Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Marketing update: book giveaways

By T.W. Fendley

In keeping with this week's "everyone wins" book giveaway, I'm returning to the topic of author book giveaways as a marketing tool. Last December, I shared my first impression of giveaways on the two main book cataloguing and social sites, Goodreads and Library Thing. Here's an update on how it's worked for me since my debut historical fantasy novel, ZERO TIME, came out in October 2011:
  • Given away 9 print copies on Goodreads--4 reviews
  • Given away 10 ebooks on Library Thing--1 review

The overall impact of the giveaways is harder to judge, but Goodreads makes it easier by posting final results on the author's dashboard. With Library Thing, you have to be online when the giveaway ends to know how many people wanted your book. It looks like almost 10 times as many people show interest in my book on Goodreads (450 vs. 50), which is about on par with their relative size. As of July 2012, according to Wikipedia, Goodreads reported 10 million members, while Library Thing had about 1.5 million.

Goodreads also tracks when people actually add your book to their "to read" shelf. Now that's awesome! As far as reader-impact, I haven't found any comparable measure for book promotions. ZERO TIME just topped the 200 mark! Those are people who probably wouldn't know about my book if not for the giveaways.

I've tried a few ways to enhance the promotions:
  • On my third Goodreads giveaway, I bought an ad and posted an excerpt. About 100 more people entered that giveaway than previous ones. (Apparently the excerpt's had zero reads!)
  • For the first time, my ongoing giveaways include readers outside the U.S. After finding out the USPS rate for sending a book overseas was $38, my first promotions were U.S. only. Then a reader told me about The Book Depository, which ships books free worldwide. You can see a listing of some international booksellers at Abe Books.
  • Will it help that my book is on a Listopia list for Kindle Book Review's Best Indie Books of 2012? (votes appreciated!)
Whether you're a reader or a writer, I find the book giveaways at Library Thing and Goodreads have merit.

For writers:
Library Thing: Early Reviewers distributes advance readers editions of upcoming books from select publishers, in exchange for reviews. Member Giveaways are informal author or member giveaways. Instructions on how to give away your books are here.

Goodreads: Prerelease* books are listed for giveaway by publishers and authors, and members can enter to win. List your books here.
*I believe you can list books for one year after publication.

For readers:
Check out the ongoing giveaways for ZERO TIME and thousands of other books at:
Goodreads -- I couldn't find a total, but they have LOTS of books available.
Library Thing -- Currently, Library Thing is giving away 77 Early Reviewer titles and 82 Members' titles.


Thanks to everyone for reading and commenting on The Writers' Lens.

This is T.W. Fendley. You can also find me at and on Twitter @twfendley.


  1. Excellent post,T.W - and so very timely for me! I'll be printing this off and making it part of my marketing references binder. Thanks for the insight.


  2. Thanks, Janet...and happy marketing!