The Problem With Book Giveaways

Hello readers! I’m here to talk about something that is pressured on indie writers: giveaways. I’m new to this and so I don’t know all the 411 on this, but I tried one anyway. This was my experience.

What I Expected: People would enter. People would win. People would talk about my book and I’d maybe get some reviews and new fans!

What Actually happened: My sister gifted me an Amazon giveaway for 10 copies of Those Who Wander. Entries soared in the first days. It was crazy and exciting! I’d set it so 1 in 100 would win. But…1 in 100 weren’t winning. It was less than that. Five people out of 700+ won a copy. This is not fair to those who entered, it really isn’t! I’d wanted to see those winners cropping up! I also had wanted some sort of way to personally congratulate them on the wins, rather than just the message I’d made for all winners.

The other thing I’d expected was that people would buy it if they didn’t win. That’s what the sites say! “Giveaways will extend your reach and you’ll sell more books!” But it didn’t. I didn’t gain new followers until I made that a requirement for entries. I sold a few books, but not enough to overshoot the actual cost of the giveaway.

That’s another thing. What is that??? Why am I paying full price for copies of a digital good so that I can do a giveaway? The product doesn’t physically exist! It costs nothing to create and yet I had to pay for every book I gave away.

I ended up with two books left over after running the giveaway twice. I asked around within my World of Warcraft friends, asking if anyone was interested. And the only caveat for a free book was leaving reviews for me. Thus far, the book has received no new reviews.

Now, I know I didn’t do it 100% right. I didn’t go into it with an informed plan of how it works. With the impending release of The Worst Dyrkon I’m doing more research, looking at teaming with other authors and hopefully some book bloggers.

Now, I’m not going to just leave you guys with that! That’s cruel. Some of you might be wanting to know more info about giveaways.

How to Do It Right:

  • If you are giving away eBooks, consider methods which don’t require you to pay for the copies. Maybe you know how to format and create your own eBooks and save them in the proper formats. Do that instead of paying Amazon to distribute your product. If you’re familiar with Pronoun, they do have a way to give away review copies. Unfortunately, those are marked as inauthentic “for review only.” The downside to doing it yourself is the lack of that lovely ‘Confirmed Purchase’ tag on Amazon’s reviews. But, does anyone really care about that confirmation tag? If what the review says is truthful and helps potential readers make an informed decision on the book, then why does it have to be a confirmed purchase?
  • Give away something else. It doesn’t always have to be your book! You go out to give away a book nobody has heard about, then why should they want it? See, that’s my issue is that so far I’ve only got the one! So, try giving away something else. One idea is an Amazon or Barnes&Noble gift certificate for the price of one book, even if it isn’t yours. I know, the thought hurts, but I bet a lot of the people will actually buy your book (or one of them if you have a backlist), rather than going after something else. Why? Because you just gave them a good reason to support you, by supporting their right to choose whether they support you or another author. This does mean spending money you may never see back, but maybe it’s a risk worth taking.
  • DO require some sort of social media interaction! Don’t just give it away and the end. Make sure you’re branching out by asking for a like on Facebook or Twitter.
  • Team up with another author within the same audience reach! It doesn’t have to be a perfect fit, like both being dystopian sci-fi thrillers. Do you both write YA of similar deeper themes? Team up! Do you have similar writing styles, but one book is Steampunk and one is Cyberpunk? That’s great! They’re both –punk books and fans will likely be excited to branch out into something new. But, if one is deep sci-fi/fantasy and the other is “chick lit” (I don’t like that tag at all for various reasons), then maybe reconsider that team up. But a fantasy or contemporary paired with a contemporary fantasy can work, so long as other themes are met, such as age range for the books. This is where networking and befriending other indie authors comes in handy!

This can be taken a step further as well! Let’s say one of you is doing well in sales and has more reach. If you’re on a close enough level with them, see about doing a giveaway with one of their older titles, where if the reader buys your book, they get the other for free! Or the other way around, buy better known author’s book and receive yours free! One of you will have to take sales hit, unfortunately, unless you only give away half of the book to entice your potential new readers and encourage them to buy the full book (include links for them to do so!).

Finally, the most important thing you can do, is don’t be like me. Don’t do a few things and give up or go dark because it’s not working as fast as you wish it would. It’s a flaw I’m working on, and hopefully as my health eventually gets better, then I’ll get better at being consistent.

Until next time!

Stay Abstract ❤


Featured image borrowed from BookRiot

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