Friday, June 28, 2013

Creating a Successful Goodreads Giveaway

What is a Goodreads giveaway? What can it do for you?

Goodreads is a great place to meet books, readers and authors. One of the best tools the site offers is the giveaway program. I have to admit, Goodreads might seem difficult to manage at first. It's got to be the least intuitive website I've ever come across, so it took me several months to build up the courage to use it on a daily basis. However, once I learned the basics, there was no going back!

Ever since Serving Time went live on May 2, I've been trying out different marketing methods (sort of like poking a stick around in the dark). On the different writers' forums I lurk, many people had pointed out the benefits of hosting a book giveaway on Goodreads, mainly: READERS WILL KNOW YOUR BOOK EXISTS.

This is crucial! If nobody knows your novel is out there in the world, nobody will buy it. As easy as that. So, by hosting a giveaway, we can get hundreds and hundreds of eyes on our book.

Here's what you should do:

Set up your Goodreads author page and submit your book listing. You will need the ISBN for this. Your page might take a day or two to go live, and once it does, you can play around adding links to your blog, to Twitter, and other sites. If your novel hasn't been published yet, you won't have a cover. You can upload a cover image, or a cover teaser. For the first few weeks, this was my novel's image:

Get ready to list a giveaway. You can find the giveaways by clicking on the "Explore" button at the top of the Goodreads bar, and selecting "Giveaways." You'll see a page with the different books being given away. Using the tabs, you can see what giveaways are ending soon, which novels are the most requested, which are the most popular authors, and which giveaways have been recently listed. If you scroll down a little, you can also browse by tag (the tag links appear in a list on the right), which means that you can search for a giveaway by genre.

Scroll back up to the top and you'll see a link on the right called "List a Giveaway." Bingo! The form you need to fill out is quite simple, but be sure to write a compelling description and to use useful tags to define your book. You can also watch a video tutorial on how to make a giveaway, right on the same page.

Goodreads giveaways are exclusively for print books.This means you will have to mail a copy of your book to the winner. There are two things you can do here: buy a copy through Amazon and send it to the winner's address (which means they will receive the shipment straight from Amazon), or buy the copy yourself (through Createspace), sign it, and then ship it. Personally, autographed books are much more appealing, but the choice is up to you.

Before creating my giveaway, I checked out several blogs for advice. Some of the advice was contradictory (for example, some suggested giving away several copies to entice more entries, while others suggested giving away just one copy and doing more giveaways in the future), so you need to make your decisions based on what you think is best. Here are some of the sites I visited, and which I found very helpful:

The main advice I followed is:

- Select a period of several weeks. If you are just starting out as an author, don't expect people to flock to you. They've never heard about you. It's tough, but it's the truth. By running the giveaway during a three or four-week period, we give people more time to discover our work and enter to win.

- Choose an unpopular date as your ending date. You'll have to browse through the giveaway pages for a while, but this piece of advice is totally worth it. Imagine you choose July 14 as your ending date, and there are 25 other book giveaways ending on the same day. Your listing might never make it to the front page! Fewer people will probably see it, so you might get fewer entries. If, on the other hand, you end your giveaway on a Goodreads "slow day," you'll assure maximum visibility when the giveaway is coming to an end.

- Make the giveaway description compelling. This is a vital point, and it's all up to you!

- Accept entries from all over the world. While filling out the form, you need to choose what countries can participate in the giveaway. By selecting worldwide access, you let more people know about your book. I know some authors might be hesitant to select this option, in case the winner ends up being from a remote country. Well, I think this is a risk we have to take. The majority of Goodreads users are in the US, so chances are the winner will be in US territory. However, there are many of us living outside the US! In my case, I would have preferred shipping solely to European countries, but that would have blocked out hundreds and hundreds of entries! Be fair, give everyone a chance to win--and to know your book. :-) 

- Once the giveaway has begun, use social media to your advantage! Blog about the giveaway (Goodreads offers a free widget you can place on your blog), have others blog about it, tweet about the free book, post about it on Facebook, on forums... Create an event on Goodreads and invite all your friends. People will rush to sign up!

- When the giveaway comes to an end and the winner is announced...SHIP THAT BOOK! You're giving quality service here, so you want happy winners.

Here is my own experience:

I decided to go for a month-long giveaway, partly because I wanted to draw a larger audience by giving people a longer time to enter, and partly because I was a tad scared. I checked the giveaway calendar and chose a ending date with few novels (June 7). This way, I assured my novel would appear on the giveaway front page for a longer time.

Without any doubt, I decided to give away just one signed copy of my book. If you check the links above, you'll see some suggest giving away 20 or 30 copies. Well, if you can handle the costs, go for it! In my case, and since I had never listed a giveaway before, I preferred to start small and see how things would go.

One of the giveaway advice sites I visited qualified the self serve ads as "a must." However, other authors I spoke to said their results were zilch. Curious to see what it could do for me, I decided to buy a self serve ad on Goodreads and link it to the giveaway. Self serve ads are cheap and quick to set up. The link is somewhat hidden at the very bottom of the Goodreads page ("Advertise").

The ad did nothing. I think it got about 11 clicks during the whole giveaway. Luckily, the ad keeps running until the funds run out, so now it's been several weeks since my giveaway ended, and the advert is still showing up on Goodreads--and it can be updated at any time. It's receiving many more clicks now than when the giveaway was active.

So, back to the set-up process: once I had selected my dates, I chose worldwide entries, prepared the blurb, and clicked "publish." The giveaway went live the next day and immediately started receiving hundreds of entries.

However, things slowed down for the two weeks in the middle. This was a logical dip in entries, since the novel was buried deep in the giveaway pages--but no worries! When my giveaway ending date approached, entries soared again.

Overall, the giveaway results blew me away! I received over 1200 entries, and about 560 people added Serving Time to their "to-read" shelf! This was double my expectations! I sent the winner a quick message congratulating him on the win, and telling him what day his free copy would ship.

Since the giveaway ended, things have been quiet. I've received a few ratings and one or two reviews. Still, I'm satisfied knowing my novel was in front of so many people, and maybe it managed to spark some interest. Who knows, maybe some of the people who have it on their "to-read" shelf end up buying a copy some time in the future.

In conclusion, Goodreads giveaways are a 100% recommended adventure! Just the thrill of seeing so many people interested in your novel is enough reason to host one ASAP!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Demons in the Big Easy - Sneak Peek

Yesterday, we had a special author interview with Jamie Marchant, who wrote "The Goddess's Choice" and "Demons in the Big Easy."

As a special treat, today I have for you a sneak peek into "Demons in the Big Easy." Enjoy!

Cassandra felt eyes watching her and turned. On the other side of the fence, just off sacred ground, stood a demon. It smiled at her revealing nasty, yellow teeth and a forked tongue, its cat-like eyes glowing with satisfaction. “Good e’vn, powerful one.” The demon was short, but bloated, as if it had just consumed someone’s essence, but it was too small to have gotten past the wards she had guarding the village.
            Cassandra’s lips tightened as she wondered who had been caught outside the wards. She hoped it wasn’t one of those who relied upon her for protection. She’d warned them not to be without the village boundaries after sunset. She readied her staff to perform the ritual of banishment, but the demon’s behavior was odd. “Why have you sought me out? You know I’ll simply send you back where you belong.”
            The demon laughed. “Today, yes,” it hissed. “But soon there will be enough of us to overwhelm your wards and devour your village.”
            Impossible. The veil might be thinner, but not thin enough for demons to cross in multitude. It would take far too much energy. “Your idle threats don’t scare me.” Cassandra took her staff and began to draw a pentangle in the snow, the first step of the banishment ritual.
            The demon smiled wider as the pentangle took shape; it should have cowered in fear. “I will feast on you yet, powerful one, and the meal will be delectable.” It licked its thin lips with its forked tongue and made no effort to thwart the banishment. Any effort it made would have been futile, but still, she usually had to do the ritual while fighting them off, a lapse of concentration on her part usually fatal. This demon just watched as if rather amused by the spectacle.

            Cassandra finished drawing the pentangle and stood in the center. She planted her staff and began to chant in the old tongue. Directing her will and her energy into the staff, she pointed it toward the demon. The demon began to fade as she pushed it back beyond the veil. Usually, at this point, the demon would scream and curse her name. This one just laughed again and spoke a single word, “Soon.”

If you enjoyed this sneak peek, you can get your copy of "Demons in the Big Easy" at any of the following links:


For more information about Jamie, check out these links:

Monday, June 24, 2013

Author Interview - Jamie Marchant

Today I'm happy to present to you Jamie Marchant, author of "The Goddess's Choice" and "Demons in the Big Easy."

On to you, Jamie!

What do you do aside from writing?

I teach writing and literature at Auburn University. I’m the mother of a seventeen-year-old son, and I have four cats. Some have called me a cat lady.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

I’m a more fly-by-the-seat-my-pants kind of writer. I never made a written outline or plotted a story arc. I had a basic idea of where I wanted to end up, although I didn’t know exactly how Demons in the Big Easy was going to end until I was nearly there. A lot of where the story goes depends on the characters. They tend to take on a life of their own.

Where did you get the inspiration for "The Goddess's Choice"? And for "Demons in the Big Easy?"

My first book, The Goddess's Choice, originates deep within my childhood. My sister Jalane--she is ten years older than me--told me stories, fairy tales mostly:  "Midas and His Golden Touch," "Little Red Riding Hood," "Hansel and Gretel." But my favorite was always "The Princess and the Glass Hill" or "The Glass Mountain" as my sister titled it. I had her tell that story over and over again. I was captivated by the bold hero on his magical horses of bronze, silver, and gold.

When I had a child of my own, I wanted to pass that fairy tale on. My son, Jesse, loved it every bit as much as I had. One day after telling it to him, it came to me that the story could be so much more than five pages and sparse details. However, I didn’t want to write a children’s story but the type of epic fantasy I enjoy as an adult. I upped the dramatic tension, villainy, and sexuality of the piece to create something far different than the original fairy tale. The Goddess’s Choice is intended for an adult audience.

Demons in the Big Easy was inspired by a prompt for an anthology about older women heroes. As I thought about the anthology, Cassandra came to life. Her world and the rest of the story followed. My novella didn’t make it into the anthology, but it got a positive enough response that I decided to publish it.

Do your stories have a message? What are you trying to tell your readers?

The Goddess’s Choice has a fairly overt lesson about forgiveness, how holding on to anger hurts ourselves more in the end than anyone else. Demons in the Big Easy is about the power of older women, who tend to be discounted in our society that celebrates youth.

Cassandra, the main character of "Demons in the Big Easy", is a loving old witch (no insult there; she's really a witch!). Do you have any plans for incorporating her into future stories?

I hadn’t, but people keep asking me this, so maybe I should consider another Cassandra story.

In tone with the previous question: what are your future writing plans?

I’m almost finished with the sequel to The Goddess’s Choice, titled The Soul Stone, in which Samantha struggles to solidify her rule, and Robrek must confront a bigger threat to the safety of the joined kingdoms. I’m also working on an urban fantasy novel, The Bull Riding Witch, which has a princess from a parallel realm switching bodies with a rodeo bull rider.

Finally, is there any advice you would give aspiring authors?

Read a lot, and find yourself a critique group or partner. It’s nearly impossible to see all the weaknesses in your own work.

Thank you for the interview, Jamie! I appreciate you taking the time to stop by!

Dear readers, don't forget to come back tomorrow for a sneak peek into "Demons in the Big Easy"!

If you would like to keep in touch with her, or learn more about her work, check out the following links:

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Serving Time goes FREE!

It's that time of the year... FREE DOWNLOAD DAYS!

Head on over to Amazon to grab your free ebook.

US site:

UK site:

Canada site:

Spain site:

Thank you! I hope you enjoy Serving Time.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Author Interview: Ryan Sullivan, author of Aundes Aura

Today I'm happy to interview friend and author Ryan Sullivan. His debut fantasy novel Aundes Aura came out just last week!

Want to know what's really cool? You can hop on over to Amazon and grab a FREE copy today!

Saera is afflicted. Seven years ago, while venturing into a cave behind a waterfall with her brother Eoin, she unwittingly absorbed the Aura of Aundes, the Goddess of Light, who cultivates war by making men blind to one another.

Their father, the village blacksmith, languishes in the dungeons for refusing to fight in the Duthonian army, so the siblings must fend for themselves, begging for coin by day and stealing into houses for food by night. Meanwhile, the power-hungry Church Regency prepares an army for an all-out attack on neighbouring kingdom, Meira.

When the Aura reveals itself within Saera, the Regency pursues her relentlessly. She and Eoin take flight and with the help of Faine, a mysterious traveller they happen upon, they elude their pursuers. Making alliances they would never have dreamt of, they find themselves swept up into a struggle against the kingdom they once called their own.

Hello Ryan! Tell us a bit about yourself. What do you do apart from writing?

I’m currently studying an Advanced Diploma of Music, in hopes of being a piano teacher to supplement my writing income. This year I started teaching piano at a primary school on Wednesdays. When I have spare time, I record covers of film and game themes on my Youtube channel, “Acrozius”. I also sometimes record original songs, and covers of more mainstream music for my other Youtube channel, “Ryan Lee Sullivan”.

Aundes Aura was released last week. Where did you find the inspiration to write it?

The initial inspiration came one morning when I woke up. In my mind was an image of a girl in a cave, an explosion of white light, and the title, Aundes Aura. It nestled in my thoughts for the next couple of days, and then I started writing.

Plotter or pantser?

Of course, it’s really a spectrum. When I started writing Aundes Aura I’d say I was about 50/50, maybe with a slight lean towards pantser. These days I’d say I’m 3 parts plotter, 1 part pantser. I used a variation of the Snowflake Method to plan out my current work-in-progress (Three Bridges) from start to finish. Also, before every session, I write a brief outline of the events I’ll be covering, and then expand on those in the actual writing.

How would you define your writing? Do you have a special message for readers?

It’s a blend of action and character development that doesn’t get too bogged down in details, but provides a good amount to give a sense of the world. I like to use all three at a time – the characters progress towards their goal, and meanwhile we learn something new about one of them, and discover the world through the eyes of the main character. In Aundes Aura I explore the themes of corruption and loyalty in many ways.

As an author, what is the most difficult task you’ve had to tackle? And the easiest?

The most difficult task for me was taking a book all the way to the end of the first draft. The following drafts were much easier, and much less time-consuming. Now that I’ve done that, it will definitely come more easily in the future. The easiest task was, in fact, getting the initial idea. I mean, I woke up and it was there. All I had to was go with it.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Finish things. Be a finisher, not just a starter. If novels take you a while, write a couple of short stories as side-projects. Learn to finish. It doesn’t matter how many great ideas you’ve started, you can’t publish an unfinished book. If you get a great idea in the middle of a project, jot it down and move on. You can come back to it later.

Thank you for the interview, Ryan, and congratulations on your new release! I wish you the best of luck.

As for you, dear readers, don't forget to check out Aundes Aura on Amazon, and download your free copy while the promotion lasts (June 12, 13 & 14)!

You can also...

Monday, June 3, 2013

Author Interview: Carrie Lange

Today I have an amazing guest author: Carrie Lange. Carrie's novel is a heart-wrenching tale of overcoming grief and guilt--a story I will never forget.

She also runs the Little Blog of Letting Go, a site dedicated to suicide prevention, support for depression and grief, and encouragement for everyone.

1.   Tell us a bit about yourself. What do you do apart from writing?

I am a wife, insurance agent, and mother to two children, three dogs, one tortoise, four rats, and one ant colony. I live near Seattle, Washington and apart from caring for my family, taking care of my insurance customers, writing and blogging, my interests are suicide prevention, reading, camping, anything to do with Star Trek, white water rafting, playing Dungeons & Dragons, and archery.

2.   You published your debut novel last April. Letting Go is a touching story of regrets and redemption, with the added bonus of having a paranormal twist. In a few more words, how would you describe it?

Letting Go is based on my experience as a suicide survivor, after my fiancĂ©e, Dan, killed himself several years ago. It’s like The Five People You Meet In Heaven told from both sides of heaven, The Lovely Bones meets A Grief Observed. It’s a character-driven narrative exploration of grief, mental illness, suicide, regret, and letting go of things that cannot be changed.

In my efforts to prevent suicide, all proceeds will be donated to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. 1-800-273-8255 www.suicidepreventionlifeline.orgHelp is available 24/7 for those in crisis.

3.   Would you mind telling us why and how you wrote the novel? I imagine it must have been a very difficult emotional experience for you. What message do you have for readers?

The book was originally written for my teenage daughter, who began struggling with depression and thoughts of suicide the past few years. In her struggle to understand her own depression, she kept asking me about Dan’s death. Although very young when he died, she loved him very much and had a difficult time understanding his sudden loss. As she grew older, and began to realize what happened, her questions became more pointed. Letting Go first began as my way of explaining to her an unexplainable act.

One of the main characters, and the one readers seem to love the most, Tar, was not a figment of my imagination. My daughter told me about talking to Dan’s friend. She told me Dan wasn’t up in heaven with God, but with his friend, Tar, who was dead too. That night – after watching Galaxy Quest about five times in a row – I had a dream about Tar, which probably explains why he looked like Alan Rickman to me!

My goal with Letting Go is to both prevent suicide and help survivors understand why people become suicidal. I also want to help all people gain a better understanding of the grieving process.

After Dan died, the people in my life were, for the most part, uncomfortable around me due to the circumstances of his death. They also did not understand my grief, nor did I. The grief and isolation I experienced was so profound that it almost led me to commit suicide myself. I want others to be able to recognize and anticipate the intricacies of depression, grief, and suicidal behavior.

I wanted to show a real portrayal of profound grief, because I think many of us have never really seen it. The grief-stricken often hide it away from their loved ones, as I did.

4.   Are you working on any new writing projects?

I have started writing a Fantasy book, and must admit, it’s been much more enjoyable writing it than Letting Go. Writing Letting Go took an emotional toll on me, and I’m having fun with my new venture. But, it’s a long way from being finished, I better get something new up on Critique Circle soon!

5.   Do you have any advice on how to tackle loss and guilt?

It’s a strange irony, but the people who love you the most, often are incapable of providing you with the support you need. If you are struggling with grief of any kind, my main advice to you is to find a support group. A suicide survivor group, grief support group, or any kind of group that focuses on the kind of loss you are experiencing. People grieve over more than just the death of a loved one. Divorce, loss of a job, growing elderly, the list goes on. Try, check the resources page of my blog, or just google what you’re in need of.

If you are feeling suicidal – get help, reach out, realize that treatment is available. Depression is not a weakness, it’s a disease like any other. Please get the help you need!

6. Do you have any advice for new authors? Is there anything you would have done differently?

My main piece of advice is to stop dreaming about it and start doing it! I put it off for years because it just seemed like a pipe dream. If you want to write a book, then start doing it - right this very minute. You don’t have to know a damn thing about writing, that’s a myth. I knew absolutely nothing about it when I started. I just pulled out a piece of paper and began, “Once upon a time…”

My second piece of advice is join a writer’s group and an online critique group. You can find a local writer’s group through, and I highly suggest Critique Circle for the online group. Along that vein, when a critiquer gives you advice – take it! Especially if you keep hearing the same advice from multiple sources.I learned everything I know about writing from the wonderful groups and fellow authors, like you! You truly helped me become what I am proud to now call myself – an author. Thank you, Nadine!

Thank you very much for the interview, Carrie! Good luck with Letting Go!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...