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.