Goodreads adds Kindle ebooks to giveaway promo deals but the first titles are free already on Kindle Unlimited

Goodreads has offered authors a promotional deal for print book giveaways for some time but now it’s finally adding a Kindle ebook giveaway program.

Authors or publishers can offer up to 100 copies of a Kindle ebook in a Goodreads giveaway at an all-in package price of $119 and can pick how long the promo will run.

At the end of the promotion, Goodreads randomly chooses winners and sends the ebooks to their devices and cloud accounts. Winners get what Goodreads calls ‘real’ Kindle ebooks, complete ‘with all the features and security of Amazon’s Kindle platform’.

Goodreads is, of course, owned by Amazon so it’s not much of a surprise that the deal is confined to Kindle ebooks. Initially, the program is also restricted to Goodreads’ members in the US and only to authors published by Amazon Publishing imprints — as if they needed any more promotion.

This means that the Goodreads’ ebook giveaways are actually already available for free on Amazon if you’re a member of Kindle Unlimited as most of the titles from Amazon Publishing imprints automatically go into Kindle Unlimited.

You do have to pay $9.99 a month for Kindle Unlimited membership so the books are not exactly free as such but it does seem to be a flawed plan that’s designed initially at least to boost Amazon Publishing’s imprints and Kindle Unlimited membership take-up.

It currently reduces the number of readers that are likely to enter for giveaway offers as it would be a waste of time for Kindle Unlimited members (and there are several million in the US). That’s going to stay the same when it does widen out as giveaways can be in KDP Select and if they are in Select they’re also likely to be in KU.

Once it’s out of beta, Goodreads says the program will be open to any author or publisher who sells their ebooks on Amazon. There’s no mention yet of when the deal is going to be open to all indie authors or when it’s going to expand outside the US.

The cost of listing a Kindle ebook giveaway is $119, which allows you to offer up to 100 Kindle ebooks. Listing a print book giveaway is still free for authors on Goodreads.

Obviously, the ebook giveaway cuts down on work for authors/publishers considerably compared with print book giveaways where the author is responsible for printing enough books, plus packing and posting them to the winners which can work out very costly. The ebook program removes much of the cost, apart from the $119, and there are no delays in sending the ebooks.

Goodreads has clarified a few points for authors about the ebook program:

  • You don’t have to buy the Kindle ebooks as the $119 is an all-in price and Goodreads selects the winners and deliver the ebooks.
  • Goodreads Kindle ebook giveaways will not count as sales on Amazon or contribute towards your sales rank.
  • You can run a giveaway for an ebook that has not yet been published yet. The only requirement is that the ARC must be in a Kindle ebook format and loaded into the Kindle store before you list your giveaway.
  • You will be able to give away titles that are enrolled in KDP Select.
  • You can see the names and user profiles of giveaway winners but not their email adresses.

Is it worthwhile giving away 100 ebooks?

Goodreads claims authors regard print giveaways as a key part of their marketing plans to raise awareness of a forthcoming book or rekindle interest in a previously published book. It says many giveaway winners review the books they win, meaning that you can build buzz early in your book’s life. Last year, Goodreads says it helped authors and publishers give away more than 300,000 print books.

When a reader enters your giveaway, a post appears in all their Goodreads friends’ and followers’ newsfeeds, which can create more entries and lead to more people adding your book to their Want To Read shelves.

Big publishers have been using print giveaways successfully for years, according to Goodreads. Riverhead Books reckons Goodreads played a major role in helping The Girl on the Train break out to early success. To help drive early reviews, they gave away 100 copies on Goodreads. In total, they printed more than 4,000 advanced copies of the debut novel, as they knew that getting the book into a lot of readers’ hands was a key way to help make it a breakout hit.

Amazon already runs its own giveaway program but the big difference is that with Amazon giveaways, you have to buy each copy of a book you want to give away. With Goodreads ebook giveaways, you pay a flat listing fee to give away up to 100 copies of your book. Goodreads ebook giveaways are also available for pre-publication titles while Amazon giveaways are not.

There are other sites that offer giveaway promotional schemes. The biggest is Bookbub but this is expensive and they are very selective about the books they take on. The well-regarded Librarything offers a free giveaway program for authors where you can offer up to 100 free ‘review copies’ but you have to deliver the ebooks yourself. You can also send out giveaway coupons for ebooks on Smashwords.

The great advantage of using Goodreads is its massive reach. Less than 10 years after launch in 2017, it now has around 50 million members and 350 page views a month, so it is a massive community.

As well as the giveaways, it also offers advertising programs, including a pay-per-click scheme and ‘premium’ direct advertising, which includes customized book launch packages and is set for budgets below $500 and above $500.

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