As Amelia and I were continuing the marketing for our book Write Your Book recently, we decided to try a Goodreads giveaway to raise awareness and obtain firsthand knowledge about a tactic that is included in many marketing plans.

screen capture of Goodreads giveaway page for Write Your BookAs I mentioned in my post on How to Join the Goodreads Author Program, Goodreads offers a free program for published authors with a variety of features to help make readers aware of books and even give away copies to help drive awareness and reviews. If you followed the steps in that post, you should have your Author Profile by now, and so you should be ready to begin promoting your book using Goodreads’ book giveaway system.

A giveaway generates awareness of the book, increases the number of readers that add that book to the Goodreads shelves, and helps drive reviews. You can do a giveaway on any title that is not yet released or was released during the last 6 months. According to Goodreads, over 800 people enter the average giveaway and most add the book to their to-read shelf. As with sales in general, the number of people entering your giveaway will improve if your book cover and description are professional and compelling.

When a book is added to a shelf or is reviewed then it shows up in the update feeds of the reader’s friends. Having reviews on the book’s page on Goodreads also increases the likelihood that the book will be added to other readers’ shelves, purchased, read, reviewed, and recommended. Reviews are syndicated to USA Today and to various online retailers and library sites. In addition, you can post those Goodreads reviews as Editorial Reviews on the Amazon page for your book.

That said, the title of this post is “How to Do a Book Giveaway on Goodreads” so let’s get it done! I recommend printing this blog post so you can see what needs to be done without clicking back and forth between screens and can cross through the words in each step as you complete them.

__ log in on Goodreads
__ click the “Visit your dashboard” link
__ scroll down to the “Your Giveaways” section and click the “List one now” link
__ choose the start and end dates for your giveaway (I suggest starting on a Thursday that is at least three days away and ending at midnight on the following Tuesday; all giveaways end at midnight which is considered to be part of the day that has just begun rather than the day that just ended; Goodreads’ approval for the first giveaway by an author usually takes a couple days and you want to avoid receiving approval for your giveaway at midday on the day the giveaway begins because then your giveaway will only appear on the recently listed section for a few hours so submit your giveaway at least 3 days in advance)
__ enter the data in the “Book release date” and ISBN fields (Goodreads allows giveaways for any title that is not yet released or was released during the last 6 months; if the release date for your book is not listed on Goodreads or is wrong then you can enter the correct release date and it will be changed; if you’re not sure when your book released then I suggest picking a date from the past week so that you have several months to do giveaways)
__ enter strong sales copy in the “Description of giveaway content” field; if you will be autographing the book and/or it is an ARC (Advance Readers’ Copy) then say so in all caps at the top of the sales copy; I used the following:

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__ enter the “Number of copies to give away”–I suggest 3-10 copies per giveaway, starting another giveaway as soon as one ends, and doing five giveaways back to back so that you get exposure on Goodreads for several weeks
__ in the “Publisher url” field you can enter your blog URL
__ in the Countries field select the countries you would like to participate–while more is usually better it can be expensive and time consuming to ship internationally so I suggest just U.S. and Canada
__ enter a few Tags based on the subject matter of your book
__ provide the requested contact information
__ read the Terms & Conditions listed to the right on that giveaway web page and click the checkbox if you agree to them
__ click the save button
__ after a minute or two Goodreads will have sent an email to the address you provided and you must click on the “I Agree” link on that email to verify that you agree; Goodreads staff will then review and consider approving your giveaway; you should receive an email within 2-3 business days notifying you of whether or not your giveaway has been approved

When you receive an email from Goodreads notifying you that your giveaway has been approved (usually within 2-3 business days) then you should immediately begin promoting your giveaway:
__ visit your Goodreads Author Dashboard, scroll down to the giveaways section, and click the title of your book in that section to go to the page for your Book Giveaway
__ scroll down to the Giveaway Widget section, select and copy the html, and paste it on a new blog post announcing the giveaway
__ after you publish that new blog post then tweet the link to it (if you use Twitter), post the link on your Facebook Page and/or Profile, on appropriate Facebook Groups, on your LinkedIn Profile, and on appropriate LinkedIn Groups
__ on the day before your giveaway ends, schedule your next giveaway to start the Thursday after the current giveaway ends (Goodreads groups giveaways by recently begun, ending soon, most requested, and popular authors so run a giveaway for just a few days and have it start and end on non-weekend days to try to appear on the first page of newly listed and ending soon giveaways; popular authors are those with the most reviews across all their titles so publish often and focus on obtaining as many reviews as possible)
__ also on the day before your giveaway ends (since the giveaway ends that night at midnight), follow up with another tweet of the the link to your blog post (if you use Twitter), post the link on your Facebook Page and/or Profile, on appropriate Facebook Groups, on your LinkedIn Profile, and on appropriate LinkedIn Groups

The Goodreads page that acknowledges that you have submitted your giveaway will also provide a link that you can click to obtain information about advertising your giveaway or your book. However, at $0.50 per click, such advertising seems unlikely to generate sufficient ROI.

Within a day or two after your giveaway ends you will receive an email from Goodreads with a link to the list of winners and their addresses so you can follow up appropriately:
__ if you offered an autographed copy then use a quality, fast drying, fine point permanent marker or non-smearing pen to sign the book on the half title page (the page with just the title of the book which is usually the first or second page inside the front cover) with a non-personalized greeting such as “Best wishes” in case the recipient wants to give the book to another reader
__ visit your Goodreads Author Dashboard, scroll down to the giveaways section, and click the title of your book in that section to go to the page for your Book Giveaway
__ scroll down to the winners section, click each winner’s name to go to their Profile, and click “send message” to compose and send a message along the lines of the following:

Congratulations on winning the giveaway for an autographed copy of our book “Write Your Book”! We’ll send it tomorrow.

Will you please consider reviewing the book on Goodreads and pasting that review on Amazon? Doing so really helps us by raising awareness…


You can add an image of your book cover in the message by clicking the appropriate insertion point and then clicking the “add book/author” link found above the message text box. Repeat to send a message to each winner.

__ write a quick note to each winner on stationery or a note card such as some inexpensive ones from The Paper Mill Store –your note can be very similar to the message you sent such as:

Congratulations on winning the giveaway for this autographed copy of our book “Write Your Book”!

Will you please let me know what you think of the book and consider reviewing it on Goodreads and pasting that review on Amazon? Doing so really helps us by raising awareness…


__ pack up each book with your note on top of the front cover and mail them ASAP
__ as soon as the packages are mailed, go to the Goodreads page for your giveaway and click the “Copies are in the mail” button to let Goodreads know that you have followed through on your commitment to mail them promptly

There you have it! While this is one of my longer how-to posts, it is also one of the most important for authors who need to get the word out about their books–and isn’t that all of us?

Please let me know if you found this checklist helpful, if anything was confusing or difficult to complete, or if you have any suggestions for ways to make anything easier.

Please visit the About/Contact page to contact us with any questions you might have or to suggest ways we can help you on your journey as an author.

If you’re struggling to finish or even start writing your nonfiction book then our book Write Your Book has a proven process to get it done sooner rather than later.

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