uh-oh.

What do you think about the “gendering” of books? Is it an issue at all? Is it surprising?


Filed under Reading, writing