The Amazon Giveaway Experience

 

AMAZON GIVEAWAYS

I’ve spent the past week entering a variety of Amazon Giveaways.

Note: As of October, 2019, the Amazon Giveaway program has been canceled. However, Goodreads Giveaways are still available.

Over the years, I have given away several books through Amazon Giveaways.

So now I have experience with both sides of this program.

WHAT’S IT LIKE?

When I was browsing and entering the giveaways, here is some of what I experienced:

  • My first thought was that there are a ton of giveaways. Right now, there are 4000 results showing on 200 pages.
  • But one day, I actually browsed through the entire list in less than an hour. So even the giveaways that are hidden way back aren’t as inaccessible as they may at first seem.
  • There are a variety of products, and several popular products seem to land on the first pages. The value of some of the prizes is higher than I had expected.
  • If you look at the fine print though, you’ll see that the most popular products with the higher price points have much higher odds.
  • Products like books with lower price points tend to have more favorable odds. Some of the Kindle ebook giveaways have odds as good as 1 out of 100.
  • If you enter the giveaways, you quickly learn that some require you to watch a short video or follow an author. If you prefer not to do either of these, you start to look for the label, “No entry requirement.”
  • (Well, nothing prevents you from unfollowing afterward, except that you need to figure out how.)
  • Even if you don’t intend to rack up a large number of Follows, some of the books look so compelling… I followed a few authors I don’t know just because the covers really grabbed me.
  • You only see the picture and title. For a book, that’s the cover and title plus subtitle.
  • Sometimes, I was intrigued by a cover, but the cover and title didn’t really tell me what the genre was, and I didn’t want to take a chance and win a book that might not be in a genre that I read. (And it’s extra work to visit the product page to find out.)
  • In a few cases, the author/publisher had included a subtitle that clarified the genre. This was handy. In the best cases, the cover made this abundantly clear, so it wasn’t necessary.
  • For some products, if you lose the giveaway, Amazon offers you a discount if you proceed to make a purchase. So even if you don’t win giveaways, you can take advantage of discounts.
  • Only one time did I try to enter a giveaway, but receive a message that all of the prizes had already been claimed. With my luck, one second before I clicked the box, somebody else probably won.
  • However, if you come back the next day, you can easily run into a message saying that you didn’t win. That means you already tried to win that product previously. You need to remember which giveaways you entered previously in order to avoid this.
  • There is a simple solution: Look at the top right of the giveaways page for a link called, “Subscribe to never miss another giveaway.”
  • I wish I could tell you what it was like to win, but I wasn’t that lucky. (Maybe someone who has won before will be kind enough to describe this in the comments.)

If you really want to know what it’s like, go check it out. Here’s the link:

https://www.amazon.com/ga/giveaways/?pageId=1

THE AUTHOR’S/SELLER’S POINT OF VIEW

Here are some features that I like about Amazon Giveaways:

  • Your giveaways page shows you how many hits, entrants, and product page visits you’ve had. It’s interesting to compare the product page visits to the hits. It’s nice to get some data for how customers react to your book.
  • Setting up the giveaway is easy. Just visit the Amazon product page. (This works for products sold in the US store, anyway.)
  • Amazon fulfills the giveaway. You don’t have to do anything, except setup the giveaway (and pay for the products and shipping).
  • One time, a customer left a review saying that they discovered the book from the Amazon Giveaways page. That customer actually lost the giveaway and proceeded to purchase the book (I only know this because the customer left a review saying so). That was cool. (But I have no idea if anyone who has ever won an Amazon Giveaway has left a review. I would only know if the person happened to mention this in the review, but that part has never happened. However, a few Goodreads Giveaway winners have mentioned in reviews where they won the books.)
  • For paperback books, Amazon Giveaways are more cost-effective and also more convenient than Goodreads Giveaways. (However, if you give away 100 Kindle ebooks at Goodreads, since you don’t have to pay for the ebooks after paying the giveaway cost, it can be more cost-effective to run Kindle giveaways at Goodreads.)
  • You can require entrants to follow you at Amazon, if you wish. (Usually, I choose “no entry requirement” to maximize participation.)
  • Occasionally, there isn’t a winner. Personally, I prefer to have a winner; I want someone to enjoy the prize. But when there isn’t a winner, you got some free exposure. You can’t complain about that. (But for a Kindle ebook, you don’t get a refund. In that case, you need to run the giveaway again, at no added cost. Which gives you added exposure.)
  • A few authors have found creative ways to use giveaways. I don’t know if it’s worth doing, but I noticed that a few authors list a giveaway for a popular product, and require entrants to follow them. Suppose that your books is similar to Harry Potter in some ways. You could potentially run a Harry Potter giveaway and have entrants follow you. Those entrants potentially have an interest in books like yours. But some authors run a giveaway for an Amazon gift card or even a Kindle. Again, I’m not saying it’s worth doing (and haven’t tried it myself), I’m just noting that it’s been done.
  • You really need an effective cover. With thousands of results showing in a couple of hundred pages, by the time entrants reach your giveaway, your book cover really needs to call attention to people who may have an interest in it. I noticed some amazing covers while I was browsing. Book covers that aren’t so amazing, well, let’s just say that they often appear right beside book covers that look amazing.

Of course, you can always ask for things to be better:

  • Amazon Sellers who sell a variety of products (like housewares) can create promotional codes and offer discounts to entrants. They can also track their sales. But authors/publishers can’t.
  • It would be great if KDP authors/publishers could offer discounts to entrants who lose the giveaways and if they could track sales that result from the giveaway. I submitted this suggestion to KDP. If you have any suggestions (or if you also want to suggest the discount option), feel free to use the Contact Us button at KDP.
  • There are only a couple of options for the odds of the giveaway. It varies from book to book, depending perhaps in part on the value of the prize. The odds used to be much more flexible. I can see Amazon not wanting you to set outrageous odds that would prevent a winner, but why can’t we make the odds more favorable? For a few books, it’s not easy to get a winner. And if you want to have more than just a handful of winners, well you usually can’t make the odds favorable enough to give away 10 or more products in a single contest.
  • Entrants must be residents of the US or the District of Columbia. I believe authors can setup giveaways even if they reside in other countries, provided that they setup the giveaway from the US site, but entrants must be residents of the US. Maybe this is restricted from a legal standpoint; in some countries, the rules governing giveaways may add unnecessary complications. I’m sure someone in another country is thinking, “That’s not the case where I live.” Remember, if you want to make a suggestion to KDP, you’re welcome to use the Contact Us button.
  • Unfortunately, if you’re an Amazon Prime customer, you still have to pay for shipping/handling for physical prizes (but there are no shipping charges for Kindle ebooks) on top of paying for the prizes (and any tax). The shipping/handling is sometimes more than you might expect. (There was a brief period where it hadn’t been charging for shipping if you had Prime. Either that was a glitch that lasted a couple of weeks, or Amazon was testing that out and it didn’t work out well enough to maintain it.)
  • When I click the link to enter the giveaway, I just see the book cover and title. I don’t see the category or a description. Yet I’m often deciding, do I want to follow the author in order to enter this giveaway (because I’m not inclined to follow hundreds of authors just to enter giveaways, which of course makes the Follow more valuable)? It would be nice to see part of the description or the category. Of course, the curious entrant can still find these things by visiting your product page.

MY GIVEAWAY

Here is a link to a giveaway for my Grade 6 math workbook, ending on August 11, 2019:

https://www.amazon.com/ga/p/32efe68a5b58e615

If you enter, good luck.

Write Happy, Be Happy

Chris McMullen

Author of the Improve Your Math Fluency series of math workbooks and self-publishing guides

8 comments on “The Amazon Giveaway Experience

  1. I’ve never been one to win in give-a-ways and no, Chris, I didn’t win your book! 😦 I have being entering Goodreads give-a-ways this summer and I have actually won 7 books! So I guess I now am a winner! One of them I won twice so I gifted it to my daughter. With that said, this was an interesting article. I may try to enter a few seeing as I receive an email everyday announcing them. I may be on a roll…~Elle

  2. Hi Chris…this is a great article…thank you. I have a medical thriller series that I have, on occasion, ran amazon giveaways for. When I first started doing them I could choose a one out of three lucky number drawing. Now they are at best, one out of two hundred and I give very few books away. I do then get to download gift codes of the leftovers and use them in other promotions. The problem I have run into is the codes don’t always work for people. It takes them to the product page to buy instead of to redeem the gift. I have literally spent hours on the phone with Amazon and they have been unable to find a solution. It seems to be mostly when someone tries to download the book on their phone. I’m just not sure they are worth it anymore. Love to hear if you have any thoughts about the issues. Wish they would go back to the one out of three or something more viable….Tim
    http://www.authortimothybrowne.com

    • I did like it better when I could set more favorable odds and give more books away. I haven’t tried the gifts code option. I try to set a smaller number of prizes, and just run a new giveaway for any unclaimed Kindle books. I prefer print giveaways at Amazon, but Kindle giveaways may be better at Goodreads. Thank you for sharing your experience with giveaways.

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