Wednesday, April 2, 2014

More Good Marketing Advice from Jan Shapin

Adventures in the Land of Book Giveaways
By Jan Shapin
Many, if not most, Write Words Inc. authors know about GoodReads, the hugely successful social media site for avid readers that is now owned by Amazon. For the last few years I have occasionally checked to see what my book ratings were but nothing more. This changed when I signed up for a virtual book tour (

A Snug Life Somewhere is about Penny Joe Copper, daughter of a roustabout shingle weaver, who is caught up in a 1916 union tragedy known as the Everett Massacre. Her brother Horace is killed, as is the cousin of a radical organizer, Gabe. When her love affair with Marcel, a music student seven years her junior, is thwarted, she is pulled into Gabe’s campaign to avenge the “Everett Martyrs.” 

Since my first virtual book tour ( resulted in several postings on GoodReads, this time I decided to be prepared and actually figure out how to make the site work for me. It started with joining the author page and learning that GoodReads book giveaways are a free way to promote your book on a site with19 million unique visitors a month. 

I am not very knowledgeable about social media or computer savvy so I had a lot of resistance to trying it, but with a bit of help I ventured forth. My first giveaway of ten copies of A Snug Life Somewhere ended after six weeks on April 1, and the results were impressive: 1260 readers signed up for the giveaway and, of that number, one half (629) added the book to their “to read” list, some from the giveaway itself (433) and the remainder (196) through other kinds of connections such as ads or word-of-mouth. 

Three factors may have influenced this good response: a very attractive cover, that the giveaway was done concurrently with the TLC virtual book tour, and that I signed up for an ad buy with GoodReads. The ad buy feature is also easy to use, and while not free, still quite a bargain. 

You make your ads using a simple template and check boxes for types of viewers you want to target. You also set a dollar limit on the buys that cost, generally, 50 cents a click. I set up an account and prepaid $50. The average view-to-click ratio is about 1900 “page views” per $.50 click – so for $29, my ad was seen by 110,000 site users over the six weeks of the giveaway. Those two features, book giveaway postings and ads, work together to generate reader interest, resulting in higher signups for the giveaways and higher numbers of readers putting your book on their “to read” list. 

I’m so happy with the results that I’m using a loophole in the giveaway program (which is advertized as being only for newly published works) to do what other authors are doing -- giving away older books in “commemoration” of the publication of a new one. 

What makes women fall for men who are tied to political causes? Set in the Depression and WW II’s aftermath, A Desire Path links a love affair between a married woman and a union organizer with the crisis a famous female journalist faces trying to decide whether to join the Communist Party. Two stories of conflicted loyalties, each a journey along a desire path.

My other novel, A Desire Path, published in 2012, is going up for giveaway on April 5. I’m continuing my ad for the first book and creating new ads for the new giveaway. 

We’ll see how much cross-over there is between readers interested in the first book, and how much buzz is generated absent a concurrent book tour. In any case, the giveaway is virtually free (except of course for the cost of the books and mailing.) You can do one book or a hundred. Give it a try!  


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