Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Business of Writing: Using #Giveaways to Market Your Book #ASMSG #IARTG #MFRWOrg

New York Public Library c2012 by Morenovel,
Depositphotos 19028705, editorial use only. 
In case you missed it, I described Twitter marketing tips for authors in this post. Today on The Maze I offer part 2 in my marketing series, using giveaways to help market your book.

Shortly after my first novel, Dawnflight, was published by Simon & Schuster in 1999, I was attending a meeting of the Washington Romance Writers where I heard a fellow first-time author state that she loved giving away copies of her book.

Loved? Really?? But what about the lost sales???

I have lived, and learned, and now the older and wiser me is here to instruct you.

All together, class: what is the purpose of marketing?

To increase exposure for you and your book! 

Is that the answer you came up with? Good! Now you're getting it. :)

Any sales that may result from your marketing efforts, including giveaways, are pure gravy.

There are several ways to set up book and book-related giveaways, which include:
  • Amazon. The credit for this tip goes to Jackie Weger in her article on the eNovel Authors at Work blog titled "Mastering Amazon." This is for print editions of your books only, not e-books. If you have published your book via Createspace, then it qualifies for an Amazon giveaway.

    Update 3/4/2016: Amazon is now letting authors set up e-book giveaways, even for e-books that are not exclusive to Kindle! Changing my marketing strategies now... :D

    To get started, go to your book's product page and look for the "Set up an Amazon Giveaway" heading beneath the customer reviews summary or forum discussions. If you don't see that heading on the main product page, then your book doesn't qualify. If you publish and distribute all your books via LightningSource or IngramSpark, you're out of luck on this option; keep scrolling for giveaway options you can exercise.

    Amazon gives you several choices from which to select your call-to-action for customers to enter your giveaway, but I recommend selecting "Follow on Amazon" for three reasons:
    1. Amazon customers don't usually unfollow an author after the contest is over, as they might on Twitter and other social media platforms,
    2. you acquire more people whom Amazon will automatically notify via email about your new releases, and
    3. the Amazon follows help boost your author rank.

    The biggest drawback to Amazon's giveaways, however, is that you must purchase your book's copies at full retail price, not at your much lower POD printing cost, and you must pay an astronomical amount—up front—in potential shipping costs, based on the assumption that all copies will be awarded. They will refund the amount of all unawarded copies to your credit card, but the price for setting up the giveaway can give you a severe case of Sticker Shock.

    To view your Amazon Giveaways dashboard, sign on to your Amazon account and then follow this link: That is of course the US link; any visitors not living in the US who would like to try the experiment with the Amazon business unit in their home country (, for example), please let us all know how it turned out by leaving a comment on this post; thanks!
  •  Goodreads. Jenn Hanson-dePaula on Mixtus Media blog talks about lots of ways to use Goodreads to expand your audience, including Goodreads giveaways, in this article. Again, Goodreads giveaways are for physical copies of your book rather than e-books, but with Goodreads you get the advantage that the majority of entrants—if not already fans of yours—are at least avid book readers.

    I have netted several reviews and star rankings of my books via Goodreads giveaways. Postage costs are on you and may be mitigated by limiting entrants to your home country, but it's a tax-deductible expense, and in the US the Tax Man is warming up to start knocking on your door. :D
  • LibraryThing. I have not yet availed myself of the option to set up giveaways via LibraryThing, and I need to. FMI click HERE. Basically, if you are a LibraryThing Author, or if you have >50 books logged in your LibraryThing account, or if you have a paid LibraryThing account, you are eligible to set up Member Giveaways.

    Another feature I need to check out on LibraryThing is the special group they've set up where member authors can find readers to review their books. That forum is called "Hobnob with Authors".

    More information for authors—including how to become a LibraryThing Author—may be viewed on THIS PAGE.
  • Rafflecopter. The sky's the limit for prizes that can be specified via Rafflecopter, including swag and gift cards and e-books, and you can even specify multiple prize tiers wherein some winners are chosen from the international pool of entrants and some are limited to a specified country of origin. I recommend exercising this option via virtual blog tours, however, since Rafflecopter is a paid service and it can be pricey to set up giveaways on your own.

    Another advantage to a Rafflecopter giveaway is that you can structure it to give entrants more than one opportunity to win (subscribe to your blog or newsletter, follow you on various social media platforms, send out a specific tweet, etc.). That's the meaning of the "/number" in the top right corner of the Rafflecopter widget—the number of entry opportunities available for you to exercise in the given contest.
I also run my own monthly giveaways (see below for how to enter) from the pool of people who have followed me on various social media platforms and who have commented upon my blog posts. An option I may institute soon is performing a random drawing among people who have signed up for my newsletter during the past month. In these types of cases I have found the web site invaluable for impartially choosing a winner.

Another technique I've begun implementing recently with fantastic results is creating print editions of my short stories, each one in a separate booklet. I do these via Createspace, using their Cover Creator template that allows me to upload the e-book's cover, and each one costs me less than US$3.00 per copy, delivered. Handing these out at personal appearances has resulted in digital downloads as well as sales of my full-length print editions.

Publishing standalone short stories sidesteps the issue of potentially alienating your audience when all you're doing is publishing the first chapter or two of a much longer book.

Plus, these Createspace-generated booklets are eligible as Amazon giveaway prizes.

Make sure, however, that you're creating giveaway samples of your best writing. Because you will never get another chance with that reader to make a good first impression.

Book contests are a specialized form of giveaway that I will blog about at a later date. Suffice it to say that I have entered several lately; please keep your fingers crossed for me and my books! :)

Which giveaway types have worked best for you?

Happy writing, happy marketing, and happy giveaway-ing!


All this month, you are invited to...
— Follow Kim on Twitter
— Follow Kim on Pinterest
— Subscribe to Kim's YouTube channel
— Leave a comment on any page of The Maze, especially if you have done the Twitter, Pinterest, and/or YouTube follow
... and each action this month is good for one chance to win a copy of any of Kim's e-books. Please enter often, and good luck!


  1. great advice
    Added to Pinterest board: Writing Process

    feel free to re-pin!

  2. Okay, I must have done something wrong the first time. Anyway, thanks for blogging about this. Good ideas for authors. I'm curious about the short story books with CreateSpace. Do you shorten the physical size of the book to make the 24 page min.? If not, your short stories must be longer than mine:)

  3. Hi, Cheryl, and thanks for your question!

    The stories in question are approximately 5.5K words. I use the minimum "standard" trim size of 5"x8", and the Createspace-recommended gutter and outside margins for a 24-150 page book of 0.375 inches. This causes my actual story text to display on 22 pages; adding a title page and copyright page gets the story to the 24-page minimum.

    Said minimum page count never haunted me, however. I include my typical backmatter features such as notes about the people, terms, and pronunciations, plus advertisements of other books in the series, related audiobooks, and the forthcoming graphic novel edition of The Challenge. With a frontmatter first page of reviews of the other books in the series, plus a blank last page, that makes each story into a 38-page book.


Scribble a note on the wall of the Maze so you can find your way out again... ;-)