The Gritty-Nitty of Goodreads Giveways

In a previous post, I harped on about the problem about free ebooks and giveaways and how gosh-darn hard it is to get a book in front of a reader. Sure, there’s the natural problem of finding the right reader for the right book, I get that. I like to read, but with the bazillions of books out there it’s bloody hard to filter through it all the guff and find something that I might like. I tend to rely on reviews to help out, the star ratings, etc, but there’s also the option, in many cases, of free books by an author – a try before you buy kind of deal.

For example, there’s Glen Solosky, author of Walt and the Space Flunkies. Check him out here at Goodreads:

I read Walt and the Flunkies on a off chance that I might like it. It wasn’t really the kind of book I’d normally pick up, but it gave me genuine chuckles enough to make we want to get Revenge of the Flunkies, and then grab The Abominable Sruvius.

It all came from that first book, see? If I didn’t like the first one, well, no problem, I’d move on. That’s one of the points of free books. There’s a friendly ‘waddya think?’ about the whole deal. So long as it’s in good faith. I say that last bit because I’ve read a handful of free books that seem like they were made free more as a gag or a gotcha than a genuine attempt to find a reader.

Let’s get down to the gritty bits:

Now that Goodreads has this Giveaway Option, it’s possible to give the whole free-ebook experience a kick in the pants. It’s also surprisingly easy to do. Instead of having to jump through hoops and have to pre-purchase one’s own books in preparation for the giveaway the old-fashioned way, it’s just a matter of a flat rate, starting at $119 (US).

To start, hit the profile button and click ‘List a Giveaway’:

Now, if it’s a print-book, from what I can see it’s still on you to do the mail-out. That’s kind of bizarre, considering Amazon has such an advanced posting system, but that seems to be the case. I can’t participate, though, since I’m not in the US. Bummer. I mean, it would be great for Iris of the Shadows, being such a heavy and satisfying book. Anyways, I’m left with the Kindle option. Click that, and you’re given the options of being a Publisher or an Author:

As an author, I choose the one on the right. Then it asks you to choose a package:

This is in US dollars, and it’s kinda hefty, the distinction between the two packages and it’s pretty hard to justify to Wifey forking out a wad of cash to give something away. It’s almost counter-intuitive, right? I’ll tell you why it’s not: It’s one thing to be able to make something free. It’s another thing to let people who care know about it. That’s really where this comes into its own. The first couple of ticks sound super – letting people know and, moreover, letting others know.

Number three, I think, is especially important. Reminding people to review the book. From what I’ve found with Grosvenor and Jolimont Street, it’s a fairly steep drop-off from the number of readers who even get the book versus those who leave a review. Something like this:

20% of those who see the book will actually download it. 20% of those who download the book will actually read it. 20% of those who finish it will leave a rating. 20% of those will leave a review.

An an example, let’s say you’ve managed to get 500 viewers. 100 will download it. 20 will read it. 4 will rate it. 1 will leave a review. Now let’s see if this package above helps the scenario: The package will award 100 readers the book, so that bypasses the first part of the equation and we’re at the second part. Considering the readers have actively entered a giveaway to get the book, there’s a better chance they’ll want to actually read it. Let’s bump that up to, say, 80%. This is from the principle that if you have to work for something, it becomes more special than if you just found it.

Now, if we have a reminder to leave a review, then that should bump up the reading and the rating and the review, so let’s double the ratio – 40%.

That means we should have 100 downloads, 80 actually read it, 32 ratings and 12 reviews. All of this is arbitrary, of course, but the principle is the same. The higher the readership and the more reminding to leave a review, the higher the number of reviews in the end. Will it be a factor of 12? Maybe. We’ll see.

Then there’s the after-giveaway features. Those who enter have the book on the ‘want to read’ shelf, and in the premium package, those who don’t win get a special email from the author. Now, I don’t know about you, but I find it amazing when I’ve written to authors and they’ve written back and, likewise as an author, I love hearing from readers. I guess that is an excellent way to put a human face behind a name.

Anyway, moving right along, once you’ve picked your package, you get this page, asking for the details of the book:

In the top, you put in the Amazon ASIN of the book (Like an ISBN, Amazon has its own product numbers). If if comes up with ‘This book cannot be found’ or similar, then make sure that the book exists in Amazon and, importantly, exists in Goodreads. I found Iris of the Shadows was in Goodreads, but it only had the ISBN associated, not the ASIN. You can click on the book’s details to add that in.

Anyways, fill in the details, hit the next button, then it comes time to pay:

That’s the other thing – you need to use the Amazon Pay in order to pay for this. It’s not the worst thing in the world, I guess that’s just Amazon’s way of using what they’ve got.

Once that’s done, voila! You’re then tasked with letting the world know about your giveaway. Yes, really. While Goodreads has a list of giveaways that people can peruse, they kind of make it hard to see anything except the ‘featured’ giveaways. You need to fiddle with the filters in order to see the ‘rest’ of it. That kind of friction reduces the uptake of readers which, I guess, is intentional on their part to push more authors into the ‘featured’ giveaways list. Not only that, if I look at the giveaways page on my machine:
I can’t actually see the page because it’s restricted to only US users. That’s part of the rules. If you open it up in a private browsing window, you can then see it. A bit lame, considering I’m the one doing the giveaway, but whatever. The filter is set to ‘featured’ by default, but you can then click “Ending” for those offers ending soon, and “Recent”, etc, or choose your genre:

I’ve been watching a bit, and it seems that featured books naturally get about five times more entries than non-featured, but as the ending approaches, the entry rate shoots up and it’s more like parity. Again, the numbers are definite, just an observation.

All in all, it’s a straightforward process so far. I’m just looking forward to seeing who wins the Tedrick Gritswell giveaway (Ending November 30th):
It’s kind of exciting.

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