Anatomy of a Successful Ebook Giveaway, Continued

By Carolyn McCray, Author

In my previous article on ebook giveaways, we discussed how not all ebook giveaways are created equal.

We learned that researching and setting goals for your giveaway were as important as what you’re giving away itself. We covered the four main goals of any free ebook giveaway (beyond the vague sense of wanting to build name recognition and to grow a “reader base”):

  1. Generating sales of your backlist.
  2. Compiling an email list to be used in future campaigns.
  3. Obtaining reviews to be used in your other marketing efforts.
  4. Creating good will within the reviewer community.

Today we are going to look at how you can accomplish these goals at the start of your giveaway and beyond.

Promoting Your Giveaway on Day One

The day of the giveaway has arrived. So you can sit back and relax?

Absolutely not!

You need to be out stumping on all of your social media platforms, driving traffic to the giveaway site. If you have any cross-promotional partners, get them involved as well. Also you need to be all over that promotion. It is best to give away a free ebook per comment (this helps the blogger/reviewer/host to engage their readers) and to give the book away immediately if possible.

Giving away free reads in real time is preferable because many people hop right back onto the comment stream after downloading and talk up your book. It is an excellent technique to increase hype and buzz during the giveaway itself.

You also need to mix it up in the comments. Talk to the readers. Discuss your process. Thank them for their time. Joke, laugh, have some fun.

The “You’ve Won My Book” Email

Beyond being an engaged, responsive and prompt promoter of your giveaway, the other single most effective way to fulfill your goals is to create a dynamic “You’ve Won My Book” email. After a giveaway, most people simply thank the winner for participating and hand over the book.

Au contraire! Consider this “You’ve won” email a chance to shake the winner’s hand and create a lifelong reader.

The key goals of this letter are to:

  • Thank the winner for participating and commenting. (This is just nice to do, and it helps with all four goals!)
  • Thank the host of the giveaway because, especially for bloggers and reviewers, they need to know you are supporting them. (This clearly supports goal #4—creating good will with the reviewers)
  • Let the winner know you would love to hear how they enjoy the book, and as an indie/new/struggling writer, you would really appreciate a review once they are done. (Supporting your goal #3—obtaining reviews for future marketing purposes.)

Remember though, this call to action is asking the reader to do you a favor. Now, as always, you should then give them a reward for that favor.

One of the most effective ways I have found to reward readers for giving me a review is to inform the winner that if their review is chosen, it may end up in future versions of the book! Many avid readers get very excited by this opportunity and jump at the chance to review.

Gift Card Offers and Special Discounts

If you don’t have control over your future editions, you can substitute that enticement with a gift card offer. Inform the winner that out of the reviews you receive for your book, you will randomly draw a winner for a $5 Amazon gift card. Or for the most thoughtful or funniest review. You get the picture.

As simple as it sounds, that enticement is a great incentive to many free ebook winners to actually not only read your book but formally review it.

The next section of your “winner” email includes:

  • An opportunity for the winner to purchase another of your titles at a steeply discounted price.
  • If you are an indie author on Smashwords, you can provide a 25%, 50%, or 75% off coupon. Even having a new reader spend 10 cents on your work, converts them from a free user to a paid reader, which is a huge accomplishment. Getting people to crack open their wallets, especially in these tough economic times, is paramount.
  • If your books are only on the larger retail platforms such as Amazon or B&N, you should have at least one backlist title “value” priced at 99 cents. The rationale for strategic pricing of your backlist is probably enough for an entire other article, but for our purposes here, 99 cents is the lowest price these retailers will allow and gives a new reader a fairly low entry point into your backlist.

To finish out this “winner” email, you want to request permission to add the winner to your monthly newsletter. You should be able to guess what comes next. We just asked a favor of a reader (adding them to our newsletter), so now we must offer an enticement.

Again, offering up gift cards works like magic here. Offering a $5, $10, or $25 gift card randomly to your newsletter recipients a) increases your list retention significantly, b) increases your open rate, and c) increases your click rate.

In a single email you are well on your way to accomplishing all four of your goals!

  • You have prompted the winner to search out your backlist and purchase from it.
  • You have collected their email and created an opt-in for future newsletters.
  • You have cultivated an environment for reviews.
  • You have thanked the primary blog host/reviewer and reinforced their brand.

While you don’t have to include each and every portion of what I have described in your “You’ve Won My Book” email, you should at least experiment with each section and see what works for your book. Also keep in mind that you can’t simply say “buy my backlist.” Or “join my newsletter.” As always we want to keep our marketing copy fun, engaging, and entertaining.

Following Through on Your Ebook Giveaway

Then about a week after the giveaway you should tabulate your four goals and see how closely you came to meeting them:

  • How many of your backlist did you sell?
  • How many new emails were you able to collect for your newsletter list?
  • How many people promised to review your book? (Check in a month to get a final tally of people that actually did it!)
  • How many bloggers/reviews/hosts requested to do another giveaway or recommended you to colleague for an event?

Compare the goals you set in the first article to the results of your giveaway. Did you meet them? Exceed them? Or is there sobbing involved?

No matter what your results, now that you have a detailed strategy you can work to fine tune your results and reap real, tangible benefits to your giveaways! Running an ebook giveaway? Share a link to your giveaway in the comments below, and I’ll be glad to hop over for a mini-critique and give pointers on your giveaway strategy.

Carolyn McCray is a social media and sales consultant to writers and publishing houses alike.  Her own controversial thriller, “30 Pieces of Silver” hit the #1 spot on the Amazon “Men’s Adventure” list, (beating out the likes of Clive Cussler). Carolyn is also the founder of the Indie Book Collective, an organization dedicated to helping writers utilize social media to sell their books.

13 thoughts on “Anatomy of a Successful Ebook Giveaway, Continued

  1. Kelli


    You are a fountain of information. I feel like a sponge, trying to soak it all up. Your advice is incredible. In the past, I have spent days looking for this type of information. I’m glad that your articles are being posted on digital book world. Looking forward to more information. Thank you.

    1. Carolyn McCray

      Ah, thank you so much for our kind words. I am so glad I can be of help and I, too, am grateful for Digital Book World to host these articles where even more writers can use them!
      Best of luck, Kelli!

  2. Rachel Thompson

    Great advice! I definitely need to do more w regard to the follow up email as well as start a newsletter. For new authors like myself without a back list, what do you recommend we chat w readers about?

    1. Carolyn McCray

      Well, hopefully even as a debut author, you should have a fully scheduled promotional schedule. Having new, fun events (whether on-line or in-person) is the best way to have great things to talk about during your newsletter.

      Always remember to reward newsletter recipients with randomly drawn gift cards (pick one that fits your budget) so that they want to open that email!

  3. Daniel Audet

    Carolyn, As always a “volcano of information” and this post a good road map in the series here on DBW for authors to follow. Thank You so much for doing this. Digital Book World is the real deal and I’m happy to see you posting over here with this information for writers! D

    1. Carolyn McCray

      It is so rewarding hearing how helpful this and my other blog posts have been! I know from fielding so many questions from the Indie Book Collective how confusing or under-explained some of these concepts are.

      As to the volcano part… I think I’m grateful 🙂 LOL

  4. Amber Scott

    I can’t agree more, particularly with that thank you follow up email to winners. It cements that first impression that will hopefully last a reading lifetime.

  5. Dawn

    Excellent! (even though I’ve obviously stumbled onto this post late.)
    Information on followup is so important.

  6. Erin

    I am hosting book/e-book giveaways on my site I have advertised heavily and used Twitter 3 times a week at minimum but it doesn’t seem to be enough. I chose to use Rafflecopter in the beginning and that seemed to be a problem, as it is not user friendly. I have since changed my entry methods, at least 99 percent, anyway.
    Reading your article gave me some insight and I would be thrilled to increase the volume of entrants. I conduct author interviews and they offer a free book or ebook in exchange, as a giveaway. Any advice you can offer would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank You,

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