Giveaways are a great way of finding new fans, climbing those all-important charts, and gaining visibility for your book and author persona. While it might seem a little counter-intuitive to give away your book (or books!) for free, done right, giveaways can really pack a marketing punch, and give your income a kick in the posterior. But how do you do organise them? Here’s how:
How to set up an author giveaway:
There are a few different ways of organising giveaways, and they’re all very easy to do. You can either use the functionality of the eBook stores at our disposal, or run them yourself, direct from your site or via social media.
Amazon KDP Select:
For those of you publishing eBooks via Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing platform, there is an option to sign up to their Select programme. Now Select does require you to be exclusive to Amazon, meaning you can’t have your books on any other stores, but it does enable you to run free promotions 5 days out every 90.
So if the exclusivity is something you don’t mind, and you want to get your book in the free lists on Amazon, then this is the way to go. You can also run Countdown deals too, which allow you to offer incremental discounts on your books over a set period.
Kobo, Smashwords, and iBooks:
All of these stores allow you to sell your books for free, and also have free categories that are regularly perused by readers.
Using Kobo’s Writing Life dashboard, you can run promotions whenever you want, either running a discount price or setting your book completely free, and both for a period of your choice.
Smashwords is an eBook distributor as well as an eBook store. You can easily set your book to free via their dashboard, both on the Smashwords store and at some of the stores they distribute to, such as Kobo.
iBooks also allows you to give away your books for free. Via their iTunes Connect service, which gives you access to the iBooks store, you can elect to sell books for free whenever you want, making it really easy to run giveaways.
Goodreads has a handy function that allows you to run giveaways of physical books. Under their ‘Explore’ category, you can see ‘Giveaways’ listed. From there you can select one of your books and run a giveaway, selecting the countries eligible to enter and how many books you want to give away. Just bear in mind that as this is a physical giveaway, there are printing and postage costs to consider.
There are some great ways to sell direct from you site, and therefore to give books away too. Providers like Gumroad allow you to handle payments in a really easy way, and facilitate the download. Or, you can set up a separate download page and let readers download the file directly in PDF or an eBook format.
Twitter and Facebook Giveaways:
Running a giveaway or a competition on social media is very easy indeed. It can be as simple as asking a question in a Facebook post or running a competition on Twitter with a hashtag. That way you can track For instance, you could ask your followers to suggest the name of a character and track all entries with a hashtag. That’s the beauty of social media, it enables your message to spread at the same time as allowing you to track responses and conversations.
Giveaways Vs Perma-free:
The difference here is very simple. Giveaways normally run like a promotion, usually for a few days or weeks. A perma-free book is a book is, you guessed it, permanently free. If you’re a first time author, with only one book on the shelves, I would recommend sticking to giveaways until you have more titles out. Perma-free works best when you have a series of books. If you can hook your readers with a free first book, then they will usually pay for the rest of the series – sales you might not have got without the free promotion!
Helpful Giveaway Tips:
Always advertise your giveaway ahead of time: If you’re running a giveaway, don’t just rely on organic traffic discovering it at the time. Make sure you tell the world! Post about it on social media, notify your mailing list, and write a blog. If your giveaway is only running for a few days in a certain place, then make sure to include dates and a URL where people can grab their free copy.
Don’t just give away one book: If I’m running a competition or a giveaway, I like to offer my fans multiple chances to win. Instead of giving away just one book, why not try three? Readers will see they have a better chance of winning and be more likely to enter.
Get in front of the readers: There are online book communities that pump out details of free and bargain books on a daily basis, sometimes to hundreds of thousands of subscribers, such as FreeBooksy. There are also Twitter accounts that do the same thing, and retweet bargains, like @IndieBookBargs or @BookYrNextRead. It’s really simple to get involved; you can either notify them of your giveaway on their websites or use their hashtags to get shared.
Don’t let new fans slip through your fingers: Making sure you connect with the people that have snagged your free copy is very important. Make it easy for your new readers to find you online or social media by including details in the book itself. Or, if you’re running a giveaway or a competition from your site, put a sign-up form on your download page, or even trade the free copy for an email address.
Written by Ben Galley, author of the bestselling Emaneska Series, and self-publishing consultant at Shelf Help.
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