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

Goodreads Giveaways: Recent Changes

Image from ShutterStock.

Image from ShutterStock.

GOODREADS GIVEAWAYS

Goodreads has recently improved their Goodreads giveaway program.

Authors who sign up with Goodreads can run Goodreads giveaways for their books.

  • It must be a print book. (CreateSpace is great for self-publishing a paperback.)
  • Goodreads sends the author a list of winners. The author ships author copies directly to the winners.
  • You can give away as little as 1 copy, so you can get some good exposure for a reasonable price.
  • If you give multiple copies away, it improves your chances of getting reviews at Goodreads (but winners are less likely to post a review on Amazon).
  • One benefit of the giveaway is that hundreds of readers are likely to add your book to their to-read list, which makes your book’s Goodreads page seem somewhat more popular.
  • The giveaway may not have a noticeable direct impact on sales. It can help with exposure and to generate some activity on your book’s Goodreads page.
  • Most of the contest traffic comes on the first and last days. However, the days in between add up, so you get the most exposure for your contest by running it for at least 30 days. You might as well generate as much exposure for it as you can.
  • Many giveaways seem to start on the 1st of the month and end at the end of the month, so if you avoid those days, you might be able to avoid the crowd somewhat. The first and last days of your contest give you the most exposure, so plan these dates wisely.

Goodreads has recently updated its giveaway program. Here are a few changes that they have made:

  • You now choose up to two categories instead of entering tags. This will make it easier for giveaway hunters to find the kinds of books they like to read (unfortunately, you still see the tag system when searching for giveaways, but it seems like this should change over soon).
  • The book no longer needs to be a new release; they have removed the 6-month restriction. When you enter the release date, you choose from a dropdown menu that goes back to the early 1900’s. However, if you run a contest for an older book, you might want to make this clear in the giveaway description so as to avoid possible confusion.
  • You must now schedule your Goodreads giveaway at least 7 days in advance, so plan ahead.
  • The terms and conditions now appear in a pop-up window. You must scroll down and click the Agree button at the bottom.

Want to enter for a chance to win a free book? Here are some sample Goodreads giveaways (these authors don’t know that I’ve given them a little exposure here on my blog, but these caught my eye when I was browsing for giveaways—though you may remember I also featured Jenny Pearson’s coloring book on my blog a couple of posts ago):

Coloring Book for Teens or Adults by Jenny Pearson

Click here to find Coloring Book for Teens or Adults on Amazon.

Chick Lit {And Other Formulas for Life} by Abby Rosmarin

Click here to find Chick Lit on Amazon.

A Bit Witchy by Danielle Fisher

Click here to find A Bit Witchy on Amazon.

The Dust in Sunlight by Christopher Rees

Click here to find The Dust in Sunlight on Amazon.

Camille’s Itchy Twitchy Eczema by Candis Butler

Click here to find Camille’s Itchy Twitchy Eczema on Amazon.

4,500 Multiplication Problems with Answers Practice Workbook by Chris McMullen, Ph.D.

Click here to find 4500 Multiplication Problems with Answers on Amazon.

More Goodreads Giveaways

Click here to see all Goodreads giveaways. If you’ve browsed for giveaways in the past, check it out to see how it’s changed.

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2015

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

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