Thursday, March 05, 2015

Book Giveaway Promos Compared: Goodreads, Rafflecopter, and the New Amazon Giveaway

By Jodie Renner, editor & author, @JodieRennerEd

Part of the Indie Authors Series

We indie authors are always on the lookout for effective ways to market and promote our books to create buzz and attract new readers.

I’ve just released a new craft-of-writing guide, Captivate Your Readers, so I decided to host a few giveaways of this title, both in e-book and print form, to increase awareness of it. I recently ran a group giveaway of 15 e-books on my blog through Rafflecopter, included my three writing guides and one of Janice’s. It turned out really well and generated lots of traffic and entries, as well as new subscriptions to my newsletter. I’m also considering running a Goodreads Giveaway, as I haven’t done one of those in over a year.

But I just found out about a new initiative from, released on February 10, called Amazon Giveaway, and used it to give away 5 copies of my new book on March 2. I decided on one win per 40 entries. Over 200 people entered within about 10 hours, including overnight, so the 5 books were won and the contest closed. I opted for the requirement that each entrant follow me on Twitter, so I gained 200 Twitter followers in a few hours. But since the contest was over so quickly, before I could even promote it, next time I would opt for one win per 100 or even 150 entries. Also, it was expensive, as I had to pay retail price for my own books, plus the postage, but it did raise awareness for my new title and cause an increase in sales of this title, in both print and e-book form.

For more details on the new Amazon Giveaway, see an in-depth analysis on my own blog.

How does Amazon Giveaway compare with Goodreads Giveaways and Rafflecopter Promos, from the author’s point of view, for giving away books as a promotional tool?


  • You receive a link and can advertise your giveaway anywhere, including on social media, by email or newsletter, and on your blog or website.
  • You can opt to require entrants to follow you on Twitter to dramatically increase your followers on Twitter.
  • You benefit from Amazon’s huge reach and influence.
  • ­It’s free of charge. You don’t pay anything to set up and run this promo giveaway.
  • Amazon takes care of all the terms and conditions and does the shipping and handling for you, which saves you time and trouble. Hosts (you) pay the lowest shipping cost, determined by the winner’s address.

  • It’s for print books only, not e-books or mobi, ePub, or PDF files, so more expensive for us authors, especially since:
  • For now at least, we authors have to pay full, retail price for our books, plus the postage. If enough authors request it, maybe they’ll allow us to just pay our wholesale price, the amount we would pay when ordering our own books through CreateSpace.
  • Although you can advertise your Amazon Giveaway anywhere and integrate it with your Twitter account, you can’t design a giveaway widget or embed this giveaway into your own blog or website, so it won’t drive traffic to your site or help with newsletter sign-ups, etc. Traffic is instead sent to a site hosted by Amazon.
  • It’s only for items sold on Amazon.
  • Since it ships directly from Amazon, you can’t customize or personalize your gift in any way, so you won’t be able to autograph your book or add a little note.
  • You can’t edit the giveaway after it starts, so make sure the giveaway you’ve setup is what you want before you start promoting it. Once you’ve bought the prizes and pushed the giveaway live, there’s no turning back.
  • You can’t give away more than one prize at a time, so no grand prizes or runner-up prizes. You can offer one item only for each giveaway, but of course you control how many of that item you’ll give away.
  • Only residents of the U.S. aged 18+ are eligible to enter. So far, residents of Canada, the U.K., Australia, or other countries are not eligible to win your book or other prize.


  • The basic benefits are free: unlimited giveaways and entries, instant random winners, a downloadable Excel spreadsheet of all entries, and Facebook and Twitter entry options.
    You place their widget on your own blog or website, so it drives traffic to your site.
    You have the option to offer various prizes, such as more than one of your titles or books by other authors for a group giveaway.
    You save money, as you can offer e-copies or mobi or ePub copies or even PDFs. 
  • For print books, you can pay your wholesale price and can ship them from home or have them shipped directly from CreateSpace.
  • The biggest benefit is that you get an Excel spreadsheet with all the entrants to add to your newsletter mailing list yourself.
  • For a fee, you can ask entrants to Like your Facebook author page, add a particular book title to their Goodreads TBR list, participate in the “viral refer-a-friend” option, or sign up for your newsletter.

Or, for free, you can just make signing up for your newsletter a requirement, mentioned elsewhere on the page, or that you’ll be signing them up (and they can later opt out if they like).
  • You can give away multiple titles at the same giveaway.
  • You have the option to have a grand prize and/or runner-up prizes.
  • Rafflecopter picks the winner randomly at your prompt and gives you a quick link to email them.
  • At the end of the event, they’ll list the names of the winners within the widget, for everyone to see.
  • Also, you don’t have to offer books as prizes. You can offer other prizes, like a critique or gift cards or jewelry or whatever you want.
  • If you have a Facebook Author Page, you can opt for Rafflecopter to add a tab/app labeled Giveaway on it.

  • Results depend on your own social media presence and promoting. You don’t get to use Amazon’s or Goodread’s huge influence and far-reaching promo machines.
  • You have to pay a fee to access extra benefits, such as those mentioned above and adding a photo of your prize to the widget. But again, you can just post extra info and your own photos elsewhere on the page and on social media sites where you advertise your giveaway.


  • Goodreads does all the work.
  • Giveaway raises awareness of your book and many readers will add it to their TBR lists.
  • You get a widget you can place on your website and blog.
  • Your contest is listed on their giveaway page.
  • You may get reviews from winners of your books.

Print books only, no e-books
  • Apparently, some people enter all the contests, so may not be actually interested in your book. No guarantee the people who have your book on their TBR list will ever read it
  • Maybe you’ll get a review out it; maybe not

Book Giveaways – Some general conclusions, so far:

For the cheapest option (actually, free), do a Rafflecopter giveaway without the extras and make your prizes mobi (for Kindles), ePub (for all other e-readers), or PDF files of your book (free for you).

But if you don’t have a lot of Facebook friends, Twitter followers, or other social media contacts to tell about your giveaway, you’d do better to rely on Amazon’s or Goodreads’ built-in promotional machines.

If you don’t have a website or blog to host the Rafflecopter giveaway, go with Goodreads or Amazon Giveaways.

If you want/need more Twitter followers, do an Amazon Giveaway.

If you want to grow your newsletter subscription list, do a Rafflecopter giveaway.

If you’d like to increase your presence on Goodreads, then of course run a giveaway through them.

If you’d like to do a group promo with other authors or give away several different titles or a variety of prizes, choose Rafflecopter.

How about you? What’s your experience? Have you tried Goodreads Giveaways or this new one, Amazon Giveaways? How about Rafflecopter or other giveaways? Have you noticed a corresponding increase in sales? Give us your opinion in the comments below. Thanks. 

Giveaway: I'll will be giving away an electronic copy of my new writing guide, Captivate Your Readers, to the first four people who request it below, who are also willing to write an honest review on or by May 1. Also, if you haven't read any of my writing guides, mention that in the comments to be eligible for a grand prize of all three books, in mobi, ePub, or PDF (your choice).

Jodie Renner is a freelance editor and the award-winning author of three craft-of-writing guides in her series An Editor’s Guide to Writing Compelling Fiction: Fire up Your Fiction, Writing a Killer Thriller, and Captivate Your Readers. She has also published two clickable time-saving e-resources to date: Quick Clicks: Spelling List and Quick Clicks: Word Usage. When she’s not reading or editing compelling fiction, Jodie enjoys combining her two other passions, photography and traveling.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indie Bound


  1. Hello.
    I'd like to have a copy of your book (if I happen to be in the happy first four to comment).
    I haven't read any of your writing guides, but they seem very interesting and I think it would be a great plus to my writing.

    1. Hi Sue, please email me at for an e-copy of my new book. Hope you enjoy it!

  2. This is a great post, and I'd be very interested in a copy of your book. I haven't read your others (yet!). Thanks so much!

    1. Liv, please email me at the email address in the comment above so I can send you a copy of the book. Hope you find it useful!

  3. Some great pros and cons here. It's nice to see we (Indie authors) have options. Thanks!

  4. Hi Jodie! What a great post! I'm just going through the motions myself! I'd love a copy of your book Captivate Readers, and since I haven't yet had the pleasure of reading your other books, I'd be thrilled to be included in your grand prize draw!
    In gratitude,

    1. Congratulations, Marissa! You won an e-copy of each of my 3 writing guides! Please email me at to receive your prizes. I hope you find them useful for your writing projects! :-)

  5. Lovely post. I would use Rafflecopter for the giveaway I am planning in a couple of months. And I would love a copy of your book. It sounds like just the thing I need now. Thanks :)

    1. Glad you found my info useful, Priya. Email me at the address under the first comment to receive an e-copy of my just-released book. I'm confident you'll find it helpful!

  6. Thanks for this information. I'm going to be needing it soon.

  7. So much great advice! Just last night while looking for something on Amazon, I saw the giveaway prompt and was like, "What's this??" This post is so timely.

    1. Glad you found this info useful - and timely, Ruby! :-)

  8. I'm eight chapters into book two of a trilogy. Everything you said is right on the money. The characters don't obey me as well as those in the first book I sometimes need to wipe my memory of the first ones so that the characters in the second book can develop. I have lots planned for book three, if I can get past book two!

  9. There's still one e-copy of my latest writing guide to be won! If you're interested in receiving it, please mention that in a comment. :-)

  10. Thanks for the great information. All the different options can be overwhelming. This is a great way to look at it. I haven't had the pleasure of reading your work and would love to win a copy.

    1. Great! Email me at for your free e-copy of Captivate Your Readers, Rubianna. :-)

  11. My publisher always runs giveaways through Goodreads and I got quite a few reviews for my upcoming title as a result. It does seem silly to enter contests for books you don't want. If they are review copies, what are you going to do with them anyway? You can't sell them.

    1. Alex, I've heard rumors that some people enter those contests to resell the books! They're not always ARCs. But I think Goodreads is onto them and is finding ways of ferreting them out.

      Thanks for the encouraging words about Goodreads giveaways - I think I'll try one soon for my latest writing guide!

  12. Thanks for this post. Saving it for the right time!

  13. Hi, Jodie. I ran a Goodreads Giveaway last year. I offered ten copies of my then new release (Not ARCs) over a month. IIRC, several hundred people signed up for it, and I dutifully sent the ten books out. PO ripped one package open and sent it back to me. I received three reviews as a result. So, that’s my experience. I’ll do it again with my next book, since I can pay wholesale at CS.
    Thanks for sharing.