Giveaways: The Experience

With so many giveaways happening in the Self-Publishing community, I would like to share with you my experience with Giveaways.

sweepstakesWhy I Invested in a Giveaway

I believe it is important for any artist to give back in some way. So the motivation  behind this contest was just that. I love being able to share a part of myself with others. When I do good for others there is a feeling of excitement that no monetary value can match. I love helping people, teaching people, and learning from people. I started this contest because I believe it is important not just to write books, but to give back as well. For me, not being able to give back robs me of the  joy that comes with being a part of this community.


I wasn’t sure if this was something I wanted to do at first. To start, there are tons of Self-Published books out there that people are offering for free. This was a huge red flag for me. I did not want to throw my book in with the sea of freebies. It made me feel desperate. That my books were no good and this is why I’m giving them away. That’s because I don’t like to over do things and I do believe there is such a thing as overdoing things if not done strategically. There can either be too little or too much. Why? Because no one wants to be reminded of a product every time they see you. Imagine someone telling you about their new this and new that every time they saw you. This frightened me away from the Giveaway and thus I reasoned that maybe this isn’t such a good idea. Part of my mind completely tuned out my true desire for the giveaway and tried to cloud me with doubt. However, eventually I ignored it and set up my giveaway.

The Risks


Also with the doubt, before I decided to go for it, was the risks involved in Giveaways. Keep in mind that running a giveaway is a short term project. By short term I mean you run the risk of short term success in relation to gaining new supporters. People will support you just so they can get the free prize and be on their way. They may also unfollow your social networks after the contest has ended and you’ll notice your numbers go down which will completely suck but it is part of the downside to a giveaway. This is also the risk of Book Reviews just to slightly change the subject. No one really talks about it, but there’s a positive and negative side to everything. The downside to Book Reviews is that giving books away for free in exchange for an honest review does not mean people will be honest and give you your review. Some people may feel bad that they didn’t like the book and you’ll never hear from them again. Hopefully no one has to go through that but we have to keep in mind that not everyone is as honest as they say they are.

Anywho, back to Giveaways. Even with the risks involved, if done strategically, you can possibly have some people drawn to you who actually want to stick around (please stick around people!)

The Process

Walking direction on asphalt

Immediately, I wanted my giveaway to be different. I did not want to use Raffle-copter, Goodreads, and I did not want to use Amazon. To me these platforms are already being used to the max. Another Amazon Giveaway?  It didn’t sound so exciting. Why? Well, everyone’s doing it! So I popped open my laptop and began to search. As a person I like to stand out if I can help it. I like to be different. If the world view is one way, then you better believe I’m on a whole other planet and I like it that way. If the world is normal then call me crazy! If I’m part of something ordinary then I want to make it extraordinary  and so I wanted to promote this in the most unique way possible. Whatever I do, even if its not that big of a deal to most, I want there to be some kind of excitement behind it. Why? Because its worth it. YOUR worth it. And so I wanted to find something that would add a unique touch to my contest. And yes, I wanted it to be a contest. I did not want everyone to win. Perhaps it was still the voice of doubt creeping or maybe it was just common sense. A giveaway where everyone wins? It sounded boring. I wanted there to be a competition instead and not the one where everyone gets the prize.  I also wanted their to be ranks! Levels. Progression. 1st Prize winner. 2nd Prize winner…. yes, now we’re getting somewhere.

That is when I found Promo Simple. Though I was not in the position to buy any of their more advanced features (which would have been way cooler) the free option was the best option for me. It is simple to set up and still maintains that professional look and feel.


062112_kissNo, I’m not calling you stupid. Yall know better than that!

But, you do need to keep your giveaway very very simple.

This is a big one that so many people miss. When setting up a giveaway, it is best to keep it as simple as possible. If you require people to like your Facebook page to enter or follow you on Twitter it will lessen the chance of them entering. If you ask for their date of birth, phone number, marriage status, age, address…you get the point…too much. However, there is a way to be strategic. Instead of asking for too much information, I simply asked for an email address. That’s it. All I need is your email address. If you win, I can email you for those personal details, such as your home address so I can ship your prize. To increase social media interaction and newsletter sign-ups, I offered my social media as an option in return for more votes (you always need an incentive). In this way people can choose to support my social media in exchange for extra entries for their try for the grand prize. In this way no one is forced to do anything and people actually want to support you. Why? Because they are simply not forced to. This also increases your chances of getting follows that will stick around because they didn’t HAVE to follow you to enter, they did it because they wanted to. Like I said, while I promote a lot and I think its important, I also think there is a strategic (obviously this is the word of the day people) way that it is to be done. Typically, when you push too hard people pull away but if you tread lightly (and consistently), people are curious and more inclined to inquire. Consistency and Strategy is the name of the promo game. At least in my experience. (I never said I was an expert so stop looking at me like that).



I was doubtful on whether or not to give away my books.

Not because I’ll be doing it for free and feel like I’m losing out on some money but because of the people who may not have heard of me. Realistically, no one is going to want books from an author they’ve never heard of before (unless of course its a debut book that has been well promoted that people are just dying to get their hands on). Not even if they are free. I noticed right away that the thing about freebies is that there must still be strategy. There’s a saying that people like free stuff, this is true. I like free stuff! But its just not about free stuff, it is also about the value. If you offered me a free box of clothing that’s ripped with holes in it I’m not going to take it. So you see, I thought, well free does not necessarily mean that its any good. Most people in fact are more inclined toward the price tag because they know they get good value. For this reason, its not always a good idea to give away books for free just because its free which is why I seldom do so. In fact, this is my first time giving away my books for free. I think the free game is when you have become so well established as an author that your fan base has grown and the demand for the book is huge. For this reason, I knew I did not want to just give my books away for free alone. Though there is some demand, its not like I’m JK Rowling or something (if I hear that name again…) so I knew there had to be an added bonus at stake. Something everyone would want. Something I would want. Something that would make me enter a contest like my own.

That is when I threw in the Amazon Gift card. Though this was not an Amazon Giveaway (where I am giving my book away through Amazon), adding the Amazon Gift-card added a great value to the books I was also offering freely. I could have easily given away an eCard but I was thinking again, about value. Plus I’m a hands on type of person so I thought about what I would want. Would I want to win an eGift card. Yes. Would I want to win a hard-copy Gift-card in the mail that looks like a debit card and comes with a cute special box? Yes! So there you have it, I went with the hard-copy. If it would make me feel special, then it will make my readers feel special too.

With the books, I decided to do the same thing. Instead of give away eBooks, I decided to up the stakes by giving away paperbacks, signed by me with my special author seal.

Time Limit

Businessmen and Clock

Timing is everything! So this was a big one for me. For anyone planning a contest I would highly suggest you take the time to strategically decide just how long you want your contest to be. If the contest is too short (one day) it won’t give everyone a chance to see it and participate. But if the contest is too long (one month), the initial excitement will wear off and people won’t be as interested. One month could possibly work if organized well for someone with a large enough fan base and demand. Otherwise, people will get bored. The human attention span is only 20 minutes or so, after which we start to look for something else better to do so you have to keep that in mind.

A good time frame for a giveaway is 2 weeks in my opinion and it is what I went for. And it was perfect.

On launch day of my contest the excitement was huge. Lots of people participated and my social media’s blew up (well, not up but increased a little. Maybe like blew middle lol). My Facebook post got about 12 shares and Twitter was buzzing. Over the next couple of days the excitement dwindled a little, but people were still excited and the entries were still coming in. I would look and see 18 entries and then return to see 32. That was an amazing boost to my Giveaway confidence.

By the second and final week however, though the entries continued to come in it was nothing like the first week and as the contest came to a close, the numbers remained stagnant a few days. That is until the final finish.

Final Finish


I thought it would be a good idea not to promote the contest too much. What I mean is, promote it on Launch day and a few days after that and then leave it alone a week. I’m working on my patience so this was huge for me and also important to the contest itself. By leaving it alone and talking about other things and focusing on other things you give people a chance to see it. So by doing this the numbers increased beyond what I thought. Then I came back the second week just to remind everyone that we were in the final week. Then I left it alone. Leaving it alone was key. At least for me. By giving people a chance to see it, they did. This may not work for everyone but it did for me. I waited until the final moment, the last day, to announce it again. This gives those stragglers time to come on in. There will always be those last minute decisions. The Final Finish is for them, the late birds. And as the final hours dwindle, this is when your contest will really take off. Those launch entries and last minute entries are the most exciting as everyone is rushing to be the first to enter and rushing to the finish line. I announce my three winners next week. I’m so excited to see who will win and who takes first place.

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I write Black Historical Fiction, Poetry, and Inspirational Non-Fiction for the Freedom of all People. Visit me on the web at

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