Book Giveaway Contests

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by Margo L. Dill, guest post

You’ve seen book giveaway contests on numerous blogs, and it’s probably been on your mind to try one on your own. But in the back of your mind, you may be wondering: What if I hold a book giveaway contest, and no one comes?

Fear not—I’m here to share the ins and outs of these contests and how they can actually help you drive traffic to your blog.

Get a FREE book! See Joelle Anthony’s Book Giveaway Contest for her novel Restoring Harmony on GoodReads!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/johnnyvulkan/4152834825/
Low cost. Whenever I hold a book giveaway contest, a publisher or author has provided a free copy for the contest or for my review. Very rarely do I purchase a book and decide to give it away. Because I’ve had my blog for two years, people often contact me about review copies. If you haven’t had your blog for very long, you can contact publishers and authors yourself or find a discounted copy to give away.

Plan the date. Probably the best days to hold a blog contest are at the beginning of the work week—Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday. However, you can look at your own blog stats and see which days you have the most traffic to decide when to hold a contest. Once you have your copy and choose your day, let the fun begin!

Plan the contest and your posts. What are you going to do for your post? Book giveaway contest posts can be a review of the book, an interview with the author, or a guest post by the author. A book review can work well for a contest—especially if it’s a book you really enjoyed. If you can secure an interview with the author, these are often popular—everyone likes to hear what an author has to say about her book and the writing process. Guest posts are, of course, nice for you because they are less work. It’s really up to you which kind of post you write for the contest.

Plan your contest rules. The important thing is that you remember to post your contest rules. Most book giveaway contests are just comment contests where people leave a comment about the book or even a question for the author. So, your rules will say something like: “Leave a comment or question on this post by Friday at 8:00 p.m. CST to be entered into a drawing to win this book. One person will be chosen randomly using Random.org. Please make sure to leave an e-mail address with your comment. Books can only be sent to addresses in the United States and Canada.”

Some bloggers will allow “extra entries” if the entrants subscribe to the blog, follow the blogger on Twitter, or let others know about the contest. In these cases, the entrant is supposed to leave an extra comment (entry) for each task he or she completes.

Choosing the winner. Random.org is a website that randomly generates numbers between 1 and any number. So, if you have 25 comments on your contest post, then you would put in 1 and 25, and the website will choose a number between these two. Find the comment that corresponds to this number, and you have your winner. E-mail the winner and ask for her mailing address. Send the book, save any receipts for expenses to claim on your taxes, and the contest is complete.

Publicizing the contest. How do you advertise your contest? I use Twitter and Facebook. I also have created an e-mail address list from previous comments, and I can send an e-mail advertising the contest and asking people to visit my blog to leave a comment. I belong to a few writing listserv groups where people often post blog contests or other news, and I advertise the contest on there, too. You may have a few subscribers to your blog, but you want a contest to attract new readers, too. New readers are more likely to check out a blog if there’s a chance they may win a prize. If you do no advertising, your contest will probably not be a success until you’ve built a huge readership. You can even e-mail your friends and family when you first start out and ask them to check out what you’re doing.

With a few simple plans and a little extra work on the day of your contest, you can attract new readers and have fun, too with a book giveaway contest.

About Margo L. Dill

Margo DillMargo L. Dill hosts several book giveaway contests on her blog—it’s one of her favorite kind of posts! Check out her blog, Read These Books and Use Them, which has information for parents, teachers, librarians, homeschoolers, and children’s writers! She is also teaching an online blogging course for WOW! Women On Writing, starting Oct. 4. For more information, go to: http://www.wow-womenonwriting.com/WOWclasses.html.

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11 Comments
  • Mary Nida Smith
    August 18, 2010

    Thanks Darcy. Margo, lots of good information. Thank you.

  • Margo Dill
    August 18, 2010

    Hi Darcy:
    Thanks again for letting me guest post about this subject that is near and dear to my heart. Mary–glad you got some good tips. :)

    Margo

  • Greg Pincus
    August 18, 2010

    I love a good giveaway and really like all the planning tips above, but I’d like to quibble with a statement in the post: “New readers are more likely to check out a blog if there’s a chance they may win a prize.”

    From what I’ve observed, offering up content that provides value to some set of readers and then getting your name/blog name in front of those potential readers is the “more likely” way to attract new readers (who stay beyond one post).

    Giveaways are definitely a way to get others to point people to ya and to up traffic in the short term, but by themselves they aren’t going to convert many readers. You can up the odds of that, though, by targeting the type of giveaway or the way people enter so that it, too, adds value for people stopping by OR creates some reason for visitors to read elsewhere on the blog. To me, giveaways where people simply have to leave a random comment or follow the host/hostess on Twitter or on the blog miss a huge opportunity to make an impression and gain readers.

  • Darcy Pattison
    August 18, 2010

    Greg:
    I see your point, which is that you want someone to stay a while and come back often.
    But I think it’s still likely that new readers will “check out a blog” if there’s a giveaway. Once there, it’s up to the rest of your blog to keep them there!

    You can up the odds of that, though, by targeting the type of giveaway or the way people enter so that it, too, adds value for people stopping by OR creates some reason for visitors to read elsewhere on the blog.

    Any specific suggestions on how to do that? Or examples you’ve seen done well?
    Darcy

  • Greg Pincus
    August 18, 2010

    I don’t think a high percentage of folks coming for a giveaway will check out a blog… though if it gains readers, it’s all good.

    In terms of targeting… for example, if you gave away a copy of your Book Trailer ebook you’d likely gain more blog readers than if you gave away your own novel (or anyone else’s). I think this for a few reasons: anyone making a trailer for a novel is in the target audience for your blog; more people would be likely to link to/promote a service than “simply” another free novel; you’d be able to broaden your base beyond novel readers to those who write and create and promote – more in your target zone.

    Whose done it well? I don’t have links to most, but I’ve seen many examples where folks have to leave something of value in the comments rather than simply leave a comment. For my giveaway, for instance, I asked people to recommend a blog others should follow (NOT their own), thus creating a resource folks could revisit whenever (and I could link to whenever): http://www.thehappyaccident.net/a-giveaway/

    In terms of reading elsewhere on the blog, that’s harder. You can direct folks to top posts or a specific one that might be of interest – guide their experience to something that’s related (giving away your Ebook? Link to a post on success with trailers).

    These things up your odds and also give others more reason to link to you: they tell a story rather than just give something away. We do all love to win, of course! But offering more can create opportunity rather than leaving it fully to chance.

  • Darcy Pattison
    August 19, 2010

    Greg:
    Thoughtful answer. As usual in this business, you can always go deeper. And those who do are the most likely to succeed.

    Thanks for the examples, those help.

    Darcy

  • Margo Dill
    August 19, 2010

    Greg and Darcy,
    Thanks for making my point better! :) I completely agree that you have to do more than just host a book giveaway contest to get readers to come back. I should have been more clear.

    Whenever I hold a book giveaway contest, in my post, I try to give any new readers a flavor for my other type of posts–like I’ll include activities to use with the book (like I do on other days) or make a comment about visiting on the next day to check out the post about such and such topic or even say–you can subscribe to Read These Books and Use Them to get posts about children’s books and how to use them with kids through activities and discussion. This way, readers can learn about my blog and enter the contest.

    I do think that on Twitter/FB, new readers are more likely to click on a new blog link if they have the potential to win something. That has been my experience, anyway. Then as Greg pointed out, it is up to each individual blogger to keep the “new visitors” coming back for more.

    Margo

    PS: Greg–love your idea of putting a link to useful blogs in the comment. Can I steal it? :)

  • kenn
    September 1, 2010

    Thank you, Darcy!! This is an ingenious and amazing promotional idea. I’m learning SO much reading through your website.

  • Lauren Hidden
    March 15, 2011

    Great info! As an author’s virtual assistant, I’m about to launch a contest for one of my clients and I’m always looking for ways to improve my contest process. I picked up some great tips I hadn’t thought of–especially with promoting it and using random.org to pick the winner! Thanks for posting this.

  • Peter Dudek
    March 20, 2012

    Thanks for the feedback. Been fiddling with some book giveaways at my own site, with mixed success. Appreciate your advice.

  • Ciera Horton
    July 7, 2014

    This was so helpful!! Thank you! I used this info to format my book giveaway for the novel Submerged on my blog, The Write Things. http://cierahorton.blogspot.com/2014/07/free-book-giveaway.html