Back in July, when A Confession first came out, I was in full-on marketing and promotion mode. I’m a professional marketer for my “day job” so online marketing is pretty second-nature to me, but promoting a book (much less my own book) is a whole different game than the larger brand promotion I’m used to. So, I did my research on ways to get in front of potential readers – including learning how important it is to just get the book into the hands of people and try to get some reviews so you can get some “social proof” that your book is worth paying for.
Since I’m a huge fan of Goodreads, and I know it’s a place where lots of other readers like me like to hang out, manage their reading lists, share reviews, etc. it seemed to me that running a promotion on Goodreads would be a wise choice. So I did. I ran a “Goodreads Giveaway” of twenty signed copies of A Confession. During the campaign I was pretty happy with the results I was seeing. By the time it was over, 617 people had entered to win and about 250 people had added it to their “to read” list. Pretty great awareness, right? Especially since my only cost was the books, the stationery for the personal hand-typed notes I included to each winner, envelopes and postage.
The problem is, not a single one of the winners has actually read my book yet. None of the people who marked it “to read” have read it either. Now it’s only been about two months, and people have other books to read – but so far the actual final results of the campaign have been much less impressive than I’d hoped. My goal was to get the book into hands of people who wanted to read it and to get some reader reviews online – and build some additional awareness along the way.
As a marketer, I’d call this a failed campaign. And as a marketer I’m not upset I did it – I learned along the way, and I can share that experience with you here. All-in-all it wasn’t a huge investment, but I do wish that instead of buying and sending copies to people who it seems really didn’t want them I’d instead sent them to people who I know or reach out directly to me.
My theory is this: Goodreads runs a TON of these giveaways, a ton of people use Goodreads, and people generally like to get free stuff. The problem with free is that since there’s no investment by the consumer there’s little reason to actually follow through and read the book. I’ve had similar experiences with free digital books. If it’s free, you might get a lot of “interest” but it’s mostly passive.
Now there’s always a chance that some of those people will read the book. They might even leave some reviews. There’s even a chance that one of the people I sent it to will be a person with a ton of Goodreads followers (what’s called an “influencer” in the marketing world) and leave a great review that catapults me to the top of the best-seller lists. But it’s pretty unlikely.
My suggestion – don’t bother with a Goodreads giveaway unless you already have a reader base, and you want to run a contest for them. Use it as a platform, but not to build awareness for new potential readers. It’s a great little system they have – very easy to use … but use it for a giveaway if you don’t feel like building a giveaway on your own.
As for the people who got copies of A Confession? If you’re reading this, that’s great. I hope you find some time to read it. If you do, let me know what you think (I gave you my personal email in the note I enclosed). But if you don’t plan on reading it, give it to someone who might like it. Or donate it to the library or even the thrift shop. Just don’t leave it on the shelf to gather dust. Books don’t do anything until you open them.