How to Promote Kindle Books with a Goodreads Giveaway

by | Jul 2, 2019 | Book Marketing Basics, Goodreads Marketing & Promotion

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The Goodreads giveaway has always been a great book marketing strategy, in my opinion, but they’ve really changed the game for how you can promote Kindle books.

At the end of the day, you invest in your book marketing and if the strategy is solid, you work it into your budget – so let’s see where we’re at a year later now that the paid opportunity and dedicated option to promote Kindle books has really been tested across the board!

Benefits of a Goodreads Giveaway to Promote Kindle Books

Here are the primary benefits of a Goodreads giveaway as I see it. This includes both new and original features:

  • You can promote Kindle books with ARCs if you’re a KDP author.
  • You can give away up to 100 Kindle books which gets more books in more hands.
  • Every time a Goodreads member enters a giveaway for your book it’s automatically added to their Want-to-Read list.
  • Goodreads automatically generates an update for their newsfeed.
  • The author’s followers and anyone with the book in their Want-to-Read list gets a notification that there’s a giveaway starting.
  • About eight weeks after your Goodreads giveaway ends, winners receive an email from Goodreads to remind them to rate and review your book.
  • You get a list of winners with links to their profiles.

I really appreciate how many more guarantees there are now to promote Kindle books!

Let me break it down even further.

For starters, I have to be honest that I have noticed a marked increase in entrants for the giveaways I do for clients. And this is in addition to everything Goodreads has done to increase the value of the giveaways to promote Kindle books. We consistently get well over 500 entrants or more for our authors, so that’s nothing to balk at. That’s 500+ eyes on your book, which is amazing.

Using ARCs with a Goodreads Giveaway

Running a Goodreads giveaway with ARCs to promote Kindle books is a creative way to squeeze in as much exposure as you can leading up to a release and a great way to generate early reviews. A lot of authors don’t do enough, if anything, before the book is officially published so if you’re a KDP author, work this into your book marketing strategy to stay ahead of the game.

The Want-to-Read Feature to Promote Kindle Books

The Want-to-Read feature is something we’ve really been taking advantage of. We help our authors make really thoughtful, personalized connections with these readers as a way to expand their network of genre fans. Because an expanded networks means more people you have at the ready with each new release in your future.

It also means all your winners’ friends are also getting notified that they’re interested in your book. And when 95% of books are bought based on personal recommendations (Digital Book World 2017), that’s a really great benefit.

The Reminder to Review

The reminder to review is fantastic!

Goodreads is protective of their users. As they should be. So authors need to be respectful when interacting with readers. Having Goodreads send a reminder is super official and a really crucial strategy to promote Kindle books. I love this.

Knowing who your winners are is also a bonus, but you need to use this information thoughtfully. Do not hound readers. Goodreads has every right to nail you if anyone complains.

That being said, they do make this information available. And that means there are smart, fair ways to use it.

Don’t pester for reviews. Instead just ask to be friends, and include a personal message. Even better, when you’re looking at their profile, see if you’re both members of the same group and mention that additional connection. If you have another book releasing soon, you can mention that as well!

No matter what, make your outreach super personal and mutually beneficial. This is not a “get rich quick” strategy. But you are getting the opportunity to grow your reader connections in your genre. So it’s definitely worth the time and effort.

The Bottom Line

If you’re a KDP author the new Goodreads giveaway format has proven it’s got staying power, and I fully endorse it as a key book marketing strategy. And the dramatic increase in exposure is undeniable. Remember, the goal for your book promotion needs to be exposure – sales will come – but not without thoughtful, quality exposure to the right people, and Goodreads can help you do that.

If you’re a brand new author, with little to no presence or network on the site, a Goodreads giveaway is a good way to jumpstart your future there. That being said, focus on optimizing your profile, get involved in groups, grow your connections. And then I could recommend investing in giveaways more frequently.

Book marketing is not free, so it’s important to be smart. Not every strategy works for every book and every author, so I always recommend looking at each option critically, especially when deciding if it suits your genre, and then budgeting accordingly. Are you ready to invest in a book marketing company? Check out this post to learn more!

And if you’re not sure the best strategies for you, I’d be happy to help you evaluate great next steps for your book marketing plan.

If you’ve used the new Goodreads giveaway format in the last year I’d love to hear about your experiences!

Resources and Free Downloads

How to Sell Books by the Truckload on Amazon – 2020 Updated Edition!: Learn how to turn Amazon into your 24/7 sales machine!

How and When to Invest in a Professional Book Marketing Company

Customized Book Marketing Assessment


  1. James W. Lewis

    Great post. I did an ebook giveaway for 100 ebooks and now doing a giveaway for 50 print books. For me, I like my book having more visibility. I hope to get at least 5 reviews a month in the next few months and from then on. We will see.

    • Penny Sansevieri

      James, that’s fantastic! And thank you! I think you’re spot on about visibility – it counts for so much, since it often takes consumers multiple exposures to decide to buy. Please come back and let us know how it goes.

  2. kathleen martin

    Thank you for your excellent article on new Goodreads Giveaway Program. I was using this program before Goodreads changed their policy and enjoyed a steady response from the winners (even some good reviews!). There is no doubt that your book does get exposure with their new (and more expensive) program, but for some reason, the review response from the winners has dropped dramatically. I reviewed the list of winners and found most of them had literally thousands of books in their “to read” list but apparently it seems they are just not reading them. I’m not sure why this is, but if anyone else has experienced this or could offer up some explanation I’d greatly appreciate it. Thanks, again for your article. Kathleen Martin

    • Penny Sansevieri

      Kathleen hi there, well by design Goodreads is a site for readers, so many of them will have a lot of books on their shelves. Some of the GR folks use it as a “reminder” — I keep my reminder list in my Evernote app, but everyone does it differently. Alternatively, they could be giveaway junkies. You know the folks who just enter all sorts of random giveaways hoping to win something? Yeah, that could it be, too. Sorry I’m not more helpful!

      • kathleen martin

        Hi Penny. Thanks so much for your reply. I’m afraid your term “giveaway junkies” may be accurate when it comes to this, especially when you see they have thousands of books “to read” but haven’t read any of them. But I have another question if you don’t mind. I’m not sure what you mean by “reminder” how does one send one and what is an “Evernote app? Could you please explain? Thanks again. – Kathleen

        • Penny Sansevieri

          So I used to keep track of books I want to read. It’s a subscription and I use it for everything. Business, recipes 🙂 Books! Love it!

    • Roberta

      As for all those checked “to read” boxes. Those of us who actually intended to read the book used to check off the “to read” box manually. Now the “to read box” is checked off automatically by Goodreads. The “currently reading” and “read” boxes are still manual and many people never check them.
      Yes, I’m a giveaway junkie, but at least, up until the Goodreads Giveaway algorithm changed and I stopped getting free books, I read and reviewed every single book that I got.

  3. Vince Bailey

    Can you be a little more specific regarding how the author pays for the Kindle books–i.e. if he/she elects to offer say 20 ebooks and they are priced at $9 on Amazon, is she charged the $180 sales amount along with the $120 up-front fee? Also, does the hard copy come from the author’s personal inventory?

  4. Judy Penz Sheluk

    I am contemplating running a GR Kindle giveaway for book 1 in my 3-book series. Book 1 already has 215 ratings (av. 4.20) and was first out in 2016. I have rights back and indie-published in July 2019. My thought is if folks read book 1, hopefully a good percentage will want to purchase book 2…but it sounds like this is intended more for new books. What are your thoughts and thanks!



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