I’ve been talking to fellow writers about how giveaways work and their effectiveness, and thought it might be worth putting it down on screen.
Giveaways are a great way to attract reviews and new readers. There are a number of ways to do them, with varying levels of effectiveness. You can do them yourself via Facebook, Twitter, or your webpage, but I think those are mostly a waste of time and effort. Goodreads and Librarything giveaways are probably the better way to go about it.
Goodreads Giveaways are popular with authors and easy to set up. The book has to be a physical copy and should have been published in the last six months. You have the option to choose the number of copies to give away, and the choice to limit the countries you are willing to post to.
Be aware that it may take a few days for your Giveaway to be approved so make sure you put dates at least a week in advance.
You can ask for a review from the winner, but like giving away any review copy, there’s no guarantee that the reader will review the book or will review it positively if they do.
Once the giveaway has finished, Goodreads will provide you with the names and addresses of the winners to post the copies to.
Advantages to giving away on Goodreads: Exposure to readers. I had around 400 people add it on my last giveaway (*May 2015 update: my last GR giveaway got over 800 adds. I suspect that was due a better cover). Goodreads locals know this may not mean much – some people have thousands on their TBR list, but it all helps. People may decide to buy it anyway if they don’t win.
Disadvantages: Cost. If you’re in the UK like me, chances are the winner is going to be in the US (GR is very much US-centric). That said, posting a single book overseas isn’t going to break the bank. Just don’t do what some others have done and give away a lot of copies and then have to pay a fortune in postage.
If you’re after reviews, Librarything is a better option than Goodreads for giveaways.
To give away books on Librarything, you need to be a Librarything Author. Sign up for Librarything, and then search for your author page. If you’re still a newbie and no one has added your books you may need to add them yourself (like Goodreads). Once you’ve got your books and an author page, click on ‘Is this you?’ on the author page. It may take a few days for Librarything to approve you.
Unlike Goodreads, Librarything is free only up to adding 200 books, after that it’s $10 for a year, and $25 for a lifetime membership. To do a giveaway, you need to be a Libarything author with 50 books on your dash (that you’ve read), and you need to have a paid account.
Librarything allows the giveaway of both ebooks (up to 100 copies) and physical copies. Same as Goodreads, you set a time period, number of copies and where you’re willing to post to, and Librarything gives you the winners’ details at the end of the period.
You can ask for reviews in return for copies, but same as everything else, it doesn’t mean you’ll get them. My understanding is that the reviews to copies ratio on Librarything is around 5-15% (I got around 9%) but it is very much variable. It’s also up to the reviewer where they post the reviews. I’ve had reviewers post only to Librarything, some who posted to Amazon, and some who posted everywhere. It’s all up to them.
I’ve also heard other authors mention that Librarything giveaways tend to attract a higher percentage of negative reviews. There may be a level of truth to this – the two lower rated reviews I got from librarything reviewers both mentioned that it wasn’t their genre in the text of the review. I suspect readers give it a go because it’s free, rather than actively seeking books of a genre that they would normally seek out to read and review. That said, I still think it’s worth doing. Any review copy can attract a negative review. Once the book is published, it has to stand on its own feet.
Advantages: the ability to give away e-copies, and get a lot more reviews than Goodreads.
Disadvantages: Cost of membership (not that onerous), and possibility of attracting negative reviews.
***7 May 2015: Quick update on Librarything Giveaways. I’ve done three over the last year and a half, and they are losing their effectiveness. My gut feeling is that its because people can get plenty of freebies on Amazon already. Still, doesn’t cost much and I still think they’re worth it.***