What’s up with the new rules for Goodreads Giveaways?

Starting January 9, 2018, the Goodreads Giveaways rules are changing, and it makes me worried. Right now, the Goodreads Giveaways program is perfect and welcoming to all readers and writers, but the new rules have the potential to turn it into an exclusive club for a select few.

I honestly see no improvements, and the change seems designed to benefit Amazon, and, possibly, big publishers, but will ultimately end up hurting both readers and authors. I’ll be curious to hear your thoughts and if anyone sees any bright side.

Let me preface this by saying I love Goodreads Giveaways, which is why I care so much about this. I’ve run multiple giveaways in the past, and they’ve given me the opportunity to connect with readers I wouldn’t have found otherwise. Also, I love gift-wrapping and mailing books and chocolates. Maybe a bit too much…


So, let’s look at the changes one by one:

A. The new giveaways are only open to readers located in the U.S.

While I always hate it when some readers are excluded from the fun, I can understand if it’s done for legal or cost-saving reasons. However, in this case it is completely nonsensical.

What happens when a Goodreads Giveaway ends?

1. I gift-wrap the books.
2. I take the package to the post office.
3. I pay for postage and ship it.

You might have noticed the extensive use of “I” in the above three steps. And that’s because Goodreads has nothing to do with the shipping. Nothing. Then why are they taking away my option to have my giveaway open worldwide? It’s my money and my responsibility. I can ship my book to the moon if I want to, and it will not affect Goodreads in any way, neither legally, nor cost-wise.

Of course, some authors and publishers want to limit their giveaways to a certain location, and that’s fine. The option to select eligible territories is currently there, but will be removed starting Jan. 9th. And I don’t understand why. Is it to remove competition for big publishers? Traditionally, big publishers have been limiting their giveaways to the US, while small and indie presses have enjoyed more freedom. And this gave small presses one advantage to bigger publishers, to go together with the 573 disadvantages… Perhaps that was the problem? Or, perhaps, I am being cynical and there is a sensible reason? If you can see it, please share, I’d be very interested to hear!

B. Goodreads now offers ebook giveaways! But only if you use Kindle and have an Amazon account.

Look, I love Kindle. I have one, and I carry it everywhere. But not everyone does. There are many other e-readers and apps, and they might work better for some readers. I’ve given away plenty of Kingdom of Ashes eARCs, and, while I also offered MOBI format, the majority of readers asked me for an EPUB. Some asked for a PDF. And now, all these readers will be excluded.

C. Goodreads Giveaways are now paid for authors and publishers (and are crazily overpriced)

Listing a giveaway will cost $119 for regular and $599 for premium (compared to the FREE it had always been, and this doesn’t include ordering and shipping paperback copies.) Obviously, this will reduce the number of authors who can participate and will significantly decrease the number of books available to readers. Goodreads is trying to sell the idea by claiming, “With our new program, we have priced the package options to reflect the marketing value we are offering.”

Which raises two points:

1) Whoever thinks the marketing value of a Goodreads Giveaway is anywhere near $119 has clearly never ran one.

2) So, Giveaways are supposed to be advertisements, now? Goodreads already has advertisement, designed especially for book lovers and targeted by region, favorite authors, and genres. Another advertising program seems like overkill.

What is particularly insulting is that Goodreads claims the new program is “A More Powerful Book Marketing Tool for Authors and Publishers” when it is clearly not more powerful in any way. If anything, it is notably less powerful.

Goodreads claims to have introduced these amazing brand new features that make the Giveaways more powerful, so let’s have a look:

(NEW) Everyone who enters your giveaway automatically adds the book to their Want-to-Read list

Erm… how is this new? This way always there. Okay, readers had the option to switch it off, and now looks like they will be forced to add the book. But what’s the point? If they don’t want to have the book on their shelf, they can always remove it manually. Even nowadays, when this feature can be switched off, many readers remove the book from their shelves as soon as the giveaway ends. Some even have a “remove” shelf for that purpose. This brings no benefit to authors.

(NEW) The author’s followers and anyone who has already added the book to their Want-to-Read list get a notification

Again, how is this anything new?

Also, the Giveaways homepage will no longer be the “Ending Soon” tab, but the new “Featured” tab for Giveaways that cost $599 instead of $119. In the past, books were rotating, with each one getting a moment in the spotlight. Now, only premium books will get this spotlight. I’ve run 8 Giveaways so far, and the only time a significant number of readers add my book to their ‘to-read shelf’ is on the last day, when my book is in the “Ending Soon” tab, and, thus, on the homepage. And now books using the standard package will never be on the homepage. Bad for readers, because, unless they go looking, they’ll see a smaller selection of books and might never discover their new favorite. And bad for authors because now much fewer readers will ever see their giveaways.

Oh, and did I mention authors will be supposed to pay for the Goodreads Giveaway through their Amazon account? They must have an Amazon to list a giveaway. While I do have one, some authors don’t and shouldn’t be forced to create one. Yes, I know Goodreads is a business, and their priority is to make a profit and not to benefit readers and writers, but I feel they should have been upfront about their motivations instead of trying to sell the change as something amazing done for the greater good.

I want to reiterate one last time that I love the current giveaways system, and I’m worried the new rules will hurt it. Let me know what you think—maybe I’m missing something or exaggerating, and I’d love to hear more optimistic outlooks!

What does that mean for my books? I have filled out a survey to tell Goodreads the problems I see, and I still hope that they might reconsider the changes. Sadly, if the rules stay like this, I will probably take my signed paperback giveaways elsewhere. Still, the old rules apply to giveaways scheduled before Jan. 9th, and it should be possible to schedule giveaways in advance, so I’ll try to set up one first and last Men and Monsters giveaway (open worldwide, as always.) I just need to get a better idea when I’ll have a reasonably finalized copy. The manuscript is currently with my editor, and once I get it back, I’ll have a good guess how much more work is needed. Can’t wait to share it with you all, one way or another!

5 thoughts on “What’s up with the new rules for Goodreads Giveaways?

  1. Elena,
    Thank you kindly for the info on the upcoming changes to Goodreads. I was totally unaware and love their current site and system. As a Canadian I will obviously be unable to participate as is the case with so many publisher offers only open to US residents. I hope they hear your concerns and reconsider as another avid reader. Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Lisa,

      I hope so too! In any case, the old rules apply to giveaways set up before Jan 9th, and one can create a giveaway up to 3 months in advance. If more authors see the news and decide to set up their future giveaways now (which is what I’m planning to do,) we might still get a few new giveaways in the next couple of months, before they disappear completely for readers outside the US. I really hope Goodreads will remove the restriction in the meantime.


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