Are Giveaways Worth It?

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Thread: Are Giveaways Worth It?

  1. #1

    Are Giveaways Worth It?

    I'm looking for some feedback. I've heard a lot of chatter lately about how promoting your book via giveaways can be counter-productive and I'm looking for reasons WHY this is. Is it just too desperate or what? And on the flip side, are there people out there who think giveaways are worth it and a great form of promotion? Thanks in advance for the opinions!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Saskatchewan, Canada (was London, UK)
    The main downside is that too many people download random free books and then give them one-star reviews because they're not their kind of book. 'This book is a romance and that sucks because I only read SF, I'm glad I got it for free and didn't have to pay for it' or some such nonsense.

    I'm not sure whether they're effective any more in gaining sales afterwards, but I've got more good reviews on my books from free days on Amazon than any other mechanism.

  3. #3
    WF Veteran Bloggsworth's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Leafy suburb of North London
    Chatter, what you want is chatter. Relatively easy in London, just get your mates to sit on a tube on the Circle Line for the day reading the book enthusiastically, then telling anyone who'll listen. Then get a friend to start a Twitter trend "Hey! Where can I get a copy of that book everyone is raving about, "My Best Book" (or whatever it's called)...
    A man in possession of a wooden spoon must be in want of a pot to stir.

  4. #4
    Member Charlaux's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Middlelands, England
    I think it depends on the author, and the book. If it's a specialist subject, like historical fiction, I wouldn't think a giveaway would be the best strategy because it's a small target audience to begin with and if you've given them all free copies even when word gets out there aren't going to be many people left to buy it. Also it's a relative niche compared to the wider market; there are both less competing books and a higher percentage of people who will buy any book on that subject and give an unknown author a chance because they're enthusiasts and there isn't so much choice.

    I also think that people will download a lot of free books and forget about them. Giving away isn't a sure way to get readers.

  5. #5
    There exist some books that I would like to read- but I plum don't want to spend the money on them. Here are a few reasons for why I wait until a book is cheap/free:

    x. Priced too high
    x. Preview shows OKAY writing, but it isn't great.
    x. There's NO preview, so I can't tell how the writing is.
    x. Ratings are all terrible and reviews center on the content of the book, not superfluous things such as: I hate this writer; they wrote about abusing animals, this isn't my favorite genre, etc.
    x. It's not a subject I'm very interested in.
    x. Didn't like a book the author wrote/co-wrote in the past.
    x. Cover isn't artistically bad, it's just bad*

    These are mostly for ebooks (because they typically aren't as well-written as the publishing house ones), but can transfer over to print copies, too.

    If it's someone I like, the writing sounds good, or (not always and!) I am genuinely fascinated by the content, I'll purchase it full price without hesitation. If I'm only mildly curious or not very curious, I'll probably just wait to see if I snag it at a library, from a friend, or when it's on sale. So if a book is free, yeah, I'll give it a shot without hesitation!

    *In this case, I probably won't even open the book to see what it's about; unless it's free. Then I'd peak.

    For me, the benefits outweigh the risks. Sure you could get a bunch of bad reviews, but if that were the case (and there were few to no good ones to counter it), I'd suggest that your book wasn't too hot to begin with. Some people are going to rate you bad because they don't like you or take offense at something you wrote or because they're having a bad day or they picked up the book without noticing the genre. If your book is decent, it'll get enough good reviews to toss out the negative.

    You want to give things away to generate publicity- sometimes even bad helps. The more people with your book, the more chances you have that someone will tell someone else about it. If you aren't already making money, you've very little to lose by holding a giveaway. [It could very well be that out of 400 downloads, you get 5 reviews, but those are five more people than what you had before.]

    The truth is, it's not always the best books that rise to the top, and just because what you've written is phenomenal, doesn't mean it's going to fly off the shelves on its own. Sometimes the bestsellers (and most successful people, not necessarily writers) are those who know how to generate publicity.
    Last edited by Sintalion; September 23rd, 2013 at 07:15 PM.

  6. #6
    When the controversy over red meat began, someone said, "I didn't fight my way to the top of the food chain for a salad."

    I began my book in 1979. I've worked hard on it. I'm not giving away anything free to kid living in his mom's basement, pleasuring himself while he waits for fresh pizza rolls before the dryer cycle is over.

    Don't they give away share-ware video games for that? Seriously.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Saskatchewan, Canada (was London, UK)
    Quote Originally Posted by Charlaux View Post
    I also think that people will download a lot of free books and forget about them. Giving away isn't a sure way to get readers.
    The general rule of thumb seems to be that about 1 in 10 free downloaders start the book, 1 in 100 finish it, and 1 in 1000 write a review.

    So, yeah, to be at all successful in bringing in new fans or reviews you need to give away an awful lot of copies. And new fans don't necessarily lead to more sales unless you have other books for them to buy.

    Edit: the other thing to consider is that, if you get a reputation for regularly making your books free, readers may put off buying them and just wait for the next free download day. I'm guilty of similar behaviour myself with computer games; I know Steam will have 50/60/75%-off sales on a regular basis, so I usually only buy games in those sales.

  8. #8
    Someone thinking one by one is on the wrong page. "I gave away 100 books and that 100 would have brought me a paycheck of $7000 if they had paid" is the wrong attitude. EVERY blog by EVERY successful ebook author RAVES about the importance of give-aways. That's good enough for me. is where you can load the deck.
    1. Make sure ALL your friends, family, co-workers, etc. etc. know about the free book days that are part of the kindle package. Those are the people you want the book to go to... and the ones that are likely to give you a rave review.
    2. There is also Story Cartel. I have downloaded some great stuff there and have done my duty to leave a review.

    The downside is that by law (in the US I assume) the reviewer is suppossed to say that he got the book for free. Well, I read "They Rode Good Horses" by D.B. Jackson, gave a review, didn't write that I got if for free...and I'm talking about it again.

    Here's the math.
    More than 6 Billion Human Beings on Planet Earth.
    5,999,999,999 computers, laptops and Ebook readers world wide. (Still can't get the drummer from my first band to go cyber but hell, he hits things with sticks)
    If it's not a Kindle or other Ebook reader, everyone can download the software for their computer or tablet so again 5,999,999,999 potential customers.
    What is 100 or 200 or 1000 free books to you? The important thing is to generate reviews and a buzz about your book.

    Would you buy a book if no one else in the world had ever read anything by that author? You get to be the first to shell out $5 or $10.
    Or would you rather buy a book with a bunch of reviews? Hell, I read all of Twilight just to find out if they sucked as much as people told me they did so even bad reviews aren't bad.

    It's not the 1000 that you gave away free that is the issue. It's the next 1000 that you sold because of the 1000 you gave away free.

    I'll be passing them out like candy at Halloween.

    David Gordon Burke
    We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.
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  9. #9
    Wow. Thanks to everyone so much for the responses. You've given me a lot to think about.

  10. #10
    I can see why book giveaways may not be all that popular but I'd imagine it largely depends on how well known one is as an author.

    My favourite give away tactic is the one where you are writing a series and you put the first one up for free to get people interested in buying the next ones.
    I have an extensive knowledge of Mean Girls quotes.

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