Comparing Book Giveaway Promotions

illustration-of-books-pvBy Cecilia Lewis

In last week’s post on marketing tips for self-publishing, I briefly mentioned the importance of promotional giveaways. Today, I’d like to take a closer look at the different types of giveaway options and compare them. When you only have a limited number of promotional copies, which giveaway service will most benefit you?


Most readers are familiar with Goodreads, but the site also offers promotional giveaways for authors and publishers. It’s fairly easy to create an author account and utilize this tool.


  • Goodreads is massively popular among readers and will help raise awareness of your book. Your book will be listed on the giveaways page, where many new readers will see it.
  • Even readers who don’t win the giveaway may add it to their TBR lists.
  • It’s simple to use, and Goodreads does most of the work.
  • Goodreads provides a widget for use on your website/blog.
  • Winners of the giveaway may add reviews of your book.


  • Print books only, no ebooks.
  • There is no guarantee that the winners will review your book, and they are not required to do so.
  • Some users enter all of the contests just because it’s free, and may not actually be interested in your book.
  • There’s no guarantee that anyone who adds the book to their TBR will ever read it.



Similar to Goodreads, LibraryThing is a book-cataloging site designed for readers. It is not a place meant for author promotion, and to do so is greatly discouraged. However, LibraryThing does provide a Member Giveaways option that authors can use.


  • As with Goodreads, you can raise awareness of your book and get it to readers who wouldn’t have seen it otherwise.
  • Winners of the giveaway may write reviews.
  • It’s easy to use, and LibraryThing does most of the promotional work.
  • Both ebook and print giveaways are allowed.


  • LibraryThing is primarily a site for engaging in discussion about books, and authors who don’t engage with other users or over-self-promote are not well received. Although the site is simple to use, you do have to invest the time to engage with its community.
  • You can’t put any conditions on the giveaway—winners cannot be required to leave a review, sign up for a newsletter, etc.
  • Some users may enter the giveaway just because it’s free, without really being interested in your work.
  • In general, LibraryThing reviews seem to be harsher than an average Amazon review. Even if your book is reviewed, don’t expect a glowing 5 stars.
  •  You have to handle all of the delivery/shipping yourself.


Earlier this year, Amazon began offering Amazon Giveaways that allows authors to host promotional giveaways.


  • Amazon has a huge reach, allowing you to raise awareness for your book.
  • It’s free to run.
  • Amazon does almost all of the work for you, including shipping and handling.
  • Winners of the giveaway may write reviews.
  • It includes a link to advertise your giveaway anywhere, including your blog/site, newsletter, or social media.
  • You can use an option that requires entrants to follow you on Twitter, which can drastically increase your number of followers.


  • Obviously, it’s only for items sold on Amazon.
  • Although the service itself is free, you do have to pay shipping costs/postage, plus full retail price for your books, not wholesale price.
  • Print books only, no ebooks.
  • Although you can advertise the giveaway anywhere, there’s no widget. You can’t embed it on your site like you can with Goodreads. The traffic will be sent to a site hosted by Amazon instead of your own blog/site.
  • Giveaways are U.S. only, not international.
  • Because items ship directly from Amazon, this means you can’t personalize them in any way. You can’t autograph the books, write a note, or include a bookmark, for example.


If you want to host the giveaway on your own blog/site, you can use Rafflecopter to launch and manage it.


  • You place the widget on your own blog/site, so it drives traffic to your site.
  • It includes unlimited giveaways and entries and instant random winners. It also provides an Excel spreadsheet of all entries.
  • Various items can be included, such as a multiple titles, a book plus swag, or a group giveaway with other authors.
  • You can offer not only print copies but also a variety of digital copies—mobi, ePub, or PDFs.
  • For print books, you can pay wholesale price and have the option to either ship from home or directly from CreateSpace.
  • There are Facebook and Twitter entry options.
  • For a fee, you can ask entrants to do a number of things: Like your Facebook page, follow you on Twitter, add the book to their Goodreads TBR, refer others to the giveaway, or sign up for your newsletter.
  • If you have a Facebook author page, you can opt for Rafflecopter to add a Giveaway tab to it.


  • Obviously, you must have your own blog/site in order to host the giveaway.
  • You rely entirely on your own promotional outreach and social media presence. No one will know about the giveaway if you don’t already have a large number of social media contacts, as you don’t have the benefit of Amazon’s or Goodreads’s promotional influence and outreach.
  • You have to pay a fee to access some of the extra benefits. You can run the giveaway for free, but you won’t be able to utilize all of Rafflecopter’s features.
  • You may not see as many reviews from a Rafflecopter giveaway. Users on Amazon, Goodreads, or LibraryThing are already likely to post reviews to those sites, whereas a Rafflecopter entrant might not use any of them.


As you can see, there isn’t one right answer here. It’s up to you to select the best option for your marketing goals. Depending on your budget, you may want to use a combination of these services. Whichever option you choose, promotional giveaways can be an effective marketing tool to help create buzz and attract new readers.

Have you tried any of these giveaway options? What was your experience? Any pros or cons I missed? Would you like to try any of these? Let me know in the comments!

Interested in professional editorial services for your manuscript? Check out my Services page for more information about what I offer.

This post is part of my Self-Publishing Series. For more information about self-publishing, check out the other posts in the series here, and follow the blog to see future posts!

Related Links:

-7 Marketing Tips for Self-Published Authors

-Self-Publishing Ebooks 101: Links and Resources

-10 Tips for Planning a Book Launch Party

-Self-Publishing Print Books: CreateSpace vs. IngramSpark


2 thoughts on “Comparing Book Giveaway Promotions

  1. lynettedavis says:

    Very informative! I don’t like the idea of people signing up for a giveaway simply because it’s free with no intention of reading the book or providing a review, but I do like the idea that Goodreads (and Amazon) does the heavy lifting. On the other hand, I like the option that Rafflecopter offers of running the giveaway on my own blog or website. It’s important, I think, that the author gets the benefit of the traffic. Both options definitely have to be weighed carefully.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s