Goodreads Giveaways have always been a useful tool for new and independent authors in need of exposure. I have used them several times in the past to promote my book “A Boy Named Zephyr“, and I had planned to use them to help promote the release of its upcoming sequel, “A Man Named Zephyr”. Those plans however, have changed, courtesy of an email I received from Goodreads last night.
Lack of cost made Goodreads Giveaways useful
New and Independent authors have a great deal of trouble when it comes to marketing. While there is no shortage of avenues that an author can take to market their books, most if not all of those avenues cost money. Money unfortunately, is one thing most new and independent authors do not have a surplus of. This is why the Goodreads Giveaway program was so useful; The program allowed authors to get their books out into the world with only the cost of a book and postage as the price tag.
As per the announcement, standard plans will now cost $119 per giveaway, while premium packages will cost $599. While I have indeed gotten sales due to the exposure my past giveaways have provided, I did not get anywhere near $119 worth, and certainly not $599. For those price tags, there are a lot of other advertising options that offer a far greater return of investment.
Paying for placement
While many of the changes to the standard plan are lackluster, one perk Goodreads offers for the high-dollar package is downright troubling – Premium Placement. This allows larger publishers to spend money to get better visibility, while leaving smaller authors out in the cold. While I understand this is the way of advertising, for a community like Goodreads to do this, it just feels like a blatant cash-grab.
Giveaways available to US residents only
One of the great things about a Goodreads Giveaway was the ability to offer your book to anyone in the world. It was a cost-effective way to get your book noticed by people in countries that otherwise may not ever have seen it. With the new restriction to US residents only however, you are paying more money to reach a smaller audience.
Ebooks and Kindle
As an author who has books both in digital and print format, opening Giveaways up to digital copies sounded great at first. When I saw that digital copies are restricted to Amazon Kindle Direct versions however, my enthusiasm waned. Many authors avoid sales on Amazon for a variety of reasons. Amazon does not give discounts for promotional copies – You pay full price for your own book. Many readers also do not use a Kindle for various reasons. Tying things to Amazon KDP just seems like another shameless move to funnel sales away from other retailers to Amazon (Amazon owns Goodreads by the way). In addition, requiring a Kindle Direct version to host a Giveaway may also potentially screw over non-US authors.
I’m sorry Goodreads. While your community is full of great people, the move to monetize the Giveaway program is likely only going to hurt it. I for one do not have the budget nor the desire to utilize the Goodreads Giveaway program any longer. There are now far better options.