Lola’s Advice is a monthly feature on my blog Lola’s Reviews, which will be posted on the first monday of the month. Lola’s Advice posts are usually how-to or tips type of posts. They are mainly aimed at authors, but I also try and show the blogger/ reader side of the topic I address. I share my knowledge or personal opinion on mostly book, authors, marketing and promotion related topics. I hope it’s helpful for authors and bloggers alike. Also even though it’s advice please understand that even if you follow all my advice it still won’t guarantee your book will be a success, but it hopefully will be helpful. I also believe that not everything works for each author, every author and book is different and different strategies work for different people. So please use whatever you want to or fits with your style. The banner for this feature is designed by Michelle from Limabean Designs.
Today I want to talk about giveaways. As I run a tour company the topic of giveaways comes up a lot, how effective are they, should a tour have a giveaway as well and what to give away. Often authors ask me for ideas or advice about their giveaways. And I set-up a lot of giveaways for my authors through rafflecopter. So I decided giveaways would make a good topic for a Lola’s Advice post. Most of this is focused on giveaways run by authors, but a lot will apply to other types of giveaways as well.
Why should you run a giveaway? And are they effective?
There are many different reasons to run a giveaway the most common ones are probably to grow your audience or to thank you followers/ fans etc. If you want to run a giveaway I think it helps to think about why you want to run that giveaway and what your goal is for that giveaway. The question on if giveaways are effective can only be answered when you know what your goal is. And then set-up the giveaway in a way to focus on that. Some people look at the amount of entries, or the amount to tweets, new likes, new adds for their book on Goodreads etc they get. If you want more people to add your book on Goodreads, make that an entry option. If you just want more people to hear about your book, use social media options.
I also think that if you are going to run a giveaway you have to do your best to promote them. And setting up a good giveaway is half of the work in making them successful. Which is why I believe in planning your giveaway. Start thinking beforehand on what you want to give away, how to run it and how to promote it. So the rest of this post will deal with those type of questions. In general I do think giveaways are worth it, go in with realistic expectations and do your best to make your giveaway the best you can and if it doesn’t go as well as you hope try and determine why and how to do better next time.
I have run a lot of giveaways a part of a blog tour and on that topic I can say that I think a giveaway during the tour can help. It’s not necessary, but I do encourage authors to do a giveaway during their tour. The giveaway helps promote the tour and the tour helps promote the giveaway. A giveaway can create some extra buzz around your tour. I have noticed that some tour hosts will do extra effort to promote a giveaway by either mentioning it in the title of their post or sharing about it on social media and entering the giveaways themselves (which is allowed as part of my giveaway policy). I also think that mentioning a tour has a giveaway can sometimes lead to more sign-ups, which is why I always ask if an author wants to do a giveaways beforehand so I can mention it in the sign-up post.
Steps involved in running a giveaway
Below I listed roughly the steps involved in running a giveaway. Not necessarily in that order, but that’s the order that feels most intuitive for me.
- Decide what to giveaway
- Decide whether the giveaway will be US only/ Uk only etc or international?
- Set-up your giveaway
- Decide how people can enter your giveaway
- Decide from when to when your giveaway will run
- Write down a giveaway policy or rules for your giveaway
- Launch your giveaway
- Promote your Giveaway
- Pick a winner
- Ship/ send the prize(s) to winner(s)
What to Give away?
I think what to give away is very important as it does matter what you give away and which people will be interested in the giveaway. Some ideas for authors on what to give away: physical copies, signed copies, e-copies of your current release, e-copies of any of your other books, books from other authors, swag (bookmarks, magnets, pens, posters etc), something related to your book (anything from topics to objects, like dragon jewelry or a stuffed animal for a book about dragons), something related to your books main characters, games/ books/ etc that have something to do with your book’s genre, gift cards, objects/ products for readers (think of general bookworm related things like mugs with bookish quotes on it, bookmarks etc), objects/ products for your target audience, an e-reader or ipad, mystery book (winner doesn’t know which book they will receive), etc.
There are a lot of things you can give away. Also here it’s important to consider what your goal is with the giveaway and who you want to reach. If you want to reward loyal fans something like a signed copy or swag would do great. If you want to attract a broad audience, gift cards always do well. Not everyone might be interested in your books, but almost everyone can use an amazon gift card. Consider what type of people would be interested in which prizes and then pick a prize for the audience you want to reach or pick a prize and then focus on reaching the type of audience who are interested in those prizes. When you run a tour there is some controversy whether it helps to give away the book you are touring or not. If you giveaway away book X people might not buy it as they hope to win it. So giving away either a physical copy instead or another one of your books might be more effective. I am not sure if this actually happens, but it is good to consider things like that as well.
I also think that it’s important to realize that you don’t have to giveaway super big prizes. If you want to go big, that does work, but it isn’t necessary to pull of a successful giveaway. I have set-up giveaways for as little as 5$ amazon gift cards that still did well. And if you want to give big things away it might be more helpful to spread things out then put all your prizes in one giveaway. Giving away 1 or 5 kindle e-readers might not make as much of a difference for who you reach with your giveaways, in which case doing 5 separate giveaways for a kindle might be more effective. As then you can incorporate things you learned from your first giveaway into your next ones or maybe tie your next giveaway in with another new release, special day etc.
How to set-up the giveaway and how to enter
There are different ways to set-up a giveaway. In some cases just mentioning you are going to giveaway something works well enough. For example I’ve seen giveaways for newsletter only subscribers were the author mentions you can win prize X, by doing Y for example. Or giveaways in a facebook post or in a tweet. There are also giveaways that are limited to a platform, like giving away paperbacks on goodreads or a kindle copy on amazon. They already set-up everything for your giveaway and you just have to promote it and make sure people get to that site to enter. Depending on which type of giveaway you run that might be enough.
Then there are also giveaway programs, like rafflecopter or kingsumo. I’ve also seen others around, but can’t remember all their names at the moment. Kingsumo is mostly focused on getting more newsletter subscribers, but after people supply their e-mail address they have the option to share the giveaway etc. It has a one time payment and integrates with wordpress. My personal favorite is rafflecopter as you can add a lot of different ways for people to enter. It also makes it easy to pick a winner and keep track of all your entries. They have a paid version, but with their free version you come a long way.
When setting up a giveaway you have to think about how you want people to enter the giveaway, which ties in with promoting it and also your goal for the giveaway. Do you have people comments on a blog post, share on social media, enter your newsletter, follow you on social media etc. I usually would advice to list a few different options so people who don’t have twitter for example can still enter. You can never please anyone, but I think it is nice to have multiple ways to enter. Also keep in mind that with giveaways you need to have one free entry. I often use a free entry were you just need to hit enter for this or the visit a facebook page entry. For author giveaways I usually pick some of the following entries, add book to to-read list on goodreads, visit author facebook page, follow author on twitter, friend/favorite or follow author on goodreads, comment on blog post, tweet about the giveaway (sometimes multiple) and answer a question. If the author has another social media site they use a lot I might also add a follow for that one or a sign-up for the newsletter one. If it’s a giveaway to go alongside a Lola’s Blog Tours tour I often set-up an entry that only counts for one point to follow Lola’s Blog Tours on twitter as well. By giving different points to different entries on rafflecopter you can reward the entries you value most with more points and the free option for example only with 1.
When/ how long to run your giveaway
From when to when you run your giveaway is also something to consider. A giveaway that runs for a long time means you have more time to reach people and to promote your giveaway, a shorter giveaways creates more of a sense of urgency. You can also create sense of urgency with a longer giveaway during the last few days by focusing on how little time there is left to enter the giveaway. If you want the giveaway to go alongside another promo or event consider that when setting it up. Do you do a giveaway to celebrate a new release, then you probably want it to start on your release day (or slightly before that). If you run a month long promo for your book, it might help to set a month long giveaway alongside it and for example use entries like share the word about your promo for people to enter. So what your goal is of the giveaway and with what you tie it in is important here. You can even have a giveaway span multiple events. For giveaways that I set-up to run during tours I usually have the giveaway star the day before the tour starts (to make sure the rafflecopter will work on the first day of the tour) and then have it turn the duration of the giveaway plus a week or so. Not everyone’s post will reach the maximum audience on day one and some blogs do things like recaps or promote a post for a longer period of time, which is why I think having the giveaway run a bit longer than the end of the tour can be helpful.
Giveaway Policy and rules for your giveaway
This is one of those topics no one probably wants to think about, but it’s still important to consider. I didn’t have a giveaway policy for a long time on Lola’s Blog Tours until I finally made one. Now all the giveaways I set-up for authors I link to my giveaway policy so people who enter can read about the rules. If you do frequent giveaways it can be helpful to make a giveaway policy. Else you can probably make do with listing the rules for each giveaway specifically. Look up what is allowed and what isn’t, this way you can make sure that what you ask people to do to enter the giveaway is allowed. And also protect yourself for when a prize goes missing etc. I recommend to read some giveaway policies of other people and companies and see what they list. Think about how will the winner be chosen? Who can enter the giveaway? People in which countries can enter the giveaway? Who will be disqualified? What happens if the prize doesn’t arrive? Who’s responsible for shipping the prize? How long have winners to reply when they have won? Where will winners be announced? How will the winner be contacted?
Here are some helpful posts about giveaway policies or rules:
- Giveaways part 1 – are they legal? – post by blogger Lilybloombooks
- Giveaways part 2 – privacy – post by blogger Lilybloomsbooks
- Lilybloombooks her giveaway policy
- Guidelines for Promotions on twitter – information on twitter
- No Purchase Necessary & Giveaways: Everything You Need to Know – post on the rafflecopter blog
- Facebook Promotion Guidelines – information the rafflecopter site
How to promote your giveaway
It depends a bit on what kind of giveaway you are running how to promote it, but one thing is for certain and that’s you need to promote every giveaway. You want as many people to hear about your giveaway, so make sure to try and get there. Schedule tweets about your giveaway, post about the giveaway on facebook, use the pin to the top feature on twitter or facebook, share on other social media sites you use, if you have a newsletter sent one out about your giveaway and ask your fans or followers to help and share or if you have a blog or site post about the giveaway there as well. The more people you can get talking about your giveaway the more people you reach. And often giveaways have options to tweet about the giveaway, etc so with every person that does that entry they also spread the word about your giveaway in return. If a giveaway runs during a tour you also have the tour hosts and/ or tour organizer to help spread the word and reach more people. I’ve even seen sites where you can list your giveaway or facebook groups.
Do I run giveaways?
As a blogger I don’t run giveaways, I can’t remember the last time I did one. Sometimes I feature a our wide giveaway on my site, but that’s it. While I do love giveaways, they are the first thing to go when you don’t have a lot of money. Having said that I do see the benefit of giveaways and with Lola’s Blog Tours I do my best to run a giveaway once in a while. They take time to set-up, so I like to start early and think things through. Mostly I do these on special occasions, like a anniversary. In fact I did a giveaway this year when Lola’s Blog Tours turned 3. It was quite fun to run the giveaways and I just picked the winners yesterday and notified them.