Tuesday, July 7, 2015

GIVEAWAYS: YOU GIVE SOME, YOU WIN SOME!

INTRODUCTION:
Giveaways are a bit of a double edged sword in several ways. They are essential for authors, especially new ones, who want to get their name out on the market and generate buzz for new, upcoming, or existing publications. As readers, they're very fun to enter for and even more fun to win. They offer a chance to discover a new author and potentially sample their work, FO FREE! Word of mouth is a powerful thing and if the free book happens to be the first in a series, then that's one way to make sure that the future installments have an audience. Since I am both an avid writer AND reader I have a little experience with both so I figured I would share my most recent experiences with two different ways I made DIGITARUM available for free.

NOTE: While this post isn't directly tied into my WRITING INSIGHTS series of posts, there are certainly some thoughts on marketing from different perspectives to be found here. 

DIGITARUM: Free Promotional Days



When I first published my book through Kindle Direct Publishing, I knew I would be enrolling in the KDP Select program which demands that the book be a Kindle exclusive in exchange for some benefits. Before getting into that, it's worth noting that this exclusivity deal is only for the electronic edition of the book and that the paperback version (if one exists) can be sold through as many channels as desired. The Select program is also entirely optional, but I liked the benefits. 

Firstly here is a list of the perks of being in the Select program

  1. The book is put into the Kindle Unlimited Service where subscribers can read the book for free and authors will get royalties based on the Kindle Edition Normalized Pages that readers get through. 
  2. The book can be made free for up to five days during an enrollment period (90 days - does not have to be consecutive) OR...
  3. The book can make use of a Kindle Countdown Deal where the book is discounted for a predefined about of time and slowly comes back up to its normal price. You have to wait a while before doing this so I chose to go with the Free Promotion during my previous enrollment period and will experiment with this feature during my current one.

So, like I mentioned above, I went with the Free Promotion during my first enrollment period. This gave me five (5) days with which to make my book free. My first two (2) were used up during the week that my book was first published. I used social media to reach out to friends and family and invited them to help me celebrate my accomplishment by downloading a free Kindle copy. I also put a lot of work into submitting the promotion's details to as many places as I could through some channels that were free and others that you had to pay to advertise the promotion through (I stayed away from the expensive ones). The outcome was pretty successful, I had 70 + downloads over the Friday-Saturday span which made me pretty happy.

More recently, I realized I was nearing the end of my enrollment period and had three (3) days left for a free promotion. Since it's a use it or lose it type of deal, I just went ahead and a Thursday-Saturday promotion, this time with absolutely no effort in advertising it. I wasn't expecting a huge turnout despite the fact that DIGITARUM has some ratings/reviews now which helps with getting more downloads. I was shocked to find that I had 163 downloads across the three days with NO promotion whatsoever. What was more interesting was the curve I saw across those three days. Thursday alone saw 95 downloads which was more than the other two days combined.
A look at the aforementioned giveaway curve


While I initially thought it might be better to have this sort of thing over a weekend, I realized that EVERY other indie author probably feels the same and that my promotion probably had far more visibility on Thursday than it did on either of the other two days. This also makes me wonder how things might look if I did three weekdays. I'm far from a promotional guru, but I think I might be catching on to certain ways of promoting my work. Which leads into my next talking point...

DIGITARUM: Goodreads Giveaway
In addition to the free promotion I also listed a Goodreads Giveaway for the paperback edition of

DIGITARUM. I did a lot of research and gave a ton of thought to if/how I would do this. I had a lot to consider since all of this is out of my own pocket and while it's certainly worthwhile to me to have my book in the hands of readers, there's definitely a cost/payoff and risk/reward element that factors into things. Ultimately I decided to just go for it. 
I offered three (3) copies which isn't as many as some but with so many listings offering only one (1) or two (2) chances to win, I figured this would be enough to stand out. I also kept it restricted to the U.S. and Canada. While that's not generally advised, it's what I'm comfortable with at this time. I also had it posted for about three (3) weeks which, like the three (3) copies, falls somewhere in the middle of what is advisable versus what is not. 

Since it just ended, I cannot really say for sure if holding the giveaway will have a positive impact on my sales or not, but I did get 570 entries and 257 people that added the book as to-read. Like I said, it's still unclear if any of that actually means anything, but exposure is exposure and it's a nice feeling to simply know that so many people have now at least heard of me and my work. I'll just have to see where things go from here. My initial reaction to the results are quite positive and I'm certainly very grateful to all of those who expressed an interest in getting a free copy. I know there's a lot of choices out there even in free literature so it means the world to me when my book gets someone's notice. 

I'd also like to congratulate Courtney, Mai, and James who each won a copy. The orders have been placed and copies will be in their hands shortly so I hope they feel good about winning and enjoy their prize. On the note of winning, there is a little something that I happened to win in a giveaway that I entered!...

WHISPERS OF THE WORLD THAT WAS: Goodreads Giveaway (the "win some" part)



I have entered exactly ten (10) Goodreads Giveaways at different points and while one is still pending, I have only won one (1) of them. Those odds aren't really all that bad when you think about it, but it definitely drives home the concept that you can't be too selective if you hope to actually win anything. WHISPERS OF THE WORLD THAT WAS by E.S. Wynn was one that I entered last minute as sort of a whim because I dug the cover and the cryptic synopsis. I don't know that much about the book or the author so I'm definitely excited for this to arrive. 

Here's the first bit of the book synopsis:

A new Wraeththu Mythos novel.

Humanity’s time is done. Wraeththu’s time has begun.
Independent, isolationist and protected by the geography and legends surrounding the Rift of the Damned, the hara of the Gold Country live off what they can salvage from the sunken cities and abandoned towns. While hara of tribes elsewhere awaken to their newfound abilities, learn their bodies and discover new gods, the har-men of the Gold Country cling to the old, familiar ways of the human era


While still on the topic of giveaways as a reader, there are some interesting things worth noting about what you can expect. Goodreads is pretty upfront about stating that while it is not required, it is generally good etiquette to leave a review of some kind if you should be a winner of one of the many giveaways hosted. They also state that it betters your chances if you have already reviewed some books. This isn't entirely a requirement either though as one of the three people who won my DIGITARUM giveaway doesn't seem to have a lot on their profile at all so it's probably just some sort of background math calculation where your odds are superior if you have  more content attached to your Goodreads profile. Additionally there is A LOT of variety even if you filter by genre. The books listed will be from indie authors like myself, small presses, and even bigger publishers. Even when you filter by genre there will still be a broad selection that is perhaps a bit overwhelming at first glance. My favorite thing to do is to check out the first few pages of books (not book pages - pages of book listings) that are either ending soon or newly listed for a giveaway and pick and choose from that pool. It's not an exact science and I'd definitely be curious to know how other readers go about participating in these.

CONCLUSION:
Giveaways are as tricky to get right as a reader as they are an author, but they can be great fun. I'm no expert, but hopefully you've learned a thing or two about them by reading through this post. In the future I'll try to learn a bit more about free promotions, giveaways, and Kindle Countdown deals in my noble quest to promote my own book while greedily searching for free stuff.

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