These are my impressions from the other side of the goodreads and LT giveaways. I enter both and have received books in both.
Librarything (LT): There are actually two separate giveaway programs. Early Reviewers (ER) and Member Giveaways (MG). As an independent author you would not qualify for the ER program, but you can give your books away through the MG. You can do an ebook giveaway at LT, "but you cannot giveaway books that are freely available elsewhere". If you do list an ebook, please be sure to specify the formats available (this is often overlooked by the authors and very frustrating for the reader). In the ER program, winners are picked based on an algorithm and reviews are expected. Not leaving a review can affect a person's chances of winning future books. In the MG program, winners are picked randomly and reviews are not required. As KC mentioned you can say that a review is appreciated but you cannot make it a stipulation. LT does have a forum called Hobnob with Authors where you can ask for reviews.
Goodreads: Firsts Reads Giveaway does not allow ebooks. Any author can participate. Reviews are encouraged but not required. However, not leaving a review can affect your chances of winning books in the future. They also use an algorithm to choose the winner, but in my opinion it is not as good as the LT algo and is more random.
As a reader participant, the things that frustrate me are:
- giveaways that take too long to finish.
- descriptions filled with a lot of superfluous information or praise, blurbs, award info, etc that tells me nothing about the actual book and story.
- ebook giveaways that don't tell me what formats the book is available in and how it is distributed.
- descriptions that sound demanding and specify exactly where they want the reviews to be left
I completely agree with KC and Sandra about it being a good way to spotlight your book. Even if you don't get the reviews you want you have a lot of eyes on your book. Those that enter to win your book are obviously interested in it to some degree and many will put it on their GR or LT shelf so it ends up staying on their radar. Personally, I have discovered many new-to-me books and authors this way. I may or may not end up reading them, but if I never found them then there definitely would be no chance of reading them. I do wish GR would allow ebooks. I don't know why they don't. Overall, I think GR is more author friendly, but LT is more ebook friendly.
I think doing both is a great idea. Use the giveaway to help increase awareness and also work on getting reviews from bloggers.