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"Roundheads and Ramblings"

Giveaway

The Benefits of Running a Kindle Book Giveaway (shared)

Here's the other side of the discussion on Goodreads new giveaway practices. I haven't tried it, so I will simply post both sides and let my fellow authors decide.


  • With the introduction of the new Goodreads Giveaway program, authors who publish their books via Kindle Direct Publishing are, for the first time, able to run ebook giveaways and get up to 100 copies of their book into readers’ hands. This has opened the door for thousands of authors who were previously unable to take advantage of the popular giveaway program when it was available for print books only. 

While giving away print books remains an option at both the Standard and Premium level, giving away Kindle books comes with its unique advantages. 

Authors only pay for the listing, not the books being given away.
Whether you choose to give away 1 ebook or 100, it costs $119 for a Standard Giveaway and $599 for a Premium Giveaway. Goodreads automatically delivers the ebooks to winners at no additional cost, meaning you don’t have to pay for those ebook copies. 

“We worked to ensure a seamless experience for both authors and readers,” explains Greg Seguin, Giveaways’ Product Manager. “Creating, entering, and winning a Kindle book should feel the same as winning a print book but with the added delight of getting the book the day you win.” 

Authors can give away up to 100 copies per giveaway.
To get more people talking about your book, you need to get more copies into readers’ hands. Traditional publishers have been running large giveaways with 25-100 winners each to help create many bestsellers over the years

But for authors who run print book giveaways, the cost of the books and shipping can quickly add up. Some authors have limited their giveaways to just one or a handful of winners, and missed an opportunity to create even more buzz. With Kindle book giveaways, that additional cost is no longer a concern for authors who publish via KDP. Authors can get up to a hundred copies of their book into readers’ hands, just like the largest publishers can. 

Winners receive the book instantly.
While winners of print books can expect their book within 2-3 weeks, winners of a Kindle book giveaway can start reading the book immediately after they win. This means they’ll finish reading the book sooner and may post a review sooner as well. Run a Kindle book giveaway for 1-2 weeks to get a much tighter turnaround on driving buzz around your book. 

Authors can use Kindle Notes and Highlights to promote your giveaway.
One creative new way authors can promote their Kindle Book Giveaway is by incorporating Kindle Notes & Highlights. By signing up for our KNH Beta for Authors (just send us an email at KNH-beta@goodreads.com), authors can highlight their favorite passages in their book and share them on Goodreads. One creative strategy: Run a Kindle Book Giveaway right before publication and encourage winners to share their annotations on Goodreads to get their friends talking about your book leading up to publication day. 

Depending on the timeline, budget, and goals, a Kindle Book Giveaway might be the more convenient and cost-effective way to promote your book on Goodreads.

Click here to learn more about running giveaways to U.S. residents and here to find some Best Practices for Giveaways.

GoodReads Begins Charging for Giveaways

In Chapter 12 of The Second Mouse Goes Digital, we discussed various promotional schemes offered by Amazon and others. I did not include Goodreads' Giveaways because I had never used them.  It now appears, however, that the Goodreads promotion is falling under the spell of Amazon's marketing schemes to the detriment of authors. Jill Swenson, president of the Swenson Book Development Company, explains why Giveaways are now a bad deal for independent authors.

On January 9, 2018, the social media site for readers, GoodReads.com, changed its policy regarding Giveaways. What used to be an inexpensive and clever marketing tool for books is now a new revenue stream for GoodReads, which is owned by Amazon. GoodReads, established in 2007, had more than 65 million members registered in 2017. Until Amazon purchased GoodReads in 2013, it was a rival to Amazon itself as the place for discovering books. Based on friends sharing their reviews and recommendations, the social media network was once considered a reliable independent source of book news and publishers shared their list of titles as a way to promote new releases with readers.

Things have changed. Amazon consolidated its power to determine which authors get exposure for their work. Amazon is monetizing the value of their platform for authors and publishers. Much like Facebook would like you to pay to promote your status updates on your Author Page, GoodReads intends to profit from authors.

In the past, GoodReads hosted contests for readers to sign-up to win a free copy of a new book in exchange for an early review. The publisher would list a title and GoodReads would promote the giveaway, help drive entries to interested readers, and randomly select winners. The publisher would be responsible for mailing print books to winners.

After Amazon purchased GoodReads the doors swung open to authors listing their books for Giveaways. Self-published or “indie” authors flooded the Giveaways. And instead of new releases, the Giveaways could be a title with any date. Going to the Giveaways page to look for free books was like digging through a bargain bin.

Sometimes the contest winners did post their honest reviews. Other times, these free books appeared for sale as new or gently used on Amazon. Despite their ability to discern which winners turned around to sell a book they obtained free from a GoodReads Giveaway, Amazon does not prohibit such sales.

The original intent of a Giveaway was to generate early reviews and help build book buzz to increase book sales. In recent years, the number of Giveaways from self-published authors has grown exponentially and the effectiveness of a Giveaway has diminished considerably.

The expense of books plus shipping and handling were not insignificant to authors and publishers for this marketing tool, but now GoodReads offers two packages. Their new standard package is priced at $119 per giveaway. Everyone who enters your giveaway automatically adds the book to their Want-to-read list and eight weeks after your giveaway ends, the winners receive an email from GoodReads reminding them to rate and review your book.

The premium package includes all the benefits of the standard package plus a premium placement on the Giveaway page for $599 per giveaway. With tens of millions of visitors each month, the premium package is intended to increase your title’s visibility. With hundreds of thousands of self-published titles flooding the site, it isn’t clear how many eyeballs your book cover will reach.

The packages rolled out January 9 and GoodReads offered introductory prices through January 31 of $59 for the standard package and $299 for the premium giveaway. The new pricing structure will mean far fewer giveaways for readers and close the door to this marketing tool for most authors and publishers. The return on your investment in this kind of advertising is negative.

The new rules for giveaways indicate up to 100 copies of print books can be listed for authors who are U.S. residents. In the past, most giveaways were for 5 or 10 copies. Today, if you go to the GoodReads Giveaway page you will discover thousands of contests listing 100 copies of Kindle versions of books no one has ever heard of and mostly self-published. Almost no traditional publishers have listed Giveaways since the change in policy was announced.

This leaves the GoodReads Giveaway program weakened by offering free books no one is interested in buying. The program now targets those authors who think the only way they can get readers to select their book is to give it away free.

Authors have limited budgets for advertising and marketing their books. GoodReads grossly overestimated the value of its Giveaway and we’ll likely see this program disappear in the coming year. Readers who get a free book under the new program will discover it is worth exactly what they paid for it: nothing.

The best advertising for a book comes from word-of-mouth recommendations and not from social media or reviews posted online. Write a book that satisfies readers and work with your publisher and publicist to effectively promote it. Don’t pay GoodReads to give it away free.

Pre-Orders Now Available on Kindle as Well as Other E-Book Retailer Sites

Why You Will Want to Pre-order This Book Now

Yankee Reconstructed won’t be available until January 3, 2016. Why would you want to order it now? Well, first, there’s the simple matter of forgetfulness (and that’s something that happens to everybody, not just us seniors.) Between today and January comes that whole holiday season, with all of its distractions. And when January arrives, you’re going to be exhausted, even if not hung-over. Will you remember to order my book on January 3rd? Probably not. But if you have pre-ordered it, it will arrive, just in time to fill that empty void that follows the holiday season.

Here a few other advantages to pre-ordering:

1.  Most pre-orders carry a reduced price tag. My “Yankee Reconstructed” is available for pre-ordering at $3.99 on all major e-book retailer sites: Apple iBooks, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and Kindle..  On January 3rd, the price will be $5.99, so you’ll save $2.00 by ordering now.  What’s even better, you don’t have to pay a thing until the book ships. So order it in October, and by the time your bill arrives in January, you won’t even notice that you’re paying for it.

2.  Forward to me a copy of the confirmation e-mail you receive when you place a pre-order (on any site) and I’ll enter your name into a “Happy New Year” drawing. One lucky winner will receive an autographed trade paper version of the novel, complete with matching bookmark.

3. Let’s suppose you have a history-loving friend who enjoys historical novels, and you want to give her a book for Christmas. She might really enjoy my novel set in the period of Reconstruction, but it won’t be out in time for Christmas.  With a pre-order, you can ask me to send her a Christmas card that will announce the “gift-to-come.” It will have a picture of the book, the date of arrival, and include your name as the giver. Problem solved, and you don’t even have to wrap the gift.   

But let’s be honest.  I get more out of a pre-order than you do, at least in the short term.  And to understand why, you have to understand the methods by which “Best-Seller” lists are compiled. Every company has its own algorithms, but the idea is the same. The more copies a book sells, the more copies it will sell in the future. And since most of these lists are compiled every week, if not every day (or in the case of Amazon, every hour), the most recent sales take on an enormous importance.

Here’s how pre-orders are counted.. They don’t get charged — or paid for — until the day of publication. So for several months, the pre-orders can pile up. And if a whole lot of people have pre-ordered the book, it will zoom to the top of its category ratings on the day that those sales all  hit the cash register at the same time. Pre-orders have the ability to create instant best-sellers. So WHEN you buy a book matters more than the simple act of buying it.  That’s why pre-orders are so important. They are some of the kindest gifts you can give your favorite author.


Too Hot To Do Anything But Read

So here's a reminder for you. There is at least one book still available, but the Giveaway will end on Tuesday evening. Try your luck now!

Have you read "Damned Yankee"
Volume 1 of The Grenville Sagas
 and also Volume 5 of my series, The Civil War in South Carolina's Low Country?
If not, here's your chance to win a free copy of the first book  on this Amazon Giveaway.

Title:

Entry Message: Get ready for the release of "Yankee Reconstructed," Vol. 2 of the Grenville Sagas, on January 3, 2016.

Duration: Jul 14, 2015 4:23 PM PDT - Jul 21, 2015 11:59 PM PDT

Prize: Damned Yankee: The Story of a Marriage

Number of Prizes: 3

 NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Ends the earlier of Jul 21, 2015 11:59 PM PDT, or when all prizes are claimed. See Official Rules

Announcing a Great Giveway

Yesterday's big news was that I have a firm publication date for my new book,  "Yankee Reconstructed." We launch on January 3, 2016. But in the spirit of Christmas in July, Katzenhaus Books will be offering a series of activities leading up to the launch date.

The story of the Grenville family (he's from Boston; She's from Charleston)  begins with America's Civil War. "Damned Yankee" opens in 1860 and follows the family through the war, ending in 1867. The second book will take the family through the tumultuous years of Reconstruction.


But, first things first:
Have you read "Damned Yankee"
Volume 1 of The Grenville Sagas
 and also Volume 5 of my series, The Civil War in South Carolina's Low Country?

If not, here's your chance to win a free copy of the first book  on this Amazon Giveaway.



Entry Message: Get ready for the release of "Yankee Reconstructed," Vol. 2 of the Grenville Sagas, on January 3, 2016.

Duration: Jul 14, 2015 4:23 PM PDT - Jul 21, 2015 11:59 PM PDT

Prize: Damned Yankee: The Story of a Marriage

Number of Prizes: 3

 NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Ends the earlier of Jul 21, 2015 11:59 PM PDT, or when all prizes are claimed. See Official Rules http://amzn.to/GArules.