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Goodreads giveaways are a wonderful way for authors to reach potential readers. Why? Because when you give away your book on Goodreads, you’re placing all of your hard work in the hands of someone who wants your book and wants to enjoy it. That last part of the sentence is important. Everyone knows that Goodreads is filled with readers. But one of the unspoken benefits of Goodreads is that people on the site are predominantly kind and supportive. Yes, there are exceptions. But people want to enjoy the books they read. This means you’ll find readers and they’ll be on your side from the get-go.

When you give away a book it’s different than giving away an app, for instance. Books speak to our hearts, minds, senses, emotions. By giving away our story we’re already ahead of the mad rush for people’s hearts that other businesses strive for.

The second biggest benefit of Goodreads giveaways is powerful. If you’re giving away a pre-release book, Goodreads will email many of the contest entrants with news of your book launch. More on that below.

Before you can tackle any of the steps here, you’ll need to sign up to be a Goodreads Author.

sign up for the goodreads author program

This requires you to have a book in their system. You can add your book easily. Just make a simple request to a Goodreads Librarian.

So once you’re an author with work on the site, here’s how you set up Goodreads giveaways:

1) Go to and sign up or sign in

2) Click on Explore in the upper right. Then select “giveaways”.

goodreads giveaway 1



3) You’ll see a list of current giveaways. If you’ve signed up as a Goodreads Author you’ll see “List a Giveaway”. Select it.

list a giveaway on goodreads


4) Here’s the listing page at last!

Look below the image to get the run-down.

list your giveaway on goodreads



list a giveaway on goodreads

The “gotchas” and best practices are as follows:
  • Be sure to make the contest last a full month. Any less and you’re missing out on potential readers. In general, you’ll see the hugest spike in entrants as the contest deadline approaches, so fret not if things start slow!
  • Try to do the contest a full 2 months before the book launch. So when the contest ends you’ll still have a month to get feedback and reviews from your winners. And they’ll feel special that they got a book a month before it came out.
  • Enter your ISBN or ISBN13 in the field. If you only have an ASIN (Amazon’s ID format) then click on the “Switch to Book ID” link on the right side of the text entry field.
  • Make the description a kick-ass, direct pitch. The better the description, the more entrants you’ll get, guaranteed.
  • Goodreads likes to have authors give away 50 books. I agree that it’s a good number if you can afford it. I’ve done 10 and been happy with the results. However, I plan on following their advice with my next giveaway for The Camelot Kids. 50 copies, here I come!
  • If you don’t have a publisher then just enter your own site’s url. If you don’t have a site, please build one.
  • Choose the countries where you think your book will resonate. It’s a pain to send books internationally, but worth it if you can grow your global readership.
  • Tags are a whole post unto themselves. Enter terms that you believe apply to your book. You can use genre terms (horror, scifi), popular terms (Sherlock, Chicago Bears) or whatever comes to mind. The tags will help entrants choose the book that’s right for them.
  • The contact info is just asking you for basic info. Don’t worry about it. Just write something like “[Name], [email]. I’m the author of the book, [book name]
  • You can include an excerpt of your book for entrants to read. I’d advise doing this because the more people who enter who really WANT to win your book, the better your buzz will be.
Agree to the terms. They’re perfectly reasonable. Here they are for your convenience:
  • You agree to supply the indicated number of books on the date the giveaway ends.
  • Goodreads will list (for free) the giveaway book on the giveaways page.
  • Goodreads will collect interest in the book, and select winners at our discretion. Our algorithm uses member data to match interested members with each book.
  • After the giveaway stop date, click the name of your giveaway (listed under “your giveaways” on the main First Reads page) to see the list of winning addresses. You will also be emailed a list of winners. You are responsible for shipment of the books. Failure to do so will result in us not inviting you over for cake ever again.
  • You agree not to store the winners’ mailing addresses and not to use the winners’ addresses for anything other than sending them the indicated book.
  • Winning members are encouraged but not required to write a review of the book they receive.
  • Ebooks are not allowed. Every winner must receive a physical copy of the book.

Once you’ve started the contest you can retrace Steps 1-3. Notice the area on the right-hand side of the page that reads “Giveaways You’ve Created”? That will give you quick access. You can also find the contest listed on your Goodreads Dashboard


Now here’s the wonderful part. Everyone who enters your Goodreads giveaway will be opted-in to receive an email from Goodreads on the release date. That’s why they ask for the launch date of your book on the form above! In my experience about 75% of the entrants stay opted in.


That’s it! Now you need to promote the contest. That includes posting the Goodreads giveaway on linky (contest) sites and, yes, leveraging Goodreads advertising. I’ll post about that soon.

The final bit of usefulness comes from Goodreads itself. This slideshow is gold.


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