When I first started out in this business, I felt like I couldn’t afford to run any book giveaways. Like most of us, I started out with no money, and was hoping to pull off that miracle and shoot to the top with my first novel… you know, be another Amanda Hocking.
I’m kidding. I didn’t really think I could do that, but I did try to scrimp and save wherever I could. I’ve been doing this for three years now and my views have most definitely changed. Now I think you can’t afford not to do giveaways.
Over the past year especially, since really embracing the idea of good giveaway karma, I have experienced some excellent success with a little old-fashioned generosity.
I now run a weekly giveaway on my Facebook author page, a fortnightly giveaway on my YouTube show, a monthly giveaway with my online fan club and whenever I release a book, I either throw a big release party or run a release day giveaway.
I know that may seem extreme to some, but here are the benefits:
– It’s a way to say thank you to your loyal readers…and they appreciate you for this. Readers and reviewers take a chance on every book you write, giving you their money and time to invest in your product. When authors show a little gratitude, it puts them in good favor with their fans and they’re more likely to maintain their audience.
– It’s a way to get a little something back…usually when I run a giveaway, I’m asking my entrants to do something for me. It may be as easy as liking a Facebook or Amazon page. It might be sharing a post or tweet. Whatever it is, by offering up the chance of a prize, people are far more likely to jump up and help you out. Just remember to throw in a freebie giveaway every now and then – fans really love that.
– It can score you new fans and get people talking…recently I’ve started adding to my Facebook giveaways that if entrants tag five people in the comments, that will count as an extra entry. This worked beautifully for me when I was running multiple, daily giveaways at my 15th Celebration Publication Party. The traffic and buzz around my books was great, plus I made connections with new people who will hopefully turn into loyal fans.
– It’s a great way to expose your work to new sets of eyes…I give out a lot of eBooks. I figure this is a really cheap, yet effective way of introducing my work to new readers. It’s totally worked for me too. Many of my eBook winners have gone on to read other books I’ve written.
So, what types of things get me the most entries in a giveaway?
Amazon vouchers are huge; anything from $5 to $50 can get me a nibble.
I always include one of my eBooks in every single giveaway. If the winner has already read all my work, I offer to pass the eBook on to one of their friends, hopefully scoring myself a new fan.
I’ve also started getting into swag – bookmarks, magnets, buttons, pens, tote bags. The initial outlay feels a little monstrous, but you can actually get a ton of stuff for very little money. Signed paperbacks are also a treat too. These types of giveaway get me the most buzz and excitement. It may not get my books in front of readers, but it does give me a good name and fans will do almost anything to score swag from an author. To me, it’s a good investment. You may not get the financial return, but it does wonders for building up your brand name.
A few words of warning…
Although I am a big fan of giveaways, I have learned the hard way not to assume it will turn into sales. I’ve run a few big release parties now, worked my guts out, given away a ton of stuff and I have not always seen the sales I was hoping for. It can be really disappointing. In saying that, I’m not ready to throw in the towel when it comes to giveaways. I still think the benefits of giving your brand a good name and introducing your work to new readers is a good way to go. Longevity counts for a lot in this business and giving a little now may result in big things later on down the line.
The only other downside/caution I can come up with is that you will encounter some people who are only there to take. They like your page until the giveaway is over then drop you or they only ever comment on your Facebook posts that will get them something. This can be a little irritating, but hey – it’s all part of it. Just go with flow and don’t make any snide comments. Thankfully most of the people entering are there to support you.
So that’s my take on book giveaway karma. And as St Francis of Assisi so eloquently said… “For it is in giving that we receive.”