There are lots of ways to give away free copies of your books in hopes of drawing in new readers. All have pros and cons. For example, Goodreads is quite effective at getting your giveaway in front of at least a few hundred new eyes…but you have to mail a physical book, which increases costs dramatically. Free ebooks are a great magnet to get folks to sign up for your email list…but you have to find the people to dangle that magnet in front of on your own.
While I’d like to say the new entry on the scene — Amazon — solves all of those problems, I can’t because you’re still in complete charge of driving traffic to your giveaway. Still, this new ebook giveaway system seems like a great way to add to your Amazon Followers’ list while possibly also promoting your existing titles at a very low cost. Basically, you buy the books you want to give away from Amazon and that’s the total cost of the promotion. If you lower the price of your book to 99 cents for a couple of hours and set up the giveaway during that period, your expenses will be bargain-basement low. (Here’s the long version of how to set up and promote an Amazon giveaway.)
To me, the value of an Amazon Giveaway is potentially pretty high because it can be used to increase your Amazon Followers. If you haven’t noticed this button, it’s now below each author’s profile picture on their Amazon page and in the bio section of each book page. Although Amazon’s implementation is still a bit hit or miss, they (usually? sometimes? if you sacrifice a goat?) give authors the opportunity to write a personal message to followers when a new book goes live. Many readers (like me) who have busy inboxes and would never imagine signing up for author email lists will click “follow” on Amazon because they know they’ll only get one notification when a new book is available.
Granted, you have to figure that people signing up to follow an author due to a giveaway will be less responsive to those Amazon nudges. However, even if those follows mean nothing, there’s another benefit of the Amazon giveaway. You’re given the opportunity to write a message of your choice to both winners and losers. Why not suggest that the losers borrow the book for free with Kindle Unlimited? Or perhaps sign up for your email list (with a link) and get two free books?
As you’ve probably gathered, I’m always willing to try new things once. And the jury’s still out on whether my giveaway will be worth it or not. After emailing my list, I went from 0 entries to about 300 entries, with more slowly trickling in. My understanding is that folks with a twitter following will have much better results since people actively follow the #AmazonGiveaway hashtag. Maybe one of you tweeters will make a giveaway and test that hypothesis out and let me know? Good luck with your next giveaway!