All Good Things…

It’s a familiar phrase: All good things must come to an end.

Sadly, another good thing has come to an end in the world of book publishing.

Since 2007, Goodreads has provided an online community for book lovers. This social networking site allows readers to catalog books they have read, keep lists of books they want to read, provide reviews of books they have read, talk about books they are reading, and enter contests to win free books. For authors, Goodreads is a wonderful place to connect with readers, gain wider exposure for books, and potentially garner more book reviews.

Up until the beginning of this year, the Goodreads book giveaway program was a free program for all—both the author giving a book away and the reader receiving the book. Starting January 9, Goodreads’ new policy goes into effect making this book giveaway program a “pay to play” arrangement.

Moving forward, to place your book into a Goodreads’ book giveaway contest will cost you $119 (if you want premium exposure, you can pay $599).

With the change to a paying program, Goodreads now allows authors to giveaway either a print copy of the book or a Kindle version of the book (remember, Goodreads is owned by Amazon). They have also added a few additional features including:

  • Readers who enter a giveaway automatically have the book added to their Want-to-Read list.
  • The author’s followers and everyone who has already added the book to their Want-to-Read list get a notification about the giveaway.
  • Eight weeks after your Giveaway ends, winners receive an email from Goodreads to remind them to rate and review the book.

I believe that one reason Goodreads has implemented this pay-to-play policy is because the number of book giveaways on their site has grown exponentially as the number of independently published books has grown over the past few years.

In creating a pay-to-play program, Goodreads can keep the number of giveaways contests running at one time to a more reasonable level. My most recent count showed that on one day in December, Goodreads was running 2,700 book giveaways. In other words, as a Goodreads member, I could enter to win 2,700 separate book giveaways.

The beauty of the Goodreads free giveaway contests was that they allowed authors to gain exposure for their books for free. Book discovery is a huge challenge for independently published authors—one that will only become greater as the number of books published continues to grow.

Sadly, there are no quick and surefire methods to ensuring that your book is discovered by dozens of readers. I believe that the best advice for promoting a book was given by King Solomon in Ecclesiastes 11:6:

“Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let your hands not be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well.”

Heed this advice. Do a little of this and a little of that, and slowly people’s awareness of your book will grow.

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Sales Data Worth Mining

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Photo courtesy of Skitterphoto.

How Readers Discover Books

Do you recommend books to your family and friends? Have your family members or friends recently recommended a book to you?

Studies show that the number one way people discover books is through recommendations from family members and friends (including co-workers). Last year, Penguin Random House conducted a survey to find out more about how people discover books. Below is the Infographic that compiles the findings.

One of the more interesting findings in this study is how many people discovered a book via Goodreads. If you are not yet active on this book networking channel, I recommend that you join and benefit from this powerful tool that connects readers and books.

Related Posts:
Book Discoverability
Is That Information Necessary?
Trends in Book Discovery

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Trends in Book Discovery

Physical bookstores are shrinking. e-Reading is on the rise. These changes are affecting how people learn about books and how they buy and read them.

Codex Group has been conducting interviews with readers since 2004. They have interviewed more than 250,000 individuals. Codex has found that, in the past two years, a major shift has taken place in how people discover books.

Two years ago, the physical bookstore was the single-largest site of discovery with 35% of book purchases made because readers found out about a book in a brick-and-mortar bookstore. This year, in 2012, that figure dropped to 17%. In this two-year time period, personal recommendations grew the most from 14% to 22%. Three-quarters of these personal recommendations are made in person, while the rest come by email, phone, and social networks.

Interestingly, Codex discovered that the vast majority of personal recommendations are backlist titles. Only 6% of books recommended personally have been published in the past half year. This can be better news for small publishers who generally keep backlist books selling longer than larger publishing houses.

Digital mass media such as Facebook and Twitter are not as strong for book discoverability as you may think. These sites rose from 1.9% as a place people learned about books they bought to just 4.5% in the past two years.

Overall, online channels represent only 9% of discovery which is low in light of the amount of book purchases that are made online. This may be because book readers already know which books they want to purchase when they go online to buy books. In contrast, readers often go to a bookstore with the idea of browsing to “discover” something they might want to read.

What does this mean for your next book? Remember, personal recommendations are the most frequent way people discover books. Having people read, like your book, and then recommend it is the surest way to spread the word and increase sales.

I believe that having bloggers review your books is one great way to help spread the word about a book. If a blogger likes your book, she will recommend it to her friends (blog readers). That is why Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) runs the BookCrash program. A number of our publishers have reported that they have seen increased sales after a blogger has reviewed and recommended their book on a blog.

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