|Giveaways to Get Book Sales
At the 2012 BEA (Book Expo America
) held last week in NYC, the atmosphere was abuzz with words pertaining to the discovery of books: curate content, collect, connect, converse, engage, community, and share. For authors looking to cultivate a loyal following and sell books, giving away free copies is an valid component of an overall marketing strategy. One cannot minimize the fact that an enthusiastic reader is the best press for a newly released book title.
Donating books to a library, bookstore, or website is an option, but giveaways as part of a contest or in conjunction with a book tour is also an effective tool. According to Charles Fink of FreeBookFriday, there are several key elements to a successful book giveaway promotion, which include: 1) making a great first impression with a well-designed book cover; 2) leaving readers begging for more with an attention-grabbing synopsis; 3) letting the personality of the author shine through by taking advantage of the opportunity for an interview; 4) providing a place (website or blog) to get more information about the book, characters, author); and 5) making the book easy to purchase, since only a handful of people can win a free copy with a contest.
Marketing strategist Don Crowther stresses the importance of "desire multipliers" for increasing the sales potential of a giveaway strategy, such as personally autographing each copy of a book to increase its value and "positioning" in the marketplace. His "18 Second Factor" rule is the initial impression that determines what people are going to do based on the first few seconds of exposure to a book or an author. Potential customers can be swayed by a unique book cover that catches their attention, or an author that connects especially well with an audience at an event.
Book giveaways yield better results with careful advance planning and when used in conjunction with social networking sites such as Twitter. Giveaway contests can benefit from the re-tweeting feature, which is unmatched for passing along information and gaining momentum by attracting new followers.
Thinking outside-the-box can yield some creative ideas that can expand the traditional notion of a book freebie. As a promotional tactic for the release of the movie Hunger Games (based upon the best-selling book), the giveaway sweepstakes prize was a trip to the North Carolina set where the movie was filmed. Every book has a unique tie-in, a hook, character, or setting that can be capitalized upon to entice readers to participate via a giveaway contest.
Giveaways also have found their way into the world of eBooks, where readers often face the issue of deciding between the digital or print version of a book. "Bundling" a free electronic copy of the book with the physical book provides readers with an added incentive to purchase a hard-copy, and may be a clever business tactic for struggling brick-and-mortar bookstores. Offering just one chapter as an eBook giveaway is another option. This type of promotion can assist authors in building a list of customers. To download the chapter, a reader would have to opt-in for the freebie. This strategy works for publishers as well, as a way to establish a database of interested consumers.
Developing a mutual dialogue between writer and reader has never been more important, and book giveaways cannot be overlooked as a way to facilitate that relationship.