Roughly once a year, I run a promotion through Goodreads offering some of my books for free. It’s a combination of trying to spur more sales, gain more readers and encourage more reviews.
To this point, the results have been mixed. Some of that is due to bad planning on my part. Some of it is simply the inherent riskiness of free giveaways.
On the first issue, I made the tactical error of previously offering giveaways for each book in my trilogy at different times. While some people can read a book within a series and still enjoy it, others do not like “starting in the middle”.
Both Book 2 and Book 3 have prefaces that summarize the books that came before, bringing the reader up-to-date to the first page of each respective book. I have since found that some readers didn’t bother reading that section. That yields a poor result, especially by Book 3.
Another factor about giveaways is that some people will enter to win free stuff regardless of even the remotest interest in the item. There is a portion of the people who won previous giveaways that have likely never read (nor have any intention of reading) any of the books.
Finally, as with all readers, the great majority of them do not want to be bothered with writing a review (and, to a lesser extent, rating the book). Whether it’s related to time, effort or nervousness with “going public” with their views, the percentage of reviews compared to the sales/giveaway quantity is terribly small.
Which is terribly sad, since that’s the primary focus behind giveaways. Spurring some additional sales is nice, but having someone comment (even critically) in public is nicest, since it validates the writing (someone read it) and the impact (someone was moved to comment) and, finally, the value of doing a giveaway (tangible encouragement for potential readers).
This is not the same as a promotion through Amazon giving away essentially a no-cost e-book. The Goodreads program requires an actual printed book and the attendant mailing costs associated with it.
I’ve learned enough to only send out Book 1, What if?, this time. And I’ve kept the quantity to a reasonably affordable level. Outside of that, I can only hope the results are a bit better than last time.
So, starting Wednesday, December 9th, here I go again.