Update: Amazon has ceased offering Giveaways as of October 31st, 2019. I maintain the post below for archive purposes only.
Amazon has recently started offering everyone the opportunity to offer a giveaway. What’s interesting about this is that you can run one for pretty much any item in their inventory – except for ebooks. So, you can run a giveaway for your print edition, but not your Kindle one.
Alternatively, you could go all the way and offer people, say, a Kindle. Or, indeed, an item that is somehow related to your books. For example, if you’ve written a cookbook, you may give away kitchen gadgets or aprons. The key here is to be imaginative and original.
So, how would you go about it? Here’s the complete how-to.
Step 1: Find your book
Right after the reviews, you will see a “Set up an Amazon Giveaway” button. If you can’t find it, press Control-F (for Find) on your browser and enter the word “giveaway” – it should take you right there. If not, it might be that you’re looking at the Kindle version instead of the paper one, or that a giveaway is not available for that particular product.
Step 2: Enter Details
You will be taken to a screen where you will be asked to enter the giveaway details. You can choose the giveaway type, a rule for winning, and what kind of requirements you will ask for.
I would suggest you go for random, and select one winner per 300 entrants.
Also, and this may sound counter-intuitive, but my advice would be to grow your Amazon followers instead of the Twitter ones. This is because your Amazon followers will get an email every time you release something, therefore it has more significantly impact.
Strangely enough, there is no Facebook option just yet. That will probably change in the near future, but even so, it’s the Amazon ones that you should focus on.
Step 3: Set up the ad
In the next step, you will be setting up the actual giveaway. Think of it as an ad. When you select one of the text fields, the respective field on the preview will light up. Sadly, the preview won’t actually be updated to show you your giveaway the way Facebook ads do, so you’ll have to check and double-check everything.
Here’s what I entered for my giveaway of Runaway Smile:
And here is the image I prepared.
Once that is complete and you move to the next step, you will get a notification that you have successfully set up your giveaway.
There is no chance of going back and making changes. I’m sure that Amazon will soon make its giveaway designer more elegant, but for now it’s all very basic, so be sure to measure twice and thrice before you cut.
Step 4: Promote
The confirmation screen also includes a link to your new Giveaway Dashboard. You will be asked to log in using your Amazon credentials, then you have access to the giveaway details. This is what you’ll see at first:
Within a few hours, though, it should change to this:
You will notice that you can share this on Facebook and Twitter. You should absolutely do this, but Amazon also uses its #AmazonGiveaway hashtag to advertise all of its giveaways, so be sure to take advantage of that, by adding it to your tweet:
Some final words
Right now, few authors are using the giveaway: Only 78 tweets have been sent by the #AmazonGiveaway account. This is sure to change very fast, so I urge you to be among the first to take advantage of it. It’s cheap, and with any luck can add a couple of hundred followers to your Amazon profile. As I said, they will all be emailed by Amazon whenever you release something, so my advice would be to run two separate giveaways if you also wish to get more Twitter followers.
For further information, you can check out Amazon’s FAQ.
I set up the giveaway last night. This morning, I woke up to this:
Yes, all of the copies have already been claimed – and I’ve gained an amazing 774 new Amazon followers at a cost of $40. Which means that each new follower cost me a mere 5 cents. Compared to Facebook ads leading to newsletter subscribers, this cost is 5-6 times lower.
You can see the impact this has had on my author rank in the graph below (top graph). I have included my author rank for Fantasy/Science Fiction (bottom graph), to show you how the giveaway has had no impact on that, since Smile is a children’s book.
You can check out the giveaway here before you go. Many thanks to everyone who shared! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to set up a Pearseus giveaway…
Update (March 3rd, 2016)
In the original version of this post, I had said that Amazon won’t allow you to give away an e-book. This is no longer the case, as Amazon has now expanded their giveaway program so that all KDP authors (even if you’re not in Select) can run Amazon Giveaways for their Kindle e-books.
Removing the need to run giveaways for print books makes the giveaway process much more affordable, since e-books are less expensive and there are no shipping charges.
Update (August 7th, 2018)
Once again, Amazon has changed the way to gift ebooks. Please read here what has changed and how to run an ebook giveaway on Amazon.