Learning How to Market Books: LibraryThing Is Pretty Neat

The LibraryThing logo, which reads: LibraryThing. What's on your bookshelf?When I first started experimenting with book marketing, I managed to post about Goodreads Book Giveaways just a few months before they mad them expensive as heck.

And you know what sucked? I had a box of books in my closet.

I ordered a small number of books so I could test out Goodreads, but my publisher made a shipping error and sent me two batches for the price of one. It was lucky. I had gotten 20 books at a steep discount. When I ran my first Goodreads giveaway, I gave away 4.

And then, before I could give the rest away, they started charging  $120 for that service. OK. So I wasn’t using Goodreads again. But what was I supposed to do with the rest of my books?

Then I heard about LibraryThing.

What is LibraryThing?

LibraryThing is a service much like Goodreads that lets you catalogue books you’ve read, rate them, and review them. It has some very cool local features, too–just enter your city and you can see all the local, book-related events happening around you.

And, like Goodreads, it has a giveaway program. A still-free giveaway program! It has two, in fact:

  • Early Reviewer Books, where you can get early access to not-yet-released books from selected publishers in exchange for a review
  • Member Giveaways, where anyone can give away any book, no matter when they came out

And since my novel, Justice Unending, came out in 2016, we’re gonna talk about the member giveaways!

How does it work?

Member Giveaways are simple:

  • You can give away physical books or e-books.
  • …although, if you do want to give away e-books, they can’t be available anywhere for free.
  • You can give away as many books as you want.
  • You can run your giveaway as long as you want.
  • If you give away physical books, you are responsible for packing and shipping the books to the winners.
  • You can request that your winners review your book, but they’re not required to.

And that’s it! It’s simple, it’s fast, and you can throw one together in 5 minutes.

How’d it go?

I created a giveaway for Justice Unending that lasted 2 weeks. I gave away 4 copies.

Two weeks is not a lot of time, and I didn’t promote it. At all. So I basically just relied on LibraryThing’s own community and its own “get free books!” system to get my book in front of people’s eyes. I had no idea if anyone was going to see this thing at all, much less request it.

But it turns out I didn’t have to worry: 80 people requested my book. 80! In just 2 weeks! It might not be the 1,000 requests I got for a 4-week Goodreads giveaway, but who cares? I only had 4 copies!

And how’s it gone so far? Who knows! Giveaways are notoriously hard to measure. By their very nature, you’re spending money. I had to buy my own books. I had to buy envelopes. I had to ship them. And what do I get in return? If I’m lucky, those 4 people will read it. If I’m luckier, they’ll review it. And if I get really lucky, a few of them will review the book on a site like Amazon, those reviews will raise my visibility, and maybe, someday, I’ll have enough reviews to qualify for Bookbub.

Those are all indisputably great things, but you can’t put a value on them. Really, giveaways are just about throwing money away and hoping you get some visibility out of it.

So what could I do better?

Realistically, if I did not have a closet full of books, I’d only be doing LibraryThing’s e-book giveaways.

Seriously. I only have physical books because Goodreads didn’t do e-book giveaways until recently (when, of course, they weren’t free.) So that’s why I bought the books. When Goodreads Giveaways were free, they were still only “free.” You still had to invest your own money to try them out.

But since LibraryThing does free e-book giveaways, there’s literally no reason to bother with physical books at all. (OK, well, there are some considerations–giving someone an EPUB is probably a great way to make it easy for them to ship that thing to their friends and family for free, I suppose.) But on the other hand, it’s free. No shipping. No purchasing books. And if you aren’t paying a shipping fee of $4.80 per book (and yes, I’m paying a domestic shipping fee of $4.80 per book), you can go ahead and give away 100 copies of your book at a time. Is that a lot of non-paying people? Yes! But it’s free, and it’s a lot more visibility–and a lot more chances of getting reviews–than sending out 4 copies of a book.

But you know what? Even if I don’t get any reviews (although, yes, I would still really like some reviews), I’m still happy about one thing: now I can actually put together a plan to give away the rest of my books. Phew! I was starting to wonder if I’d never get that corner of my closet back.

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