Goodreads Giveaway Secrets

Last week I mentioned how valuable I think Goodreads can be for an author. The tool that I have used so far is the Giveaway, a semi-random drawing for print copies of books. It isn't truly random as the Goodreads site states their algorithm tries to match books with those who are very interested in the genre or subject matter.

For Garbageland I made three copies available to anyone living in the U.S. or Canada. The time period to enter the giveaway was three weeks last August. I mentioned the giveaway on Facebook and my blog a few times and several friends reposted or shared the details.

That said, my efforts cannot account for the fact that 773 people entered the raffle. Sure, who doesn't want something for free and if it's easy while one is surfing around in Goodreads, just two clicks and done, why not enter? However, scanning the other giveaways and taking into consideration that this was a first time novelist book, 773 was astounding.

Now, I can see the usernames of those who entered the giveaway. I can click on a link and see whatever they've made public on their profile: what books they've read, what books they want to read, and what area of the country they live in. And in clicking those links I saw quite a few people from Canada had entered.

Except no one from Canada won. So for Dreams Like Snowflakes I decided to do two giveaways, one just for Canadian residents and one for those in either the U.S. or Canada. To promote the Canada giveaway I sent a message to Canadians who had entered the Garbageland giveaway.

First, I had to know where they lived. Some people set their location to private. Second, I wanted to message just those who really had an interest in the SF genre who had been active in Goodreads in the last month. Still, that is 773 profiles to trudge through, right?

Independent Marketing

Much of last year was an experiment in self-publishing, learning the software available, formatting for eBook and print layouts, and navigating the various markets and tools to make the books available for sale. I won't claim to be an expert on all the options. I can describe my experience. At some length.

For the Garbageland eBook, I distributed it through what I thought were the big four marketplaces: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, and Google Play (generally for Android devices but like B&N the eBook can be read in any eReader). The first two had easy to use websites, interfaces, and reports which I will continue to use (though we'll see about B&N if it survives).

Google was problematic perhaps because of a technical glitch. Sales were exactly one copy and so seems not worth the trouble. I did not make the time to upload Dreams Like Snowflakes there.

As for iTunes, the reporting interface was fine, but the uploading of books requires one to use an Apple device with an Intel processor. I understand Apple's philosophy of quality control, but an eBook at its most basic is HTML and XML, nothing very threatening. I had to borrow a friend's laptop to get Garbageland uploaded and since sales in iTunes were also in the single digits, decided against the time/effort to upload future releases there.

For print publication I chose Lightning Source, a division of Ingram. Other options would not make the print version easily available to not only Amazon and B&N but to any independent bookstore as well as to libraries (on which I have not yet focused enough time.)

To get the word out about releases I used three methods.

E-Mail List:

102 Places To Meet Your Thousand Best Friends

I've been doing some reading about online marketing. For an author to manage their own social presence would seem to require about 37 hours a day. Given the advice to be everywhere using every media for everyone, it just isn't possible. Writers have to pick their markets carefully. But which ones?

Over on the site I happened to click on the "Share this" link for an article. In the box that came up on screen, the usual suspects were sorted at the top: Facebook, Twitter, Digg, and so on. Below that all the social network options were sorted alphabetically. 102 options for connecting to your 1000 best friends.

There's Connotea, a "Free online reference management for all researchers, clinicians and scientists". Probably not for me. How about Edmodo, "Secure social learning network for teachers and students"? Closer, but no.

Wandering into other languages, there is Fresqui for sharing stories in Spanish, or NUjij for all your Dutch news.


And if you don't want to spend the next one to seven hours looking at neat digital flip-book style animations, then DO NOT go to the Flipnote Hatena site.

Where I have signed up is goodreads, a place to track, review, and comment upon books. You can click here to see my recent updates. The site seems to have a lot of good features for published writers. I hope to be taking advantage of those sometime soon.

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