Goodreads Has Not-So-Good News for Indie Authors

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Anyone familiar with my book marketing coaching for indie authors, knows that I love Goodreads. After all, Goodreads has been critical to the success of many self-published authors who want to get their books noticed in a very crowded playing field.

Indie authors know this site is a great place to interact with readers. I met the readers of my very first book club on Goodreads. My self-published book was only out for a few weeks, and a reader in Oregon contacted me through Goodreads to tell me her book club was reading it (insert author fainting). Being an author from New Jersey, I was ecstatic that not only did I have a reader who was not a blood relative, they did not even live in my town! Or state! This was exciting stuff. I was so thrilled, I offered to attend their book club via Skype. The book club host and I decided it would be fun if we surprised the rest of her friends by just having me appear on her kitchen island from her laptop! None of her friends were expecting me. It was lots of fun. That was my introduction to Goodreads. I quickly became acquainted with all that Goodreads had to offer.

One of my favorite features is (was) the Goodreads Giveaway. An author could list a giveaway for a paperback copy (or copies) of their book. They even selected the countries they wanted the Giveaway open to. At the end of the giveaway, the Goodreads algorithm chose the winner, the author was notified, and the book was sent out. This was a great opportunity for indies because the cover image of their book would be in front of thousands of eye balls. Interested readers would likely read your book description, if they entered the giveaway, many of them added your book to their “Want-To-Read” shelf—which put the book cover on their feed which was seen by their Goodreads friends. The only expense to the author was the cost of the book and the cost to ship the book to the winner.

Then came the news from Goodreads. All that’s changing.

In an email to authors who have run giveaways in the past, Goodreads announced that they are initiating some new Giveaway opportunities. But, the trouble is, they are not all that new. The glaring difference between the old giveaway and the new giveaway is the fee. And it’s not small. Now, to list a Giveaway it will cost an author $119. for the Standard Package. That fee is for one giveaway. Every time an author wants to schedule a giveaway, they need to cough up $119. Unless, they want the Premium Package (which will give them premium placement on the giveaway page) for $599!

If Goodreads wants to reduce the books available to their readers, that’s exactly what will happen. Because a much smaller percentage of books can entertain that expense. Yes, there are small changes to the giveaway, which you can read about here, like now you can also give away an ebook, but, in my opinion, it doesn’t justify the new fee.

Indie authors, without the support of a publisher, a marketing machine and budget, are at a disadvantage getting visibility for their books. It’s nearly impossible to even get publicity in traditional media. Goodreads has always been the place where book discovery was democratic. Apart from advertising opportunities, all books had the same access to readers. Surely, the number of giveaways will drop dramatically once these fees go into effect starting 1/9/18. This means the readers also lose out.

If you are an author who has listed Giveaways in the past, please fill out the survey at the bottom of the Goodreads announcement of this program here. Scroll to the bottom where it says: “Send us feedback. Please take this survey and let us know what you think.”

Eva Lesko Natiello is the award winning author of New York Times and USA Today bestseller, THE MEMORY BOX, a psychological thriller about a woman who Googles herself and discovers the shocking details of a past she doesn’t remember.