Goodreads Giveaway: Some more bits and pieces

This is a micro-post update on my Goodreads Giveaway. Some things I’ve gleaned in the last few days:

  1. Goodreads gives itself 24 hours to let you know who the winners of your Giveaway are. In my case, my Giveaway ended on a Friday and they didn’t let me know who the winner was until Saturday at 3:00 p.m., too late to mail the book. Bummer, since I wanted to completely wow the winner by getting it to them in a day or two. Not a huge deal, but be prepared when you run your own GRG…you won’t hear who your winners are the second your contest ends.
  2. What I did in the meantime, however, was contact the winner with a Friend request, thanking her and explaining when I would get the book in the mail. If you do this, make sure it’s a Friend Request and not just a “Send A Message” for the obvious reasons of increasing your Friend count.
  3. Similarly, I went through my contestant list (provided to you at the bottom of your customized Giveaway page) and sent Friend Requests to everyone with more than 70 friends of their own. Of 528, it amounted to about 50-60 people.
  4. In each of those Friend Requests, I thanked the contestant for their interest and offered them a free copy (via Smashwords coupon) of one bad twelve. Since it was the book they’d been trying to win in print version, they would already be familiar with it. I very gently asked for a review if they felt like it, but didn’t push it.
  5. A word of advice: if you follow my lead, take some time and read the short bio each person has put on their Profile. It won’t take you long and is a responsible thing to do as a Goodreads neighbor. The extra effort is also very much appreciated by those you contact.
  6. Goodreads has a daily limit on Friend requests that seems to be about 15-20, though I found if I waited a few hours, I could add a handful more. I got to all of my “70 and over” requests in three days. There is an overall maximum of 5,000 friends on GR.

I increased my Friends list from a measly 18 to 53, with 20 more requests pending. I’ve had some great exchanges with many new friends and, since I opened my contest to “All Countries,” many of my contacts have been with friends outside the U.S., which is exciting. Many of those I contacted were quite happy to get a free copy of one bad twelve and promised reviews. As of today (72 hours later), the ebook has been downloaded 12 times.

It really has been fun contacting and chatting with the new friends I’ve made via GR. This, of course, is the heart of all good promotion: it’s not about the numbers, it’s about the relationships you make. It’s nice to know that the right thing to do is also the smart thing, as well.

Deb Rice of pointed out in the Comments section below that Goodreads frowns upon the kind of contact I made to the non-winners of my recent GR Giveaway, in essence identifying it as friend spamming. I appreciate that she pointed that out and will happily toe GR’s line now that I know about it (and encourage everyone else to do so, as well), but I wanted to point out a few things that irk me about GR’s stance on this.

First and most basically, this isn’t covered in the list of Giveaway Terms and Conditions (, nor is there a link to the help file Deb mentioned. If this is an important issue to the GR team, they have to make it easier to find. I simply don’t read every site’s help file on the off-chance that I might be violating one of their rules.

Second, this seems a bit of disingenuous “do as I say, not as I do.” GR wants authors to participate in Giveaways and thus cause some buzz and excitement for the site (which helps drive ad revenues), but they don’t want authors to promote too much. I understand their need to protect their readership from those who would abuse the system, but I think it’s a stretch to say that it’s spamming when I contact people who have willingly signed up for a chance to win a free copy of my book and then offer them…a free copy of my book. I think any definition of spamming would include a clause about making contact where no previous contact existed. That isn’t the case, here.

Third, I think the results of my reaching out to the non-winners bear out my argument. Of the 60 or so people I contacted, 44 have accepted my Friendship, none have requested me to stop contacting them or complained, 18 have downloaded the book, and 8 have pro-actively reached out to thank me. Here are some of the things they had to say:

Thanks for the add and thanks very much for the free ebook, I’ve downloaded it and hope to dive into after this weekend.

I would like to thank you so much for your very unexpected friendship that i am most overwhelmed to have received.

I wanted to thank you for your kind message and for your book!

Thanks for adding me and especially for the free copy of your book!I’ll read it asap,and surely post a review here on Goodreads after!

Thank you so much for the link and voucher code. I have downloaded your book to my kindle and I look forward to reading it.

…thanks a lot for the message and your generosity in giving me a copy of your book on kindle. i am having some trouble with my eyesight at the moment so reading books on my kindle is really the best for me at the present time anyway.

This is spamming? This is a group of people unhappy with my contacting them, bothering them with a free e-copy of my book?

I’m grateful to Goodreads for the opportunity they’re giving authors and wouldn’t want to see them take the Giveaway from us, but if they want to protect their readership from people like me 🙂 then they need to have a clearer Terms and Conditions section.

But a better reaction would be for them to consider both the results and the fairness inherent in the giveaway proposition: it’s a promotional tool that benefits readers, authors, and Goodreads itself. Limiting the group that is the engine of that process–the authors–seems unfair and counter-productive.


Writer of crime fiction, psychological drama, and dark humor.

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Posted in Tips for eAuthors
5 comments on “Goodreads Giveaway: Some more bits and pieces
  1. beatbox32 says:

    Great info. You’re spot on about building those relationships too. It’s the right way to do things and it feels so much better than just yelling at people to read your books. 🙂

    • Matthew Iden says:

      Thanks Beatbox – You’re right, it really is the right way to go about it…kind of an extended Golden Rule:if you don’t like in-your-face promotion, why would anyone else? And it’s fun…I’ve met some real characters already including cool people from Brazil, the UK, Indonesia, and India. And that’s in 3 days. 🙂

  2. debsanswers says:

    From the goodreads help file:
    Can I send a message to the people who didn’t win my giveaway, thanking them?
    Unfortunately, no. We’ve found from previous experience that many of our members consider such messages spam. While they have expressed interest in getting a free copy of your book, that doesn’t necessarily mean they want to receive a message from you with a promotional offer.

  3. debsanswers says:

    Thanks for responding. i think goodreads wants readers and authors to connect, but since some people complain, they say you’re not supposed to contact people, but don’t try very hard to prevent it.

    I think the limits on the number of invites a day varies depending on how active you are on the site.

    I do like that you only friended people who already had several friends and that you read their profiles first. I don’t think you did anything wrong, but just wanted to mention the official stance for other authors that read this.

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