Getting the word out about a novel, especially a first novel, is important. Sales really aren't AS important as building an audience is. The same is true for non-fiction if you are planning on writing multiple books. Loyal readers, and the more of them you have, equals lots of dependable sales in the future.
Promotions are part of how authors spread the word about their novels. Since my first novel The Predator and The Prey has been published I have run two promotions. The first was a standard KDP Select Free giveaway. The second was a GoodReads Giveaway.
For those of you who have not heard of a GoodReads Giveaway, the program is simple. You sign your book up for a Giveaway. You can give away as few as one hard copies up to as many as you want. Set the duration of the giveaway, which includes start and ending dates, add a link to your book on Amazon and include some other basic product information and you're done.
GoodReads will pick the winners using an algorithm to randomly select the winners. You are responsible to mail the winners their complimentary copies within three weeks. There are restrictions limiting the contact you can have. This is not a list building promotion.
How did my novel do and which program worked better?
I gave away three signed paperback copies of The Predator and The Prey. A total of 652 people participated and 262 readers added The Predator and The Prey to their to-read list.
The KDP Select Free Giveaway resulted in 475 downloads. Which program resulted in better results?
To be honest, I wish the results of both had been better. The good thing is both programs are can be run multiple times, giving me more opportunities to gain exposure for my novel.
First, Amazon, who owns GoodReads, doesn't provide some data from either promotion I would really like to have, namely how many people looked at my cover, book description, title, etc, and just moved on without taking action.
Still, data of any kind is important and knowing how many readers were interested enough to download a free copy, register for a contest for a free copy and to add the book to their to-read list is a good start.
Even better data would be to know how many readers who downloaded their free copy during the KDP Select giveaway days actually read their free copy. If I had the time and inclination, I could determine the number of readers who added the novel to their to read list and actually read it later, but I'll leave that up to someone far smarter than me to write the program that does that task.
On the surface, it looks like GoodReads might be better even though it cost me the price of three paperback copies and postage since 652 people wanted a free copy, a difference of some 177 readers. Forty percent of those 652 readers indicated they plan to read The Predator and The Prey in the future.
I plan to run more campaigns for the novel in the future using both promotions. In the case of the KDP promotion I will use all five days at one time to see if that produces better results. I will use a book promotion service to promote the giveaway on the third day in an effort to obtain more free downloads.
For the GoodReads Giveaway I will run a slightly shorter campaign and offer more free copies. GoodReads claims ten copies is the ideal number and I'll test that theory. Why fewer days for the giveaway? Nearly a third of the registrations for the giveaway came in the first few days when the book was easy to find on the Recently Listed page. The majority came when the book made the Ending Soon list while registrations languished while the book was in the middle of the two types of listings. To put it simply, people don't wade through the hundreds of books that fall in between the two listings which is why I'm going to try shortening the length of my promotion.
If you haven't done a GoodReads Giveaway yet let me encourage you to do so. GoodReads has data that indicates roughly two thirds of the readers who receive the free copies leave reviews. That's not too bad. Also, the people who belong to GoodReads are avid readers and recommend books to their friends and followers. If there was ever a place to build an audience, GoodReads is certainly a place to exert effort.