Thursday, February 25, 2021

Dear O'Abby: What's the best giveaway?

 Dear O'Abby,

I have a book coming out soon, and have a fairly substantial blog tour scheduled to promote it.  Some of the hosts have asked if they can do a giveaway as part of the promotion and I was wondering if you had any advice about what might be best to give away in this scenario.


Prize Challenged

Dear Prize Challenged,

What a great question!  And something that is very top-of-mind for me right now because I have a book releasing this week.

My first piece of advice would be not to offer the book you're promoting as a prize.  At least not in too many places.  You want to sell that book, and if you give it away, you're potentially losing a sale you might have had.

But don't despair!  There are lots of other things you can give away that won't break the bank.

If you have other books, you could offer one or more of these back catalogue titles as a prize. A winner may love the book you send so much they rush out to buy the new one.  And hopefully the rest of your back catalogue too! 

If you don't have back catalogue books, deleted scenes or stories set in the same world as your book can also be a great prize.  Especially if they aren't available anywhere else.  People like to feel that they are getting something unique or special and will value something exclusive far more that something a lot of people have access to.

They say someone has to see your cover seven or more times to remember it, so getting branded swag made with your book cover, website address and purchasing information is a valuable tool for getting the word out.  You can get bookmarks, badges and other swag printed fairly cheaply.  I'm always a big fan of magnets too.  People go to their fridges a lot, and if your magnet is attached, they see your book cover several times a day, even if they're not conscious they're looking at it. Be imaginative about the kind of swag you create.  Tote bags are always handy, and if your readers are out and about, your book cover on a bag could be catching a lot of eyes.

Your book may have a very specific image or symbol that could be made into a brooch or earrings or other piece of jewellery or ornament.  If these are limited in number, they are even more valuable.

Another thing you can offer is the opportunity for your winners to be in your next book - promise to name a character after them.  This is doubly effective, because if they're promised a character, you've probably already sold them your next book.

If you're not shy or phone-phobic, you can offer your winners an opportunity to speak to you on the phone or via Zoom or Skype.  You may want to make it clear ahead of time how long you are willing to talk, and if there are subjects you don't want to discuss, put that up front too.  

With so much modern communication happening online these days, getting a hand-written letter in the mail is really special.  Offer to hand-write a letter or postcard to a contest winner.

And anything you can autograph, do.  You may not believe your signature is worth anything, but to your readers is might be.  Especially if you can personalize the autograph to the person who will be receiving it.  Obviously this isn't always possible, especially if, like me, you're living in a remote location where shipping signed books can cost a small fortune, and it's easier to get prizes sent to the recipient directly from a retailer.  But you can create book plates that can be emailed to the prize winner so when their copy arrives, they can print it on a sticker or glue the bookplate into the front of the book.

That's a few ideas.  At the end of the day, your imagination is the limit.  Just don't go overboard when it comes to spending money. A lot of promotion can be done very cheaply, and the most valuable giveaways are often the things that only cost you your time.

Good luck with your release!

X O'Abby

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