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Running a collective giveaway

October 31st 2015

I wrote this post for Across the Board, a group blog, and I’m posting it here with permission from Stephen Kozeniewski, the admin.

What up, guys! Are you in for an informative treat today. This post is all about running a collective giveaway. But before I begin, I must thank my author BFF, Kate Moretti, for her wisdom in all things marketing. She is Mr. Miyagi to my Danielson. Anyhoo, moving on…

I’m currently running a YA collective giveaway that ends today and I want to talk about how to set up a collective giveaway and why you should bother doing it — cuz’ you really should.

What is a collective giveaway? 

It’s when a group of authors donate prizes and promote the giveaway to their respective readerships. Giveaways can last anywhere from days to weeks — although a shorter time period is best (I’ll explain why in a bit), have 8-10 authors participating, and award one mega prize for one winner.

Why participate in a collective giveaway? 

Two words: visibility and access. I’ve tried to run one-author giveaways on my website and I’ve gotten zero traction. And that’s after I contacted my Facebook friends and subscriber list. Last month, I gave away five hot YA books (by big name YA authors — not me) and I had only 12 entrants.

If you want to be seen, you need a large group of people willing to participate and share the giveaway. One author screaming into the void isn’t going to cut it.

How do you set up a collective giveaway?

Someone needs to volunteer to organize and host the giveaway. This is work, but the organizer reaps the benefits.

1. Set up the parameters. If you’re running the show, you need to figure out some details. Is the giveaway global? In which case, are your participants willing to ship books overseas? If not, can everyone contribute an ebook? If you’re doing ebooks, can multiple ebook formats be offered? If you’re going to limit your giveaway to the U.S. to keep shipping costs down, signed paperbacks and swag can increase interest. But, it also limits entrants to being U.S. residents — so there’s that. How long will you run the giveaway for? A month is too long. A few days too short. The biggest spike of entries come in on the first few days and the last. I’d say no shorter than a week, no longer than two weeks.

2. Pick a theme. If you’re running your giveaway in October (as I am), then it makes sense to do spooky reads for Halloween. This would be be great for speculative fiction or horror writers. Romance writers would do better around Valentine’s Day. Cozy mystery writers might do well during Christmas. It doesn’t mean you have to wait until a holiday to roll out a giveaway, but using a theme will make your giveaway cohesive. Last year, I organized a YA giveaway for the ‘Back to School’ season. A SciFi giveaway would be cool to coincide with the new Star Wars movie release. The possibilities are endless.

3. Gather thee author buddies. Put out a call to your author friends. You want around 8-10 authors. Too few and the prize isn’t big enough to draw interest. Too many and it becomes unwieldy. In my opinion, 8-10 is a good number. There are plenty of larger giveaways (YA Scavenger Hunt comes to mind), but I could not imagine the organizational undertaking. Ask your author friends for their cover art, website, and what they’ll be donating to the giveaway. Ebook only. Signed paperbacks. Swag. Boxed set. In the current giveaway, I have two generous authors offering up boxed sets.

4. Set up a prize widget like Rafflecopter or Gleam. Gleam is awesome and I’m currently using it for the Halloween giveaway. I think it offers more than Rafflecopter and allows entrants to use their Facebook, Instagram, Twitter accounts to enter. Everyone can gain one entry with just an email. Nice and easy. But you can gain more entries by tweeting the giveaway, viral sharing, liking a photo on Instagram, or pinning a photo on Pinterest. It’s not about following social media accounts. It’s more about sharing your book covers and having readers interact with the giveaway and spreading the news. Check it out! We have over 1350 entries!!!

I asked the authors what they hoped to get out of the giveaway and everyone said newsletter subscribers. Of course. We indie authors need to expand our lists, BUT…here’s the rub. One, the free versions of Rafflecopter and Gleam do not offer adding newsletter subscribers as an option and two, asking contest entrants to sign up for 9 newsletters as a way to gain entries is tedious. And a turn-off. The goal here is visibility. Readers need to know who we are and they need to see our book covers. That’s not going to happen if people are bogged down by the contest itself.

5. Get graphic! Go to Canva and make something pretty with all the book covers. You need this graphic for several reasons. First, you put it on your website above the Rafflecopter or Gleam widget. This shows readers exactly what they’ll win (all these jazzy books). Second, you’ll be using this graphic to advertise the giveaway — for Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, your newsletter. And third, you’ll need this graphic for the Gleam widget where readers can gain entries by pinning the graphic or liking it on Instagram. Below is the one I made. See? Nothing fancy. You can do it.

6. Build the giveaway on your website. I made a separate page on my website for giveaways and all traffic is being directed there. Include the graphic, contest widget, links to all the authors’ websites, and any other pertinent information.

7. Advertise the giveaway. On opening day, every author should be promoting this via their subscriber list, Twitter, Facebook page, etc. I checked my website stats and saw referrals coming from the authors’ newsletters and Twitter accounts.

8. Let the contest run. Eight days into our Halloween giveaway, we have over 1200 entries. I could continue to promote it, but things seem to be moving nicely on their own. I’ll do one big push on the last day or two.

9. Let the contest widget pick a winner. Pretty self-explanatory. Email the winner to let them know they won this awesome contest. I don’t think it’s uncalled for to also ask the winner to review the books they read. Maybe, if the winner is willing, interview the winner for a blog post.

What kind of results can one expect?

Well, your miles may vary on this, but here are the results I’m seeing.

  • A huge uptick in web traffic. One the first day of the giveaway launch, I had 251 views on my website. (That’s unheard of for me. My website normally gets no more than 10 views a day.) It dropped off the next day, netting me 84 views. Then on the 6th day, I had 163 views. Not sure why. Perhaps, newsletters went out (mine did the day before). This means new eyeballs on my books page, blog, and writers resource page (which I spent a long time cultivating).

  • An uptick in newsletter subscribers. With that new web traffic comes an influx of readers voluntarily signing up for my newsletter so make sure your newsletter sign-up is visible on your website. One week into the giveaway, I had 27 new subscribers. I only started with 70. Because of this, it is only fair that authors take turns hosting and organizing the giveaway. I did ask the other authors if they had seen an uptick in newsletter subscribers and one author replied that she had gotten a couple of new subscribers and some sales on a short story she hadn’t advertised. Another author said her blog post about the giveaway got “great reader interaction.” So even if you’re not the organizer, you will gain reader attention by participating.
  • A slight uptick in Instagram followers. Since liking the graphic on Instagram was a way to gain entries, it’s no wonder a few readers decided to follow my feed as well (although it certainly was not a requirement on the widget). Honestly, I’m terrible at marketing my authorness via IG. It’s mostly photos of my kids.

So that’s it, folks. Phew! I’m done.

What say you, dear readers and writers? Do you like collective giveaways? Do you have any tips or tricks that I’ve neglected to mention? Please sound off in the comments.



September 30th 2015

I have excellent news! Grunge Gods and Graveyards is a finalist for the Silver Falchion Award for Best YA! Yeehaw! The award is given out at the Killer Nashville mystery conference on Halloween (such a fitting time of year for GG&G).

Dude, no one is more shocked than I am. There were 35 YA books for consideration and my little ol’ novel is one of 5 finalists. I am crazy stoked and flabbergasted. Also, I made a large, braggy graphic for the occasion.

Unfortunately, I won’t be able to attend Killer Nashville because I’m leaving for my first vacay — in 4 years — only days later. One day, though, I plan on going to all the conferences. Be prepared, writers.

Looky here!

Looky here!


The World According to Marty — A Father’s Day Post

June 19th 2015

I wanted to write this post last Father’s Day, but I never got around to it. Busy with a newborn or some such. Anyway, I thought it would be fun to celebrate my dad on Father’s Day by writing a blog post about my father’s, ummm, Marty-isms — my dad’s own unique brand of ideals that he’s instilled in me over the past 36 years. (My father, Marty Garnick, is a native New Yorker who loves to cycle. Check out his blog, Marty – The Jersey Pedaler, here.) He won’t be with us on Father’s Day because he’s going to Ohio to bike ride.

A lot of these bits of wisdom seem negative, but they’ve all taught me something over the years. Also, most of these have to do with money. Anyway, these are in no special order.

1. “Never buy a used car. Never lease a car.” I never asked for the reasoning of this, but I’m going to assume it has to do with wasting money or getting snowed by dealers on extra mileage charges.

2. “Don’t f#%k with my family. Don’t f#%k with my money. Don’t f#%k with me when I’m on my bike.”

3. “Don’t ever pay for the extended warranty on anything.”

4. “Don’t buy a snowcone from the Good Humor man. Buy real ice cream.” This killed me as kid. Snowcones were contraband and I wanted one. When I was finally old enough to purchase the flavored ice, I realized they were crap and a waste of money. Dad was right.

5. “Don’t take Route 9.” There’s always traffic.

6. At a restaurant: “Double check the bill.”

7. “Research everything before you buy.”

8. “Skip the Amazon reviews and check it out on YouTube.” Learned this lesson after I bought a lousy vacuum cleaner with decent Amazon reviews.

9. “If asked to pay a deposit, only pay the deposit. Don’t pay in full. You never know if a place is going to go out of business and lose all your money.”

10. When driving, “Never trust someone’s blinker.”

Thanks, Marty.

Happy Father’s Day, Daddy!


#BEA15 — It’s been fun

May 30th 2015

Yesterday, I went to BEA (Book Expo America) in NYC for probably, the last time. (Next year, it’s in Chicago and I don’t see myself flying there to attend.) I picked up a friend at 6:30am and after hitting some of the worst traffic of my life (thank you very much, East Rutherford), we got to BEA at 11:30. We met up with my friend, Jill, and had lunch with our BookPage editor, Cat, who is as charming in real life as she is via email.

Finally getting on the ferry after hours of traffic.

Finally getting on the ferry after hours of traffic.

After lunch, my friends and I stopped at all the vendors and scrounged for ARCs. I’m always looking for new YA and this year there didn’t seem to be much. I got a ton of middle grade titles including Lauren DeStefano’s A Curious Tale of the In-Between which is off the hook. I found a few picture books for my boys and some new adult mysteries to check out. All in all, it was a very subdued BEA. Smaller crowds and fewer books. I wasn’t disappointed as BEA is my most favorite day of the year. But I wasn’t wowed like in years past where I scored Catching Fire, Ally Condie’s Matched, or a signed book by Holly Black.

I’ve been going to BEA for the past — I don’t know — seven years, maybe eight. The first year I went I was a library science student at Rutgers and I got free tickets. I came home with a few books, one on houseplants a vendor was nice enough to give me. As a student, I didn’t warrant too many freebies. After all, I wasn’t a librarian yet doing large book orders.

My paper badge

My paper badge

One of my favorite BEA memories was stumbling upon a book signing by the producer of Days of Our Lives a.k.a my mother’s most favorite soap opera in the world. And you know who else was there? Kristian Alfonso – the beautiful Hope Brady! I hopped in a relatively short line and got my mom a signed book about the soap. I was so excited I called my parent’s house right away and spoke to my very uninterested father because my mom was working at the time.

BEA has always made me feel like I was part of a special, albeit large, book club. I’d chat up other librarians on line and we’d talk about YA books we were excited about and we’d sound giddy talking about authors we wanted to meet. I had no qualms about marching up to publishers and telling them I loved their newest releases or that I wanted to see more YA mysteries. Just yesterday, I told Publishers Weekly that I loved that they’re reviewing indie books now, but that they need to email the authors to tell them the review it up. (I found mine by Googling.) Anyway, the point is, at BEA, librarians, authors, bloggers, reviewers can connect with publishers and book industry insiders.

Author signings!

Author signings!

Sadly, yesterday was probably my last BEA hurrah. I’m not gonna lie — I’m bummed.

I’m gonna miss all those free books.


YA Scavenger Hunt!

April 2nd 2015

Welcome to YA Scavenger Spring 2015 Hunt!

I’m Kimberly. Some of my friends like to call me KGG. I’m the author of Grunge Gods and Graveyards, a YA paranormal mystery set in 1996. GrungeGodscover

I’m on Team Purple and somewhere in this hunt, I’ve hidden the opening scene to my new novella, The Lady in Blue, a spin-off story to GG&G. Also hidden is the beautiful cover — which has not been revealed yet!

Also, I’m doing an extra giveaway via Rafflecopter. The prize is a character named after you in my next novel, Dead and Breakfast, which will be published this fall! The Rafflecopter is at the end of the post.

Make sure you head to Lisa T. Cresswell’s blog for the next stop.


This bi-annual event was first organized by author Colleen Houck as a way to give readers a chance to gain access to exclusive bonus material from their favorite authors and a chance to win some awesome prizes! At this hunt, you not only get access to exclusive content from each author, you also get a clue for the hunt. Add up the clues, and you can enter for our prize–one lucky winner will receive one signed book from each author on the hunt in my team! Go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page to find out all about the hunt. There are 8 contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! But play fast: this contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will only be online April 2nd through April 5th, beginning and ending at noon Pacific time on those days.

Directions: In the post, you’ll notice that I’ve hidden my favorite number (hint: it’s bolded and in purple). Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the purple team, and then add them up.

Team Purple 1Entry Form: Once you’ve added up all the numbers, make sure you fill out the form here to officially qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.

Rules: Open internationally, anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian’s permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by DATE, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.


 Today, I’m super excited to be hosting CAREY CORP & LORIE LANGDON!

They are the authors of the Doon series, a YA retelling of Brigadoon. This must be serendipitous because I’m a huge fan of Scottish culture. Less than —-> 14 years ago, I went to Edinburgh and Loch Lomond. I highly suggest you put Scotland on your bucket list of beautiful places to visit. The Scots are lovely people and treated this American with warmth and kindness.

CAREY CORP and LORIE LANGDON came up with the idea for DOON, their debut novel, one fateful winter morning while discussing their love of musicals. Lorie had known since seeing Brigadoon, at age sixteen, that she wanted more of the sleepy kingdom than the original story revealed, while Carey adored the idea of reinventing a mythical world through the eyes of two, vastly different, but inseparable friends—much like themselves. As ideas flew back and forth, suddenly the village that slept for 100 years at a stretch awoke to epic life; and the DOON series was born. Book one, DOON, is now an Amazon YA bestseller. Book two, DESTINED FOR DOON, available now. Book three, SHADES OF DOON, coming 9/01/15 from BLINK (a YA division of Zondervan/HarperCollins).

Connect with Carey and Lorie at the Dooniverse:

Instagram: @lorielangdon_doonseries @careycorp Twitter: @careycorp   @LorieLangdon

Check out that gorgeous cover and the blurb for the Doon sequel:

In this sequel to Doon, Mackenna Reid realizes she made a horrible mistake—choosing to follow her dreams of Broadway instead of staying in the enchanted land of Doon. To make everything worse, she’s received her Calling—proof she and Duncan are each other’s one true love—and it’s pure torment, especially when visions of the very alluring Scottish prince appear right before she goes on stage. So when Duncan tells her an ancient curse threatens to overtake Doon and the new queen needs her to return, Kenna doesn’t have to think twice. With darkness closing in on all sides, Kenna and Vee must battle a world of nightmares in order to protect the kingdom. But it will take the ultimate test of courage for Kenna to salvage her happily ever after.

And now for your bonus content! These lovely ladies have graciously shared bonus material! Always fun!


The Rosettis

Since we are very visual writers, it is essential that have a shared understanding of what our characters look like. Often we send pictures back and forth until we find the right character inspiration. He’s a peek behind the curtain of Doon to the inspiration for the Rosetti family.

Our visual inspiration behind Mario and Sharron Rosetti.

Our visual inspiration behind Mario and Sharron Rosetti.







Mario Rosetti was called from Naples, Italy to Doon in 1915, where he met and married the love of his life Sharron. The Rosettis have seven children, Sofia, Gabriella, Giancarlo, Matteo, Fabrizio & Luciano (twins), and Charlie (named after Sharron’s father Charles). All the Rosetti children help run their parent’s pizzeria, Rosetti’s Tavern.

The Rosetti Kids-1Our visual inspiration behind the Rosetti children.

  • Sofia (Sofie) 18; Soft spoken, introverted. Has received a calling but the boy has yet to cross the bridge. Sofia loves Doon and has no desire to leave. Cook at Rosetti’s Tavern.


  • Gabriella (Gabby) 16; Extroverted and outgoing. Enamored with Vee and Kenna. Would love to cross the bridge and experience the modern world. She’s a server at Rosetti’s Tavern.



  • Giancarlo (Giani) 17; Alpha male, very protective of sisters – even more so than his father, Mario. He’s expected to take over the restaurant when his parents retire, but doesn’t want to continue in the family business. He wants to be part of the palace royal guard. Assistant manager at Rosetti’s Tavern.


  • Matteo (Matti) 16; calm, peacemaker, likes running things, Giani’s sidekick and voice of reason. He can cook better than his father. When Sofie and Matti are together in the kitchen, they speak their own language.


  • Fabrizio & Luciano (Fabi & Luci) 14; adventurous; pranksters. These inseparable twins work in the kitchen but they are more like a comic duo/assembly line always covered in flour with pizza dough in their hair. Their hobbies include amateur sheep shearing.


  • Charles (Charlie) 13; studious; book-lover; dreamer; busboy.


Note from Carey: The Rosetti family was inspired by my Italian surrogate family, la famiglia Fortuna. The Fortuna family had five boys and one daughter. They lived in a three-bedroom apartment in Torino (Turin), Italy but immediately made room in their hearts and home for me. (Check out this video from Carey)

Get to know the Rosetti’s better in the third book of the Doon series, SHADES OF DOON, coming September, 2015.

Shades of Doon small-1

a Rafflecopter giveaway