Goodreads: To Review or not Review

Book: City Affairs: My Quest For Love.




Here’s the gig. The feedback I have received from my indie published book has blown me away. But the first commandment of book publishing is that good books don’t necessarily make for good sales.

The biggest (and frankly only) reason to go down the traditional route is the marketing and publicity you get, if they feel your book has real potential. Think 50-shades…it sold a mere 100k while an indie book…once a big publisher snapped it up it sold over 100 million. Ten percent of 1 million is immeasurably better than 100% of a thousand.

Anyway, I digress, this blog is an open book (forgive the pun) and tackles the topic of Goodreads giveaways, and whether they’re worth it.

I ran a giveaway for 50 paperback copies of an ARC that ended on May 12. Given that the majority of giveaways are for one or two copies, I felt rather proud of my efforts, even if did hit my pocket. Book printing costs, packaging, labeling and postage doesn’t come cheaply. I estimate the giveaway cost me £280. Nothing to break the bank balance, but far from free.

I printed off a short note and slipped it inside the book that did gently request that a review is left on Amazon and Goodreads, while making it clear there was no obligation.

The calculation is that the return on investment (in terms of reviews) is worth the cost. From 50 books, I figured a 20% conversion rate represents 10 reviews – £28/review. Hefty, but without reviews, my Picasso would go forever unnoticed, buried in a sea of other titles.

Soooo today is June 17, a grand 5 weeks later and after filtering out reviews from other sources, here’s the review yield from Goodreads:

  • 1 Amazon review;
  • 3 Goodreads ratings (with 2 of them also reviewing);
  • [2 people are currently reading and a sea of “to-read”.]

Not great.

Now, before I wallow in self-pity, I know it’s only been 5 weeks and it’s not as if people have nothing else going in life. It’s for this reason that I stated earlier that this blog is an open book. I’m open minded and reserving judgment.

But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have any doubts.

Goodreads says that giveaways cannot be initiated if there is an associated demand for reviews. But surely there is a reasonable expectation that one will be forthcoming. Guys, let’s not live in Alice in Wonderland territory. Precisely 100% of authors/publishers who give away free books upon demand at their own financial expense do so in order to generate a buzz by means of reviews. To pretend otherwise is to be in denial.

The flip side to this is that readers need to act responsibly. Only request a free book from an author if you have a firm intention of reading it. I don’t think that’s too much to expect. And having read a book that an author has given you from money out of his own pocket, you do have a moral responsibility to leave a rating/review which takes all of 2 minutes. No-one is expecting a Times literary supplement review, but a few sentences are always appreciated.

This becomes all the more poignant when dealing with indie publishers, the overwhelming majority of whom make no money from writing.

Yes, I can hear the puritans scoffing and bashing away furiously at their keyboards right now, telling me how it’s their choice whether or not to read a book and leave a rating…I’d just appeal to your empathy. What if the tables were turned and you were the author who, having spent a year in solitude writing and editing a book, obtaining ISBNs, designing covers, typesetting and finally printing your book, you offered it to post it out for free to people who requested it, and few bothered to read it? It’s one think to read it, and then leave a poor rating, but to never bother even reading it?

This is a new journey for me as City Affairs is my debut novel. I’m learning how publishing works. I’ve been overwhelmed by the 5* feedback I have received, but these have come from other bloggers and authors I’ve directly contacted, not from the giveaway. It has been reviewed on Amazon 4 times so far, each giving it a 5* rating.

” this book reignited my love for a good romance…”

has to be the one that left me with the warmest glow of satisfaction.

Let’s give it another 2 months and see how the Goodreads crowd comes on. I’m hoping some of the “to-read”s will come through.


2 thoughts on “Goodreads: To Review or not Review

  1. I agree with you! Whenever I’ve recieved a book from an author/publisher/giveaway etc I always try to make sure I review within a month as it’s their livelihoods 😊 It’s a two way street!


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