To avoid wasting your time on bad books, and to give authors (the self-published ones, anyway) a little advice when listing their giveaways, I've wrote out the criteria I now use to choose what giveaways to enter. I won't say that I never see a dud anymore, but they are very few and far between.
The Title/Cover ComboThe first thing I look in choosing to enter a giveaway is the combination of the title and the cover. If the title intrigues me, I will slide a glance over to the cover to see what else I can find out about the book. If the cover looks like its a self-published book, I may take a pass. If it looks like it was created with a Createspace or Lulu cover template, I will always pass. My advice? Take time to come up with a great title AND make sure your cover is professional. If your words are good, make sure what they are wrapped in is good as well. Personally, I'm still in limbo with self-publishing because I have yet to find someone who can do the cover without breaking the bank. It takes time, but it's worth it. Trust me.
Giveaway DescriptionThe one thing that irks me with giveaway descriptions is the author taking a first-person approach to it. I don't want to hear that you took ten years to write this and it is your baby. If you think it's good, there are plenty of other ways to convey that to me. A bad description is like you telling me I need to believe your mom when she says your book is great. It's simply biased. Let your work stand on your own.
My advice: If you don't think you can write a good description of your book, stick to the description already on the back of your book. If you don't have one, check with an honest friend or a book reviewer who liked your book to see if you can get them to write a description for you. It is also good to list any awards that the book may have received or be in the running for.
Publisher InformationI'll be honest, because I've been burned by so many self-published giveaways on Goodreads, I do check who the published is before I make my final decision. I will always enter giveaways that are provided by the big, well-known publishers. I almost always enter giveaways I'm interested in if it is a small press that I can easily find online. However, if there is no publisher listed, the author is listed as the publisher or the publisher is one of the print-on-demand sites, I will often pass. That's when the cover, title and description come back into play. If it is self-published but still intriguing, I will go ahead and go for it.
I offer this information not to discourage self-published authors, but simply as an honest look at what interests hardcore readers like myself. Believe me, these opinions have made me rethink the idea of self-publishing my own work. I can't be the only one who feels this way, so if I ever did decide to choose the self-publishing route, I'm going to make sure I have a damn good title, description and cover!