The Art of the Giveaway

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

There’s a great debate: does giving content away actually get people to spend money? Maybe not immediately, but giveaways are part of a longer lead cycle and a great step for nurturing your readers into customers. You should definitely do a giveaway—but you have to do it right. Here are some tips to get you on the right track.

What Exactly Is a Book?

Books used to have more substance to them. If you said “book” to someone, then they’d think of something a bit more heftyat least 200 pages. Digital publications have changed the meaning of the word. Today pamphlets can technically be seen as a book. Don’t think about length when you think of your book giveaway, think about substance. Your giveaway could consist of the first chapter of your book, the first few chapters, or the entire thing if you're hoping to entice people into a series or get them to spread the word. 

Give Away With the Right Intent

There are lots of reasons to do a giveaway. Readership should obviously be the main goal, but what kind of reader is your target? Before you start your giveaway, make sure you know why you are doing it. Are you doing a giveaway to build your email list? To gain social followers? To get people to buy your book? If your only intent is to get people to buy your book, you’ll be surprised with the outcomeor lack thereof. The goal of a giveaway should be to get a following (either through email or social media or recommendation). Once people start following you, then you can start crafting your message to them. As they get to know and trust you as a voice they like, then they’ll be more willing to hand over their money to read your current or future books.

Give Away Valuable Content

There are many things you can give away, but if you want to gain readership, then think about who your reader is and what you can give them. Don’t just throw together something and slap the word “free” across it. Your free content needs to be something that people would actually pay for. Some authors will give away an entire book; if you have a series that you’ve written then this could be a good strategy. But don’t give away an entire book (or other item) that has zero tie-in with the reader you are trying to get. For example, don't give away an item that is so valuable that you will attract the wrong people. If you give away the new iPhone X, your promotion is sure to get a lot of attention, but majority of those who enter will be in it for the iPhone and not for your book. Make your giveaway relevant so that the people who enter actually have the potential of becoming a reader and won't just ditch you as soon as they win or lose your giveaway item.

Give Away Just Enough

There’s only one rule about how much you should give away: just enough to make people want more. The giveaway needs to be a teaser. Even if you are giving away a 1,000 page book, the reader needs to finish it and say, “I really want more.”

Give Away the Right Content, the Right Way

There are all kinds of tools available to give your content away; pick the one that aligns with your goal. If you have a loyal fanbase, for example, you could give away your book to only one or two readers who entered the contest; if you are still trying to get readers, then a popup signup on your website will likely be a better choiceanyone who signs up for your newsletter gets a free eBook or the first chapter of your next book. Get creative with your giveaway; for example, run an Instagram giveaway where anyone who posts a photo of them reading your book and hashtags it will get a free copy of one of your other books or a signed piece of collateral.

There is no right way to run a giveawayas long as you have a strategy for doing it and aren’t just giving it away for the sake of giving it away.


Scott La Counte

Scott La Counte is the CEO of BuzzTrace, which helps authors and publishers discover new readers and sell more books. He has over 15 years experience in publishing as both an author and publisher. Writing under the name Scott Douglas, he has had several bestselling books.