People love to get things for free. Therefore, giving away a free copy of your book should be an easy way to promote your work and connect with potential readers, right? Not necessarily.
Many states and platforms have different guidelines for hosting a giveaway, and the majority of people online aren’t holding legal giveaways. A successful giveaway takes a lot more work than announcing your intent to give away a book and drawing a name out of a hat. Note to self: drawing a name out of a hat is not a giveaway.
Let’s start with the boring (yawn), but important (wake up!) things you need to consider before you plan your giveaway.
1. Determine your goal. Is the goal of your giveaway to simply offer a token of appreciation to your readers? Promote a book? Gain followers? Increase your interaction on a social media platform? Before you announce your giveaway, consider the reason you are doing it, and how you will measure the giveaway’s success.
2. Read the rules. Regardless of the social media platform you decide to use for your giveaway, make certain to read-up on the platform’s rules for holding a giveaway. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest all have specific guidelines pertaining to promotional activities. Even if you choose to give away items from your personal website, it is important to become familiar with how your giveaway is classified.
3. Understand the difference between a lottery, sweepstakes, and contest. Typically, when writers decide to give away books, we promote the free book as a “giveaway,” but often this isn’t the case. Attorney, Sara F. Hawkins, urges authors to understand the correct terminology for the giveaway in which they are holding, and the regulations, which accompany each. Read more from Hawkins in this informative post, entitled “Is Your BlogGiveaway Legal?”
4. List the rules and regulations. Every giveaway must have an official set of rules, which are easy to find. These rules include when the contest begins, ends, where a list of winners can be obtained, how and by whom entries will be judged and the sponsor’s name. In case you are unsure of what to include in your list of rules, this post by the Social MediaExaminer provides.
Now that you have determined what kind of giveaway you are holding, the rules and regulations, and your audience, it’s time for the fun.
5. Create a way to tell readers about your contest. PicMonkey is free photo editing software which allows you to quickly create images to go along with your giveaway. Simply upload the photo you want to use, and PicMonkey allows you to easily add text to your picture and create a photo, which can be used to tell readers about your contest.
6. Consider Instagram or Twitter. Ask participants to share photos related to a specific topic and include a hashtag with the picture. For example, I recently ran a challenge in which I asked people to share photos and videos demonstrating ways in which they were serving others. Then, I asked participants to use the #RaisingGivers hashtag. Here’s an example of a tweet shared.
7. Consider a photo contest. Ask participants to take a picture of your book in an unusual place, or with their child or family pet.
8. Consider a Goodreads giveaway. Should you decide to host a Goodreads giveaway, Goodreads does the majority of the work for you.
9. Consider a comment contest. Write a blog post and ask participants to share about a similar event. Then, pick your favorite comment. Again, as with ideas #6-#9, make certain to list rules and state how winners will be chosen.
Your turn. What creative contests, giveaways, or sweepstakes have you participated-in or used to promote books? What are the pros and cons of each? Do you have any advice to share?