As an author, you’re always on the lookout for new and awesome ways to promote your writing.
After all, your books deserve it. You’re the best hype man you’ve got, and it’s in your best interest to explore every avenue available to you. Take to Twitter. Assemble a street team. Make a book trailer or podcast or ad campaign.
Do everything in your considerable power to ensure that everybody knows your name—and is salivating to read your next big novel.
And here’s a slick tip: thanks to sites like Rafflecopter and Goodreads, one of the hottest ways to sell more books is actually to give them away.
The Benefits of Book Giveaways
“But that doesn’t make sense,” you say. “I’m trying to make money off my books. Why should I give them away for free?”
We know it sounds kooky, but book giveaways are a mighty tool any enterprising author can use to promote their books, expand their fanbase, and get major brownie points with their existing readership.
And not only can giveaways promote your books, they generate reviews as well—and they’re often accompanied by a noticeable spike in book sales!
So to that end, we’re going to teach you how to host a giveaway of your own using Rafflecopter—and after today’s lesson, you’ll be armed with the tools and knowledge you need to leverage the power of giveaways to get some groundswell behind your next big release…
…and make some cash in the process.
Rafflecopter is a popular online solution for hosting giveaways and contests of all kinds. You don’t have to be an author to use the program, but Rafflecopter’s tools and systems do seem uniquely suited to helping indie writers promote their books.
Rafflecopter allows you to customize and embed a widget linked to your giveaway on any HTML-compatible site, including your blog, author site, or Facebook page. This widget acts as an entry form which asks participants to complete a task of your choosing in order to enter the sweepstakes.
And while paid plans start at $13 a month, the free version of Rafflecopter includes most of the solution’s essential promotional tools, and can be a great first step for first-time users.
So what’s the holdup? Start following our easy-as-pie 6-step guide to getting your Rafflecopter book giveaway off the ground!
1. Create Your Account
Rafflecopter couldn’t have made it any simpler to get started. Just enter your full name, professional email address, and password (and prove you’re not a robot) to instantly get access to the service’s giveaway dashboard. It’s optional, but you can even link your blog or author website to your account right off the bat in this step.
2. Choose Your Prize
Now that you’re ready to create your giveaway, it’s time to decide what you’re actually going to give your lucky winner.
Now, the obvious answer might be to give away a free copy of one of your books, but there are ways to sweeten the deal even further.
A popular prize is a single signed copy of your book, but consider the possibility of a package deal: Is your book part of a series? Include the first book in the giveaway as well to promote the series as a whole.
Consider creating a gift basket of sorts—a grab bag of swag all themed around one of your books. Or include books by other authors in the mix, especially if they’re similar in tone or content to your own. You can even cooperate with another author you know to co-host a giveaway, raffling off signed copies of both of your books to a few lucky winners.
3. Choose How You Want Your Readers to Enter
One of the unique aspects of Rafflecopter’s giveaways is how participants enter to win. Namely: you get to decide! You can ask your fans to follow your Twitter account, tweet a certain message, comment on a certain blog post, or even answer a question or poll of your choosing.
These options come standard with Rafflecopter membership, but you can invent your own entry options as well.
You can even choose multiple methods of entry, making one or more mandatory in order to enter the contest, and even decide how often each entrant can use each option per day.
4. Choose Your Start and End Dates
Use Rafflecopter’s calendar functions to decide when your book giveaway should begin and end.
Now, exactly how long your giveaway lasts is more important than you probably realize. You want the sweepstakes to last long enough that you’ll get a large number of people invested, but not so long that your original entrants lose interest or forget they entered.
Our recommendation is a month, but feel free to monkey with this as you see fit. Do what works for you!
5. Install Your Widgets
Once you’ve designed your book giveaway, it’s time to start spreading the word.
On Rafflecopter’s “Installation” tab, you can copy a snippet of HTML code to paste into the code of your blog or website to install your custom giveaway widget. This same tab gives you the option to instantly add the widget to a Facebook Fan page you have access to, or copy a link you can share via social media if you can’t embed HTML.
Once your readers click these widgets, they’ll be directed to your custom entry form and can enter your giveaway.
All your entrants will be asked to provide an email address when they enter your sweepstakes, which will come in handy in just a minute for the next step…
6. Choose Your Winner
Rafflecopter’s third tab is simply called “Entries.”
From this dashboard, you can watch your entrants slowly roll in, and moderate their numbers as you see fit. And once your giveaway has reached its conclusion, you simply pick a winner at random with a single click.
Use the email your winner provided to contact them with a congratulatory message, and get their shipping information to send them their prize.
It’s vital that you pick a winner within 24 hours of your giveaway closing, so your participants don’t feel cheated—or forget about you entirely. Ship your prize off ASAP as well, and post the winner’s name on all your social media channels.
This is a bit of last-minute promotion for you—and shows the other participants that a real human being won the sweepstakes.
And that’s really all there is to it! If you follow these 6 steps, you’ll be well on your way to hosting a crackerjack book giveaway, and building some serious grassroots upswell behind your next novel’s release.
Did you find this post helpful? Let us know in the comments below!