Contests are a great way to generate buzz for your books. I’m a fan of giving away books as prizes. Why? Because your target audience are readers! If you’ve got some sway (like bookmarks, cover flats, etc) that you want to include too, those are great rewards for fans. But giving away some of your books will also help you gain new readers.
*Bonus tip # 1 – When you send the books to the winners, ask them if they would be kind enough to let you know how they liked the book by leaving an honest review on Amazon, Goodreads, or your other chosen book review site.
Okay, onto the quick and easy contest ideas. You can use these on your blog, Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media site you love using.
One in Ten (for every ten new (subscribers, likes, etc) you’ll give away one book. 100 new whatevers = 10 giveaways.
Three random winners. When you ask a question or ask readers/fans to interact choose three random winners for a giveaway. I recommend doing your random drawings using www.random.org. You input a list and it will generate random winners for you.
For you and a friend. This is a great way to use word-of-mouth marketing. Ask the readers/fans to nominate a friend they think would like to read your book. When you choose your winners give a prize to both the nominator and their friend. Prizes don’t have to be the same for each. Maybe the friend wins the first book in a series, but the nominator wins some swag. The nominators are likely already fans so rewarding them with a prize that besides the book.
Cross promo giveaways – Get together with another author, or a few and give away their books instead of your own.
Name a book/character/choose a location/cover, etc. Fans love to be involved in the creative process. Run a contest where fans get to name a character or choose your book cover (from a few choices you and your cover designer create).
Bonus tip #2 – Keep track of who you give books away to. That way you won’t give the same book to someone, or a prize to the same person when you are trying to reach out to new readers. Plus, if you get good reviews from any of your prize winners you can add them to your reviewers list and offer them an ARC (Advanced Readers Copy) in exchange for an honest review when your next book comes out.
Be sure to include some contest disclaimers and rules for your contests. Facebook usually requires you say something about not being affiliated through them. Check their website to see their current requirements. You might also include the dates/times the contest is open, when you’ll choose the winners, where/how you’ll let them know they’ve won, how to contact you, where the contest if valid, and what happens if winners don’t claim their prize in a specific time frame.
If you run a contest where the fans get to be involved in your creative process be sure to let them know you’ll thank them in your acknowledgements, but that they are not entitled to any payments or royalties from the sale of the books.
For more ideas on how you can use social media to build your platform and promote your books check out my book The Coffee Break Guide to Social Media for Writers: How to be Successful on Social Media and Still Have Time to Write.
Questions or do you have more ideas for author contests? Post them in the comments below. I love hearing from authors!