Goodreads to Charge Authors to List Giveaways

Running a giveaway or two for their book has always been an essential part of marketing for any indie author and for small publishers. Goodreads giveaways allow authors and publishers to go straight to their target audience--readers--who are then able to pick and choose which giveaways they enter, which books they shelves and that small but vital group of readers who are interested enough in a particular book to go out and buy it if they don't win the competition. Goodreads would also create widgets linking to the giveaway that an author could list on their site. The site itself is impossible for authors to ignore, full of a community of passionate book lovers who can speak, largely uncensored, on all of the books they loved and loathed.

Sure there are a few challenges associated with running a goodreads giveaway--stumping up for postage if the winning reader, or readers, live overseas, or competition winners listing their books for sale on Goodreads, but the benefit of the giveaways usually outweighed the cost. Until now. Starting in January, Goodreads plans to start charging authors to run a giveaway. A standard package will cost US$119 and will allow authors to give away up to 100 Kindle versions of their books, while a premium package will cost US$599, and lists the giveaway on a more highly trafficked page. Initially Goodreads plans to only charge this for giveaways to the US, but it is only a matter of time before the charges become a global thing. 

As a small, indie author, I think this is a very bad thing.

Okay. I get that Goodreads is a business and the bottom line is that they are there to make money. In the past, revenue has been gained through advertising--via a small advertisement on the screen, usually tailor made to fit the user's browsing history. Goodreads also discovered a way to create additional advertising revenue--by allowing authors and publishers to advertise their book on the site. Those with an advertising account select a daily budget and bid per click. The higher the bid, the more times that Goodreads will run the ad. Initially, this was a relatively cheap way to advertise--for ten cents, an author could encourage more clicks and views on their book. In fact, I had some success when this first began with Being Abigail. By the time I released Behind the Scenes in 2013, however, this form of advertising was being used by publishers and other people with much bigger marketing budgets, which meant that it was no longer a financially viable option. I could either stick with my ten cents per click and wait a long, long time for my ad to even run, or I could pay more in advertising fees that what I would receive in royalties if that person who clicked decided to buy my book. Plus, I was getting a lot more clicks, reviews and actual purchases every time I ran a goodreads giveaway. Even so, I'd be lucky to recoup US$119 dollars in royalties, especially when you consider that my royalties still have to cover other associated costs such as editing and cover design. The actual profit (after costs) than an indie author can expect to make is extremely small.

In other words, I simply cannot afford to list my book as a Goodreads giveaway.

The question is, can I afford not to list my book as a Goodreads giveaway? 

Certainly, listing a book as a giveaway on Goodreads creates a significant amount of buzz and taps in to new readers--ones who aren't already following me on Goodreads. Certainly, I can--and do--give away books on this blog or on Facebook or anywhere else where readers may be, but I don't get anywhere near the same amount of coverage. Listing a book on Netgalley costs upwards of $500 and there is no guarantee that anyone will even download it. And if I list books for free anywhere else on the web, anywhere that I have the book for sale will usually price match, listing the book for free, meaning that I miss out on sales. 

Goodreads are still allowing me, as an author to do other things for free, such as having an account, and creating widgets for my blog that link to where my book is listed on Goodreads, which provide small, but vital, bits of publicity.
Goodreads giveaways were always a vital lifeline for indie authors seeking free--and fair--publicity. Soon they'll be gone from the US. In the meantime, I can still list a giveaway for free in Australia, but the question is, for how long? 


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