Chip MacGregor

April 12, 2012

Thursdays with Amanda: How to Host a Successful Book Giveaway


Amanda 2 CropAmanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. She posts about growing your author platform every Thursday. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent.

Book giveaways happen all the time. Whether it be through Goodreads, at a conference, over the radio during an author interview or at a good, old-fashioned book signing, every day, thousands of books are given away free of charge. The goal behind these giveaways is to generate interest—a hope that the person receiving the book will A) read it, B) love it, and C) talk about it, resulting in D) money in the author and publisher’s pockets.

But with thousands of books being handed out daily, how many authors are actually seeing results C and D?

This week, we’ll focus on giveaways in general…the basics of hosting a successful giveaway, and next week, we’ll go over the KDP Select program (the Amazon program that allows you to offer your ebook for free).


1. Plan in advance. This isn’t a seat-of-your-pants affair. I don’t care how busy you are or whether you gravitate to chaos over organization, the best way to ensure success with your giveaway is to start planning well ahead of go-time. For example, a July 10th-15th, giveaway could start being planned June 1. The goal here is to give yourself plenty of time to get the chips in place.

2. Give your giveaway plenty of time. One-day-only giveaways bomb (unless you’re someone with a million followers, of course). Successful giveaways don’t just happen out of nowhere. They build over time. Give your readers 5-10 days to finalize their entries before you choose a winner. This will give your book more time in the spotlight.

3. Research, research, research. Spend time identifying what blogs, forums, message boards and online groups would be interested in your book. Keep detailed records of these groups and try to jump in (creating a profile if necessary) as soon as you can. You want to have a presence in these places before you do the drive-by advertisment.

4. Choreograph an epic web presence for each day of your giveaway. This means:

  • Having guest blog posts pop up all over on friends’ and fans’ blogs
  • Writing an aggressive Twitter campaign in which you have set Tweets for each day of the giveaway
  • Requesting that friends, fans and family members with large platforms Retweet, repost, or share any information you ask them to (you can agree to do the same for them if you need leverage)
  • Frequenting each of those URLs that you researched and letting those groups know that you’ve got a book giveaway going on, and that you’d love for them to participate
  • Putting links on Facebook, Pinterest, and wherever else you may have a following of friends or fans

5. Request something from entrants. Don’t just ask them to post a comment or send you an email to enter. Make them like your Facebook page, follow you on Twitter. And give them something to Tweet (hate to be captain obvious here, but the “something to Tweet” should be directly related to the giveaway, encouraging others to enter), and something to post. Have them mention your Twitter handle in their Tweets so that you can keep track of who is following through and have them message you links to other places on the Internet where they posted a link to your giveaway. In a nutshell, make them work for that free book by spreading the word about the giveaway.

6. Giveaway more than one book. Sure, one book works, but people are more likely to enter when their odds of winning are higher. And, if you want to throw in some extras to make the deal even sweeter, then more power to you. It’s all about creating too good of an offer to refuse.

7. Announce winners when you say you’ll announce winners. Seems pretty obvious, but you’d be surprised.

8. Follow through with entrants by visiting their blogs, following them on Twitter, ANYTHING to get them to remember who you are after the drawing is over. This will keep you top of mind, making them more likely to talk about and/or buy your book.

9. Push for reviews. Ideally, your winners will love the book. Capitalize on that by requesting they write a review for the book on Amazon or Goodreads.  This way, you get something out of having multiple winners.

10.  Don’t stop there. The worst thing you can do is disappear after the giveaway. Try to offer something new every few weeks to keep potential readers coming back. Whether it be a free chapter 1 download or an announcement for a new book. The goal here is to be in their line of vision over a period of a few months.


Well, those are my tips. Would anyone else like to weigh in on what has worked for them?

And don’t forget, next week, we’ll be discussing how to see giveaway success through the KDP Select program.

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  • Amanda, I’ve been mulling this over for a week now and can’t quite wrap my mind around it:  “For example, a July 10th-15th, giveaway could start being planned June 1. The goal here is to give yourself plenty of time to get the chips in place.”

    When I was promoting my last series, I did a lot of my giveaways through other blogs. So in that situation, when you talk about giving yourself plenty of time … how would that apply? Is it as simple as visiting/commenting on the blog in the weeks prior, promoting other posts from it on Twitter/FB, telling your tribe there will be a giveaway coming up…? I just want to make sure I’m understanding fully.

    I really love these posts. I save them all 🙂

  • I’ve been adding $25 Amazon gift cards to some and a $50 one on a big blog. That worked well to get entries. Yes, that adds up, and I’m about at the end of my giveaway budget, but then again, I’m not paying a publicist, so this is the bulk of my PR expenses: books and giveaways. Thank you for this. I needed the reminder to talk up the giveaways because I’m growing tired of the whole thing! Don’t ever stop this series, okay? 🙂

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