KDP Kids: Create children’s Kindle books for readers worldwide
“There was no risk – all I had to do was put my book out there.”
Raymond Bean, author of the School is a Nightmare series
November 2012 marked the four year anniversary of my leap into self-publishing. When I published my first title way back in 2008, I didn’t know what a Kindle was, no one read digital books yet, and self-publishing was about as cool as a canker sore.
At the time, the only thing I had to show for my writing was a computer full of stories and a binder full of rejections. I taught during the day, worked for a catering company on the weekends, and wrote as often as possible. I did what writers were “supposed to do”:
“KDP gave me all the tools and information I needed to get each of my books in front of the right audience.”
Seymour Simon, author of the Planet series for children
I started writing professionally while I was still teaching and serving as Science Department Chair in a large New York City public junior high school — nearly 40 years ago. My career as an author began by writing a monthly science supplement for Scholastic magazines, and I soon began writing science books for children. Many of my books, like my popular Einstein Anderson: Science Geek series, are based on the projects I was doing every day in my classroom. Eventually, I had so many writing contracts that I retired from teaching to write full time. At this point I have written so many books that I am not sure of the exact count….but I know it is getting close to 300!
Goodreads e-book giveaway program now open to self-published authors
New e-book giveaway program for KDP authors
I was reminded of this conversation with my younger friend last week when I saw the news that on January 9, Goodreads is opening up its new-ish e-book giveaway program to self-published authors using Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP).
I expected authors to be more excited than they were, however. One author was so annoyed that she wrote to the Authors Guild to complain about the program, saying, “it’s time this whole thing was discussed and exposed.” Others offered some version of, “I’m done with Goodreads.”
Many said the $119 price for up to 100 copies (either Kindle e-book or print book) was more than they would spend for the service. (Note that there’s a special introductory rate of $59 between January 9, 2018 and January 31, 2018.)
That’s partly because many of those I heard from said that they expected their giveaways to generate reviews, and that didn’t always happen.
Others were concerned that people entered print giveaway events so they could sell the books on Amazon.
“Will I just be feeding more copies out into the world to be sold used, with a premium because these ones will be signed?” asked one author. She did a giveaway on her own after her publisher did two of them — one before publication and one immediately after.
Others did giveaways to build awareness without expecting lots of reviews. As one author said, “I think the main benefit was with my self-published book, in just raising awareness that it existed at all.”
I asked Kyusik Chung, vice president of authors services at Goodreads, a few questions about this. My goal was to help you better understand whether the new KDP e-book giveaway might fit into your marketing plans. Here are excerpts from our e-mail conversation.
This service has already been available to publishers. What have you learned about the books and authors who will have the most success with this program? We’ve learned that Kindle e-book giveaways are fantastic for generating reviews quickly. Because you can give away up to 100 copies for the same flat fee, publishers have gotten more copies in more reviewers’ hands and, ultimately, more reviews on their book pages. And because those books are fulfilled automatically and instantly at the end of the giveaway, readers are able to read the book immediately rather than waiting for the books to be mailed to them. We think KDP authors will love this aspect when they use Kindle e-book format giveaways.
I wonder if this is more helpful for fiction than nonfiction. What’s your take on that? One of the strengths of Goodreads is that you can find fans of every type of book category from military history to paranormal romance to personal finance in our community of 70 million readers. We see authors and publishers of every type of book having success with driving awareness and interest through giveaways. Of course, results will vary depending on readers’ interest in a book.
What best practices can you recommend to authors considering this service? What Goodreads is good at doing is amplifying the success of a book at launch, and giveaways are one of our book marketing tools you can use to drive discovery and buzz for a new book.
Four key things to focus on with giveaways are:
The description in the giveaway needs to get readers’ attention and persuade them to want to read the book and enter your giveaway. Really think about what makes your book stand out and spend time on that all-important first sentence. If you already have reviews, look for what readers are saying they liked most about your book to help you craft this.
Offer as many copies as you can. This will increase the number of people who have the chance to read the book, and it also increases the number of entries as people know they have a higher chance of winning.
Have a strong bio in your Goodreads author profile. Goodreads displays the first few sentences of your bio plus a “Follow Author” button on the Giveaway’s custom landing page so you want those opening sentences to be engaging.
Run your first giveaway for a book several months ahead of publication. This allows time to start building up those crucial early reviews so your book page already has reader perspectives once your book is out. You can also time a Giveaway around your publication date to create more excitement in that critical period.
What do you say to authors who say that this is just another way to rip off authors? Indie authors are an important part of the Goodreads community and there are several ways authors can engage with readers on Goodreads for free, including sharing what you are reading yourself (Maggie Stiefvater, Rick Riordan, and Roxane Gay are three great examples of authors who do this), using our “Ask the Author” feature, and providing additional content about your books with our Kindle Notes & Highlights on Goodreads feature (see how Emma Chase shared notes on her book, Royally Screwed, which led to some great interactions with her fans – authors should contact our author team if they are interested in doing something like this too).
You can find tips on all of this and more on our Author & Advertisers Blog. We also recommend authors sign up for our Authors Newsletter to stay informed about Goodreads and get case studies and advice. The cost of our giveaway package options reflects the marketing value we are providing to help authors drive interest and awareness of their books.
Goodreads giveaways are a special type of advertising campaign. A Goodreads giveaway is much more than just getting your book into the hands of a group of readers. It includes building awareness through placement on Goodreads’ highly-trafficked pages, social amplification through stories in the Goodreads updates feed, notifications to your followers, and reviews. All of this helps build your audience and drive discovery of your book.
In addition, many indie authors only have Kindle e-book editions and were asking Goodreads for the ability to run giveaways for Kindle e-books — this was previously not available to them.
Beckwith continues with her advice:
What do you think?
If you have a traditional publishing contract, you probably won’t have much trouble convincing your publisher to do a Goodreads giveaway.
If you’re self-published, I’d encourage you to calculate what you’ve spent or plan to spend on:
- Facebook advertising
- Book deal newsletters
- Tables at book fairs
- Other common marketing tactics that cost money
You might find that a $119 fee for visibility on this site that readers use and love is worth considering, especially considering Chung’s observation that giveaways generate reviews. I see it as a platform-building tool for writers who are in it for the long term.
Before you spend money on a giveaway or any other tactic, though, make sure you’ve got a great book. Write a book that generates the kind of conversation I had with my friend about A Man Called Ove and other books we’ve both read and loved this year.
If you don’t, it won’t matter how much money you spend to support it.
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