Rest in peace, Goodreads Giveaways

Depositphotos_76538159_m-2015Today is a sad day. The Goodreads giveaway, as we know it,  is dead.

If you aren’t familiar, a Goodreads Giveaway allowed any author or publisher to give away paperback books as part of a sweepstakes. Folks entered for a chance to win, a winner (or winners) is chosen, then the author/ publisher mails the winner the book.

The cost to host a giveaway was nominal (the price of postage and the book). It was touted as a way to generate buzz for new books. It was an avenue for those of us who are small potatoes to get our work in front of a new audience. And for that price, it was worth trying.

Alas, it’s all over. Oh sure. If you’re a reader, you’ll still be able to enter sweepstakes. But, I predict you’ll see a significant change in the varieties and sources of books that’ll be available as prizes.

Why? Goodreads sent an email to authors this morning announcing an exciting, ‘powerful’ new giveaway program. You can read the email here.

I’ll sum it up. It now costs a lot more than printing and postage to run a giveaway. As of January 9, 2018, Goodreads will charge authors and publishers a fee of either $119 or $599 to run a giveaway. Plus, we’re still on the hook to pay for printing and postage.

What was once a cool, low-cost marketing option isn’t anymore. I expect you’ll see fewer independent voices, fewer self-published books, fewer small press books. And here’s why.

Caveat: Okay okay. I get it. America is all about capitalism. Goodreads wants to make money. They have shareholders to appease. (They are owned by Amazon, after all). I understand that.


I’ll be honest here. The giveaway option hasn’t,  for many small-press and indie titles, been a super effective marketing tool. Nothing about the new program changes that.

Yes. You end up on some to-read lists. Yes. Maybe one or two out of the 700 people who entered your giveaway actually ended up buying the book or reading it via Kindle Unlimited. That was always about the best we could expect.

Over at Kboards, the consensus is that Goodreads Giveaways weren’t worth it even at the cost of printing and postage. They don’t sell books. Period. And ultimately, authors and publishers are in the business of selling books. Add another $119 or more to the cost, and it won’t be worth it to run a giveaway unless you’re one of the Big 5 publishing houses.

Here is the other hiccup. Goodreads probably doesn’t want to admit this, but many many giveaway winners don’t actually read the book. They list the book on Amazon the second it arrives in the mail. A large number of folks entering giveaways on Goodreads aren’t really readers, they’re people who make side money selling used and new books on Amazon.  Where do they get those books? They enter every giveaway and sell the books they win.

When they sell the books they’ve won, they take a royalty sale away from the author/publisher. The author/ publisher who already paid to run the giveaway and paid for that book.

I know this personally. Two out of three of my Goodreads giveaways winners immediately listed my book for sale on Amazon as an autographed copy.  Those books sold for the same price as buying a new book from Amazon. If those customers had bought the book from Amazon, instead of the giveaway winners, I would have earned a royalty. I missed out on two sales and got the pleasure of paying for those books, too.

If I sound whiny, I don’t mean to. But if you’re a writer, or a freelancer, it’s already hard to make a living. Wages and fees have gone down, even for Big 5 authors.

It’s tough out there. Every sale counts.

Despite all of the problems, I did Goodreads Giveaways because I liked giving my books away. It was worth it, because each time I found a couple more people who were into what I was doing and loved my books.

Honestly, I can’t afford to run Goodreads giveaways anymore. I can’t justify the price for the results. But as I always say, I can’t control the world, I can only control me. Since I can’t giveaway books on Goodreads, I will give them away on my own.

I’ll be creating my own giveaway page on this website, where I’ll be giving away paperbacks ebooks and swag. Stay tuned!


As always, thanks for spending a few minutes with me. Want to keep in touch?

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