Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Should I list a Giveaway for my Novel? (real answers from a real person)

Word of advice, when you have multiple giveaways simultaneously on different sites, be prepared to spend at least two hours in the family shipping department!

Why do giveaways? Where do I list giveaways for the most punch? Can I afford to do it? How much will it cost me in the end? Your friendly neighborhood Author’s Advocate, Ellen C. Maze, is about to answer these burning questions in




I’ll begin the answer to that question by asking: Do you have a million-dollar advertising campaign or a $16K-contracted New York publicist behind your book right now? If your answer is “no,” then a giveaway is for you! A giveaway gets your bookcover in front of people, that’s the short answer. Folks who may never have seen your book before, or even read your name before, have the opportunity to do so when they’re attracted by the delightful words: FREE BOOK! Do you love FREE? So do they! If 200 people enter your giveaway, and you have to send 1 winner a book, you have 199 people who came up empty, but learned about your book just for the chance to win one. That's cheap advertising, and that's good.

My favorite place to list a giveaway is www.Goodreads.com. If you haven’t, you need to sign up as a Goodreads Author to get the most punch from this account, but if you haven’t or can’t, you can list a giveaway with a common account as well. I also list giveaways on my Facebook group (link—join us! http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=96952574559 , and sometimes on my Twitter account (http://twitter.com/#!/ellenmaze), and often on my blog (http://www.thejudging-ellenmaze.blogspot.com/ ) . It would be neato-keen if you would follow that blog and also join my facebook group. Just sayin’.

If you don’t have the aforementioned money behind you, then, YES, you can afford it. How much is your advertising bill with your NY Publicist? Nothing? Then spend whatever you can on grass-roots promotion. It doesn’t have to cost much, and I look for as much free advertising as I can. Besides giveaways, you will need to seek out reviewers, bloggers, and friends to interview you to post all over the internet. Most of this is absolutely free, and your name and book are made known all over the globe!

I’ll give you some good guesstimates. 

• Say, you post a giveaway on Goodreads for 5 copies of your novel. Run it for at least a month for minimum exposure. I run mine 1 month, and usually have around 1000 people enter to win. 

• After it ends, Goodreads chooses the winners and sends you their addresses. You can keep the shipping costs down by selecting only USA or certain countries. Shipping one book Priority Mail to any other country than USA costs arounf $14, so keep that in mind. Shipping one book within the country, Media Mail, costs from $2.77-$3.23 or so (much more affordable!).

• YOUR COST: how much is your novel at-cost? Say it’s $4.77 per copy for you to buy it from the publisher/printer. Multiply by 5 copies, you’re out $23.85. Now add shipping fees, $2.77 x 5 = $13.85. Add the cost of the books to the shipping and you’re out: 37.70, and at least 1000 people have learned about your book. This is such a bargain! It costs less if you promise fewer books, but this is a good formula for getting your brand out there.

Lastly, here is something I truly believe and I want you to let it sink deep down into your subconscious: You have the creative spark, given to you by your Creator. He expects you to use it, develop it, and make the world a better place with it. I don’t know what better is, no one person or group can tell us that with 100% certainty, but I believe in this spark and I believe in you. You think the competition is tough? Well, it is, but that doesn’t have to cripple you. Go write, make it your best work, and get it published. Never give up, don’t listen to naysayers, and surround yourself with a support group of authors and writers who love the craft and have genuinely kind hearts.

I’m done.

Hug me.

Ellen C Maze
Author of Curiously Spiritual Vampire Tales at http://www.ellencmaze.com


  1. Under 40 bucks for 1000 entries is indeed a great bargain, but not all of us write books that are as hot as Ellen's. I have run giveaways MANY times on blogs and social media where I was lucky if two people entered. More than once, I have been begging people an hour before the deadline to just go enter to automatically win because otherwise NO ONE would have entered AT ALL. I admit I haven't tried goodreads yet, mainly because I was tired of getting soaked. I gave away roughly ten times more books than I sold, and feel like I just can't keep throwing good money after bad. I say this to warn some of us less-than-stellar authors to start small and evaluate. You may not do as well as Ellen, but you probably won't do as badly as me, so try it and see.

  2. I've known many authors who have had great success with the Goodreads Giveaways especially. Create it and the people will come. Other giveaways, especially if your host isn't doing a lot to help you get the word out, I've found are less productive in getting notice. It takes work. Marketing takes work. I know one author who spent 6 hours an evening just promoting his book via the internet. He got a bestseller out of it but...that's work (and especially after a day of work).

    Try giveaways with ebooks, Caprice. You can upload your work to a place like Smashwords and get coupon codes to distribute your work that will make it extremely cost effective for you. Also make sure you are posting within your market. ANY book blog may not be right but a fantasy/sci-fi blog, if that's your genre... think it all through. And, just because only 2 entered, you probably reached more than that.

    Another thing...you have to tailor your giveaways for what works for you. Ellen uses 1 month for maximum exposure. I like more immediate so use from 1 day to 2 weeks. Personal preferences should figure in as well.

    Ellen is right, however ~ don't give up. Keep trying and plugging...

  3. Hey! My blog actually started a convo! That's rare. This is a sleepy blog that doesn't see much action...
    Thank you Linda and Caprice for your comments! Very helpful to me and others :-)
    HUG ME---ellen

  4. Thank all of you for your words of wisdom. As a 'newbie' it is overwhelming the things that need to take place, just trying to get someone to look at your book or website or blog. I admire all that you three have accomplished and I hope I can do the same. Keep giving helpful hints to unexperienced wanna-be's like me. Blessings on your day!

  5. Ellen, you're a star. I'd never thought of doing this, but I shall now. Thank you.