Do Goodreads Giveaways Increase Sales?
I began Little Trooper Books almost a year ago and over the last few months, I have tried several different methods to increase my visibility and sales to possible customers. As I read articles and watched ‘How To’ videos it struck me that other authors were recommending multiple ways of reaching customers but no one really tracked their results or had any visible proof that their methods were actually successful in achieving their goal (ultimately, increasing sales).
I have found marketing and sales to be the toughest part of being an independent children’s author which initially surprised me. Spending months of learning new software and techniques, taking your ideas and creating fantastic kids books only to have them sit in the dark because nobody knew they existed was a challenge I hadn’t foreseen. I realized the same truth all excited authors face – even if you have a masterpiece on your hands, if you don’t have a proven sales channel and know what you are doing, it will sit in obscurity forever.
Before deciding to write and illustrate children’s books, I have spent my career in the military and civilian life in logistics, predominantly as an analyst. I am intending to take that experience and apply it to tracking results to prove whether money and time spent on individual marketing, promotions or advertising achieves my goal. This will be my first article as I trial and track results from each project. I have just started a Google AdWords campaign and I’m collecting data for my next article in a few weeks.
Over the past few months, I have seen other authors giving away books on Goodreads but to be honest, I was skeptical whether this would have any actual impact on sales of the books.
I have been following Keith Wheeler from the Reviewmates Facebook group who has been posting some very interesting articles and videos about Goodreads. He mentioned that he was using Goodreads to increase his reach and that he had seen an increase in his sales. You can watch one of his videos from his YouTube channel below:
I decided to follow the principles he laid out in his articles, posts and videos to set up and execute a Goodreads giveaway campaign and then track what impact it had on the sales of my three military-themed children’s books. I won’t go into detail about how to do this as Keith covers it very well, I’m more focused on what it achieves.
The three books I trialed are listed below with links to the Goodreads page so you can check them out:
I collected data from several weeks before the campaign so I would have a base to compare with. I then matched this against results which were gathered across the two weeks of the campaign and then a further two weeks after the campaign ended.
I undertook no other advertising or promotions during this time frame in an effort to keep the data as clean as possible and to try and show the direct impact that the giveaway had on sales. The results are below:
Military Friends ABC
- 677 Entrants
- 233 ‘Want to Read’
Grandpa’s 1 to 10 and Back Again
- 627 Entrants
- 225 ‘Want to Read’
Tanks Do Not Make Good Pets
- 666 Entrants
- 223 ‘Want to Read’
The goal of a Goodreads giveaway is to gain visibility to potential customers and to get as many as possible to add your books to their ‘Want to Read’ section in Goodreads.
This will hopefully act as a catalyst to encourage those people to seek out and purchase those books. The ‘Want to Read’ section is promoted to their friends gaining you extra visibility and ultimately I’m looking for a chain reaction.
I believe the Goodreads giveaway program has a lot of opportunists who are simply after anything free or those who seek profit from winning copies of free books and then on-selling them. These are simple to identify as they have physically unchecked the ‘Add to Want to Read’ box but still entered the giveaway. On average, the results show up to 35% of the entrants actually had interest in the books while approximately 65% were possibly opportunists looking for free swag.
Regardless, for the price of three books and shipping, I have reached up to 233 potential customers from this campaign. The big question – did it convert to sales?
Impact on Sales
Prior to the Goodreads giveaway, I had a steady and constant rate of sales which can be seen by the red line.
The green line shows the data collected during and immediately after the Goodreads giveaway and shows a definite and obvious increase. I have an anomaly which I can’t explain where a large number of books were sold at the end of my data collection. What caused this or why would only have me speculating and I cannot confirm that this was due to the Goodreads giveaway (it occurred two weeks after the giveaway). As such, I have decided to ignore that spike.
When that spike is removed I am left with the below representation. Confirmation in my opinion that Goodreads giveaways are a successful method for increasing sales. I recorded a total sales increase of 14% over the period. As an independent author, I do not currently have the sales volume of a New York Times Bestseller and I am unsure if they would see such a dramatic increase when looking at larger numbers. I am also curious whether repeated giveaways would have a diminished effect (I intend to find out).
A byproduct of gathering this data taught me a number of other things which I had read but was able to prove myself:
- The vast majority of my sales happen on a Sunday and Monday. I need to be targeting my promotions for these days whenever possible.
- Thursday is the next most popular day for sales. All other days are very similar and constant for sales numbers.
- Some of my books are outperforming others. Considering customers cannot see content before purchase, this has to do with presentation and subject matter. I believe I can improve the presentation of the book that is underselling.
- Advertising and promotion can have positive effects on your sales. I was very skeptical at first and was starting to think that my time and money was going into a black hole. I am looking forward to future projects to find out what which approach and method is the most successful for my business.